Fun reading for your Thanksgiving!

Be sure to check back in on Friday for the Sancta Nomina Black Friday deals!

I read two things recently that I know you’ll all enjoy! This is the more recent one: Reasons to celebrate your Name Day by Tom Hoopes on Aleteia. I love the Name Day tradition in many (all?) European countries!

And one of you wonderful readers alerted me to the fact that the Schwandt family — nationally famous for having fourteen boys — recently welcomed baby no. 15 — their first girl!! Wow!! Their little lady’s name is Maggie Jayne, which is sweet and lovely, but I’m dying to know the story behind it! I know in our case, the name we’d chosen for a girl started out honoring my mom and mother-in-law and by the time we got to our seventh boy I’d added in a bunch of other honorees into the ever-evolving girl’s name. I remember Rachel Balducci saying the same about her daughter — her only girl after five boys: “Isabel was born! And that was always on my girls name list (which was never touched) and her middle name is Anne-marie, which is from each of the grandmothers. It’s a lot of name but I had to cram a lot into this one girl!” If anyone’s read about Maggie Schwandt’s name, please let me know! Her big brothers are Tyler, Zach, Drew, Brandon, Tommy, Vinny, Calvan, Gabe, Wesley, Charlie, Luke, Tucker, Francisco and Finley (I copied and pasted so if any of the spellings are incorrect [I’m looking at Calvan, which I’ve seen as Calvin in previous stories], it’s CNN’s fault). The Schwandts are Catholic, so if anyone knows how to get in touch with them, I’d LOVE to interview them about how they chose their children’s names!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! I’m so grateful for you all!!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Judah Abraham!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope to post again tomorrow, but just in case I’m not able to, I want to be sure you know to check back in on Friday to see my Black Friday deals!

I posted a consultation for Monica and her husband last year when they were between babies, and I’m so happy to share that they’ve just welcomed a baby boy and given him the tremendous name … Judah Abraham!

Monica writes,

I wanted to let you know that we just had our first boy! Judah Abraham was born earlier this week.

Judah had been in the mix, but not as a front-runner until this baby came into existence and we couldn’t settle on one of our other front runners.

We also officially found out about this baby on the feast of the Annunciation, and he was due in Advent, so I wanted a name with a Joyful Mystery/Advent connection. Judah fit the bill and suited our taste — less common but not totally unheard of, strong sound, multiple great faith connections. Although the biblical character of Judah himself is not the strongest patron, we like that the name represents the faithful line of Judah, Jesus himself, and then also Judas Maccabaeus and St. Jude. We have chosen Judas Maccabaeus as his primary patron. Ironically, he was born early and missed Advent altogether, but we liked the name anyway. :-).

We waffled a LOT on his middle name. It wasn’t settled until after his birth. We … considered several other names, mostly either “strong” sounding options like Alexander or Blaise, or other Hebrew names like Daniel or Isaac, because my husband likes the way they flow with Judah.

Abraham wasn’t on our radar for a middle name at all. It had been thrown onto our list as a curveball first name option that we didn’t consider very seriously, but that was the only time it had come up. (My list is over 100 combinations long, so it was never a serious contender.) After Judah was born we were revisiting options, and my husband threw out Abraham. We liked it and it was a fresh, bold option, so we just went for it! Abraham is both of our favorite patriarch, a strong father in faith, and we think it’s a pretty strong combo. It fits both the “strong” and the “biblical/Hebrew” sounding criteria.

Thanks for your consultation! A couple options from it were on my radar.  I liked Roman, but couldn’t sell my husband on it. Judah was due near the feast of St. Nicholas, and if he was born then I was pushing for Nikolai as a middle name. 🙂 “

Such a fantastic name story for this little guy!! I really love all the reasoning behind Judah, and I always love hearing about a last minute name decision, like what happened here with Abraham — so fun to come up with a new “fresh, bold option,” as Monica put it!

Congratulations to Monica and her husband and big sisters Magdalene (Maggie) and Genevieve (Genny), and happy birthday Baby Judah!!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Gruesome Saint Stories: Off-putting for Parents?

My November CatholicMom article posted today! We’ve talked about this topic a few years ago, and I thought it was worth revisiting. I’d love to hear what you think! Gruesome Saint Stories: Off-Putting for Parents?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Names for St. Joseph

A few people have asked for help in coming up with ways to honor St. Joseph (beyond the obvious), which is a fun topic to pursue! I’ve spent quite a bit of time brainstorming and researching, and yet I feel like there must be more ideas out there, so please add yours in the comments! This is what I came up with:

In an article I wrote for CatholicMom a few Christmases ago entitled “Holy Family Names for Christmastime Babies,” I wrote:

Names in [St. Joseph’s] honor for boys include, of course, Joseph, and its variants in other languages, such as Josef and Jozef, Giuseppe, José, and Joosep. Several of the non-English diminutives and short forms are intriguing as well, including Pepe, Seppel, and Zef.

The feminine Josephine is currently popular, but other options for girls include Josephina, Josepha or Josefa, Josée, and Giuseppa, with the sweet diminutives and nicknames Josie, Posy, Josette, Josiane, Pina, and even Fifi.

In Matthew 1:19, we’re told that Joseph was a ‘just man,’ so Justin, Justus, and Justine or Justina could also work as honor names for him.”

