March for Life 2020 (and a little about the names of Jane Roe)

Today’s the March for Life in Washington, D.C.! My oldest boy is there with a group from school, and I know many of you and/or your children are there as well. Thank you for fighting the good fight!

Because this is a Catholic name blog, I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective a few times*; today I thought I’d take a brief look at the names — real and pseudonymous — of the woman named in that 1973 Supreme Court decision**.

Jane Roe was a pseudonym for the plaintiff in the case, used to keep her identity anonymous. This article explained that John Doe and Jane Doe are used when a person’s identity is unknown, while Roe and Poe are used for those whose identity is known but who wish to remain anonymous. The woman known as Jane Roe continued to be known as Jane Roe for the rest of her life, though she revealed her real name after the case was decided: Norma McCorvey.

I spent a few minutes this morning reading articles about her with, at first, a sort of detached onomastic perspective — I was interested in finding anything that discussed her names. As has happened every time I’ve ever looked her up, though, I was moved by how much she experienced and endured from her earliest days. Even though there are questions about what was truth and what was fiction, not knowing what and especially who could be trusted seems a constant characteristic in her life. As does a definite vulnerability; I found this namey quote particularly sad and telling: “Norma McCorvey had little more to her name than a pseudonym. But it was the most famous pseudonym in American legal history: Jane Roe.” And when she became pro-life, she said before a Senate subcommittee in 1998, “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.”

What a lady, and what a life, for better and for worse. May she, and all deceased victims of abortion, rest in peace.

* Things I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective:
I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names
Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus (CatholicMom) (and my blog post sharing it, which includes further thoughts)
March for Life: Comfort and confidence in the Holy Name of Jesus
The name of Mother Teresa (includes a link to her amazing address at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast)
Book reviews, radio appearance, naming aborted babies

** Roe v. Wade (1973) “determined that a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion involved the question of whether the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The justices answered this question by asserting that the 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from “depriv[ing] any person of … liberty … without due process of law,” protected a fundamental right to privacy. Further, after considerable discussion of the law’s historical lack of recognition of rights of a fetus, the justices concluded “the word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.” The right of a woman to choose to have an abortion fell within this fundamental right to privacy, and was protected by the Constitution.”

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


Birth announcement: Stellamaris Anne!

I posted a consultation for Lindsay and her husband right before Christmas, and Lindsay’s let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived! A little lady given the gorgeous name … Stellamaris Anne!

Lindsay writes,

Thank you so much for all your help on the baby names! Going in we decided the boy would be Thatcher Pio or Theodore Bent (I just loved your suggestion of using the Danish Benedict). For a girl we went in with Stellamaris Anne or Zellie Anne. I was really feeling Stella though because it had always been at the top of my list. I’ve also felt particularly close to Mother Mary during this pregnancy and once again consecrated myself to Jesus through our Blessed Mother at the end of March. I knew the babe would really have to strike me as a Zellie to go that route.

On April 8th we welcomed our baby girl Stellamaris Anne!  We are so pleased to have our little lady and I am truly in love with her name! I love to say it! 😉

PS After we knew we had our girl and were deciding what her name would be my husband threw in the name Gemma as an option. I love the name and it had been mentioned before but I said no it hasn’t been on the final list I can’t handle adding it now haha.”

Isn’t this a great name story?? I love the two boy names they’d decided on, and I love Lindsay’s explanation of Stellamaris vs. Zellie — so beautiful all around! And also — Gemma as a last-minute addition! I totally get not being able to handle a last-minute addition to the list! I love the name, I hope they keep it on their list of future possibilities.

Congratulations to Lindsay and her husband and big brother William, and happy birthday Baby Stellamaris!!

image1 (18).JPG

Stellamaris Anne

Reader question: how to deal with negative attitudes toward big families (and a cool name!)

This doesn’t have to do with names, but it does come from one of you readers, and it does have to do with big families, and our little community here has a higher-than-average proportion of big families when it comes to most other places online, and I’ve not seen a kinder virtual community anywhere.

