Saintly nickname names

There are a few names that started as nicknames, by which here I mean short forms or diminutives of other names, but have come to be considered formal names in their own rights. Some examples are Jack (diminutive of John), Pippa (diminutive of Philippa), Alison (diminutive of Alice) and Alice itself (a short form of Adalheidis [Adelaide]), Nancy (originally a diminutive of Agnes’ variant Annis, and later of Anne as well), Emmett (diminutive of Emma) and Elliott (diminutive of Elias [Elijah]), Molly (diminutive of Mary), Robin (diminutive of Robert), Austin (contracted form of Augustine), and Bennett (short form of Benedict). Many of these date back to the medieval period.

I was reading about Mickey Mantle recently and the fact that Mickey was his given name, not a nickname for Michael (which is how I’m most familiar with it). (Funny enough, Mickey Mantle was named for Mickey Cochrane, whose given name wasn’t Michael — it was Gordon! But he’d been nicknamed “Black Mike” because of his “fiery, competitive nature,” which I’m assuming is where Mickey came from?) Other names that started as nicknames (diminutives or short forms) that we often see bestowed as given first names include Jake, Maggie, Sadie, Archie (hello, little prince), Liam, and Mia.

There’s another set of nicknames that have taken on a life of their own as given names, which a recent consultation post reminded me of. It included a discussion of Nell as a given name and the parents’ preference for it to be a nickname for a more formal, saintly given name:

Nell is a name we’d both be excited to use which isn’t so easy to find. The trouble is that it’s really a nickname and we don’t care for the options for a full name. If we don’t use a full name like Helen the saintly connection is less obvious.

In this case, the hesitancy to use Nell as the given name is less about style (its nicknaminess) and more about the saintly connection being less obvious. A couple of you suggested Little Nellie of Holy God for the saintly connection* — she’s mostly known as Nellie, even though her baptismal name was Ellen, and I can see parents naming daughters Nellie with her in mind, since that’s the name mostly attached to the stories of her holiness. In this same vein, I thought it would be fun to compile a listing of saintly names that are actually nicknames (I don’t mean religious names). These include:

St. Rose of Lima
Rose’s birth name was Isabel! According to this site, “Isabel del Flores y del Olivia, known to history as St. Rose of Lima … was baptized on the day of her birth, with her aunt, Isabel de Herrara, acting as her godmother. The baby was named after her aunt, Isabel. Because the child was so beautiful, she was nicknamed Rosa or Rose. History and her family would call her by this name.”

St. Francis of Assisi
Francis’ birth name was John! According to his Wikipedia entry, “[His dad] Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, and [his mother, a Frenchwoman named] Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco (“the Frenchman”), possibly in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French.” (cited as the source: Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1924). “St. Francis of Assisi” (14 ed.). Garden City, New York: Image Books: 158.)

St. Zelie
It’s perhaps not as unfamiliar that St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azélie, but she went by Zelie — and that’s the name I see her called and bestowed in her honor most often.

St. Bernadette
St. Bernadette’s given name was actually Marie-Bernarde! This site even refers to her as Marie, which I find kind of hilarious. As with so many of these nicknames, once you know that Bernadette (“little Bernarde,” where Bernarde is the French feminine form of Bernard) is a diminutive of her name, it takes on a such a sweet, affectionate feel.

Juanito (St. Juan Diego)
This one isn’t exactly like my previous examples, because I haven’t heard of lots babies being named Juanito when wanting to honor St. Juan Diego — in fact, I only know of one Juanito (the pastor of my parish), but I asked him about his name and it is, indeed, his given name, and it was bestowed in honor of St. Juan Diego, as Our Lady called him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito, the most humble of my sons …” ❤

Lolek (St. John Paul II)
Like with Juanito, it’s rare to hear of a little Lolek, but I have heard it from time to time from Catholic parents looking for a different way to honor St. John Paul the Great, as it was his childhood nickname.

Can you think of other examples of Saints being known as a name that was not their given name (and not their religious name), which would be the name parents would be most likely to choose in their honor? Do you know of any little ones named in the style of Juanito and Lolek — nicknames that aren’t as well known and aren’t necessarily the names the Saints are known as, but are absolutely connected to them?

* As far as I can tell, Little Nellie’s cause for canonization has not been opened, though it’s pretty amazing that she was the reason Pope St. Pius X lowered the age of Communion for children: “‘There! That is the sign for which I was waiting.’ — Pope St Pius X after hearing about the holy life of little Nellie. A few months later in 1910 he issued “Quam Singulari” which significantly lowered the age of Holy Communion for children.”


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

 

Birth announcement: Bosco Anthony!

A mama for whom I’ve had the privilege of doing two private consultations (one a few years ago, as well as a birth announcement for that baby, and one a few months ago) has let me know she and her husband have welcomed a son and given him the fantastic name … Bosco Anthony!

She writes,

We have a baby boy, who we named Bosco Anthony. Although you had great suggestions for other boy names, it kind of solidified for my husband that Bosco was his favorite. I still had some reservations, but he convinced me and now I think it fits our little guy very well. Most people are unfamiliar with the name, and either have a reaction like “huh” or they think it’s cute and original. Occasionally people (usually men) think it’s awesome.