There are a whole bunch of other variants listed at Behind the Name that you might like to peruse. Beyond the names related to Joseph itself or to his reputation as a “just man” are names related to the symbols associated with him, like:

  • The Lily names, since St. Joseph is often portrayed with a lily because of his chastity
  • Branch, as one of his symbols is a branch (see my post on Longmire for an example of Branch as a given name)
  • Carpenter, as he was a carpenter and is represented by a carpenter’s square specifically and carpenter’s tools in general. I’ve never heard of Carpenter as a first name, but it’s not really different from other occupation names like Mason, Taylor, and Carter, right? Maybe with Cap as a nickname?
  • Callixtus, which is a Callistus variant that may have been influenced by calix, which is Latin for “wine cup” and is where our “chalice” comes from — one of St. Joseph’s symbols is a chalice. (My spotlight on Callixtus here)
  • Cruz or Croix or other “cross” names, as the cross is one of his symbols.
  • Agnes, as a lamb is one of his symbols and agnus — Latin for “lamb” — is visually similar to Agnes
  • Rod (Roderick, Rodney, or any name that could nickname to Rod, or maybe ROD initials), as a rod is one of St. Joseph’s symbols

Aside from his symbols, perhaps also:

  • Stone, as CatholicSaints.info noted that he was a “Builder by trade; traditionally a carpenter, but may have been a stone worker”
  • David, since he’s a descendant of the house of David
  • Foster, since we refer to him as Jesus’ foster father

And the lovely Litany to St. Joseph offers these ideas:

  • Lucy, Lucia, Luz, Lux for his title Light of the Patriarchs
  • Chastity, for his chastity and his title Chaste Guardian of the Virgin
  • Prudence, as he’s prudent
  • Valiant, as he’s valiant
  • Faith, because he’s faithful
  • Patience, for his title Mirror of Patience
  • Glory, Gloria for his title Glory of Family Life
  • Pilar, for his title Pillar of Families
  • Consolata, for his title Consolation of the Afflicted
  • Hope, for his title Hope of the Sick

I also looked through A Dictionary of English Surnames (affiliate link) and found this:

Pretty cool!

I’ve been too-long delayed in getting this posted, so I haven’t gone through these prayers listed on CatholicSaints.info, but they may have some good ideas as well:

What ideas can you all add to the wonderful desire to honor our good St. Joseph in a baby’s name?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: First baby boy — Edward or …?

Mary and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Mary writes,

My Mr. thinks the priority should be names with meaning. I agree this is important, but I tend to think, if a particular name sounds good to us, maybe it’s because an obscure saint associated with that name is “picking” our baby through us. Or maybe our baby is meant to be the first saint with that name!  Also, when I’m considering a name,  I weigh the likely nicknames. My Mr. thinks this is not very important and it drives him crazy.

Case in my point: My husband REALLY likes the name Edward. Edward the Confessor is his confirmation saint.  But “Edward” doesn’t have positive associations for me [including]:

  • A tragic boy with scissors for hands
  • A glittery Twilight vampire
  • A King of England who abdicated to marry a divorcee

Aside from that, the go-to nicknames are no-go: Teddy (already taken in my fam), Ned (my Mr. thinks of the Simpsons character), Eddie (calls to mind gangsters and slick tough guys.)  I DO really like the nickname “Fred” but not sure if it is too much of a stretch with Edward. Maybe if the middle name was Francis?

Our last name is English/Anglo-Saxon.

Other names he likes:

  • George 
  • Louis
  • John
  • Nicholas

He highly favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics … Martyrs, not so much.

I like traditional Britishy names but I’m maybe a bit more adventurous:

  • Albert “Bertie”
  • Henry “Harry”
  • Ambrose “Bo”
  • Ferdinand “Andy”
  • Peter (love love love. But unfortunately when I married my husband he had just adopted a dog named “Pete”)
  • Leopold “Leo”
  • Nathaniel “Neil”
  • Thomas (but his brother has a puppy named Tom)
  • Cyrus “Cy”
  • Frederick “Fred”

My husband considers these too “weird” (Albert, Ambrose, Ferdinand, Leopold) or not Catholic-meaningful enough (Henry, Nathaniel, Cyrus)  

I’m hoping you can either

  • help me learn to like Edward (any good book characters you know of? Heroic movie edwards? Modern real life good guys?)
  • ID a nickname for Edward that I can live with
  • Come up with a different name altogether that my husband will go for

Or

  • if it has to be Edward, maybe more of a creative or unexpected middle name?

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents! The disagreements Mary and her husband are having about names for their little boy are not uncommon, and I think might get better with future children as they fall into what the style of their kids’ names will be, as started by their firstborn, if that makes any sense.

Regarding the fact that Mary said her hubby prefers to choose a name that already has meaning for him, while Mary’s open to picking a name that she simply likes, and let the saintliness follow: I wrote an article about this very thing! You can find it here: Finding your patron saint (or being found). Another that directly relates to this is Name definitions vs. name meanings. I definitely think that God works that way (He uses our taste/style/preferences — which He gave us — to lead us to Him)!

