Disrespectful to use names for God?

Happy Labor Day everyone! I always think how the baby shower my family through for me when I was pregnant with my first baby was held right around now, and had “Happy Labor Day!” on the cake. Such a funny long-ago memory that doesn’t seem that long ago! My boys keep asking me what Labor Day is, so I finally looked up so I could be precise with my answer; this is what I found, in case it’s helpful for you:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” (source)

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

A reader asked a fantastic question:

I really like the name Theo. I am concerned that Theo translates almost directly to the Greek word for God. Should I be concerned that it is in any way disrespectful to use as a standalone name?

I love these kinds of questions, because the intention behind them is so lovely and respectful! There is a history of not using certain names because it was thought to be disrespectful to do so. Our Lady’s name was one such; Rev. Patrick Woulfe wrote in Irish Names and Surnames in 1923:

[Mary as a given name] was very slow in creeping in to the Western Church. It is only about the middle of the 12th century that we find the first instances of its use in Europe, whither apparently it had been brought by the devotion of the crusaders. Even in Ireland, there were few Marys until comparatively recent times. I find only a few instances of the use of the name before the 17th century. At present one-fourth of the women of Ireland are named Mary. The ordinary form of the name, however, is Máire, Muire being used exclusively for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, therefore, the most honoured of all names of women.”

(I wrote more about the name of Mary in Ireland here.)

Back to Theo, I posed a question on the blog a while ago about why the name of Jesus isn’t used by English-speaking parents for their sons, and one of you responded with a link to this article, which contained this:

How come English-speakers don’t name their children Jesus? In observation of the commandment against misusing God’s name, English and American Protestants have historically taken a more conservative view on religious names and reserved the name Jesus for the son of God. In England, Mary was considered too sacred a name for common use until about 1300, and it wasn’t until the past 100 years or so that naming a baby after an angel ceased to be sacrilegious. Around World War II, many Protestants started giving their sons names like Michael and Gabriel; before then, the bearers of those names would have been identifiable as Irish Catholics or German Lutherans.

On the other hand, Jesus has been a common first and last name in Iberian countries since at least the 14th or 15th century. For many Catholics from Spanish and Portuguese cultures, naming a child is considered a way to honor God rather than a violation of a commandment. (Similarly, Catholics differ from Protestants in their interpretation of the commandment against worshipping images.)

I think that last bit — “For many Catholics from Spanish and Portuguese cultures, naming a child is considered a way to honor God rather than a violation of a commandment” — is the key here. Unless a parent’s intention were to name his or her son Theo because they believed their son to actually be God, I would imagine any connection to the meaning of Theo in the choosing of it for their son would be only one of reverence.

How would you respond to this reader? Do you agree with my opinion that using “just Theo” isn’t disrespectful? Have a great Monday!

Articles I’ve written on related topics:

Names “foreign to Christian sensibility” at CatholicMom.com

Good-Intention Baby Naming at Nameberry


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Aurelia-Rose Celeste!

I had the pleasure of posting a consultation for Josh and Mari back in March (the fourth I’ve done for them!) for their baby girl, and I’m delighted to share that she’s arrived and been given the stunning name … Aurelia-Rose Celeste!

Josh writes,

Well, she’s finally here! We had quite a time settling on a name for this little one. Your consultation in the comments were very helpful! We thought for sure she was going to be born yesterday, she held on until 1:20 a.m. this morning and so we decided to name her Aurelia-Rose Celeste. We loved the name and associations with Aurelia but wanted to add Rose for St. Rose of Lima, whose feast is today, as well as for its Marian associations. Thanks for giving us some good ideas!

How lovely is this name?! Aurelia-Rose is so beautiful and feminine, and I love it paired with Celeste. The names altogether have the meaning of “Golden Rose of Heaven” — so Marian! So amazing! I love that Rose also nods to the saint on whose feast the baby was born — so perfect!

Congratulations to Josh and Mari and big siblings Ariana, Audrey, Caleb, Amelia, Anne-Catherine, Charles, Anessa, and Christian, and happy birthday Baby Aurelia-Rose!!

IMG_8956

Aurelia-Rose Celeste


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Henry Kapaun!

I posted a consultation for Sarah and her husband back in January for their ninth baby — a green bean (gender unknown) who would be their tiebreaker. I’m thrilled to share that Sarah’s baby has arrived — a handsome boy with the fantastic name … Henry Kapaun!

Sarah writes,

I’m just following up to let you know that #9, the tiebreaker, arrived in June! It’s a BOY! Henry Kapaun. He arrived almost a month early, but did not experience any complications and was able to come home on time.

As for his name…

My husband and I were both fairly certain we were having a girl. I *sensed* it prior to my 20 week ultrasound, and he swore that he heard the ultrasound tech slip and call the baby *her*. I didn’t hear it, but believed him anyway. 🙄 We had pretty much settled on “Henry Kapaun” for a boy name back in December (and prior to your name consult and suggestion of “Henry”! 🙌🏻). Henry has been on our short list for a few kids now. It fits our criteria of a traditional, not too trendy name that is also a Saint name. As for the middle name, “Kapaun” was also our middle name choice for a boy for our last two babies (who are girls). We just love the story of Fr. Emil Kapaun and thought he would be a wonderful, heroic person for a little boy to be named after. This choice was solidified when all the 2020 chaos erupted. Fr. Kapaun died in a POW camp in Korea, and for months was unable to celebrate mass or offer the Eucharist to others. He suffered, yet was able to provide blessings, prayers, and hope to other soldiers. His ability to forgive his captors and to focus on the eternal glory that awaited him in Heaven is saintly. We had been unable to regularly receive the Eucharist for the last half of my pregnancy, but I was constantly reminded of the suffering that Fr. Kapaun endured and sacrifices he experienced. Our other “inconveniences” brought on by the pandemic (ie. no running to Target to browse cute baby items, no third trimester pregnancy massages, no pre-baby getaway with my husband, etc.) paled in comparison to his experiences. When I contemplated the life of Fr. Kapaun, I was humbled and forced to focus on the eternal glory that does await us all.

