Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs name that connects to both big brothers

(Be sure to check out the great piece Fr. Michael Rennier — husband, father of five, and an ordained Catholic priest through the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen that was created by Pope St. John Paul II — wrote on naming babies over at Aleteia! He mentions Sancta Nomina! 😍)

(Also, don’t forget about my book signing this Sunday [July 29 from 1-3]! I know there aren’t many of you in my area, but I’d love to see any of you who live close by or happen to be passing through!)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! 🌱 He or she joins big siblings:

Peter William (“Peter is for Peter the Apostle, William for Dad“)
Damien Andrew (“Damien for St. Damien of Molokai, and Andrew for the apostle and also for St. Andre Bessette, recently canonized when hubby and I were both students at Notre Dame (he was the first saint to be canonized from the Holy Cross order, which established Notre Dame)“)

Loooove both of these names!! You know I have a particular soft spot for Damien. 🙂

Lauren writes,

My favorite thing about their names is that they link together: Peter and Andrew were brothers, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. I also found out after they were born that there is a St. Peter Damian who is a Doctor of the Church.

I like that both boys have great saints as their namesakes. I especially like that Peter hears about St. Peter frequently at Mass during the readings, especially during the Easter season, when he was born.

For New Baby (gender TBD, due on Christmas Day), we would love to find a name that links to at least one (preferably both) of the other kids’ names, looks up to a great saint or mystery … Because our last name is so common, we would like a first name that is somewhat more off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien).

Names we are considering for a girl:

Cora (for the Sacred Hearts: St. Damien was a priest in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Notre Dame basilica is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart [of Jesus] — is there a connection to Peter in there somehow? This is the front-runner)

Madeline (for St. Mary Magdalene, a favorite — but I don’t like the nickname “Maddy” and am afraid that people would call her that)

Bethany (maybe where Mary Magdalene lived, but at any rate it’s where Jesus’ friends lived)

Grace
Monica
Cecilia
Adelaide (I love this name but my husband is not sure)

Other favorite female saints include [Mother] Theodore Guerin (born Anne-Therese), Hildegard of Bingen, Veronica, and Mary of Egypt — but these names don’t seem to suit our taste.

Names we are considering for a boy:

We are having a harder time with this, and none of these feels quite right.
Adam
Thomas
Michael
Patrick
We like St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas More, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Augustine, John Paul II, etc.

Family names we can’t use:

Ann
Paul (love this name!)
Joan
Daniel
John
William, Willem
Matthew
Sebastian
Willem
Xavier
Annika
Charlotte
Janet

Names that have been floated that one of us has vetoed:

Clementine
Mary
Ruth
Gregory
Joseph
Nicholas
Theodore
Vera
Noel(le)
Stella
Gloria
Noah
Jacob
James
Anthony (I love this name and St. Anthony of the Desert, but my husband doesn’t like it)
Many of the most obvious Christmas names: Natalie/a, Emmanuel/la, Gabriel/la, Lucas. I like the idea of a Christmas name, but I just haven’t come across one that I really like

Some names that have come up recently on the blog that we don’t care for are Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel.

We also don’t really care if the style of the names match among our three kids. We are all about the meaning, namesake, history, spiritual significance. We want them to be spiritually inspired by their names and hopefully feel connected to their siblings by means of the spiritual (not necessarily stylistic) connections among their names.”

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge!

You should have seen me doing research for this family — I looked everywhere I could think of for connections between names, it’s such a fun thing they want to do, but hard! Wow! I think Lauren and her hubs will find it’s even more difficult the more children they have (if they’re so blessed), but it’s still a really fun thing to do. Honestly, I could probably spend months seeking out more ideas with connections to their Peter William and Damien Andrew. Hopefully the ideas I have here are helpful in some way!

I’ll start with thoughts on the list of names they’re considering:

  • Cora: A gorgeous name! I love that they’d be using it for the Sacred Hearts, and so cool that they already have a connection to Damien! The only connection to St. Peter I could find — which I think is a pretty great one — is that, in St. Peter’s Basilica, there’s the Altar of the Sacred Heart, whose altarpiece was blessed at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s canonization (she was *the* promoter of the Sacred Heart).
  • Madeline: I love Madeline, though I wonder if they might be interested in switching to one of its variants: Magdalen/Magdalene/Magdalyn/Magdalena? That way they bypass the Maddy issue, and they have a less common name, more in the vein of Damien (Damien is no. 266, while Madeline is no. 100 and none of the Magdalene variants I listed are in the top 1000 except Magdalena, which is no. 955) (note that the spelling Damian is no. 119, which is actually pretty similar to Madeline in terms of popularity. Funny enough, Peter’s no. 213!).
  • Bethany: Another nice connection here is that Bethany is where Jesus ascended from, and his apostles (including Peter and Andrew) were there: “Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50–51)
  • Grace: A beautiful name! It can be Marian, for Our Lady of Grace, and also in the Hail Mary, “full of Grace.” I didn’t find any connections between Grace and Peter/William/Damien/Andrew, except if they wanted to think of them as living grace-filled lives, or being open to the grace of God, etc.
  • Monica: I love St. Monica, I love that they have her name on their list!
  • Cecilia: Ditto, beautiful name and saint.
  • Adelaide: I love it too! I looked at the various blesseds/saints named Adelaide and found that St. Adela of Messines (also known as Adelaide) was the mother-in-law of William the Conqueror, but I’m thinking that’s probably not the kind of connection to their Peter William that Lauren and her hubs were hoping for …
  • Adam: I don’t see many parents considering Adam these days! Nice job to Lauren and her hubs picking something that feels fresh! Although … looking at the data, Adam’s actually no. 77, so it’s not as uncommon as I thought. I looked through the holy Adams I could find, and the only one I could find a connection to their older boys of any kind is with Adam the Patriarch in the sense that he was a biblical character like St. Peter and St. Andrew. Not the greatest connection, but a cool thing is that his memorial is celebrated on Dec. 24, which is nice for a Christmas baby.
  • Thomas: Thomas fits all of their criteria except being less common … he was an apostle like Peter and Andrew, and one of the connections I thought might be useful (especially moving forward with possible future children) is that there are holy Peters, Andrews, and Thomases in the listings of Martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland (there are a lot of martyrs in those countries, so I thought it might provide good fodder for the future as well).
  • Michael: There are loads of holy Michaels, too many for me to go through them all! Here’s the list in case it’s helpful. It’s a great name, but I suspect it’s more popular than Lauren and her hubs would like? It’s been a top 10 name since 1943, spending more than 40 years in the no. 1 spot, and only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 (it’s currently no. 12). One way to jazz it up, if they’d like to, is to consider an alternate nickname for everyday use … one of my favorite unexpected nickname ideas for Michael is Miles, and one of the English martyrs is Bl. Miles Gerard.
  • Patrick: I like it! And Ven. Patrick Peyton is a great patron that ties in with Andrew, since he was a member of the Holy Cross order like St. Andre Bessette.