Fortunately, the names Mary and her husband like are not that far away from each other — they’re all good, solid names that have good usage in England. I think this is likely simply a matter of finding a way to work with each other and find a compromise they can both live with. I think it’s important that neither one of them think that their opinion is the only one that matters, but there are different ways of finding the right balance. For example:

  • If it’s very important to Mary’s husband that Edward be part of their baby’s name, but Mary absolutely can’t stand it for a first name, the middle name spot seems to be the perfect place for it. Then Hubby’s beloved patron saint has his place, but the first name spot is open for a name that Mary doesn’t have as many negative associations with.
  • Perhaps they as a couple would prefer the kind of set up where one of them picks this baby’s first name, while the other one gets to pick the next baby’s. Or Dad gets to pick the boys’ names and Mom gets to pick the girls’ names. These kind of ideas don’t have to be all or nothing — you could decide that one of you picks this baby’s first name, but the other one gets veto power for a name you really can’t stand. Or you could decide that Dad picks the full name but Mom picks the nickname. Maybe whoever picks the first name concedes the middle name to the other parent.
  • Some couples find name conversations to be so contentious that the best way to a peaceful resolution for them is to cross off any name that either parent really can’t stand, even if that name is the other parent’s favorite.

Mary and her hubby might come up with yet a fourth strategy that works better for them as a couple! And a really good reminder is that it might not be possible to agree on one name that they both think is 100% perfect — rather, success might mean finding a name that they both can simply live with — a name that neither one of them hates. I think they can be really hopeful that whatever name they end up giving their little guy will eventually become so intertwined with himself — his personality and how much they love him — that the name will really sparkle for Mary and her hubby.

That said, I want to talk about nicknames for a minute, because I’ve often thought that nicknames are a great tool in baby name compromising. My very first article for CatholicMom.com five years ago included this topic! You can find it here: Patrick vs. Polycarp. Not only do I think it’s important to consider the likely nicknames, like Mary said (even though these days non-family members are far less likely to nickname someone than in the past, it still does happen), but a great nickname can make an un-liked given name much less problematic. Mary’s already thinking the way I would be — thinking of unusual nicknames for more normal first names, or more familiar-feeling nicknames for more unusual first names. I think it’s a great strategy!

Up to this point I’ve been talking about naming (especially a first baby) more generally, but I want to get into Mary’s particular specifics as well. I admit I love St. Edward the Confessor, and while Edward isn’t my favorite name, my love for the saint could sway me if my husband really wanted to use it. But I don’t have the issues with it that Mary does, so let’s talk about those for a second: I would encourage her to not worry too much about Edward Scissorhands or Edward Cullen, as those references are becoming less and less familiar as time goes on, and the abdicating king is more on people’s minds currently, I would think, because of The Crown, but otherwise I don’t think people in general think too much of him — Edward is the kind of name that doesn’t really have one or two particular associations that stick, because it’s such a traditional name with such a long history of usage by lots of different men (real and not real) with lots of different reputations. That said, calling a baby by the full Edward would reinforce those connections for anyone who had them in mind — using a nickname really dispels any of those associations.

Since Mary listed the nicknames that don’t work, I’m assuming that Edward is not a complete impossibility. Teddy, Ned, and Eddie either don’t work or aren’t their style, but I wonder what they might think of Ward? That’s a pretty cool nickname that is so different from Edward (despite having the same last four letters) that it feels like a different name altogether, which might be perfect here. I scoured my favorite naming sites for ideas on other Edward nicknames, and didn’t find a whole lot; one idea that I thought might have a possibility is to switch from Edward to Eduardus (I know this is a bold move, but since Mary described her taste as more adventurous, I thought I’d throw it out there) — St. Edward the Confessor is known in Latin as Eduardus Confessor, and a funny tidbit is that actor Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria had their fifth baby about two months ago, and they named him Eduardo and she often refers to him as Edu. Edu! So cute! Eduardus nicknamed Edu would be really interesting and adventurous! And specific to St. Edward the Confessor! I saw that Edek is a Polish nickname for it, which is interesting, and they could also do initials (i.e., E.J. for Edward Joseph). Another idea would be to pick a nickname that’s unrelated: for example, I know a John who goes by Gus, a Gerard who goes by Sam, and an Xavior who goes by Sam, so why not just pick a nickname they like?

From that perspective, Mary’s idea of Fred is totally fine for Edward just as is! But I particularly like her idea of incorporating Francis for the “Fr” part, added onto to the “Ed” of Edward, but instead of putting Francis in the middle, I think Francis Edward would be a fantastic combo that makes perfect sense of Fred. While Francis is particularly perfect because of its “Fr,” I think any F name with Edward as a middle would make sense of Fred as the nickname. Felix Edward or Finnian Edward, for example. Or Frank Edward instead of the full Francis. Or even Philip Edward or Phineas Edward (you can still use the “F” spelling of Fred, even with a “Ph” given name). I really like this idea, nice job with it!

I was interested to read that Mary said her husband “favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics” — I did a post a while ago on what I called Warrior Saints, in which I included saints who were soldiers. Her Mister’s names of Edward, George, Louis, and Nicholas are all in there, as well as Leo (like Leopold/Leo on Mary’s list). I looked up saints who were kings, and loved seeing Hubby’s St. Louis IX in addition to his St. Edward the Confessor, but also names from Mary’s list! Like St. Ferdinand III of Castille, St. Henry II, and St. Leopold III. These would probably be where I would look to find compromise names or “overlap” names — Hubby might think that Leopold is too weird, but it fits his preference for a saint who was a king, and has a great nickname in Leo, which also happens to be the name of a soldier saint, so he gets things he wants and Mary gets things she wants (the name she likes, and a great nickname). Or maybe, if Leopold is just too bold for him, maybe the given name should be Leo, and they could take both St. Leopold and St. Leo as patrons? Or maybe Edward Leopold, called Leo, where the “crazy” name is tucked away in the middle spot and Mary’s hubby’s preferred name is in the first name spot, but they could agree to call him Leo. But I know that for some people, that would be too much Name Fuss — Mary and her hubby will have to decide how much name fuss they’re willing to put up with.