The pregnancy was a difficult one that only grew more challenging towards the end. I was unexpectedly sent for an induction immediately after my 36 week appointment. I am a certified nurse midwife, so typically would have (should have) been filled with anxiety knowing the situation that we were in. Instead, we were filled with a calm and peace. We blessed my hospital room with Epiphany water, said many rosaries, asked for the intercession of *our* special Saints, and experienced a *beautiful* and short labor and delivery. Looking back, *of course* it was a boy. 😇

“The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed to us.” — Romans 8:18

Isn’t that just a beautiful pregnancy/birth/name story?? And Henry Kapaun is an amazing combination!!

Congratulations to Sarah and her husband and big siblings Cody, Benjamin, Claire, Dominic, Grace, Peter, Caroline, and Zelie, and happy birthday Baby Henry!!

Henry Kapaun with his family (minus one sibling “thanks to a 1000 mile separation and a pandemic”)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 4 needs a name with meaning and a cute “little brother” nickname

Kelly and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and fourth boy! This little guy joins big brothers:

Patrick Robert
James Gregory
Peter Thomas

Such fantastic names! So classic and handsome!

Kelly writes,

I am so excited to have this consultation done as we have been at a total loss for names, even after prayer and extensive research of names. We are expecting baby boy number four … We love classic, strong, traditional names. We’d love to find a name that goes with our other boys but that also isn’t too popular and has meaning behind it. We have chosen Francis as the middle name after St. Francis De Sales … Andrew, Joseph and John are out … Names that we have considered are William, Edward (Teddy), George (doesn’t sound as great with our last name), Henry, Maximilian (doesn’t necessarily fit with the others). I’d love to find a name that also has a cute nickname given that he’ll be the youngest of the pack.”

Okay! *Rubs hands together* 😀 Kelly and her husband have a great list, but I’m eager to see if I can help them find a name they really love!

I love that they’ve chosen Francis as the middle name, for St. Francis de Sales, one of my favorites. I wonder if Kelly and her husband might like to consider it as a first name though? Especially since Kelly said they’d love to find a name that has a cute nickname since their little guy will be the youngest of a pack of boys. Frankie strikes me as that kind of nickname, so cute!

I do love the other the names they’re considering! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • William: Will, Liam, and Billy are all great nicknames that could go well with the other boys
  • Edward/Teddy: Super cute, I agree! I love St. Edward the Confessor
  • George: I agree that it’s not great with their last name
  • Henry: I love Henry, such a sweet name
  • Maximilian: I can see what Kelly means about Maximilian not being the best fit with Patrick, James, and Peter — if they’re considering it because they love St. Maximilian Kolbe, maybe they’d like to consider his birth name, Raymond, instead? Patrick, James, Peter, and Raymond go together a bit better I think, and Ray’s a cute nickname

I also noted that Kelly would prefer a name that isn’t too popular, so I looked up the popularity of the names they’ve already used and those they’re considering, to get a sense of what kind of popularity we’re talking about. These are the numbers based on the most recent data (2018):

Patrick: 189
James: 4
Peter: 211

William: 3
Edward: 169
George: 127
Henry: 16
Maximilian: 448

So Kelly and her hubs have a mix of names that are quite popular (James, William, Henry), and others that are outside the top 100 (Patrick, Peter, Edward George, Maximilian). In my suggestions below, I included a mix as well. Here are the numbers for the names I’ve already suggested:

Francis: 480
Raymond: 299

I didn’t forget that Kelly also wanted to have a name with meaning, so I definitely took that into account when looking for names that I thought she and her hubby might like. You all know that I always start consultations by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they 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 did that research for Kelly, and looked for names among the results that had a good faith meaning. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Michael
I was pretty influenced by their oldest son’s name: Patrick with brothers James and Peter says “classic Irish Catholic,” which is the theme I had in my head the most when looking for names for this family (though not exclusively). Michael is one of those names! It’s no. 14, which is similar to Henry and less popular than James and William. Michael Francis is so handsome, and Mikey is an adorable nickname.

(2) Timothy
Timothy is one of my favorite names in the “classic Irish Catholic” theme. And being that it’s also a New Testament name, it seems like it can really strengthen the tie among all Kelly’s boys’ names. I love the nickname Timmy! Timothy is right in that sweet spot at no. 165.

(3) Charles
Because Patrick isn’t a biblical name and James and Peter are, I definitely wanted to include some names that aren’t biblical. Charles is a match for this family’s style, and has been used quite a bit recently by Catholics wishing to honor St. John Paul II (his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles). There are also loads of other Sts. Charles, it’s a great, saintly name! And Charlie is so darling. Charles is no. 52.

(4) Oliver
Oliver has shot up the charts recently and is currently at no. 5, which is nice for their James, since his name is so popular at no. 4. It’s also got that nice Irish connection like Patrick, with St. Oliver Plunkett being a great patron; they could also consider it to have biblical connections if they wanted, with the Mount of Olives and the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane being two prominent examples. I love Oliver Francis, that’s stunning. And is anything cuter than Ollie?!