In the end we chose Anthony mostly because it sounded good as a full name, Bosco Anthony. I worried it is too Italian (he’s only 1/8 Italian) but I think the English-ness of [our last name] balances it out. He’s our first child without a family connection to the middle name, but probably like most people from a Catholic family, I have a small handful of instances where St. Anthony helped either myself or a relative find an important lost object in a way that was maybe not miraculous but certainly amazing. I’ve always appreciated St. Anthony, and I like that this baby is named for two solid saints.”

I love his name!! I’m so delighted that they ended up going with Bosco, and I love it paired with Anthony! Great job!!

Congratulations to the proud parents and big siblings Penelope, Leo, and Adelaide, and happy birthday Baby Bosco!!

Bosco Anthony with his big sisters and brother ❤


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9 needs a name that isn’t “completely ordinary,” yet not unheard of

Sarah and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little girl or boy joins big siblings:

Cody Michael
Benjamin Scott
Claire Elizabeth
Dominic Anthony
Grace Cathryn
Peter Charles
Caroline Maria
Charlotte Zelie (“she goes mostly by ‘Zelie’“)

What a great bunch of names!! It’s important to note that Sarah acknowledged that her oldest’s name is more modern than they have come to prefer, though I did try to find names that can bridge Cody’s style with that of his siblings’ names.

Sarah writes,

This baby will be a “tiebreaker”, as we currently have 4 boys and 4 girls. We are starting to run out of (primarily boy) names, so are curious what you are able to come up with. We have an unwritten rule that the names be traditional and also double as a Saint name. Our style of “traditional” appears to be names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of. The middle names have either been a family name or a powerhouse Saint. We are open to nontraditional for a middle name if it is a super Catholic “mic drop” of a name.”

A “super Catholic ‘mic drop’ of a name”!! I love that!!

Names we cannot use are:
Alexander
Nicholas
John (open to John Paul, however)
Christian
James
Andrew
Rachel
Gabrielle
Lily
Thomas

I was sort of glad to see that they’re struggling with boy names, because I felt like I had an easier time coming up with boy names than with girl names!

As I mentioned, Cody was actually a big inspiration to me when I was trying to come up with name ideas for this baby. His name is certainly an outlier, and I really wanted to try to come up with an idea or two that might make his name seem more a part of the group. First though, I was glad to see that it means “helpful,” which could put it in the same category as Grace — that is, a virtue-type name. That’s a nice spin to put on it! And Michael is a great middle. I’ve included Cody-esque ideas in my suggestions below.

I do like that they’re open to John Paul, I think that’s a great option! I like that it incorporates biblical names, like Benjamin and Peter, and is a heavy-hitting faithy name. It can also take the nicknames Jack and JP, which I think fit in quite nicely with Cody.

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. Within those results, I look for names or connections that have a solid faith connection. It’s a fun process! Based on that, these are my ideas for Sarah’s little one:

Girl
(1) Josephine
I couldn’t help but notice they like French girl names — Claire, Caroline, Charlotte, and Zelie are all French, but in an understated way (especially Claire, Caroline, and Charlotte), where they don’t at all clash with the other kiddos’ names. I hoped to find a similarly not-overly-obvious French name to suggest, and Josephine was a result from my research that seemed perfect. It can honor St. Joseph, or any of the holy Josephines.

(2) Isabella
Funny enough, though the French Isabelle is a style match for Charlotte, I thought the spelling Isabella was a better suggestion for this family, as Queen Isabella of Portugal, aka St. Elizabeth of Portugal, is a great patron. Isabelle can, of course, honor her as well if they prefer, as can Isabel, which was a style match for both Claire and Caroline. I normally wouldn’t suggest an Elizabeth name for them, since Claire’s middle name is Elizabeth, but since they used three Charles names, I thought they were probably fine with considering another Elizabeth name.

(3) Hannah
I was excited to see that Hannah is a style match for Benjamin and Grace—Benjamin is the only Old Testament name they have, so I like that Hannah would loop him in a bit, and having it be a style match for Grace makes it really feel like it fits in well with the other kids as well. Hannah is such a sweet name and can take St. Anne as a patron, as it’s an Anne variant.

(4) Felicity
I think Felicity is the kind of name that exactly fits Sarah and her hubby’s style of “traditional,” as they put it: “names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of.” It’s super saintly and has a long history of usage, and St. Felicity is one of the best patrons for a girl, in my opinion (there are others as well). I spotlighted it here.

(5) Avila
Finally, in my hopes of finding names that could feel a little more Cody-esque while still checking off their other boxes, I’d thought a saintly surname or place name might do the trick: Kolbe, Clairvaux, or Cabrini, for example (but not those, since they’re too similar to Cody, Claire, and Caroline). Avila was one that I thought might do nicely. It’s got its own entry on behindthename, which tells you that it’s “definitely not unheard of,” and it’s the kind of name that families with Dominics and Zelies often choose. St. Teresa of Avila is a great patron, and a Doctor of the Church, which is so great for a little girl!