Speaking of Name Fuss, I just have to suggest this one idea that could be really really cool: Edward Andettere. In Old English, St. Edward the Confessor is known as Ēadƿeard Andettere, which is the Old English for Edward plus “Andettere,” which I was fascinated by, as I’d never seen that word before. After a bit of googling, it turns out Andettere means “Confessor” in Old English, how cool! I’m not sure how it’s pronounced (I emailed someone who might know and will update this when I hear back!), but I love that Mary already has Ferdinand with the nickname Andy on her list … what about Edward Andettere nicknamed Andy?! Ahh! I love it! What a really cool and specific convergence of her hubby’s love for St. Edward the Confessor and Mary’s more adventurous taste!

Okay, let that stew for a minute while I offer some thoughts on the names that Hubby thinks are too weird:

  • Albert/Bertie: Albert, both with and without the nickname Bertie, is one of those quintessentially British-feeling names. I’m not sure what’s weird about it — does her husband mean old-fashioned/out of date? It’s currently at a low point in popularity in the U.S. — it’s been declining slowly but surely since its peak of popularity in the early 1900s — but it’s still a top 500 name, being ranked no. 474 in 2019. That means it’s more popular than Frederick (no. 475), for example, as well as Francis (482), Pierce (490), Corey (492), Maximilian (503), Lawrence (536), Fletcher (622), and Brendan (639) (I chose those names because I thought it was surprising that Albert was more popular than them).
  • Henry/Harry: Henry is definitely Catholic enough! I did a name spotlight post on Henry a while ago because, unfortunately, there are others who think it’s not Catholic enough. I had to show them that it is! Also, St. Henry II was a king! In fact, he was the Holy Roman Emperor and the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors.
  • Ambrose/Bo: Ambrose isn’t weird among Sancta Nomina readers! This family has a son named Ambrose; this family has a son with Ambrose as a middle name; and my husband and I considered it as well. I love Bo as a nickname for it! I’d thought of Sam and Bram as good possibilities as well.
  • Ferdinand/Andy: I would consider this name to be the boldest on Mary’s list, as I’ve never met anyone in real life with the name Ferdinand and it was only given to twenty baby boys last year. But St. Ferdinand III of Castille is amazing! He was a king and soldier — her husband should love him! And the nickname Andy is so easy and friendly for everyday usage.
  • Peter: Argh, so frustrating when names are off the table because they belong to pets!! I’m glad Mary included it in the list here though, as it was helpful to me in my research.
  • Leopold/Leo: I’m a huge fan of the name Leo, and lengthening it to Leopold is so fun (but I’m also a huge fan of adventurous naming, haha!). St. Leopold III was a great king! Leopold was given to 103 baby boys last year, and Leo alone is currently pretty popular at no. 40 (7454 boys so named last year).
  • Nathaniel/Neil: I love Neil for Nathaniel! Nathaniel is a New Testament apostle name, so while the biblical names don’t always come across as “Catholicky Catholic” as other saints’ names, they certainly are Catholic-meaningful. I wonder if Mary and her husband would be interested in the name Bartholomew? It’s generally thought that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person, and Bartholomew has a really British feel to me and a lot of cool traditional nicknames, like Bart, Batt, Bates, and Bartlett (surnames like Bates and Bartlett are derived from Bartholomew!). There are a bunch of Blesseds and Saints with this name as well.
  • Thomas: Double argh re: the pets’ names!!
  • Cyrus/Cy: St. Cyrus of Constantinople and St. Cyrus the Physician both have great stories, and there are two other Sts. Cyrus as well. Cy’s a cool nickname — perhaps they might also like to consider Simon with the nickname Si?
  • Frederick/Fred: I love the idea of Fred as a nickname for F___ Edward or Ph___ Edward so much that I just can’t love Frederick as much! Haha! But otherwise Frederick’s a great name, and there are a few holy Fredericks.

Hopefully my comments are helpful! Before moving on to my additional suggestions for this family, Mary had specifically asked me for any good book/movie characters or modern real-life good guys named Edward — my favorite is probably Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (played by Hugh Grant in the Emma Thompson version, fantastic). Another really positive association I have with the name is Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!). The Wikipedia entry for Edward lists a lot of famous Edwards, which is fun to peruse.

Okay! On to my new ideas! Between Mary’s husband’s list of names and hers, they already have a lot of really great ideas, so I hope that adding more here is helpful and doesn’t just muddy the waters! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As mentioned, I also looked up saints who were kings and soldiers, and I also took a look through the recent birth announcements on British Baby Names, which is always a good resource for parents who love English names. I also took a look through the book of Marian names I wrote (not an affiliate link), as I love a good Marian name for both boys and girls. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s baby boy:

(1) Charles

Charles was a big style match for them, being similar in style to Edward, Louis, and Henry. It’s kingly (Bl. Charlemagne and Bl. Charles [aka Karl], Emperor of Austria), and soldier-y (a bunch of holy soldier Charles-es!), and English, with a bunch of fun nickname options.