(5) Martin
I like Martin quite a bit — I would definitely consider it classic, strong, and traditional. I love the nickname Marty too, I can definitely see a youngest brother being called Marty! Martin Francis sounds wonderful together. Martin is no. 272.

(6) Kenneth
I wonder what they would think of Kenneth? Kenny is such a great, friendly nickname, and there are two Sts. Kenneth — one Irish and one Welsh. Kenneth is no. 226.

(7) Kevin
I wasn’t surprised to see Kevin listed as a style match for Patrick — like Patrick, it’s a classic, strong, traditional Irish name, and it’s a saint’s name as well. I know of Kevins who go by Kev, which is pretty cool, and I could see Kevvy being a brother nickname when he’s small. Kevin’s no. 125.

(8) David
Finally, David is a style match for this family, which struck me as having a good feel because it’s biblical, like James and Peter, but Old Testament, which gives it its own thing. And my grandfather, who was born and raised in Ireland, was named David, so that felt like a great connection for Patrick (again, totally subjective here, but my consultations are always a mix of research and gut feeling!). Davy is one of my favorite nicknames, I love it. David is no. 122.

Those were all my ideas for Kelly’s baby boy, but after I sent them to her she responded with another question that she’d be delighted to get your thoughts on as well:

Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas! This truly has been so difficult, I never thought naming could be this tough! Hah We are leaning towards William given that it like Patrick, it isn’t biblical, it goes with the other boys, and it was a popular Irish immigrant name (my husband’s great-grandfather). There is another name that randomly came up that I was going to get your thoughts on, Grady. Grady seems unique, but not totally out there and also has the Irish attachment. It also has the meaning noble, like Patrick. Does William Grady (call him Grady) or Grady itself work with the other boys? Does it seem too far off the beaten path? I wish there was a saint association with it to tie it together.”

I told her that I love William, just because it’s great, but I love her reasons behind it too. And I love Grady! I had it on my own list back when I thought I could sway my husband toward more Irishy names, haha!

I took a quick look on CatholicSaints.info for any saintly connection for Grady, and found that one of the priests who is part of the Irish Martyrs was John O’Grady; here’s another entry that mentions him — he’s not canonized, but that could be a nice faith connection for Kelly and her husband to consider (and perhaps she and her family could take it on as a spiritual exercise to pray for his cause for canonization — it appears there isn’t much known about him, including the date he died — maybe their prayers could help bring his holiness to light!). I’m sorry I could find anything more direct!

As for fitting with the other boys, I think Patrick, James, Peter, and Grady sound fine together. Certainly Grady is a different style, which might feel a little jarring to people who really pay attention to those kinds of things (name nuts, mostly!), but the fact that it’s his middle name remedies that nicely — Patrick, James, Peter, and William are exactly perfectly matched. If any of Kelly’s older boys have offbeat nicknames for their names, that would loop Grady in a bit more too, but even if not I think it’s fine! And it opens up some more possibilities for future boys’ names, if they were so blessed.

And that’s all I got! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Patrick, James, and Peter? What do you think of Grady, either as a given name or as a middle name that he’d go by?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Spotlight on: Hildegard

My CatholicMom.com piece for August posted on Wednesday and I don’t want you to miss it — I know we’re all in need of some peace as the new school year looms (or has already started for some of you)! Check it out: A Litany of School Saints: Protection and Help for the Academic Year.

This name spotlight is a little different from my others, in that it’s more about how to honor this saint without using her name! A reader wrote:

Would you ever consider doing a post on names to honor St. Hildegard of Bingen? She is such an amazing saint, and we would love to honor her in naming our baby, but maybe there are other parents out there, like us, who just can’t quite bring themselves to name a little girl Hildegard. (For those who can, good for them! But I’m not quite there!)

I totally agree, she is such an amazing saint!! And while I have a soft spot for Hildy/Hildi/Hildie (either as a nickname for Hildegard or as a given name in her honor), I do of course totally get what this mama means in regards to the full Hildegard. It’s a little heavy!

Before getting into other names that might honor her, though, I want to talk about Hildegard itself for a minute. According to Behind the Name and the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources, Hildegard is made up of two elements: hild/hiltja, meaning “battle” and gard/gart , meaning “enclosure, protection; yard, garden.” Of those two, the first element seems the most “St. Hildegard,” both in terms of sound (Hilda/Hilde would seem natural to most people if you were to tell them that it was in honor of St. Hildegard) and in terms of meaning (“battle”! What an amazing and unexpected meaning for a girl and a woman! Such a warrior name! Perfect for one of the only female Doctors of the Church!). Other spellings and variants include the English Hylda and the Italian Ilda and Elda.

(And again: Hildy/Hildi/Hildie! SO sweet! For a real-life sweetie pie named Hildegard, see Haley Carrots’ little girl!)

However, if none of these are quite right, I think these other ideas can work:

— Sibyl: The mama who wrote to me had already thought of Sibyl as an idea, since St. Hildegard of Bingen is known as the Sibyl of the Rhine, and I think it’s definitely a St. Hildegard-specific name, if you want it to be. A great option! Other spellings and variants include Sybil, Cybill, Sibylle/Sybille, Sybella, Sibilla/Sibylla, and the intriguing Norman variant Sébire (though I’m not totally sure of pronunciation).

— Rhine: While Rhine is a place name that’s not objectively specific to St. Hildegard, Sibyl of the Rhine makes it subjectively so. In this sense, Rhine could be for St. Hildegard in the way Siena is for St. Catherine and Avila is for St. Teresa. Its sound is similar to Ryan and would make a really fun and different way of honoring her.