Boy
(1) Luke
Luke is biblical, like Benjamin and Peter; it’s four letters, like Cody; and it’s Marian, like Dominic! (Marian due to the fact that his gospel is the most Marian, containing within in the Annunciation and Our Lady’s Magnificat, for example; St. Dominic is a very Marian saint due to the fact that Our Lady tasked him with promulgating her rosary). I like Luke a lot for for this family! Being short, it can also take a longer middle name, which some of the heavy hitting “mic drop” names are (e.g., Luke Augustine, Luke Maximilian, Luke Emmanuel).

(2) Gabriel
Speaking of biblical names and the Annunciation, what about Gabriel? I’ve seen Benjamin and Gabriel brother sets fairly frequently, as well as Dominic and Gabriel brother sets, so it feels like a good fit. Gabriel’s also mentioned in both the Old Testament and New Testament, which is nice for Benjamin and Peter. They have Gabrielle on their “no” list for girls, but I’m hoping Gabriel’s okay for a boy!

(3) Joseph
I suggested Josephine above for a girl, but what about Joseph for a boy? I’m loving that it’s both an Old and New Testament name, and St. Joseph is such an amazing patron for a boy. It was also St. John Paul’s birth middle name, and Pope Benedict’s pre-papal first name. Lots of great connections!

(4) Henry
Henry reminds me of Hannah in that it’s such a sweet name! It’s a style match for Grace, Caroline, and Charlotte, and has a great saintly pedigree — I actually did a spotlight post of it here. Also, since Sarah mentioned possibly being open to John Paul, I wonder if they’d consider John Henry? It would be a really nice nod to our brand new St. John Henry Newman, and can also take the nickname Jack.

(5) Owen
Owen actually showed up a few times in my research — it’s a style match for Claire, Grace, and Charlotte, as well as Logan, which I looked up in order to add to the names that could be style matches for Cody. I think Owen is a great idea for this family! My favorite patron is St. Nicholas Owen — he was amazing! But there are actually a few Owens they can choose from for patron.

(6) Austin
Austin might be my favorite suggestion for this family for a boy. It’s a style match for Cody (!), and it’s a contracted form of Augustine! While it might have a modern feel, it’s been in use for a long time. There are the Austin Friars, founded in 1253, also known as the Hermits of St. Augustine, and I loved this medal for St. Augustine of Canterbury that says “St. Austin” on it. They could also do Augustine with the nickname Austin if they want.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Cody, Benjamin, Claire, Dominic, Grace, Peter, Caroline, and Zelie?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

A few fun things

Haappppyyy Thursday!!

I know you’ll love this: I was telling my eight-year-old about someone we know whose name is Emmanuel. “His name is ‘God with us’?!” he exclaimed in amazement. 😂😂😂 (Someone’s paying attention at Mass! 💃💃💃)

I loved these two recent posts at Swistle:

Baby Girl Vansanover: Is the Name Bernadette Too Catholic?
I was surprised at the number of people that felt Bernadette was not as Catholic as might have been thought, and instead comes across as a vintage up-and-coming name. I was even more surprised at the number of commenters who didn’t know why anyone would think it was a Catholic name! Even commenters who identified as Catholic in some way (currently practicing or lapsed)!

Baby Girl Carrot-with-an-M, Sister to Avila and Rose
This family is Catholic, and there was a fun discussion about the name Zelie, including a poll on pronunciation.

Abby at Appellation Mountain spotlighted the name St. John (Sinjin) recently, which always makes me think of Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas because it was on her list of names for Baby Hildi if she’d been a boy. And a few days before St. John, Abby also spotlighted Jacinta!!


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: A name for a ninth baby, ideally New Testament and/or saintly with its own initial

(A day late due to illness! Winter, bah! I know I owe a bunch of you emails — I’m working through them, slowly but surely!)

I previously posted two birth announcements for Laura — here and here — and have had some great email conversations with her about names, so I’m thrilled to offer some name ideas for her! She and her husband aren’t currently expecting, but want to be ready if God blesses them again. ❤ Their children on earth are:

Paul Stephen
Clare Michelle
Mark Joseph
Katharine Rose (Kat, Kitty, Kate)
James Philip (Jay)
Andrew Lawrence
Gabriel John (Gabe)
Thomas Gregory (Tommy, T)

And their babies in heaven are:

Becket
Patrick

Such solid, handsome/lovely, saintly names!

Laura writes,

Everyone has their own initial which is wonderfully convenient. It’s not exactly a rule but I do notice that I tend to worry about sibling names sounding to similar in beginning and ending sounds.

Luke and Rebecca are the names of our siblings so most likely not usable for first names for a baby.

I was originally opposed to nicknames but my husband loves a good nickname and tends to shorten any name he comes across.

A saint name is important to us probably for the first and the middle. We make a big deal out of feast days and typically if we go to daily Mass on the kids’ feast day it gets at least a passing mention. For the most part this requirement is easy because those are the names we like anyways, but we do both like Scott for example but it doesn’t meet that criteria.

First the boys-

A New Testament boys name would be obvious, but it feels like that well might be dry. Peter is probably our favorite of the remaining possibilities. Jude has floated off and on the list over the years.