(2) Alexander/Alistair

One of the things I love about Alexander is that it’s a style match for one of Mary’s husband’s names (Nicholas) and one of hers (Nathaniel), which could make it a perfect compromise name! There are seven Sts. Alexander who were soldiers, and some great nickname options, like Ace, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sacha/Sasha, and Xander. Or maybe they’d like to consider the super-British variant Alistair?

(3) Theodore

Theodore is a match for Henry, Leopold, and Frederick, but isn’t as “out there” as Leopold and Frederick, which might make it perfect. It has a great meaning (“gift of God”), and there are some soldier saints named Theodore as well. (There was even a Theodore Edward listed in the birth announcements on British Baby Names recently!) Mary already said Teddy doesn’t work, but they could use Theo as a nickname.

(4) William

William is a match for Hubby’s John and Edward and Mary’s Henry and Thomas, and there’s an awesome St. William of Gellone who was a soldier, as well as some Blesseds who were soldiers as well. Will, Billy, and Liam are great options for familiar nicknames, and some more unusual ones include Wilkie and Wilkins. William even has a Marian character, as the flowers Sweet William and Wild Sweet William used to be known as Mary’s Rose and Our Lady’s Wedding, respectively.

(5) Robert/Bo

When I saw Bo on Mary’s list as a possible nickname for Ambrose I immediately thought of this consultation I did for my brother and sister-in-law — my sister-in-law loves the name Beau/Bo, so I spent a bit of time discussing different ways to get to it (including Ambrose!). Also check out this birth announcement for a little girl who would have been named Robert nicknamed Bo if she’d been a boy (because of the middle name, but I definitely think it can work for Robert!). And then Robert is a style match for Edward and John, so maybe Hubby will like it and Mary can use Bo as the nickname! I don’t believe there are any Sts. Robert who are kings or soldiers, but there are quite a few holy Roberts nonetheless.

(6) Philip

I’m so sorry that Mary loves Peter but can’t use it, so I was hopeful I would find something similar, and I think Philip might be it. It’s a style match for Peter, and as I mentioned earlier, I think they could use Fred as a nickname for Philip Edward. However, they might also want to consider Pip, which is so fantastic for a little guy and so British (like the main character in Great Expectations).

(7) Walsingham

This probably falls more in the category of a “creative or unexpected middle name” for Edward. Our Lady of Walsingham refers to an apparition in England, and I actually tried to convince my husband to consider Walsingham with the nickname Walt as a first name for our youngest! Edward Walsingham would be pretty cool.

(8) Adrian

St. Adrian of Nicomedia was a soldier, and is also a patron of soldiers! Adrian has a really British feel, and its variant Hadrian calls to mind Hadrian’s Wall in England.

(9) Caspian

I know this is a tricky suggestion, but if Mary and/or her husband don’t care for it as a first name, it could be another great option for a middle. Prince Caspian is a fictional character — a prince and a soldier — in the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, which gives it a particularly British flavor. Edward Caspian would be really cool! (In case it helps, read about the son of one of my readers, named Caspian!)

(10) Hugh

Finally, I saw Hugh in the list of birth announcements on British Baby Names and thought it would be a great addition to Mary’s list. I checked the list of soldier saints, and there is a Bl. Hugh Canefro!

Those are all my ideas for Mary and her hubby, and she also asked if you all could weigh in on how likely Edward is to turn to Eddie, and if Edward suits a little boy. I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences about that, and also what other name(s) you would suggest for Mary’s baby boy!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby brother needs name that fits well with big brother (and also big sisters)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

Charlotte Jude

Finn Douglas

Stella Grace

+Francis Raphael (in heaven)

Aren’t these great names?! Each combo is put together so well — I love the unexpectedness of Jude as Charlotte’s middle name, and Charlotte, Finn, and Stella are a wonderful set of names. (Of course I’m not forgetting their little Francis Raphael! It’s such a saintly and meaningful name, just beautiful.)

They’re set on Daniel for the middle name, and don’t want to repeat these family names:

Ryan

Michael

Alex

Benjamin

Dominic

Alrighty, you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) 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, with Finn kept particularly in mind, as I think it’s always nice for brothers to feel like they go together (and sisters with sisters). I used Charlotte, Finn, and Stella as my inspirations, but I also included Jude, since it has a specific style that I thought was revealing of the kinds of names Lauren and her hubby like. It was a pretty easy job, as their older kids’ names are very consistent style-wise! Based on that research, these are my ideas for their little boy:

(1) Owen (or Oliver)

Owen is a style match for both Charlotte and Finn, and I absolutely love it specifically as Finn’s brother, too. Not only do Finn and Owen go together really well, as well as Charlotte, Finn, Stella, and Owen, but St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints. Owen Daniel is so handsome!

Before I’d even started my research, I’d actually had Oliver in mind as a possibility for this family, so I was happy to see that it’s a style match for Charlotte. I think it could also be a good brother name for Finn, as they both have that Irishy feel, and I like it with Charlotte and Stella, too. Since Owen and Oliver are similar in that they both start with O, have an Irish feel, and are actually style matches for each other, I thought I’d include them both here. St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and Oliver Daniel sounds great together.