I’m glad Lauren included the list of family names they can’t use (such a bummer about Paul!) and those that one of them has vetoed, this is such helpful info! I’m also glad to know they don’t care for Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel, as I almost certainly would have suggested Leo and Annabel to them otherwise! As for Christmas names, I’m glad they listed the ones they’ve considered and decided they don’t like, that’s very helpful. Here’s my latest Christmas-and-Advent-names post, which they might like to go through (lots of names!). I looked through it myself to find ideas for this family, some of which I incorporated in my official suggestions below.

Okay! On to those suggestions! I used a few different strategies to find ideas for Lauren and her hubs. My first one was to look up all the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I start all my consultations with, as it provides for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I know Lauren said they don’t care so much about their kiddos’ names matching each other in terms of style, but this kind of research gives me an idea of the kinds of names she and her hubby are likely to prefer. I then looked through the list of potential matches for the for any connections with their older boys’ names. I also looked up St. Peter, St. Damien, St. Andrew, and St. Peter Damian to find any possible connections between them that might be helpful. That’s where I came up with the idea of looking through the list of British Isles martyrs (here and here), which has several Peters, Andrews, and Thomases, as well as the holy people of the Holy Cross Order and the Dominican Order (as a Third Order Dominican, I kept being struck by how many names I remembered from the litany of Dominican Saints and Blesseds that I thought might provide good connections for Lauren and her hubs).

All that said, these are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions:

Girl
(1) Susanna
I rarely suggest Susanna, which is funny since it’s the girl name we’ve held on to through all six of our boys! But I really like it for this family, for a few different reasons: it’s biblical, like Peter and Andrew; it’s saintly (there are several); it’s more unusual, like Damien (in fact, it’s not even in the top 1000!); and I consider it a Christmas name as well, via the movie It’s a Wonderful Life — Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names, so George Bailey’s little Zuzu was likely Susan, as Susan was popular at the time. Susan’s also one of the Narnia children, but while siblings Peter and Susan might possibly feel like too much, I don’t think Peter and Susanna would raise an eyebrow.

(2) Lucy
Speaking of Narnia, Lucy might be too much Narnia with brother Peter, or maybe they’ll love the connection! Lucy means “light,” which, in order to connect it to one of their older boys, they could think of as relating to the light of the Advent candles, and the first Sunday of Advent is set by St. Andrew’s feast day!

(3) Josephine
I know Joseph is on their vetoed list, but what about Josephine for a girl? I love that St. Damien’s birth name was Joseph, so Josephine would connect to him, as well as to their devotion to St. Joseph the Worker. It’s also, of course, a feminine variant of a biblical name, which loops in Peter as well.

(4) Christina, Christine, Christiane, Christiana
Lauren didn’t mention any of the Christ- names as possibilities for their Christmas baby, but Christina was a style match for them based on my research in the BNW, which made me think of all the gorgeous Christ- names for girls. I love Christine, Christiane, and Christiana as well as Christina.

(5) Margaret
There’s more than one Margaret in the list of martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland, which connects it to Peter and Andrew in that way. Since they have Madeline on their list, which made me think of the Magdalene names, I wondered if Margaret — which of course can also take Maggie as a nickname, like Magdalene can — would be appealing to them. There’s also the Sacred Heart connection with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and there are several Dominican saints/blesseds named Margaret (along with St. Peter of Verona and several Bls. Peter, Bl. Damien of Finale, and a few Bls. Andrew).

(6) Maura
A very cool connection I found is that St. Peter Damian lived for a time in Ravenna, Italy (in fact, he took the name Damian after a priest he was sent to live with in Ravenna AND St. Andrew the Apostle is one of the patrons of Ravenna!). On top of that, St. Maura of Ravenna was martyred in Ravenna, and as I’m a sucker for any Marian name, I thought Maura would be an amazing idea. As a variant of Mary, it even works as a Christmas-y name!

(7) Ravenna
Just in case they want to have at least one far-out suggestion, what about Ravenna as a first name? I actually know of a devout family who named one of their daughters Ravenna (there are other saints associated with Ravenna, I’m not sure which one they chose the name for). Its rhythm reminds of Susanna, it’s a really cool idea for a certain kind of family.

Boy
(1) Dominic
Let’s kick off the boy names by going right to the source of the Dominican Order! Not only does Dominic have the Dominican connection like the Peters, Andrews, and Bl. Damien listed above, but I also included it in a list of Advent names having to do with the O Antiphons.

(2) Henry
Henry’s a big name in the lists of British Isles martyrs, including Sts. Henry Morse and Henry Walpole, and Bl. Henry Suso is a Dominican blessed. I liked that it seemed like yet a third, distinct style from Peter and Damien.

(3) Owen
St. Nicholas Owen is one of the English martyrs and one of my favorite saints. I might have suggested Nicholas to Lauren and her hubs, in order to loop in the Christmas theme, but since Lauren said Nicholas has been vetoed, then Owen it is! (Owen’s actually a style match for Madeline and Grace, which made me think they might like it).

(4) Edmund (or Campion?)
Sts. Edmund Campion and Edmund Arrowsmith are two of the English martyrs — Edmund’s a great name! If not Edmund, while Arrowsmith seems a bit much for a first name, I’ve seen Campion used from time to time, and I like it a lot. Campion might seem like an extra good option if Lauren and her hubs thought brothers Peter and Edmund were just too much Narnia (like with Lucy).

(5) Lewis
I was enjoying coming up with names that I thought were a different style from either Peter or Damien, and I thought Lewis was another one. St. David Lewis is one of the English Martyrs, and while I thought Damien and David were too similar in sound, I thought Lewis might be perfect. This family named their youngest Lewis in his honor.

(6) August
Lauren said they love St. Augustine, and there’s also a St. Augustine Webster who was one of the English Martyrs, but I thought maybe August might be more their speed (and could still nod to either/both of those men).

(7) Bartholomew
This is my farthest-out idea for a boy, and I love it for this family. Not only is Bartholomew an apostle, like Peter and Andrew, but it’s also the name of two Dominican blesseds: the male Bl. Bartholomew of Cerverio and the female Bl. Mary Bartholomew Bagnesi. I would also consider Bartholomew “off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien),” as Lauren put it.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Peter and Damien?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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Baby name consultation: Name for baby no. 3/boy no. 2 that ideally moves away from the English theme

Beth and her husband are expecting their third baby and second boy! He joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“each are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo so it was a win win“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 4 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as Protestant convert“)

I love both Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate — they’re so classic and sort of sophisticated, but also sweet. ❤

Beth writes,

I love both of [my children’s] names and knew the minute the ultrasound revealed their gender that that would be their name. Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them. Both are strongly English names, which was not intentional. I feel like this has pigeonholed us into having to keep the English theme up, even though it wasn’t important to us. In fact we would rather that not be a consideration at all. Also, both start with “C” as does my husband’s name, and that was also not intentional and not at all something we want to continue. Lastly, I have a thing about nicknames — since my name is just Beth, I have always been sensitive to naming my children with a longer name and then nicknaming them the shorter name we use. But also I love their longer name if they want to use it or a variation some day.