I really love David! But having a James and Gabriel who frequently goes by Gabe in the same house is fairly confusing; I think we should pause before adding another name with a long A vowel.

As far as other Old Testament names goes. [Hubby] likes Samuel and Isaac but I don’t. Plus Sam and James seem a bit close for brothers. [Also,] Daniel is not usable for us.

When I was pregnant with Gabriel I strongly considered Henry. My husband likes Louis but I think it’s a bit fancy and the ending sounds match Thomas.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a girl. My husband’s favorite over those years has been Lucy. And I can give you a long list of why it’s an awesome name, but I’ve not talked myself into loving it. I thinks it’s perfect for someone else’s baby but maybe not my little girl.

Grace, Sarah and Nell are the other current names on our girls list.

Grace is a longtime favorite but seems so similar to Gabriel and Thomas’s name. One way to use it would be to call her Mary Grace.

Sarah is another name I’ve liked since childhood but it doesn’t seem as saintly as the other kids’ names and perhaps we know too many women my age name Sarah. It’s pretty but I worry that it’s not very interesting.

Nell is a name we’d both be excited to use which isn’t so easy to find. The trouble is that it’s really a nickname and we don’t care for the options for a full name. If we don’t use a full name like Helen the saintly connection is less obvious.

I also like names like Eve, Ruth, Stella and Frances but [hubby’s] pretty lukewarm towards those.”

I so enjoyed working on this for Laura! It’s so fun to have watched her family grow and to have followed her name thoughts through several babies.

I hadn’t realized until she pointed it out that all her living children have their own initial — that’s actually pretty amazing! It definitely informed some of my ideas for her — if they could keep that going, that would indeed be wonderfully convenient! I also really wanted to find some one-syllable names for her, since I know she really likes those; for my ideas that are longer than one syllable, I wanted to be sure they could shorten to a one-syllable name.

Speaking of, I’m so bummed they can’t use Luke! It would be perfect!

So I’ll address their boy parameters first. When Abby from Appellation Mountain did the consultation for me for my last baby, she noted that she found it somewhat difficult to come up with ideas for me because she knew that I’d likely considered All the Names through the years and could she really come up with something I hadn’t already considered? I feel similarly working on this for Laura, since I’ve “known” her for years on the Baby Name Wizard forums before here, and between there and our emails I know that she, too, has considered All the Names. So instead of coming up with ideas that I think she and her hubby might not have considered, I’m shooting for making strong arguments for my ideas such that they might take on a new sheen and come across as newly appealing.

But first, my thoughts on the boy names Laura said they like/have considered:

  • Peter: Although Peter breaks their all-different-initials pattern, I kind of like that they started with Paul and might end with Peter — there’s something really pleasing about that to me. I wonder if they’ve considered Pierce? I like that it’s one syllable and not obviously biblical (while still being biblical), which opens up more options for this family for the future.
  • Jude: Since they can’t use Luke, Jude seems the next best thing. I think Jude has more of a Gabriel feel than Peter, for example, which could be perfect.
  • David: I’m not surprised at all that Laura loves David! A lot of her kids’ names had a strong peak in the 50s/60s, and David did as well. I have three Uncle Davids, two born in the 50s and one in the 60s — one has a brother Mark, one has a brother Stephen, and one has brothers Thomas and Jay! I can see what she means about the long A thing, though I know a family with three boys named Jacob, Nathaniel, and Gabriel: Jake, Nate, and Gabe. I definitely don’t think it’s problematic from an outsider’s perspective, unless it’s really confusing for Laura and her hubby and kids, which sounds like it might be. (That should probably be a consideration for Grace as well.)
  • Samuel and Isaac: I’m not considering these as real possibilities since Laura doesn’t like them, but I probably would have suggested Samuel otherwise. Funny, I wouldn’t have thought Sam and James are too close, and I’ve been thinking about it since she first emailed, and I still don’t think they’re too close. But I totally get not being able to move past something like that!
  • Henry: It’s a great name and is a good match for Laura’s girls’ names I think, both Clare and Katharine as well as Grace, Lucy, and Stella from their list of considerations. Being that it’s a great fit as a brother to Clare and Katharine, I like it for them — I’m always a fan of names that provide a bridge between different styles, or between the boys’ and girls’ names in a family.
  • Louis: I’m laughing over Laura’s characterization of Louis as “a bit fancy”! I can see what she means. I can also see how she doesn’t like the matching endings of Thomas and Louis (but also, perhaps this is a consideration for Grace as well). It’s funny what rubs a person the wrong way, and what doesn’t.
  • Scott: I had to look Scott up to see if there was any saintly connection that could be made! There’s a Bl. William Scott, which I loved discovering, as William was a name that I was going to include in my list of official suggestions anyway. I wonder what they would think of William Scott as a first+middle combo? Will is a nice, one-syllable nickname that would go great with the other kids, OR they could call him Scott from his middle!