— A name to do with “ten”: One of the interesting things I discovered in my research is that St. Hildegard is traditionally understood to be her parents’ tenth child (apparently only seven children are recorded, but perhaps her parents were counting miscarried children, as so many of us do?) and as such was dedicated to the Church as a “tithe.” How interesting! Maybe a name having to do with the number “ten” would hit the right note for some families? Dixie, for example, is thought to have derived for the French for “ten.” (I’ve also loved the idea of Tennyson for a tenth son! I can see it working nicely for a girl too! It doesn’t have “ten” in its meaning, but the Ten- makes it obvious!)

— Bernard, Eugenius, John, Benedict: Men with these names played important roles in St. Hildegard’s life and afterlife. St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Pope Eugenius both encouraged her in her writings; Pope John XXII beatified her; and while Hildegard was popularly regarded as a saint since the fourteenth century, Pope Benedict XVI made it official (a process known as “equipollent [equivalent] canonization,” which I’d never heard of before) and also declared her to be a Doctor of the Church. Bernadine, Bernadette, and Bernarda are feminine variants of Bernard; Eugenia is for Eugenius; Joan, Jane, Jean, Joanna, Gianna, Giovanna (and more!) are some feminine variants of John; and Benedicta, Benedetta, Bettina, Benita, and Benoîte (and more!) are for Benedict.

— Two further arguments for a Benedict name: St. Hildegard was a Benedictine; also, since Benedict means “blessed,” I’ve often thought it can be used in honor of all the holy people (I included it in my book of Marian names for that reason).

— Names with similar meaning: I looked for other names that had a similar meaning and found a few possibles. The one that I think is closest is Blair — it means “plain, field, battlefield,” which is so similar to Hildegard’s “battle” + “enclosure, protection; yard, garden.” Others include Clotilde, Matilda, and Romilda, all of which have that “hild” element contained within (the “ild” part in all of them). And the fact that “garden” is included in the meaning of the “gard” part of Hildegard makes me think of flower names, which would really provide some nice, feminine alternatives.

I know a lot of these ideas might seem too far afield from Hildegard, but I also know that some families might find them to be the perfect solution to the dilemma of wanting to name a daughter after St. Hildegard but not finding Hildegard to be their style. (And if you want to name a son after St. Hildegard, many of these can work for boys too!)

Please share with me your ideas for naming a baby after St. Hildegard without using the name Hildegard! I’d also love to hear from any of you who have named after St. Hildegard, or know someone who has. I want to hear all the details! Happy Friday everyone!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Nicknames for Lawrence (and some other ideas too)

M. and her husband are expecting their first baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 She writes,

We very recently found out we’re expecting again. I’ve had 3 previous losses, 2 very early and 1 at 11 weeks, so we are cautiously hopeful. I am a huge name nerd and we have been discussing names for years. We aren’t planning to find out gender so we want to have a name picked for each.

Our girl name is set — Maria Grace. My Mom and I are both variants of Mary and all of my Aunts and many cousins have the middle name Marie. I wanted to continue the Marian tradition with a little girl. I’m a chemist and my husband is in IT, so the name is also a nod to Marie Curie and Grace Hopper.

Boy names have been harder, with our last pregnancy, we had kind of settled on Nicholas Daniel, but neither of us were in love. Other names in the mix were Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard and James. We wanted something that as he grows up, has a lot of nickname opportunities to fit his personality. My worry was that Nicholas Daniel dated too much into the 90s when Nicholas was most recently popular.

While we were trying to conceive this little green bean, I had a dream about a little boy, Anthony James, and grew attached to the name. It’s still a contender, but it doesn’t feel perfect.

A bit randomly I was scrolling a list of names that have never been out of the top 1000, and saw Lawrence. We both really liked it immediately! It just felt right in a way other names hadn’t. But is it an old man’s name? I know ‘old’ names are coming back, but I’ve not heard Lawrence mentioned for a baby ever. We wanted a harder middle name sound and think Lawrence Kolbe had a great flow, with great patron saints as well. We’re about 94% certain this is our boy pick (and open to suggestions).

And after that novel of explanation, the main point of us wanting the consultation: I loathe the nickname Larry for Lawrence and it seems like that’s the most accepted one. I would love suggestions for nicknames! I’m trying to make Rory fit because I adore the name but it’s not intuitive. Does that matter?

I absolutely love their girl name — Maria Grace is a gorgeous combo and sounds perfect for this family, for the reasons mentioned and also, of course, its Marian-ness. Beautiful!

As for their previous boy names, I think Nicholas Daniel is very handsome! Nicholas is exactly as M. described it — lots of nicknames to fit any personality — and I would include “classic” and “saintly” as well. I wouldn’t let its 90s popularity bother them — it entered the top 100 in 1972 and hasn’t left since, coming it at no. 74 in 2018 (the most recent year the data is available), so even though its top ten years were in the 90s, it’s a consistent, solid favorite. I continue to hear of babies named Nicholas — my husband and I considered it as well!

The other names they considered — Isaac, Charles, Anthony, Bernard, and James — are all similarly classic and saintly! Anthony was a top ten name from 2006-2008, and James has been since 2014 (no. 4 in 2018), which I think put them in good company with Nicholas. I love M.’s “dream name” as well — Anthony James is very handsome!

BUT! I mostly love Lawrence Kolbe!! What a fantastic name!! Please let me alleviate M.’s worries right away — I think Lawrence is wonderful for a little boy born in 2021! She’s right that it’s had an “old man” feel up until recently, but as she said, “old” names are definitely coming back. My eight-year-old actually had a Lawrence in his class in preschool — he went by the full Lawrence all the time, and his sister was Penelope, which is very popular currently, so I always felt like his parents had their fingers on the pulse of what’s up and coming.