For a girl, we were going to use either Rosemary or Teresa (Tessa). I love both of these names (both have Saint and deep family connection for us), but I don’t love any of our boy names. We are out of family boy names and Saints that would work for naming.

First, names I can’t/won’t use for various reasons (I put a * by ones I really like and would consider if possible):

James* (I love James largely because it was my grandpa’s name, but it’s already in the family this generation and, in addition, my husband doesn’t care for it or my nickname, Jamie)
Jack*
Benjamin (Ben)*
Will (William)*
Caleb (C name)*
John
Alexander*
Matthew
Vincent
Daniel
Eli/Elijah
Isaac/Isaiah
Aaron
David
Brian
Graham
Adam
Levi
Joseph (family name I would consider for a middle name)
Augustine
Micah
Timothy
Max (all its forms)
Dominic
George
Ignatius
Jude
Peter
Paul
Philip
Thomas
Nathan
Sebastian
Michael
Zachary
Arthur

Names we like (none that really stand out to us):
Henry
Samuel
Gabriel (Gabe)
Leo (I’m leaning away from this one)
Benedict (I love this for a middle due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom my husband and I both like a lot, but I’m afraid it’s too heavy for a first name)
Andrew (my husband doesn’t care for the nicknames Andy or Drew which seem to rule this out)
Theodore (Theo) (probably not)
Thaddeus (Thad) (again, probably not)

Saints in our heavenly family (and reasons why this list isn’t helpful):
St. Raymond Nonnatus (notable that my grandpa’s name was James Raymond, and he went by Raymond, but I don’t actually like Raymond despite loving the man dearly)
St. David (My husband’s dad’s name coincidentally; we don’t really want to do first names for grandparents though)
St. Catherine of Siena (honored with my daughter’s name)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (ditto)
St. Charles Borromeo (Son’s name)

I feel like I have read every baby name book and consultation you’ve done, and I just can’t come up with what this little boy’s name is. The hardest part are the names we can’t use that I love. We need help!

While reading Beth’s email, I was struck by how she said, “Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them,” which is such an amazing thought, isn’t it?

I was also interested that Beth said she feels a bit pigeonholed into keeping up the English theme, and that she’d rather that not be a consideration. Unfortunately, a lot of the names that seem like good ideas for her and her hubs fit very nicely into an English theme! Fortunately both Charles and Catherine — and the names on my list of suggestions below — have saintly ties that really pull them out of the realm of strictly English names and place them in the “saint’s name” category, which really opens up their possibilities. In fact, I would encourage them to start trying to re-categorize Charlie and Cate’s names in their minds as “super saintly” rather than “English” — I think that will help them moving forward. Both St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena were Italian saints, after all! And Catherine is also the French spelling of her name (as well as an English spelling, of course), so focusing on those characteristics will be helpful I think. If they’re just feeling very tied to the English feel, they could try reframing them as “royal” — Charles and Catherine would fit in with the royalty of many countries!

I’m with Beth on no more C names, at least not for this baby — three really does seem to make a definitive statement, so doing a non-C name for baby no. 3 would probably be best if they don’t want to continue with C names. I also love that they’d prefer a longer name with an everyday nickname — I too am a huge fan of options!

I love both Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa and used both of those as additional inspiration when doing research for this family, though I focused more heavily on trying to find names that were similar to the boy names that they like. I wouldn’t worry too much about not having any more saints that they’d like to honor — I often find that parents are introduced to a saint through the naming of their baby, almost as if the saint found them! (I wrote about saints finding us here.)

I had a couple thoughts about the names they like but can’t or won’t use that might be helpful:

  • James: I wonder if a different nickname than Jamie would both help Beth’s husband warm up to the name and differentiate their son’s name enough from the other family member(s) with the name? My first thought was Jake — James and Jacob are the same name (James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew), so there’s an actual connection between James and Jake; additionally, Jake is so similar to the Jack that they like but can’t use that it might really be a good option for them. To make Jake as a nickname for James even stronger, they could consider a middle name with a strong K sound — I’ve been crushing on James Kolbe for a while, for example. Or James paired with hubby’s hard-C first name! What a nice nod to both Beth’s hubby and her grandpa!
  • Because they have Benjamin on the list of names they like but won’t use, and Benedict on the list of names they’re considering but think it might be too heavy for a first name, I wonder what they’d think of Bennett? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, so it can absolutely be a nod to our Pope Emeritus (I love him too!), but it’s not heavy like Benedict and of course it can take the nickname Ben like both Benjamin and Benedict.

Regarding the names on their list:

  • Henry: Love it, such a sweet name and there are so many great Sts. Henry (I spotlighted it here). If they really want to move away from the English feel, this is perhaps not a great option (but it would fit in so well!).
  • Samuel: This is a great option from the perspective that it doesn’t have an overly English feel, and I love the nickname Sam, it’s a great fit with Charlie and Cate.
  • Gabriel: One of my very favorites, I love it!
  • Leo: Another one I love, and one we strongly considered. St. Leo the Great is an amazing patron saint.
  • Benedict: Discussed above.
  • Andrew: If Andy and Drew are the obstacles to this name, maybe considering a different nickname would help? I’ve see Ace used for Andrew, for example. Or maybe something with the middle name … Andrew Benedict nicknamed Abe? Andrew Joseph nicknamed AJ?
  • Theodore: The Leo/Theo names are rising in popularity, so I’m not surprised to see Theo(dore) on their list! Though I love Leo, I can see how Theodore might appeal to Beth more, since it’s longer and provides more options.
  • Thaddeus: I love the name Thaddeus, and Tad/Taddy is my favorite nickname for it, though I do know a Thaddeus nicknamed Thad, and another who goes by Ted.

And a thought about St. Raymond: I wonder what Beth and her hubs would think of Redmond? It’s a variant of Raymond (via the Irish variant Reamann, which Redmond is an anglicization of), so it can nod to Beth’s grandpa and St. Raymond, but I think it feels a bit fresher, and I personally think Red is one of the cutest nicknames.

Okay! On to my additional suggestions. I looked up all the names Beth and her husband have used and like (even if they can’t/won’t use them) in the Baby Name Wizard, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also went through my own mental files, and came up with a list of possibilities that I then cross-checked against their list of names they can’t/won’t use. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Louis
Okay, I’m just going to jump right out there with an overtly English name! Louis just did so well for this family in my research that I can’t not suggest it, and although it’s the new prince’s name (I know! I totally get why they might not want to use it!), it’s more a French name I would think, and St. Louis de Montfort is awesome, as is St. Louis Martin.