And some thoughts on their girl names:

  • Lucy: I love Lucy, which makes it easy for me to see why Laura’s hubby loves it. But I think maybe I can see why Laura doesn’t like it: it’s a very sweet name to me, very soft and darling, and while Clare especially approaches having a similar feel, its hard K sound gives it a little bit of a harder edge, which Katharine shares and even Grace more than Lucy. Eve, Ruth, and Frances from the list of names Laura likes don’t have the harder sound, but have a more severe *feel* I think, if that makes sense. Maybe what I’m trying to articulate is that whether sound-wise or style-wise, Laura’s not terribly into soft or frilly girl names. Do you agree, or do you think I’m way off?
  • Grace: It’s beautiful and to the point, and I know Laura’s loved it for a long time. It starts with G and ends with S, so I can see why it strikes Laura as similar to Gabriel and Thomas, but I have to say that I don’t see them as all that similar. Laura has thought of the possible solution of Mary Grace, but I also know that’s has been problematic for her, since she’s never liked that Mark and Mary are only one letter different. I wonder what she’d think of Sarah Grace instead? Used as a double name, like Mary Grace would be? Laura would get to use two of her favorites, and it would move the whole first name away from Gabriel and Thomas. Sarah Grace (or Sarah-Grace, if they prefer) is very different from their other kiddos’ names to me, while still fitting in really well.
  • Sarah: The idea of Sarah Grace would make Sarah feel more saintly (with Grace being so Marian) and give it a fresher feel so it wouldn’t feel so much like the women Laura’s (and my) age and would also make it feel more interesting. Could be a nice option! For what it’s worth, a friend of mine whose children are similar ages as mine had a baby girl the same month I had my Luke and named her Sarah. I was surprised, as I don’t usually hear Sarah on little girls, but pleasantly so!
  • Nell: I came away from my first reading of Laura’s email DETERMINED to come up with formal name ideas for Nell that she might like. How fun that she and her hubby both love Nell!! I first have to be sure they’ve considered all the options: Nell works for any El- name (as I understand it, girls named Elizabeth, Eleanor, etc. would affectionately be called “Mine El,” which morphed over time into “My Nell” [this also happened with Ann(e) — “Mine Ann” became “My Nan,” and then also Nancy]). My favorite for Laura and her hubs is Elizabeth — it’s a great match with their other children’s names! Eleanor also works, which taps into the Henry/Louis feel and is great with Clare and Katharine. Of course I had to come up with some offbeat/unexpected ideas! One is Natalie. The initial N and the strong L makes Nell totally doable I think. Another possibility is Noelle — I know a little Noelle whose family calls Nelly. Christmas would be her feast day, and with “The First Noel/Nowell” there’s a chance she’d hear her name, like Laura’s other kids do on their feast days. Christmas can also work for Natalie, though there are also two Sts. Natalia that could be patron instead (though I don’t think they’d be mentioned at Mass on their feast days). I also like the idea of something like Nora Louise or Nora Lucy nn Nell. We’ve discussed Eleanor on the blog, which could be patron for Nora (whether through Helena, if they take Eleanor and Helena to be related, or through Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor, or through Ven. Honora Nagle).
  • Eve, Ruth, Stella, Frances: I’m glad Laura included these, as they gave me a fuller sense of her taste, though like with Samuel and Isaac, I’m not considering them realistic options because her husband doesn’t care for them. My only additional thought was, would they consider Francis for a boy?
  • Theresa: Laura didn’t include Theresa, though I know she’s also loved it for a long time! I wonder if it’s off the table now that they have a Thomas? I did use Theresa as inspiration in my research.

Okay! In addition to Pierce, William Scott, Sarah Grace, Natalie/Noelle/Nora+L___ nn Nell, and Francis-for-a-boy, which were all based on ideas Laura and her husband already had, I also did my usual research for them in the Baby Name Wizard, which I’m assuming they’ve already done as well! But hopefully my take on these ideas might be worthwhile:

Girl
(1) Ann(e)
Laura didn’t mention Ann(e)/Anna anywhere, so maybe they’ve considered it and dismissed it? But Ann/Anne is a lovely, trim, one-syllable, super saintly name with a great patron and feast day that fits in really well with the older children! My only worry is that it might be too close to Andrew’s name?

(2) Hope
I really wanted to come up with some ideas that were different than what Laura might normally think of, while still fitting in. Hope showed up a few times in my research in the BNW, being similar in style to Kate, Grace, and Eve. It’s a virtue and Marian name like Grace, but less familiar, and has such a lovely meaning.

(3) Julia
Julia is so classic, feminine, and strong, I love it for this family. It can nickname to the one syllable Jules, but they could also do Jude, especially if they paired it with a D middle name. Could be a neat way to work Jude in!

(4) Susan(ne)(na)
In keeping with the midcentury feel of many of their favorites, Susan popped up a bunch of times: in the style matches for Mark, Thomas, and Peter, and in matches that also included Stephen, Philip, and Theresa. My mom was nearly named Susan, and her brothers share several names with Laura’s boys! Her mom really wanted to name her Susan, but her dad wanted to name her Anne, so they compromised with Susanne. Maybe that would be a combo (Susan+Anne) that Laura would also like? Or maybe Susanna, which is the saint’s name? (The most well-known St. Susanna’s feast day is the same as St. Clare’s, which could be cool or not cool for their Clare, and would also likely mean Susanna wouldn’t be mentioned at Mass. But there are other Sts. Susanna with different feast days!)