I think M.’s question about nicknames for Lawrence is perfect, and so fun. As soon as she said Rory I LOVED it — I very much want them to name their son Lawrence Kolbe and call him Rory! That is simply wonderful!! I know that it might not seem intuitive, but when I was compiling a list of alternate nickname ideas, I remembered Laurie from Little Women, and Rory is absolutely not that big a leap from Laurie (or Lawrie). It reminds me of Bob for Robert, for example, or Daisy for Margaret, or Tony for Anthony, or Betsy/Lily/Buffy for Elizabeth — all traditional nicknames for the given names that don’t start with the same letter as the given name and in many cases aren’t intuitive at all. I say, go for it! (In fact, I’d included Lawrence as a possible patron saint for a little guy named Rory in this post!)

However, I can always come up with more ideas! I looked through the entry for Lawrence on Behind the Name for ideas, and came up with the following:

(1) Lars
This is a Scandinavian and German form of Lawrence, and makes an easy nickname.

(2) Lenz
Another German variant of Lawrence, and cool with that ending “z.”

(3) Rens, Ren
Rens is a Dutch variant, and I’ve actually seen Ren used as a nickname for Lawrence.

(4) Enzo, Renzo
Enzo and Renzo are both Italian short forms, and Renzo has Spanish usage as well.

(5) Larkin
What a sweet name! It’s a Medieval English diminutive of Lawrence.

In addition to those, Rence, Law, Laz (I think this is a very Australian construct — giving nicknames that end in Z, like Baz for Barry, Shaz for Sharon, etc.), and Law are all doable. A crazy but maybe really cool idea could be Lolek — it’s the nickname St. John Paul II went by as a child, I believe it’s a diminutive of his name Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, but it makes total sense for Lawrence Kolbe, and gets an extra saint reference in there! (Here’s a little guy named Lolek whose [belated] birth announcement I posted to the blog.)

Those are my ideas for nicknames for Lawrence, but M. also said they were open to suggestions, and their name dilemma and taste, as well as M.s profession as a chemist and her hubby’s work in IT (and the fact that M. used “about 94%” to describe their level of certainty about Lawrence Kolbe as their frontrunner — 94% is very precise! I love it!), reminded me of two consultations I did previously: one for a family who loves science and technology (I’d suggested Charles for Babbage and Hopper for Grace for them!) and one for a family who wanted a science or nature reference included in each of their children’s names (I’d suggested Nicholas for them, after Tesla; this family specifically wanted alliterative first+middle combos, so Nicholas Neri was my full suggestion — it’s unexpected-but-saintly middle name reminds me of Lawrence Kolbe!). So I looked back at those consultations to see what other boy names I’d suggested and thought these might be nice additions to M.’s list:

(1) Gerard
This had actually been inspired by the character of Ged in the fantasy/sci-fi Earthsea series, and I’d previously seen Ged suggested as a nickname for Gerard, and St. Gerard is amazing, so I love the idea of Gerard nicknamed Ged — very like Lawrence nicknamed Rory! For reference, Gerard hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 2002 (I find that so surprising!).

(2) George
George is one of the first “old man” names I observed come back into fashion — a friend of mine named her son George ten years ago and I remember being surprised, and now I know so many little guys named George! Fr. George LeMaitre was the priest who came up with the Big Bang Theory, and the nicknames Geo and Geordie have that unexpectedness that Rory for Lawrence and Ged for Gerard have. George was no. 127 in 2018.

(3) Reginald
Reginald’s inspiration for that science+nature family was theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (they wanted a theologian’s name in addition to a science/nature name), and Reginald jumped out at me for M. and her husband when I was looking back through those consultations, as I think it has a really “Lawrence” feel. I don’t have any cool nickname ideas, but if they like Reginald, I could certainly try to come up with some! (And if any of you know of any, I’d love to hear them!) Reginald was no. 831 in 2018, which I find fascinating. Old is definitely new!

And those are all my ideas for this little bean! What do you all think? What nicknames for Lawrence and/or other name(s) would you suggest if they have a boy? Please keep M. and her baby in your prayers!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Celebrity guest: Pauline, who started reading as a daughter and continues as a mama!

On Thanksgiving 2015, I posted such a fun consultation — a pseudo consultation, really, because it was commissioned by the eldest daughter of the parents in question, who wrote,

I don’t see my parents having more but they always joke that they would have absolutely no more name ideas if God were to send us a #10. If you want a project, even though there truly is no baby coming (that I know of!) I thought it might be fun to see some name suggestions that you might come up with!

There haven’t been any more babies for her parents, BUT that daughter is now a mama herself! And she still reads the blog! And I was so excited to talk names with her! Scroll down to read all about Pauline and her beautiful family!

Kate: Tell me about yourself! Hubby’s name (if he doesn’t mind), are you home with your kids and/or do you work? Anything you want us to know?

Pauline: My husband’s name is Ian and we met at Benedictine College. We have been married for 3 years. Ian works in surgical technologies and he is Army National Guard. I am home with our boys full-time, so life is a hot mess but I couldn’t imagine it any other way 🙂

Kate: What are your boys’ names (first and middle) and how did you and your husband choose them?

Pauline: Our boys are Rowan Michael (2) and Fulton Patrick (5 months). We joke that we are lucky we had two boys first because those were the two baby names we were sold on from the start — after this we are in trouble!

Rowan Michael is after St. Rowan of Lorrha, who is known as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland and studied under St. Finian. We didn’t know any of this until researching the name and we loved what we learned! Michael is after St. Michael, Ian Michael and Rowan’s grandpa Mike.