(2) Luke
Luke did really well for this family in my research, being similar to Cate, Gabriel, and Jack. I consider Luke to be a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian, which I love. One fairly big negative in this case is that it’s not a long name, like Beth would prefer, but it is a full name in its own right.

(3) Nicholas
I really like Nicholas for this little guy. It’s not obviously English, and it has the great nicknames Nick, Nicky, and Nico, as well as Cole, which is adorable but since it starts with a C, I can see why they might not prefer it. They can certainly use St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus) as patron, and he’s wonderful, but I love St. Nicholas Owen, and the fact that he was English is, I think, a selling point here rather than a negative, because if Beth and her hubs ever decided they love the English feel after all, Nicholas can fit right in. At the same time, I don’t think people think “English/British” when they hear it at all. A nice option! There’s also Pope St. Nicholas the Great.

(4) Edmund, Edward
I know, these are probably too English for Beth, but they’re amazing matches for their style! Edward is a match for Charles, Catherine, Henry, and William, and Edmund for Benedict and Theodore. St. Edmund Campion is amazing; St. Edward the Confessor is amazing; and the traditional nicknames for both Edmund and Edward — Ed(die), Ned, and Ted — are really sweet (and Ted can also be used for Theodore and Thaddeus, which makes me feel even more that they might like this idea). I’ve also seen Ward used as a nickname for Edward, which is a fun, unexpected twist.

(5) Bartholomew
Bartholomew is similar in feel to Benedict and Thaddeus, and one of the interesting things about it is that when I was reading A Dictionary of English Surnames (by Reaney & Wilson), it seemed to me that Bartholomew was a strong contender for the name from which came more English surnames than any other. There are so many! And many of them would work wonderfully as given names, or as nicknames for Bartholomew. Bart is the most familiar choice these days, but Bartlett, Batten, and Bates are all variants that I love as possible nicknames (though probably not Bates as a brother to Cate, right?). (I wrote more about my findings from that book here.)

(6) Robert
Robert is a style match for both James and William, and it really came on my radar when I encountered a couple of people, unrelated to each other, who loved the nickname Bo and wanted to find a formal name for it. Both considered Robert, and I thought Robert nicknamed Bo was a really cute idea! I also like both Robbie and Bobby, they’re such sweet nicknames. St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian saint, like St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena, which is a cool connection.

(7) Gregory
As I mentioned, I didn’t give as much weight to the style matches for Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa as I did the boys’ names, but when I saw Gregory listed as a style match for Teresa, I thought it was a great suggestion. St. Gregory the Great is an awesome saint and was a pope (just like St. Leo the Great and St. Nicholas the Great), and while Greg has fallen somewhat out of fashion as a nickname, others have arisen in its place, like Grey and Gus (especially if paired with an S-heavy middle name — Gregory Stephen? Gregory Samuel? Gregory James? Gregory Joseph?) and Rory.

(8) Nathaniel or Jonathan
I’m including these two together, at the end, because they both have issues that might be insurmountable, but I like them both for this family. I know they have Nathan on the list of names they can’t/won’t use, but I wondered how they’d feel about Nathaniel? It’s a match for Gabriel, Thaddeus, Benjamin, and Alexander, and if they dislike the nickname Nate, there’s also Nat and I’ve seen Nash as well, which is fun. Jonathan also contains “Nathan,” and starts with Jon, and John is on their can’t use list, so I can see why they might not like it, but it’s a long biblical name like Benjamin, Alexander, and Thaddeus, and — Beth will probably hate me for saying this! — one of its traditional nicknames (which has mostly British use! So sorry!) is Jonty, which I’ve just been dying over — SO cute!!

And those are my ideas for Beth and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Birth announcement: Edmund Alphonsus!

I posted a consultation and birth announcement for Monica’s last baby, and she’s let me know she’s had another wonderful boy, given the so-handsome name … Edmund Alphonsus!

Monica writes,

I was reading the consult Abby did for you and thought you’d appreciate hearing our newest babe’s name. You did a consult for us for our last child (Fulton Michael). I intended to ask for one for this baby too, but we are crazy and decided to build a house mid pregnancy so I have barely been able to remember to tie my shoes and totally spaced it until it was too late. 😆

Our other kids are —
Cora Marie
Levi Alphonsus (with Jesus)
Regina Marie
Fulton Michael

And our newest — Edmund Alphonsus

What a great bunch of kids! And I love that they used Alphonsus again, as he’s Monica’s husband’s favorite saint. ❤

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Edmund!!

image2 (3)

Edmund Alphonsus

Name announcement: Prince Louis Arthur Charles!

The little prince’s name has been revealed! Is everyone else as surprised as I am?? I don’t remember seeing Louis listed as a possibility in any of the articles I read, and the French pronunciation is yet another unexpected bit! (Though adorable! I love the French pronunciation!) Edited to add: Turns out this pronunciation is not only French, but also an accepted English pronunciation and distinct from the French for those with discerning ears. According to Behind the Name, LWEE is the French pronunciation (I’ve also see loo-EE), and LOO-ee is one of the English pronunciations.

I’m very surprised by the re-use of Louis, as well as (though less so) a name in the Charles family. A straight copy of Prince George’s second middle as the new prince’s first name is so unexpected! Regarding the use of Charles after big sister Charlotte, I know several families who have this specific example in the first name spot — a Charles first name for a boy and a feminine Charles variant for his sister’s first name — and few people ever seem to really notice after a while (if ever, except us namiacs!), so really,  one child’s first name and one child’s second middle being the same isn’t that big a deal.

It’s kind of neat, really, that the new prince has one name shared by his brother (and dad) and one name shared by his sister — it’s a nice little connection between them all.

All in all, I love it! I love love love being surprised by names, so this was a really fun announcement the day after it seemed the name had accidentally been leaked (was the palace being cheeky, messing with those reporters? If so, I’m actually really impressed!).

Congratulations to Will (Prince William Arthur Philip Louis) and Kate (Catherine Elizabeth) and big sibs Prince George Alexander Louis and Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and happy birthday Prince Louis Arthur Charles!

Great reads from the name world if you want to know more:

PRINCE LOUIS ARTHUR CHARLES OF CAMBRIDGE: A ROYAL NAME ANALYSIS by Elea at British Baby Names

Welcome Prince Louis Arthur Charles by Abby at Appellation Mountain

Royal Baby Name: It’s Louis Arthur Charles! by Linda at Nameberry

Prince Louis, and the Subtle Art of Traditional Naming by Laura at Baby Name Wizard

(Also, stay tuned — I’ll be posting a really fun baby name consultation later today! You won’t want to miss it!)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

Baby name consultation: Sister names for Henry and Eleanor

Happy Monday y’all!! I’m beyond overjoyed that it’s the last Monday of January!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sort of dread January. It’s so long and so cold. But February is short and March is spring! We’re almost there!