(2) Emmett (or Elliott)

I always love when I see names listed as style matches for more than one of the names that the parents have used or like — like with Owen being a match for both Charlotte and Finn — and Emmett is another one, being listed as similar to both Charlotte and Stella. I knew an Emmett in college whose mom was from Ireland, so I’ve always thought of it as a sort of Irish name, so it goes well with Finn, too, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there are no saints named Emmett as far as I could find, but since it derives from Emma, then any of the Sts. Emma can be patron. Or they can just look to the middle name and choose any of the Sts. Daniel as patron! Emmett Daniel is great.

Like with including Oliver in the Owen suggestion, I wanted to include Elliott in the Emmett suggestion, since it’s a similar name that is also a style match for Stella, and its saintliness is more obvious since Elliott’s derived from Elijah. Elliott Daniel is wonderful.

(3) Cole

I’m excited to include Cole here for two reasons: first, it’s a specific style match for Finn, which I think is significant, since I really want Finn and his brother to have names that go together. Secondly, Cole has usage as both a short form of Nicholas and a nickname of Nicholas, and their baby’s due on the feast of St. Nicholas! Cole could be the perfect way to nod to his feast day (even cooler if he was actually born on that day!) and/or the Christmas season more broadly. I like Cole Daniel quite a bit!

(Bonus) Henry

Though a Mini Consultation is for three ideas, since Henry’s a match for both Charlotte and Stella, I couldn’t not include it! It’s not one of my favorite suggestions, since it’s closer to Lauren’s girls’ style than Finn’s, but I don’t hate it with Finn either, and Henry Daniel is a really nice combo. And there are lots of great Sts. Henry!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charlotte, Finn, and Stella?


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 (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: William Daniel!

I posted a consultation for Kelly and her husband over the summer for their fourth baby boy, and I’m so happy to let you all know that their little guy has arrived and been given the “classic, strong, traditional” name … William Daniel!

Kelly writes,

Sweet baby William Daniel was born this past Tuesday, October 13, the feast of St. Edward the Confessor and the miracle of the sun at Fatima!

I love how exactly his name fits the “classic, strong, traditional” vibe Kelly and her hubby favor, and while I don’t know if the baby’s going by his middle name (Kelly had asked about the idea of the middle name as the call name), given that they wanted a cute nickname for their youngest boy and they also have an Irish sensibility, Danny Boy is a perfect fit for that, too. I also love Will/Billy/Liam and the full William — this baby has some great options! And what a great feast day to be born on!

Congratulations to Kelly and her hubby and big brothers Patrick, James, and Peter, and happy birthday Baby William!!

William Daniel


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 (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Oskar Karl Wolfgang!

I had the privilege of doing a consultation for the second baby of longtime reader Alyssa and her husband several years ago, and posting a subsequent birth announcement for that baby, and I’m so excited to share that they’ve welcomed their third baby — a little boy given the fantastic name … Oskar Karl Wolfgang!

Alyssa writes,

I’m happy to introduce Oskar Karl Wolfgang! As you know, with a husband named Klaus, we always go for German names and Oskar joins siblings Konrad Wolfgang, Louisa Marie and Hugo Wolfgang (in heaven). Oskar is a German name that we both liked, and Karl is after my husband’s brother. We were just going to stick with one middle name but our 6 year old, Konrad, was so adamant that the baby also share the middle name Wolfgang (he LOVES his middle name!), so we added it in. We’ve been calling him Oskar or Ozzie, or sometimes Ox because he was our biggest baby so far! His patrons are St. Oscar Romero, Bl. Carlo Acutis (I was in labor the day he was beatified and I prayed to him a lot throughout the process), and St. Wolfgang. You can never have too many patron saints, right?!

Absolutely 100% right!! I love this name story, and I LOVE their style! In the previous consultation I’d done for them, I’d written that their first son Konrad’s name (Konrad Wolfgang) is “such an amazingly fabulous name! It’s bold, traditional, saintly, and I love how unapologetically German it is, and how they just own it!” — I feel the same way about Oskar Karl Wolfgang! They’ve done a fantastic job! I also love that Alyssa was in labor on the day that Bl. Carlo was beatified — an awesome new Blessed who just happens to have the same name (Italian variant) that Alyssa and her hubby had chosen as Oskar’s middle. Amazing! And how Konrad loves his middle name and wanted Oskar to share it, just like their little one in heaven does! And Ozzie and Ox! So wonderful, all of it!

Congratulations to Alyssa and Klaus and big sibs Konrad and Louisa (and Hugo in heaven), and happy birthday Baby Oskar!!

Oskar Karl Wolfgang

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 (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Tristan Raphael!

I posted a consultation for Nicole and her husband Brenden back in August for their tie-breaking fifth baby — a boy! — and Nicole has let me know her little guy has arrived! They gave him the tremendous name … Tristan Raphael!

Nicole writes,

He’s here, he’s here!

We kept his name Tristan but went with Raphael as his middle because our family has experienced amazing healing by taking the leap of faith we took by relocating last fall.

Tristan Raphael Flynn arrived on 10/12/20 @ 1:22 pm weighing 7 lb 1.6 oz.”

Nicole had commented on the consultation post, sharing that Tristan was a name she loved, and she’d separately told me of some combos she was thinking of with Tristan, so I’m so thrilled that she and her hubby went with it! And I love Raphael as the middle name: Tristan Raphael is such a handsome combination!

Congratulations to Nicole and Brenden and big sibs Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran, and happy birthday Baby Tristan!!