Fulton was actually a name my parents almost used but they thought it might be confusing because they already had a Fintan! Ian and I babysat the sweetest kids when we were just dating and one of them was named Fulton. We have talked about it ever since! Ven. Fulton Sheen has always been a favorite of ours and we liked the unique Irish style of the name. Patrick is after St. Patrick and my dad, Patrick.

Ian and I cherish the opportunity to find out our babies’ genders at their anatomy scans during pregnancy. We named both boys soon after we found out and prayed throughout the pregnancies for the intercession of their Patron Saints. I have difficult pregnancies so this really helped me to have hope and to bond with our little ones long before they were born. I love the identity and personhood a name gives.

Kate: I know your parents were really influenced by their French and Irish heritage in choosing their children’s names — did you or your husband have a theme in mind?

Pauline: We are drawn to the idea of Irish names for boys and French names for girls, just like my family. I think Ian and I both like less traditional/more unique Catholic names. I love that it is becoming more common to get creative with Catholic baby naming!

Kate: Since both of your little ones are boys, do you mind sharing the names you guys discussed for girls? Or, if you don’t want to get specific, maybe just broadly: is your taste in girl names similar or different than your taste in boy names?

Pauline: It’s so fun to talk about French girl names! Rowan would have been Caroline if he was a girl, but we probably won’t be using that name. We had a discussion when I was pregnant with Fulton about whether or not we wanted to give our daughters “normal” French names (names that would pass as “normal” here in the States like Caroline, Genevieve, Sophie) or if we wanted to use more uniquely French names (like my sisters’ names — Florie, Domitille, etc.). Ian really liked the latter and sold me on it so even though we still love Caroline, we are going to use names that are much less popular here. We have two that we love. We will see what God has in store for our family and if we ever get to use our girl names!

I am honored that anyone might even want to read our crazy baby naming thoughts. Isn’t it funny that we put so much thought into it all?! 

Sancta Nomina was so special for me to find years ago because I couldn’t believe someone else was as interested in names as I was! So thank you for your amazing work on the blog and thank you for thinking of our family!

Isn’t this all just so wonderful?? I absolutely loved reading Pauline’s answers to my questions, and then going back and reading my previous post about Pauline’s parents and her siblings (I’ve actually referred to it many times when doing consultations, as there are some really great French names for girls in it!). This is an extended family with great taste in names! I also love that her parents are Patrick and Beatrice and she and her husband are Ian and Pauline — Irish + French, both. So cool to see that reflected in their children’s names!

Thank you so much to Pauline for introducing us to her family and talking names! I’m sure you’ll love to follow her: here’s her web site and her Instagram.

pauline_taylor

Pauline with her husband Ian and their sons Rowan and Fulton ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Tiebreaker baby needs not-too-popular, classic, Catholic name with a great nickname

We had the opportunity to go away for the weekend, so we took it! So I missed wishing you all a happy feast of St. Dominic (Saturday) — a big deal for this lay Dominican! — and of St. Edith Stein (Sunday) — a big deal for me because it’s my second oldest’s birthday (he turned 14)! Such a great couple of feast days!

Nicole and her husband Brenden both — separately — survived accidents which left them with severe traumatic brain injuries, then met each other in rehab and got married, became motivational speakers with the so-needed message that every life has a purpose, and are expecting their fifth baby — a tie-breaking boy! (Read more about their mission and ministry on their web site!) Each of their children is extra miraculous, since Nicole had been told she wouldn’t be able to have children. Such an inspiring couple and family!

Their littlest guy joins big sibs:

Faith Marie
Seth William
Veronica Kateri
Kieran James

Of course I love all these names! I love how they each have at least one name that’s a little more unexpected: Faith, Seth, Veronica, Kateri, and Kieran are all out of the top 100, coming in at numbers 122, 376, 357, not top 1000, and 497, respectively, in 2018. I like that a lot!

Nicole writes,

We like relatively classic names that are not unheard of but not super popular either … I think finding a name is so so so difficult for us for a few reasons:

(1) Our friends are almost completely Catholic and have pretty much chosen all of the best names

(2) I love nicknames and if there is a controversial nickname or one that I don’t care for it gets excluded

(3) So far baby names we’ve thought were “the one” but changed from are:

— Christian (I think it sounds redundant with big sister Faith)
— Maximilian (my husband has a cousin named Max)
— Kellan (I think the names Kieran & Kellan are too much next to each other and we would potentially like to use Cole as the middle name and [I don’t want to use the initials KC])

I would love it if you could find name options with either a -ca or -an ending [like Veronica or Kieran] of a letter in common with all of the [kids’ names] … we have a special devotion to the rosary … A Marian name might be good for this babe as I feel (like so many other people) a special devotion to Our Lady … [also] I was diagnosed with a rare genetic autoimmune disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) [and] I was hoping you could offer a name option of someone that either lived with a sickness their entire life (similar to me), who cared for the sick, or a patron saint of respiratory, joint, arthritis.”

I love that Nicole let me know about their devotion to the rosary and Our Lady, as well as her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Those kinds of things are really meaningful to me as well, and I kept them in mind as I was working on this for her. I admit I couldn’t figure out a connection with EDS (I looked it up quickly, but didn’t see anything that seemed relevant — if any of you know of anything, please share!), but Marian and Rosarian connections are my specialty! (Or at least, one of my favorite inspirations for names!)