Corrie and her husband are hoping for baby number three! They already have:

Henry Layne (“My son Henry was easy to name. We both liked it. His middle name was picked by my husband after one of his favorite musicians Layne Stanley. We though he might be a Hank but it turns out he prefers Henry“)

Eleanor Grace (“We really struggled to name my daughter. We ended up in the hospital with a long list of names (she was born 4 weeks early) and spent the first 24 hours of her life considering possibilities. We chose Eleanor which “goes with” Henry. She has developed many nicknames (and she is only 10 months). We began calling her Ella, which has now morphed into Bella and Belle. Her middle name is Grace. It is my favorite virtue and has very powerful meaning to me“)

Henry and Eleanor are such a pleasing pair! I love both names on their own, and I love them together!

Corrie writes,

For a boy I really like Maxwell Caleb (nn Max) or George Crosby.

For a girl, I have many names that I like but not sure I can pick one. I really would like to use Charlotte in some way … first or middle.

I feel like a lot of my favorite names won’t work — no Eloise (close to Ella), Elise, Nora, Stella, Isabelle (or any -belles, Annabelle).

I hesitate using Jane because of “Layne.”

We cannot use Emily, Margaret, Abigail, Allison or Alice. For various reasons these are vetoed names.

Names I consider are Charlotte (nn Lottie) but struggle with finding a middle that flows and/or is meaningful … Madeleine, Lillian (Lilly), Margot, Louise, Avery (I know this is a different style … but I do love it), Olivia, Rose, Gemma, Colette, Adora, Cecelia, Annaliese, Katherine (nn Kate).

My husband has always loved Audrey Claire. Henry and Audrey sounded clunky to me. He also likes Evelyn, Lucy, Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Anne, Caroline, Wilhelmina, Gwen, Aveline.

Family/Honor names could be: Hazel, Elizabeth, Anne, Frances, Marie.

Henry likes Sophie.

We don’t shy from a name because it is popular. After all Henry is #2 in our state now. We love a good nickname too.

I prefer no first names starting with “H” or “E” as each child will have their own initial. I was intrigued by your blog post with 2 middles also … Like “Avery Marie Frances” … but then my heart does want to incorporate Charlotte and when I try I always get stuck. Hence my letter to you.”

So I love both Maxwell and George if they were to have a boy, I think both would fit in nicely with Henry and Eleanor.

I can see why they’re struggling with coming up with a girl name! It’s amazing to me all the names that they like that they can’t use because of being too close to Eleanor or one of her nicknames.

If it were me, I wouldn’t worry about Layne and Jane rhyming — middle names are rarely known by others unless you really make it a point to use first+middle all the time, so middle-name Layne and first-name Jane are no problem to me. I think they’re even less of a problem if they use Jane as a middle name as well! I am interested, though, in how much Corrie and her hubs love the long A sound, having considered Hank and used Layne and Grace for their existing children, and having Caleb, Avery, Kate, and Claire on their list of possibles. I’m not sure what to do with that though, just an interesting thing to be aware of.

Their style is very very consistent! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names that the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I usually look for overlap — names that are listed as style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list — and there was overlap all over the place for this family! So much so that there were several times when I saw a name and thought, “This is perfect for them!” and then I’d see that it’s already on their list. Amazing!

Even Avery, which Corrie noted is a different style, isn’t as different as I originally thought. According to the BNW, it’s a match for Audrey, which also includes Claire, Evelyn, and Charlotte as matches. Pretty great!

I was thinking about how Corrie said she loves Charlotte/Lottie but struggles with finding middle names that flow and/or are meaningful. Charlotte Avery immediately came to mind as a possibility, which I quite like — I think it has the spunk and unexpectedness of Henry Layne and George Crosby (which I think Eleanor Grace also has through her various nicknames). The fact that they like both Charlotte and Avery reminds me of this family, who have daughters named Josie, Brady, Mary, Charlotte, and Sloane — a good example of different styles in the same family. And honestly, I got a little swoony over Avery Marie Frances! That’s really one of my very favorite ways to name — an unexpected first name with a more familiar middle name, or a traditional first name with a surname middle, or a super saintly first or middle paired with a more contemporary name with a secular feel are all really fun ways of combining styles. Charlotte Avery and Avery Marie Frances (as well as Henry Layne and George Crosby) all do that.

I wanted to spend a minute thinking of combos that include Charlotte and middle names that might go together well. Using the names on Corrie and her hubs’ list and their family/honor names, maybe:

  • Charlotte Hazel Anne (this is extra nice because Anne is on the list of names Corrie’s husband likes)
  • Charlotte Marie Frances or just Charlotte Frances/Charlotte Marie
  • Charlotte Avery Marie
  • Charlotte Elizabeth (this is very similar in style to Eleanor Grace I think)
  • Charlotte Hazel (ditto Charlotte Elizabeth)
  • Charlotte Avery Hazel (could Hazel possibly work to honor both Hazel and Elizabeth? Since Elizabeth contains all the letters in Hazel …)
  • Charlotte Avery Jane (I like the idea of Avery-Jane as a first name too, the addition of Jane swings it closer to Henry and Eleanor in style, and adding Avery maybe reduces the issue of Layne and Jane rhyming? This also makes me think of Avery-Kate, which is sweet)

There are so many names from their lists that I was pleasantly surprised by! A few thoughts:

  • Louise is so close to the Eloise that they love, it’s a perfect solution if they really want Eloise but can’t
  • I’ve never heard of the name Adora! Gorgeous, and such amazing meaning!
  • Annaliese seems the perfect solution to honoring two of their family members, as it’s a combo of Anne and Elizabeth. It’s an even closer match if they use the Anneliese spelling. It reminds me too of Marieliese, which is a combo of Marie and Elizabeth. I like them both for this family. Charlotte Annaliese? Charlotte Marieliese? Even Anne-Elise and Marie-Elise could work, they’re both so pretty
  • I love that Corrie’s husband has always loved Audrey Claire! It’s a gorgeous combo, and exactly their (collective) style, based on my research. I guess I can see what Corrie means about not loving the sound of Henry and Audrey together, but if they were to say their kids’ names together, I think Henry, Eleanor, and Audrey, or Henry, Ella/Bella/etc., and Audrey sound fine!
  • Poppy, Penelope, Persephone, Wilhelmina, Gwen, and Aveline are all surprising! I definitely think there are ways of working the idea of these in … like Poppy can be a nickname for something, even just an affectionate nickname that’s unrelated to the given name. It can certainly work as a nickname for Penelope and Persephone from Corrie’s husband’s list, as well as names like Perpetua and Apollonia. I wonder what they would think of Willa? It’s like Wilhelmina, and a style match for Gemma on Corrie’s list. Gwen is sweet, but I feel like the long Gwendolyn might be a better fit? And the fact that Corrie has Avery and Olivia on her list and her hubs has Evelyn and Aveline on his list really seems like there must be some name out there that combines what they both love, like Livia, Livian or Liviana/Livianna, Livienne, Avila, Genevieve (this also seems like maybe it could loop in Gemma and Gwen?), Evangeline, or Averil

I also love that Henry likes Sophie! So cute!