(5) Bridget
I included Scott in my research, since Laura and her husband both like it, and was interested to see that Bridget is a style match for it. It felt like a good suggestion for them! It’s got those harder sounds, like Clare and Katharine (and Paul, Mark, Becket, Patrick, and Thomas), and is Irish like Clare and Patrick, and has a great saint as patron. Bridge can be a one-syllable nickname, but I also love Bridie/Bridey.

(6) Emily
Emily popped up enough in my research in the BNW that I couldn’t not include it: it’s a match for James, Andrew, Sarah, and Katie. There are actually a whole bunch of Blesseds and Saints that could be patron for Emily, including St. Emilie de Villeneuve, St. Emily de Rodat, and St. Emily de Vialar. I’m thinking Nell could also work as a nickname for Emily — it starts with E and has a prominent L, like Elizabeth and Eleanor, and something like Emily Louise could hammer that home.

Boy
(1) Matthew (or Matthias?)
They must have considered Matthew and decided against it, but it’s an obvious choice being that it’s a New Testament name and one of the evangelists. I’m quite taken with the idea of Matthew Scott called Scott, it’s one of my favorite ideas for this family. If they don’t care for Matthew’s ending being the same as Andrew, maybe Matthias could work? Like Jude, it has a little more of Gabriel’s vibe, and can shorten to Matt, or Matthias Scott could go by Scott.

(2) Nicholas
This is another New Testament name that they must have considered and dismissed, but it’s such a good fit with Andrew and Gabriel especially, I think. Nick is a great, friendly nickname.

(3) Alexander (or Alan?)
Ditto Matthew and Nicholas — Alexander is a New Testament name that would fit in nicely with the older kids. Alex is also specifically a match for Kate and Sarah. I was also quite intrigued by how often Alan/Allen showed up in my research, being similar in style to Paul, Mark, Peter, and Theresa! We actually read about Bl. Alan de la Roche (aka Alan de Rupe) at my most recent Lay Dominican meeting, he’s a great patron. But I was thinking that of the Al- names, Alexander might be a better fit, since it’s biblical and specifically New Testament.

(4) Adam
Speaking of biblical A names, Adam is another that did well for this family — it’s a match for Kate, Andrew, and Sarah. If they were open to venturing into the Old Testament (like David), Adam could be perfect. It’s not one syllable, but it’s nice and short. There are also some non-biblical holy Adams!

(5) Martin
Venturing out of biblical territory altogether (like Henry and Louis), Martin is a match for Paul, Mark, Lawrence, Philip, Peter, and Theresa. Wow! Martin’s a great name with a lot of great patrons, and Marty’s a great nickname. Although, I’m thinking Laura probably won’t love that Mark and Martin would share their first three letters.

(6) Grant
Grant is a match for Clare and Kate (and Emily and Hope), and I really wanted it to work for this family, since it’s a one-syllable name. We’ve talked a bit on the blog about it being able to nod to “grant us peace” in the Mass, and this site provides sixteen instances of the word “grant” in the bible, including in the New Testament, however I started cross checking them against the version on the Bishops’ site and “grant” isn’t used in it most of them. But it is used in Luke 1:73, so that’s cool!

And those are all my ideas for Laura and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew, Gabriel, and Thomas?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Third baby girl needs a name for a bold, saintly woman

Today’s consultation is from a dad! I love when papas write to me! Mat and his wife are expecting their third earthly baby — and third daughter! She joins big sisters:

Gianna Marie (“after St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Mary“)
Charlotte Josephine (“after John Paul II and St. Joseph; also sometimes goes by Charley or Char“)

And two siblings in heaven:

Augustine Robert (“after St. Augustine and Robert after a friend who passed away around that time“)
Gabriel Mathew (“after St. Gabriel and his Dad“)

So lovely. So saintly. Just wonderful names all around!

Mat writes,

We have discussed our name situation and here is what we have. It’s been much harder to even narrow down the name this time!

While we like the idea of something unique, we don’t want something that is too difficult to pronounce or is really unheard of. Mat has always wanted a baby named after someone who has yet to be canonized or who was a martyr. Ideally, we want a name that emphasizes female strength and empowerment as raising them to be bold, saintly women is something we really value and is a big part of our family culture. We got married on the feast of Maximilian Kolbe so maybe that could go into the consideration.”

(I just love that: “Ideally, we want a name that emphasizes female strength and empowerment as raising them to be bold, saintly women is something we really value and is a big part of our family culture.”)

“Names we like (asterisks are our favorites so far):
Cecilia* (Mat grew up in the Omaha, NE archdiocese so this name has always appealed to him)
Quinn
Lydia*
Felicity*
Lucia/Lucille/Lucy (would be called Lucy)*
Hope*
Elizabeth (seems really common right now)*
Madeline or Magdalene*
Elodie* (Kelly thinks this sounds pretty, though Mat isn’t the biggest fan)

Names we can’t do:
Chiara
Clare
Abby
Agnes
Elle
Adeline
Amelia
Emily
Brittany
Janet
Patricia
Harper
Danika
Nanette
Amy
Grace
Beth
Valerie
Suzanne
Edith/Edie
Dorothy
Zelie
Caeli

Thank you so much for helping us with such an eternal decision!