Before getting to my list of suggestions for this family, I want to address the names that they’ve considered (and even thought were “the one”) and decided against (they gave me good extra info to use in my research). I thought it might be helpful to hear my thoughts on those names:

  • Christian: Such a great name, one of my favorites! I can see what Nicole means about Christian being redundant with big sister Faith
  • Kellen: I totally agree that Kieran and Kellen are too similar, unfortunately, especially with Kellen immediately following Kieran
  • Maximilian: I love St. Maximilian Kolbe, so I love seeing this name on their list! If Max is the biggest reason that they don’t want to use it, I wonder if a different nickname would help? My favorite nickname suggestion for Maximilian is Miles — I’ve suggested it many times to parents in other consultations. Not only do I think Miles is a cool and totally possible nickname for Maximilian, but it has Marian connections of its own! I wrote a book of Marian baby names and included Miles in it for this reason:

Miles is an Anglicization of an old Irish name — in this case, Maolmhuire, meaning ‘servant of the Virgin Mary.’”

And Maximilian is in my book too! I wrote:

This name points to the greatness of Our Lady, as Maximilian means ‘greatest,’ as well as to St. Maximilian Kolbe … who had a great love for Our Lady

So I could see Maximilian nicknamed Miles being a great option for this baby! However, if Nicole still doesn’t want to go with Maximilian, I wonder what they would think of Miles as a given name, for the reasons I outlined above?

I love that they’re considering Cole as a middle name — in honor of Nicole, I’m assuming? I love the name Cole, and think honoring Mom in a son’s name is fantastic. However, I have a few ideas below that wouldn’t go so well with Cole as a middle name, so I offered some alternative ideas, in case they’re helpful.

In terms of finding a saint connected to Nicole’s autoimmune disease, St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron of arthritis, and St. Bernardine of Siena is the patron of respiratory illnesses. I didn’t think either one is their style, though I included St. Alphonsus below in the list of “rosary saints” (and he’s got a bunch of amazing names included in his [very long] given name!). Nicole’s thought about a saint who lived with a sickness his/her entire life reminded me immediately of Bl. Margaret of Castello (she was a lay Dominican! And patroness of disabled/physically challenged people!), so I included a name connected to her below.

Alrighty, so when I was looking for names that Nicole and Brenden might like, I took into account how Nicole said she’d love name options with either a -ca ending, like Veronica, or an -an ending, like Kieran, or a letter in common with all the kids. I kept nicknames in mind, as well as the fact that they prefer more classic-sounding names, and the aforementioned devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Otherwise, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and then took a look at the list of results to see if any names jumped out as being similar to more than one of their children’s names, as well as those with great faith connections. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this baby boy:

(1) Gabriel
I noticed Gabriel immediately as it’s a style match for Faith and Christian! Additionally, Gabriel is incredibly Marian and Rosarian because of his role in the Annunciation. Its traditional nickname is Gabe, which I love because it’s so friendly, but I’ve also seen Gib and Gil, both of which I think are amazing. I quite like Gabriel Cole.

(2) Caleb
Though Nicole had suggested a -ca name or an -an name to match up with Veronica or Kieran, I focused more on the fact that both had strong K sounds (as do Kateri, Christian, and Kellen), and hoped to find names with a similar sound. Caleb seemed like a perfect candidate! I love that it not only has the strong K sound like Kieran, but also begins with the same Ca that Veronica ends with, is biblical like Seth, and was an actual style match for Faith per the BNW. Caleb Cole isn’t the best flow, perhaps, but maybe Caleb Maximilian? Caleb Francis, for St. Francis de Sales (Nicole told me in another message that she was born on the feast of St. Francis de Sales)? Caleb Brenden, for Dad?

(3) Kolbe
Very similar in sound to Caleb, I wonder what they would think of Kolbe as a first name? It’s got that strong K sound that ties Veronica and Kieran together, and is a non-Max way of honoring St. Maximilian Kolbe. It could also possibly nod to Nicole, because of the “Cole” sound at the beginning? Kolbe Francis and Kolbe Brenden are both nice options.

(4) Dominic
Maximilian has that heavy, monastery feel of names like Augustine, Benedict, and Dominic, and when I saw Dominic listed as a style match for it, I thought it could be awesome for this family. Not only is it a great name, but according to tradition, St. Dominic was given the rosary by Our Lady and the Dominicans have always promoted it. Additionally, it’s got Veronica’s and Kieran’s hard K sound, and the ending “nic” could be a nod to Nicole! Some nicknames include Dom/Dommy (like Tom/Tommy, so cute!) and Nic/Nicky/Nico. I quite like Dominic Cole, as well as Dominic Francis, Dominic de Sales, and Dominic Brenden. It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and I spotlighted it on the blog here (a big reason was to assure those who aren’t of Italian or Spanish heritage that Dominic is an amazing option!).

(5) Patrick
The more I think about Patrick, the more I like it for this family. It’s got the hard K sound, it’s Irish like Kieran and Brenden, and it’s got some really cool nickname ideas. If they like Pat, that’s great — I know a few men named Pat, and it works well. They could go the ultra Irish route with Paddy, which I also love! But I think they might prefer something like Packy or Pax, both of which I’ve seen used for Patrick, and I think they really help freshen up the name. Also, Pax means “peace”! They could use it as a nod to Our Lady of Peace, giving it a Marian spin. Patrick Cole, Patrick Francis, Patrick de Sales, and Patrick Brenden are all really handsome.

(6) Nicholas or Nico
I’m guessing that maybe they’ve already considered Nicholas and decided they like Cole more? But it’s a style match for Veronica and Christian, it’s got the hard K sound, it’s a perfect way to name a boy after Nicole, and they can totally use Cole as a nickname. It’s also biblical like Seth. Nicholas Francis would be a really nice way to honor Nicole — the male version of her first name and the Saint whose feast day is the day she was born! If Nicholas is too popular for their taste, then maybe Nico as a given name? Nico Francis?