Alright, so I was pretty excited to do the research for Corrie and her hubs, since there are so many names on their lists — I was really interested to see what might result as new ideas for them. It was definitely challenging! As I mentioned before, so many times I would see a name and think, “Aha!” only to remember that that name was already on one of their lists! And really, I feel like, just based on what Corrie said, the choice is basically down to Charlotte or Avery. So maybe these extra ideas aren’t helpful at all! But it was fun to come up with them anyway:

(1) Josephine
I think this is my favorite idea for this family. It’s long and French like Charlotte, and I think Poppy as a nickname is totally feasible. I’ve also seen Posy/Posey as a nickname for it, which is adorable, and I’ve long thought that Sophie can even work as a nickname for Josephine, which might be a good way of working in Henry’s idea.

(2) Rosemarie
Rosemary is actually a style match for Penelope, but I thought it was similar enough to the feel of Henry and Eleanor that it was a good suggestion. I thought Rosemarie was a better variant because it incorporates the Marie from their family/honor list. But what really sealed the deal was the nickname Romy — Corrie said they love a good nickname, and Romy is actually a style match for Poppy! Of course, Rosie/Rosey is a natural nickname, and I’ve seen Rory too, as well as Roo (I think it was for Rosemary Olivia!), which is adorable. Or just Ro! Cute!

(3) Felicity
Felicity is a match for Gemma and Anneliese (as a stand-in for Annaliese) on Corrie’s list, and Penelope on her husband’s! I really like it as a sister to Henry and Eleanor! I know some families who hesitate because it doesn’t have a huge amount of traditional nicknames, but I did a spotlight post on Felicity that addressed that issue, and there are a bunch to consider, from the more demure Lily to the fun and spunky Flicka.

(4) Beatrice, Beatrix
Henry and Eleanor have a nice Brit feel to them, and Beatrice, which is a match for Eleanor and Eloise, and Beatrix for Penelope, have that same feel I think. Bea is a sweet nickname, and Trixie is traditional as well. I’ve also seen Betsy, and I wonder if they did Beatrice with the nickname Betsy, if that might work as an honor for their Elizabeth? Since Betsy is a traditional Elizabeth nickname?

(5) Phoebe
I was surprised at how well Phoebe did for them! It’s a match for Belle, Charlotte, Penelope, and Sophie! Phoebe’s a sweet name, and Grace Patton’s little Phoebe is such pip, she’s totally made me love the name even more (here,
here, etc.).

(6) Philippa, Pippa
Speaking of Pip, I’m kind of loving Pippa for them! It can totally hold its own with Henry and Eleanor, and it’s similar in sound/appearance to Poppy, Penelope, and Persephone. I also love Ella/Bella/Belle/Ella Grace/Bella Grace with Pippa — what a sweet pair of sisters! If they prefer something a bit more formal with Pippa as a nickname, Philippa’s the traditional choice, a la Princess Kate’s sister Pippa (given name Philippa Charlotte).

(7) Molly, Maisie, Daisy
These ideas are all really inspired by the fact that Corrie said they love a good nickname. Molly’s a match for Henry, Max, Nora, Lucy, Stella, Lily, Kate, and Sophie. Such a great fit for them! If they felt like they preferred a more formal given name, Molly’s origin is as a nickname for Mary, so maybe they could use the Marie on their family/honor list in its place. I’ve already offered a few Marie- names (Marieliese, Marie-Elise, Rosemarie), and Molly could be nicknames for all of them (maybe Marie-Rose more than Rosemarie if you wanted Molly as a nick?). I also like the idea of Madeleine nicked Molly, and Marie Lillian/Marie Louise/Marie Penelope/Marie Olivia/Marie Colette nn Molly.

Maisie’s similar in that it started as a nickname (for Margaret) and it’s a specific style match for Poppy. I know Corrie said Margaret was out (and I love the variant Margot that they have on their list), but I wondered if maybe they would consider something like Marie-Hazel and use Maisie as a nickname?

And Maisie made me think of Daisy, which is also a traditional Margaret nickname, and similar in style to Poppy. I’m not sure what to suggest as a formal name for Daisy, since Margaret’s out, but I thought it was worth a mention anyway, in case it sparks something.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Corrie and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry and Eleanor?

Baby name consultation: Short+sweet, easy to pronounce, Celtic feel

Caitlin and her husband are compiling name ideas for a future baby (they’re not currently expecting), which is a really fun kind of consultation to work on! Their current children are:

Liam Christopher (“I have loved the name Liam since I was 10 (and apparently so had every other woman that gave birth in 2014!) and always wanted to use it if I ever had a little boy. I almost balked because it had gotten so popular but in the end knew I would regret not using it. He is a Liam through and through! Christopher is my husband’s first name.”)

Clare McKenna Constance (“My husband and I happened to be married on St. Clare’s feast day and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares. We then honeymooned in Ireland where we thought how cool it would be to use a geographic, Irish name somehow, so our girl’s first name is for both St. Clare and County Clare. McKenna is my maiden name that I have long thought of using as a middle. My husband and I liked that our first boy has a name from him and our first girl has a name from me. Constance was a last minute addition. My Grandmother (first name Constance) passed away while I was pregnant with Clare. It is also a strong family name as I additionally have an aunt and cousin named Constance. Her 3 names suit her very well as she is full of personality and a red head to boot! We joke that 2 names would not have been enough to contain all that is Clare! We are not big on nicknames but we often use her full name as a sort of nickname.”)

You all know how I feel about Irish names!! I love Liam and Clare together, and I love their name stories!

Caitlin writes,

First of all, we are not currently expecting but if and when we do have more children we are pretty stumped. Our son and daughter have “the” boy and girl names so it’s been very hard to find other names that fit just as well … It has taken naming two children to see that we do have a bit of a naming style. We seem to like “short and sweet” (ideally 1-2 syllables and not too long letter wise), easy to pronounce names. We definitely prefer “softer”, not-harsh sounding names. We like nicknames in theory but in practice prefer to name our children what we plan on calling them. I go almost exclusively by Cait and my husband by Chris so we rarely hear the sound of our full first name! I am from 2 large Irish American families and definitely tend to be drawn to Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo style names but that is not a requirement. My husband is son to 2 first generation Italian immigrants but we are not drawn to most Italian/Latin/Spanish sounding names. We like to use the middle name as an honorific. We probably would not use a top 5 first name unless we LOVED it, like we did Liam.