I love how feminine and full of faith significance their girls’ names are, and I’m confident they’ll end up choosing a name just as perfect for this baby girl! Not least because they have a great list they’re working with already! I thought I’d start by offering thoughts on the names on their list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Cecilia: Great name, obviously saintly, good nickname options. It goes well with both Gianna and Charlotte, nice option! I like the Omaha connection too, that’s a nice little story.
  • Quinn: I love Ven. Edel Quinn and Quinn is a really fun way to nod to her. It’s not as feminine as Gianna and Charlotte, but it’s spunky and fits in with Charlotte’s nickname of Charley well.
  • Lydia: I’ve always loved Lydia, and I love that a little Lydia would have her own color, as Lydia in the bible was a seller of purple cloth!
  • Felicity: This name jumped right out to me as a name that checks all their boxes, including the female strength + empowerment + “bold, saintly women” emphasis they value. I also really like that it offers sort of a third style of feminine name to go with their girls; that is, Gianna is very Italian, Charlotte isn’t as obviously ethnic but is French, and Felicity is neither of those, which is quite nice I think.
  • Lucia/Lucille/Lucy: The Lucy names are great! Lucia fits in well with Gianna’s Italian feel, Lucille is French like Charlotte, and Lucy is like Felicity to me — it’s neither French nor Italian and offers a nice third style option while fitting in well with both Gianna and Charlotte. (Do note that I’m not suggesting they avoid Italian name or French names! But sometimes having the characteristics of current children’s names and those on the list of possibilities pointed out can help parents clarify what’s important to them/what they want in a name.)
  • Hope: I love the name Hope and wish it got more usage! It’s so simple and pretty, and Marian! (Our Lady of Hope.)
  • Elizabeth: They’re right, it is common right now (no. 13 on the most recent SSA list [2018]), but Charlotte is no. 6 and Gianna is no. 80 so it’s not totally out of line with their older girls’ names (top 100 names are in the same general category, I’d say). Lydia, Lucy, and Madeline are also top 100 names (89, 51, and 100, respectively). Here are the others’ rankings:
    — Cecilia: 155
    — Quinn: not in top 1000 for girls; no. 384 for boys
    — Felicity: 354
    — Lucia/Lucille: 183/295
    — Hope: 255
    — Magdalene: not in top 1000
    — Elodie: not in top 1000

An option in regard to Elizabeth is to spell it Elisabeth, which is no. 789, and while a change in spelling only goes so far in making a name feel different, a nice bonus with the Elisabeth spelling is that it’s the spelling of Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Have you heard of her? I thought of her immediately when they said, “Mat has always wanted a baby named after someone who has yet to be canonized” — she’s an amazing woman with an amazing story!

  • Madeline or Magdalene: I love both of these. Madeline is more mainstream, as its popularity shows (no. 100 in 2018), while Magdalene is more offbeat (it didn’t rank in the top 1000 in 2018).
  • Elodie: It does sound pretty! Elizabeth/Elisabeth and Elodie can both take the Ellie/Ella nicknames.

I love Mat and Kelly’s focus on holy female strength, and I really tried to keep that in mind while I was compiling the list of ideas for them, as well as the “naming after someone who has yet to be canonized or who was a martyr” bit. And St. Maximilian Kolbe! It was fun to try to find ideas that could nod to him!

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 as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I start there because figuring out a couple’s style is a huge part of coming up with name ideas that I think they might like; within that universe is where I try to find/make saint/faith connections. I don’t stick exclusively to the BNW results, but they’re so helpful! Anyway, based on the BNW research and the parameters Mat and his wife offered, these are the ideas I came up with for this baby:

(1) Julia or Juliet
Several of my readers are devoted to Servant of God Julia Greeley, so, like Elisabeth Leseur, she came right to mind when I read that they might like to name a baby after someone who isn’t yet canonized. And then Julia did well for them in my research! It’s a style match for Lydia, Elizabeth, and Madeline. Juliet, which started as a diminutive of Julia and can take all the holy Julias as patron, is a little more offbeat, a little more “something unique” as they said they like, AND it’s a style match for Felicity and Hope! I spotlighted Juliet here, which includes a discussion of patron saints; Julia Greeley isn’t included (I don’t think I was aware of her yet when I wrote it), but you can read more about her here. My only hesitation with Julia/Juliet is that it starts with the same sound as Gianna, and I don’t know if they’d want to avoid that? Otherwise, I love them for them.

(2) Isabel
They have Elizabeth on their list already, and Isabel’s a variant of it, which might make it seem weird that I’m suggesting it here, but Isabelle is a match for Charlotte, Isabella is a match for Gabriel, and Isabel is a match for Madeline, and I chose Isabel as the variant to suggest because I like that it’s neither Italian nor French (like what I said about Felicity and Lucy above).