(7) Luke
Luke is a style match for Faith and Seth (!), it’s got the hard K of Veronica and Kieran, and it’s a super Marian name! Luke’s gospel is considered the most Marian, as it contains the accounts of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the first half of the Hail Mary, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat, which is why it’s in my book. Luke Cole doesn’t sound so great, but maybe Luke Nicholas? Luke Francis? Luke de Sales? Luke Brenden?

(8) Owen
Owen is a match for Faith, it has the -n ending of Kieran (not -an, but the -en has a similar sound), and it has that Irishy feel of Kieran and Brenden (and Kellan, to a certain extent). It’s also the last name of one of my favorite saints — St. Nicholas Owen — so something like Owen Nicholas or even Owen Cole would be extra meaningful. I also love Owen Francis and Owen Brenden.

(9) Isaac
Isaac is totally based on the fact that it’s biblical like Seth and has the hard K of Veronica and Kieran — it’s such a great name! Ike is a traditional nickname for it, as is Zac. Isaac Francis, Isaac Cole, Isaac Nicholas, and Isaac Brenden are all great.

(10) Garrett
Garrett is inspired by Bl. Margaret Castello — and I know of a little boy named in honor of a different St. Margaret, because his dad has a devotion to her, and the name they chose to honor her in a boy was Garrett (because of the -garet ending of Margaret). I love Garrett! It’s got an Irishy feel, and is actually derived from Gerard, which is another great patron — St. Gerard Majella is the patron of pregnant women and unborn children.

Those are all my “official” suggestions for first names for Nicole and Brenden’s little guy, but there are also a bunch of Saints and other names that relate to the Rosary that might be perfect as middle name contenders (or maybe first name ideas as well?), which I wanted to include in case one of them hits the right note (these are all from my book):

  • Bl. Alan de la Roche (also known as Alain de la Roche, Alan de Rupe, Alano de la Roca, and Alanus [de] Rupe)
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori (his full name: Alphonsus Maria Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de Liguori!)
  • Bl. Bartolo Longo (Bartolo is a variant of Bartholomew)
  • Benedict (it means “blessed” and as such can refer to Our Lady; there are of course a bunch of Sts. Benedict)
  • Clement (means “merciful” or “gentle,” and is used as an adjective for Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen)
  • Francis (can be used for St. Francisco, one of the children at Fatima)
  • St. Louis de Montfort (he’s a huge Marian saint and wrote the classic The Secret of the Rosary)
  • Rosario (means “rosary”)
  • Royce (as I wrote in my book: “This traditional male name is from a medieval variant of Rose, which makes Royce an entirely appropriate way to name a little boy for Our Lady”)

And those are my ideas for Nicole and Brenden’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Bernadette Frances!

I posted a consultation for Margie and her husband back in May, and I’m thrilled to share that their baby has arrived — a little girl given the first name Margie’s loved for a while, with a family middle: the beautiful … Bernadette Frances!

Margie writes,

We went with the name I originally loved, Bernadette. And I really can’t picture another name for her (although we joked at the hospital and sent the family Cora Deeann — CDC). We picked Frances as the middle name as the tribute to my father-in-law, my grandpa and my husband’s grandma. We really like honoring family in that regard.

We’ve considered Birdie as the nickname and our 2-year-old, Penelope, likes to call her Adette (adebt). And Henry is already asking for a brother. 😝”

I love love love Bernadette Frances! I’m so glad they went with it! (Cora Deeann — CDC! 😂😂😂)

Congratulations to Margie and her husband and big sibs Henry and Penelope, and happy birthday Baby Bernadette!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Iris Miriam!

I’ve emailed the five winners of the St. Anne giveaway, but have only heard back from three of you — Thalita and Anne, please check your email! 

I posted my predictions for Grace Patton’s baby back in February, and for those who haven’t already seen, I’m excited to finally share the birth announcement for said baby — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Iris Miriam!

Grace wrote in the birth announcement on her blog:

Iris Miriam has arrived! She was born on June 1st and I’ll save all the details for the birth story that should be up superdupersoon but she’s been a delightful addition to the family and I’m still SO surprised that she was a she! All of the older kids have been a huge help and Clement is pretty independent and hasn’t seemed bothered that there’s a new baby in town … yet. Abe finally started calling her, “Iris” instead of, “virus” and is always walking around closing the shutters in the house saying she doesn’t like the sunshine (??). Overall, we’re adjusting well and feel so fortunate to have her here safe and sound.”

(Abe calling her “virus” kills me! 😂😂😂)

And in her birth story post, Grace wrote:

Simon and I were SO sure that I was having a boy (her heart rate was super low throughout the pregnancy which isn’t a proven theory — it was proof enough for me and my late night Google searches) that we hadn’t nailed down a middle name in the event we had a girl.

We decided to toss around some girl middle names and decided we wanted to go the Marian route and I was super surprised Simon agreed to Miriam because he normally goes through a, “no way … maybe … I’ll think about … maybe … I don’t know … I guess … maybe … okay!” song and dance when I suggest any name at all. So, easy peasy.”

I just love the combo Iris Miriam so much! I know Iris was a longtime favorite of Grace’s, so I’m thrilled for her that she got to use it. And a Marian middle will never not be my favorite thing. So beautiful!

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big siblings Julia, Sebastian (Bash), Theodore (Theo), Phoebe, Bosco, Abraham (Abe), and Clement, and happy birthday Baby Iris!!

Check out Grace’s web site and her Instagram for pictures of her beautiful baby!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!