There are a couple of things we like in theory but not so far in reality, like nicknames. We also like the idea of flower names for a girl but don’t actually like a lot of the shorter flower names and/or they are too popular. We would also like to use a girl’s name that would honor Our Lady but are not big fans of most Mary/Mari/Maria names. Despite that, the idea of using a name like “Marigold” (as it means “Mary’s Gold”) in the middle spot is actually growing on me. It feels a little indulgent for our style but I think it could be anchored by a more familiar first name. One thing I would like to hear your thoughts on, if anything comes to you: we as a family have a devotion to Our Lady under the title “Star of the Sea” or Maris Stella and would like to somehow use a name that is a nod to that. As I mentioned we don’t love most “Mari” names (there are also just sooo many “Mary-Something”/Marias between my Irish family and his Italian family) and don’t like the name Stella very much. I wouldn’t be opposed to using “Maristella” as a middle but again, it just seems a little too extravagant for us. Is there any way you can think of that could reference this title of Our Lady without actually using either word?

On to some lists!

Names we do like, for inspiration:
Girls: Lucy, Chloe, Ruby, Zelie, Gemma, Nora, Isla
Boys: Eamon, Ephraim, Finn (probably my favorite but my husband has a hopeless association with a very silly golden retriever named Finn), Jude, Theo, Oliver

Names we do like but can’t use:
Girls: Brigid, Lily(we just know too many!), Alice
Boys: Asher, Milo, Colm (just a little to clunky to say, I wish it wasn’t!), Calum, Leo (too close to Liam)

Names we dislike OR Family names we can’t repeat:
Girls: Joanna, Sophia, Audrey, Catherine or any variant, Anne, Lauren/Laura, Theresa/Therese, Julie , -ianna names (Gianna, Lillianna, etc etc)
Boys: Samuel, Connor, Matthew, Patrick, Andrew, Noah, Jonah, Ryan, Neil, Nathan, Juian, Stephen

Past and Present Pet’s names we obviously can’t use 😉
Reily, Lacey, Fiona, Bailey

Saints we would honor, likely in the middle spot somehow:
Joseph( also a big family name/my husbands middle name and I love Josephine as a girl middle), Nicholas, Anthony, Bernadette, Raphael, Pius, St. Therese, Rocco, Benedict, Bruno, Therese of Lisieux, Francis, Laurence, Our Lady

My problem with all of the Saints we would like to honor is that I don’t actually like any of their names! My husband doesn’t share this problem and would probably be fine with using any of these for a middle name as is, but I would like to try to find creative homages if possible.”

Alrighty, so I really like that Cait feels they’ve been able to whittle their style down to “short and sweet,” easy to pronounce, “softer” names, and that nicknames aren’t as big for them as they might have thought — I relied heavily on these guidelines when coming up with ideas for them.

I also like that they’re considering Marigold and Maristella for the middle name spot! They’re great names, but if they feel uncomfortable as first names, the middle spot would be a great place for them.

I gave some thought to their “Star of the Sea” question and had a few ideas:

  • Marina: Marina means “of the sea” AND it’s sometimes used in Scotland as an anglicization of the Scottish form of Mary, Màiri. So you can get the sea + Mary + Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo all in one name!
  • Another “star” name: There are several girl names besides Stella that mean “star” or similar, including Estelle (the French form of Stella), Esther (Persian), Seren (Welsh), Steren (Cornish), and the literary name Elanor (from Lord of the Rings – it means “star sun” in Sindarin, and it was also the name of a flower in the LOTR universe, and Samwise’s first daughter). Of those, I particularly like Elanor for them, since they already have Nora on their list of names they’re considering, and Nora can be a nickname for Eleanor/Elanor. Something like Elanor Marina could mean “star + of the sea,” if they felt the connection was strong enough to honor their devotion
  • Another “sea” name: There are other girl names that mean “sea,” as well, including Meri (Finnish), Mira (Indian, Hindi), Muirenn (sea+white/fair in Irish). I’m intrigued by Muirenn, because of their Irish sensibility … Forvo says it’s pronounced like “MUR-in”, as does Baby Names of Ireland I’m quite taken with Elanor Muirenn!

Before I get to my new suggestions to add to their (awesome) list of names, I had a few thoughts about them, and about the saints they’d like to honor (but t they don’t like their names):

  • I wonder if they’d consider Flynn instead of Finn? It’s so similar to Finn, but might be different enough that the dog association would be lost
  • I was so surprised to see Ephraim on their list! It’s almost completely unfamiliar to me! It doesn’t seem easy to say and spell to me, but I love seeing wildcard names on a couple’s list, so I loved seeing it here! Funny enough, Laura Wattenberg (author of the Baby Name Wizard, which I rely heavily on in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) wrote in her latest blog post about “55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights” and Ephraim is one (it’s currently at no. 884; it entered the top 1000 in 2013 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1914). It didn’t inform any of my suggestions below, as I felt it was so different from their other ideas, which tended to be more similar to each other than not. But it did make me think of one name that I thought I’d mention here, in case it strikes their fancy: Malachy. There’s the Old Testament prophet Malachi, which gives Malachy the same biblical feel as Ephraim, but
  • Malachy is an Irish saint’s name and an anglicized form of some heavy-duty old Irish names
  • Cait said they can’t use Milo — I wonder if Miles would be different enough? I’m a huge fan of Miles! Both it and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”! Irish, Mary, and male, all in one name! Also easy to say and spell, short and sweet
  • Josephine for a girl’s middle seems a great way to honor St. Joseph, if they don’t care for Joseph for a boy
  • I have an idea for Nicholas in my official suggestions below
  • For Anthony, I wonder if they would like any of the variants like Antonio or Anton? Or maybe Padua as a middle name?
  • I believe St. Bernadette’s given name was Marie-Bernarde, so maybe just Marie could sufficiently nod to her? (And Our Lady of course, a two-for-one!)
  • Pio and Pia are variants of Pius, maybe they’d like to consider one of them?
  • St. Therese was Marie-Therese, so Marie could be for her too (and Bernadette and Our Lady, whew!). I see Rose names given in her honor frequently as well — I quite like Rose or Rosa for this family, though I know Cait said they don’t care for a lot of the shorter flower names. I have another idea below for honoring St. Therese
  • Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict that I see pop up fairly frequently on lists of names parents are considering
  • Unfortunately I can’t think of anything great for Raphael, Rocco, Bruno, Francis, or Laurence! But I do have some ideas for Our Lady below

Okay, so I looked up the names Cait and her hubs have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and added some ideas of my own. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

Girl

(1) Maura, Moira, Molly
This is one of my Marian ideas — an Irish form of the name itself! I think Maura might be the best option for them, as it’s easy to say and spell. Moira is a pretty option too, though I know pronunciation varies depending on who you’re talking to. And I love Molly for them — it’s a style match for Lucy, Ruby, and Nora. (Using Maura or Moira would knock Nora off for the future, unfortunately.)

(2) Eva
Eva is a style match for Theo, and funny enough, I already had it on my list for Cait and her hubs for three reasons: first, I was trying to think of Irish names that could be easily anglicized, and Aoife was one of the first I thought of; second, Eva can be considered Marian in that Our Lady is considered the New Eve; and thirdly, because in the traditional hymn Ave Maris Stella there’s this stanza:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Since the name Eva is used in the hymn, I thought maybe they could consider Eva to be a nod to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

(3) Maisie
Maisie is a traditional nickname for Margaret, as it’s a diminutive of Mairead (the Irish Margaret). Though it’s often used as a nickname, it’s also bestowed as a given name — it was no. 574 in 2016 on the SSA chart.