(3) Eloise or Louisa
Eloise is only a match for Madeline, but it immediately struck me as maybe a combination of or compromise between Lucia and Elodie. Unfortunately its saintly connection isn’t quite so great — it’s a variant of Heloise, and while there’s this blessed, most of what I found when I tried to find whether there was a St. Eloise was the story of Peter Abelard and his wife, which is pretty tragic and not very holy. Eloise made me think of Louisa, which is also very similar to Lucia — and, I think, can also take the nickname Lucy — but it has a different feel, more English or German. I like Louisa with Gianna and Charlotte.

(4) Clara or Cora
They said Chiara and Clare are both names they can’t do, so I would have assumed that Clara is included in that too, BUT they have Elle and Beth on that same list, which didn’t prevent them from having Elizabeth on their list, so I’m taking a chance that Clara’s okay! It’s a style match for Lydia and Lucia, and like Louisa, Clara has an English or German feel, which I like with the Italian Gianna and the French Charlotte. Clara made me think of Cora — a similar sound/rhythm but without the Clare connection. I’ve had several readers name daughters Cora for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and/or the Sacred Heart of Jesus because of cor meaning “heart” in Latin.

(5) Rose, Rosa
I thought the female Doctors of the Church would be a great place to look for name inspiration for this family, and while I’m swoony over the nickname Hildi and would recommend Hildegard for that reason, I didn’t think it was quite their style. But Rosa is a match for Lucia and I thought of how roses are so connected to St. Therese, and I love the sweet, spare feel of both Rose and Rosa, so I thought they deserved a mention. There are some other holy Roses too, and of course Our Lady: Mystical Rose, the rosary, golden roses on her feet at Lourdes and roses in the tilma at Guadalupe, etc.

(6) Catherine or Siena
St. Catherine of Siena, another Doctor of the Church, always strikes me as the definition of holy female strength, and since Catherine is a style match for Cecilia and Elizabeth, I thought it would be a great option for Mat and his wife. I didn’t want to leave out Siena as an option, though — being a place name, it has a surname feel, like Quinn, that they might like (though is it too similar to Gianna?).

(7) Avila
Speaking of place names, what about Avila, for Doctor of the Church Teresa of Avila? I quite like that it’s Spanish, which is cool that they’d have an Italian name, a French name, and a Spanish name.

(8) Mary Kolbe or Maria Kolbe or Maria Immaculata
I spent a bit of time reading about St. Maximilian Kolbe for ideas to suggest. I love that Mat and his wife were married on his feast day! Both Mary/Maria and Immaculata rose to the surface immediately as feminine names that are so heavily connected to him. For one thing, he took Maria as a second religious name, which is pretty cool. Another is that St. Max named his group Militia Immaculatae — I’m a huge fan of Immaculata as a middle name! I like both Mary Immaculata and Maria Immaculata, and can see Mim being a really sweet nickname for them. They could also do Mary Kolbe or Maria Kolbe, which could be really cool as a double first name maybe? Or a first+middle, of course.

(9) Frances/Francesca/Franciszka or Faustina
My last idea has a bunch of connections for what Mat and his wife are looking for, I think. Both St. Maximilian Kolbe and Servant of God Julia Greeley were Franciscans (Conventual and Secular, respectively), so I liked the idea of Frances or Francesca as a way to nod to either of them. I also liked it for St. (Mother) Frances Xavier Cabrini — the first American citizen to be canonized. Francesca is the Italian variant, which I love (Mother Cabrini’s also known as Francesca), and then I thought to look up the Polish variant too: Franciszka is lovely! Still on the Polish kick because of St. Max, I wondered if a well-known, female Polish saint might be a good nod to him and immediately thought of Faustina. I often see Faustina used by families who have daughters with names like Gianna and Charlotte. (I’m also now wondering if they might like to consider Cabrini as a first name?)

And those are my ideas for Mat and Kelly’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Gianna and Charlotte?


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Perrin Fae!

I posted a consultation for Kortnee from Studio Senn back in September, and she’s let me know her baby girl has arrived! She and her husband gave her the gorgeous name … Perrin Fae!

Kortnee writes,

We welcomed baby girl last Friday and I thought I would follow up to let you know what we decided on for a name!

We landed on Perrin Fae! While we both loved Peregrine for awhile (and feel very called to ask his intercession these days as we know so many who could use his prayers), we ultimately decided maybe it wasn’t the right fit for our naming style. However, we still really liked the nickname she would have had and decided that was a good way to honor Saint Peregrine and give her a namesake. We used the traditional spelling you mentioned. Even though it’s masculine historically, if feels feminine to me since I know a woman with that name.

The boys are smitten with her and no less than a dozen times a day I have to peel Becket away from her.

Thank you for helping us think through this naming process! It was much harder this time around!

I love Perrin Fae!! What a gorgeous name that fits in perfectly with this family’s naming style!!

Congratulations to Kortnee and her hubby and big brothers Fulton and Becket, and happy birthday Baby Perrin!!

Perrin Fae with her big brothers ❤


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!