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 (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Easy to pronounce but uncommon name with maybe a gentle Brit feel for baby no. 6

Tahnee and her husband are expecting their sixth baby! This little green bean (=gender unknown) joins big siblings:

Simon Valentine (“we liked the name Simon because it’s easy to spell and people know how to pronounce it, but it’s not common, and I liked naming a first born son Simon, like Simon Peter. Valentine is my deceased father’s middle name“)

Margaret Dora (Maggie) (“we actually like the name Maggie and picked a full name that would work with it! She is named after St. Margaret Mary, but Margaret also happens to be my great-grandmother’s name. Dora is my husband’s grandmother“)

Louis Kolbe (twin of Benedict) (“Louis is my husband’s grandfather’s name, and St. Maximilian Kolbe is his patron saint, although he actually ended up being born on the feast day as well, but we had the name picked out long before he was born on that date. We found out relatively late in the pregnancy that I was pregnant with twins, so my original due date was nowhere near that feast day, but they ended up being born early on that day on their own which was a cool coincidence“)

Benedict Andrew (Ben, Benny) (twin of Louis) (“we were married at St. Benedict’s church and still attend there, so he is named for that. His patron is St. Andrew and his middle name is that because we actually had used the St. Andrew novena to pray for a baby, found out a few days after that I was pregnant, so when we found out we were having TWINS we knew it was the working of St. Andrew and had to name him after him“)

Theodore Joseph (Theo) (“I found out I was pregnant with Theo when the twins were only about 9 months old, which was a huge shock, and we definitely felt like this was God’s plan the whole way. So when I found out Theodore means “God’s Gift” we knew it was perfect. Joseph is my husband’s middle name, and we had planned to use that somewhere in the name whether the baby was a boy or a girl (either Joseph or Josephine)“)

Fantastic names!!

Tahnee writes,

We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side. Theo is more common than I would like but the meaning overtakes that for me in that particular case. [We have a common last name], so we don’t want them to have a similarly common first name. We like a good nickname, but we don’t have them for all our kids, so we can go either way. I’m kind of leaning toward no nickname for this baby just because the last two go by nicknames almost exclusively, but it depends on what we click with. We’d also like a different first initial than the other kids, though I would be ok with like an M name if it’s a girl, because then it would be just the two girls who match.

Names we’ve thrown around as contenders:

Perpetua (nn Poppy)

Eve

Gemma

Fulton (but I don’t know if this is a Midwest dialect thing or what, but I am worried about people saying “Fult’n” without actually saying the O sound)

Names we wouldn’t use because they belong to family/friends:

Stella

Katherine

Frances

Therese

Anne

Felicity

Timothy

Anthony

Stephen

Matthew

Olivia/Oliver

Dominic

James

Peter

Double first names (like John Paul)

I really love the names Tahnee and her husband chose for their older children. They’re certainly saintly, and they fit well with how Tahnee defined their style: “We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side.” I also felt that they can have a definite British feel — Simon almost always has that feel for me, and with brothers Benedict (like Cumberbatch) and Louis (like the little prince), I can see Margaret/Maggie and Theodore/Theo having a Brit feel as well. The fact that they’re considering Perpetua/Poppy and Gemma adds to that as well! It’s a subtle enough vibe that it doesn’t hit you in the face, but it did help me when I was trying to come up with name ideas that I thought they would like.

One thing that jumped out at me is that each of the names they picked for their kiddos, both first names and middle names, were chosen because of a personal connection — many are family names (Valentine, Margaret, Dora, Louis, Joseph), some they just liked (Simon, Maggie), others (Kolbe, Benedict, Andrew, Theodore) were chosen for Tahnee’s hubby’s patron saint/their church/the novena Tahnee said/the perfect meaning. These are all fantastic reasons to choose names, but I worry that my usual method of coming up with new ideas for parents — finding names that are style matches for the names they’ve already used and like per the (affiliate link) Baby Name Wizard’s suggestions of boy and girl names that are similar to each entry in terms of style/feel/popularity — won’t quite cut it. Hopefully I’m wrong! (Also, I’m astonished that their twins were born on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, when they’d already planned to use Kolbe as a middle name and their due date was nowhere near his feast day. That’s amazing! As is the fact that it was later in pregnancy that Tahnee discovered she was expecting twins! Wow!)

Before getting into my new ideas, here are my thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Perpetua nn Poppy: This is a fantastic idea! It absolutely goes along with the gentle Brit feel of the rest of the kiddos’ names, and is a lovely Marian name. I’ve also seen Pippa as a nickname for Perpetua, and my friend who has a little Perpetua calls her Tua.
  • Eve: Lovely and trim, I love it! I really love short first names with longer middle names or vice versa (like Margaret Dora). Something like Eve Perpetua maybe?
  • Gemma: One of my favorites. It, too, has decent usage in England.
  • Fulton: What Tahnee described — Fult’n — is a problem for many people! It’s either called an elision or perhaps a glottal stop (or a combination — it was hard to figure out the difference for this example — if you know, please tell me!) and is very common — I’m not sure if it’s more common in some regions than others, but I do think it’s one of those things that they’ll encounter frequently, so if Tahnee really hates it, maybe Fulton isn’t the best first name for them — maybe better as a middle?

From the names they can’t use, I thought Felicity and Oliver were two names I almost certainly would have suggested otherwise, too bad!