(4) Tess(a)
This is my other idea for honoring St. Therese. Tess is a common nickname for the Teresa/Therese names, and like Maisie it can also stand on its own (it was a top 1000 name from 1983 to 2013). Tessa is also lovely, and feels more complete to some parents — it was no. 229 in 2016. (They could also consider the Irish Treasa!)

(5) Grace
Grace was a big style match for this family, being similar to Clare and the Lucy/Ruby/Nora/Molly names. It’s easy to say and spell; there’s the darling Gracie as a nickname if they’d like; and it honors Our Lady as well! It could go really well with heavy hitting, offbeat middles like Marigold and Maristella, though maybe that would be too many Marian names? I also like Grace Bernadette and Grace Josephine (Mary and Joseph in one! Beautiful!).

Boy

(1) Jack, Sean, Shane
These were my first ideas for them before I finished reading Cait’s email! I know they have John, Ian, Owen, and Evan on their list of names they don’t like/can’t repeat, so maybe they meant to add Jack, Sean, and Shane as well … but I had to suggest them just in case! All of them are easy to say and spell and nod to Cait’s Irish heritage.

(2) Henry
Henry is a style match for Clara (standing in for Clare, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), Lucy, and Theo. I think it definitely has a British Isles feel, and there are loads of great Sts. Henry to choose from! I did a spotlight of the name here.

(3) Colin
This is my idea for Nicholas, and I had it on my list for them before I went back and re-read Cait’s email and remembered that Nicholas is one of the saints they love but don’t love his name. It’s easier than Colm and similar to Calum, but I didn’t see it on any of their “can’t/won’t use” lists. It’s got usage as an anglicized form of some Gaelic names, but for this family I prefer the separate usage derived from a medieval diminutive of Nicholas.

(4) Rowan, Rowen (Rohan?)
I’ll be interested to see what they think of Rowan/Rowen! Rowan did surprisingly well for them in my research, being similar in style to Gemma, Isla, and Finn. It’s more unisex than some parents of boys like — in 2016 it was no. 182 for boys and no. 239 for girls — but the spelling Rowen might help (visually anyway, even though it’s said the same as Rowan), as it’s no. 658 for boys and not in the top 1000 for girls. Another option that’s similar is Rohan, which can be said like Rowan, or it could be said RO-han, like the Riders of Rohan in LOTR. It’s got exclusively masculine use as far as I can tell — it was no. 742 in 2016, given to 327 boys and less than five girls (if any; the SSA only lists names given to five children or more in a given year).

(5) Casey
My last idea for Cait and her hubs is Casey. Like Rowan, it has unisex usage; unlike Rowan, the gap between the boy and girl usage is much larger: it was no. 560 for boys in 2016 and no. 857 for girls. The recent beatification of Bl. Solanus Casey has put it on the radar of quite a few parents, and he’s the first Irish American Blessed, which is awesome for Cait’s heritage. I think it’s short and sweet, and easy to say and spell.

There were a few other ideas I considered adding to the list, which I ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Greer, Maeve, and Julia for girls; Rhys, Alec, and Blaine for boys.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Liam and Clare?

Birth announcement: Lewis Maron Job!

Our dear reader eclare, aka Emma, for whom I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for her fifth baby and fifth boy almost two years ago, has had her sixth baby — her sixth boy! She and her husband have given him the amazing and meaningful name … Lewis Maron Job!

Happily, Emma provided lots of details about his naming!

Lewis: both our childhoods were defined by C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, our adolescences enlightened by his Screwtape Letters, and our adult faith refined by Lewis’ many works of nonfiction. The name Lewis also is tied to our Arthur’s patrons (Blsd. Arthur Bell and St Edmund Campion) by a 3rd hunted priest of the Reformation: St. David Lewis, a Catholic priest who was martyred for the “crime” of offering Holy Mass in England in the 1600s. Lewis is also a distant family name on both sides. And St. Louis Martin, the first married saint to be canonized alongside his wife, is another patron through the French spelling of the same name.
http://lastwelshmartyr.blogspot.com/2009/10/family-of-st-david-lewis.html
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lewis_(Jesuit)

Maron: a holy hermit in Syria in the 400s, namesake of the Maronite Catholic Church. St. Maron lived in the open air, exposed to all the elements until his death at a very old age. His faith in the Lord and his dwelling in the Spirit sustained him, beyond physical explanation. Our spiritual director and his monks — near whom we plan to move and raise our sons — are Maronites, as are Lewis’ godparents.
http://www.holy-transfiguration.org/library_en/saints_much.html
http://www.itmonline.org/bodytheology/stmaron.html

Job: our devotion to St. Job, the Much-Suffering, has been strong these past two years of many difficulties. Throughout our months without water which resulted in the deaths of many of our animals and plants (adjacent property owners challenged our water rights), to a flood/mudslide that ruined our fences and pastures, another flood that saturated the interior of our house, dozens of mudslides that closed our road for up to 3 weeks at a time, 20 months of essential unemployment, a 1st trimester that coincided with Don’s police academy, 3 blown car engines, and so on, we looked to the unfailing faith-while-suffering of St. Job as our model. http://otftd.blogspot.com/2013/05/righteous-job-model-of-long-suffering.html

I’ve loved the name Lewis for awhile now, for all the reasons listed, but it took me some time to find a patron. Once I found St David Lewis and his story, we were both sold. We’ve had Lewis Maron picked out for #6 since #5 was born (then the “Job” addition came to us this Fall). The same thing happened with our Arthur and Reuben: loved the name, then found the patron. It feels a little backwards, but I like to think of it as the Saint finding *us* through our love of the name. ❤️

A second weird name-y confession: I’ve always disliked the name Louis, and I still do!! Isn’t that so weird? But Lewis is completely different to me. So balanced, with the consonants in the front, middle, and end, and no danger of being a “Louie.” Even Lew is different from Lou — so literary and all. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Lastly, I had some misgivings about using Lewis because it is very much a place-name where we live. It’s near the end of the Lewis & Clark Expedition/Oregon Trail and every hill, dale, and puddle is Lewis-something. In the end I decided to own it, since it makes this spelling more familiar to everyone. Plus, it’s kind of cool to see his name wherever we go!

Isn’t this all so great?? Emma has such great taste in names, I’m not at all surprised that her little guy was given such a handsome and unexpected combination. And I love all her additional thoughts — her “weird name-y confession” of disliking Louis but loving Lewis, having Saints find us through the love of certain names (I so agree!), and just owning a potentially difficult characteristic of a name — such great stuff!

Congratulations to Emma and her husband and the five big brothers, and happy birthday Baby Lewis!!

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Lewis Maron Job