I did do my usual research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, and felt somewhat disappointed by what I found. Not that they aren’t beautiful names! But I didn’t think any of the results really fit the “easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side” criteria Tahnee said she likes, nor did they have the sparkle of Perpetua nicknamed Poppy, for example (a truly unexpected name with an unexpected nickname, so fun!). So after compiling a list of names that the BNW says are style matches for this family, I also took some time to look through the birth announcements at British Baby Names, and got a couple of ideas from there, too. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Tahnee’s baby:

Girl

(1) Moira (or Maura)

My husband and I were actually brainstorming names that had a British feel to us (I also posed the question on the blog), and Moira was one that I thought had promise for this family. Though it’s technically an Irish name (a form of Mary), there are some English actresses with the name, and Wendy from Peter Pan’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling. I’ve mostly heard it said MOY-ra, but sometimes MOR-ah, which is also how the similar Maura is said (also an Irish form of Mary) — maybe they’d like to consider Maura instead? (This is the only name I’m suggesting that repeats an initial, and only because Tahnee said an M might be okay for a girl!) Here is a birth announcement I did for a little Moira, in case it’s helpful to see one in real life and what her siblings are named (not mentioned in that post is that she went on to have a sister named Genevieve Immaculee Grace). (Neither Moira nor Maura are in the top 1000.)

(2) Rosa/Rose/Rosamond

Rosa is a style match for Dora, Rose for Louis, and Rosamond for Benedict, and I thought all three had good potential for this family. I think they’re all easy to pronounce and on the uncommon side — Rose is the most popular, at no. 115, while Rosa is no. 650 and Rosamond isn’t in the top 1000. One of the families I’ve worked with who actually lives in England has a Rosamond, so that seemed to make it a good suggestion as well.

(3) Claire/Clare/Clara

Claire and Clara were both results of my research, and I liked that they’re short enough that they won’t get nicknamed, since Tahnee said she might prefer for this baby to not have a nickname. I know she said no double names, but I’ll admit I’ve been loving the idea of sisters Margaret and Mary Clare! (Claire is no. 55, Clare is 800, and Clara is 95.)

(4) Caroline

Margaret, C/Katherine, and Elizabeth are the classic English trio, so I was tempted to suggest both Catherine/Katherine and Elizabeth here. But Katherine’s on their no list, and while I love Elizabeth, if Tahnee doesn’t want a nickname, Elizabeth definitely isn’t for her. However, Caroline is often liked by people who like Catherine, and it’s an actual style match for Margaret. I love the full Caroline, but if Tahnee did decide she wanted a nickname, Callie is a style match for Maggie and is so pretty as a nickname for Caroline. (Caroline is no. 61.)

(5) Cecily

Cecily is the English form of Cecilia and was the usual form used during the Middle Ages. Such a cool background! It’s one of those names that comes across as particularly British to me, and I think it’s easy to pronounce but uncommon (it’s not in the top 1000!).

(6) Annabel

When I was looking through the birth announcements on British Baby Names, one of the first that caught my eye was for a little Annabel (Annabel Octavia Barbara!), and I thought that would be a great suggestion here. I certainly think it’s easy to pronounce and uncommon (Annabel was not in the top 1000 in 2019, but Annabelle was no. 170), but one of my favorite things about it is that it’s apparently a Scottish variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Lovable)! (For that reason, Annabel’s an entry in my book of Marian names.)

(7) Alice

Finally, Alice also caught my eye on the British Baby Names site, and I thought that with the other kids it has that same gentle British vibe. Also, it’s short enough that it doesn’t need a nickname! (No. 73.)

Boy

(1) August

August is a match for Theodore, and while I think the longer Augustine would fit in really well with the other boys, I thought August might be better for avoiding a nickname. (August is no. 167.)

(2) Jude

Jude is a match for Simon and Gemma — what a wonderfully British trio of names! Jude is Catholicky Catholic as well, which is just perfect, and nickname-proof. (It’s no. 153.)

(3) Oscar

I really love Oliver for this family, but since they can’t use Oliver, I thought maybe one of the other O names, and one that is more uncommon. I’m seeing Oscar more and more among the families I work with (here’s one, and here’s another); it’s also a style match for Theo, is pretty nickname-proof, and is the no. 10 name in England and Wales (but no. 205 here).

(4) Henry

I’m guessing Henry might be too common for Tahnee, but it’s a darling name, is a style match for Margaret, Louis, and Theo, and doesn’t have any nicknames but Hank, which I feel like is one of those nicknames you have to make happen. Henry’s the most popular of my suggestions, at no. 12.

(5) Charles

Similar to Henry, Charles might be too common, but again — it’s a great match with the other kids. Charlie’s inevitable, but how cute is Charlie?? I love it! (Charles is no. 51.)

(6) Frederick

As with Annabel, Frederick and Freddie caught my eye in the British Baby Names birth announcements. I love how sophisticated Frederick is, and how sweet and friendly Freddie is. (Frederick is no. 475.)

(7) Hugo (or Hugh)

Finally, Hugo. My husband and I considered it for our last two sons and loved that it’s weighty but sweet at the same time, is familiar but uncommon (no. 460), and doesn’t have a nickname. Hugh is a variant that’s also quite nice! (It’s no. 795.)

And those are my ideas, a mix of research and gut feeling! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister or brother of Simon, Margaret/Maggie, Louis, Benedict/Ben, and Theodore/Theo?


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 (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!