So: a mama and devoted reader, who’s expecting her third baby, writes,

Many of your consultations and readers (as well as yourself!) seem to have larger families (4+). How does everyone deal with society’s negativity towards it? How do you maybe evangelize the Catholic way of thinking, openness to life, the idea that there is value and benefit in larger families? Granted we are not ALL called to have large families, it is a personal matter you settle with God. But still, what do you say to help others understand or turn the news from ‘oh ANOTHER one’ to ‘yippy!’

I was so sad to read this! I know having to deal with this is a reality the more children a couple welcomes into their family, but it’s so sad to me when a mama experiences it for the first time. This particular reader has been told (regarding what name they’ll give the baby), “If you’re smart, you’ll call it ‘Quits.'” (Hardy har.) She’s been given eye rolls when she mentions friends having their fourth or fifth baby, and facial expressions and tones of voice that convey to her that the person she’s speaking to doesn’t approve when she discusses things like possibly getting a bigger vehicle.

I told her that for myself, I just try to remember that there are a lot of people who truly don’t understand our mindset and world view — they’ve been so affected by what they see around them, and most people don’t come into contact with big families on a regular basis. And I always try to be joyful! I mean, obviously I’m not always joyful — my poor kids will tell you I’m impatient and have a bad temper! — but in general I am, because I know that our life is full of blessings, not least of which are the children. So I try to convey that to others, whether at the grocery store or school or church or whatever. But not in a beat-them-over-the-head or holier-than-thou way either, you know? Just in general, trying to *not* confirm whatever negative preconceived ideas they have about having a lot of kids. If it’s a situation where I’m chatting with someone, I love to tell the latest funny or cute or sweet stories about my boys — in my experience, people tend to love those kinds of things. Especially funny stories! Laughter is the best medicine after all. 😀

How about all of you? What suggestions or words of wisdom or moral support do you have to offer this mom, and all others who deal with this kind of thing?

(Also, just to end on a namey note, I came across the name of an Italian Dominican theologian from long ago [1580-1660; he’s not a saint or a blessed, just a cool guy], and it’s been rolling around in my head for days because I’m so taken with it: Xantes Mariales!)


All about Confirmation names over at

My February column posted today, check it out! Choosing a Confirmation Name


I know we’ve talked about them before, but if you have more to say about Confirmation names, please do! And if you think this article would be helpful to anyone making their Confirmation this spring, please share it (I wrote it with teens in mind).

My newest column

You all know I’m struggling with these Planned Parenthood videos so you shouldn’t be surprised that my August column at (up today) tackles the issue again (my previous post here on the blog, I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names, was the most shared of all the posts I’ve ever written, by a landslide, so I know you’re all feeling it too): Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus.


(I blogged about the Holy Name the other day too, especially in regards to Its major promoter, St. Bernardine of Siena.)

Of course I had no way of knowing when I wrote it that the seventh video would be released today, but I’m glad my article’s coinciding with the release of this new information of horror: babies alive after an attempted abortion, with still beating hearts, having body parts harvested, including “how the abortionist made [the “former procurement technician with Planned Parenthood partner StemExpress” who revealed this info] harvest the baby’s brain by cutting his face open with scissors.”

This is a bit from a historical novel I just read (Winter of the World by Ken Follett, about the Second World War, including the Nazis):


This particular bit is about how the Nazis rounded up disabled children — and adults too, though it doesn’t reference them in this particular passage — but most of the German citizens either didn’t know it or didn’t believe it.

Then there’s this, from the same book:

imageIt explains more about that very program:

The program was called Aktion T4 after its address, 4 Tiergarten Strasse. The agency was officially the Charitable Foundation for Cure and Institutionalized Care … Its job was to arrange the painless deaths of handicapped people who could not survive without costly care. It had done splendid work in the last couple of years, disposing of tens of thousands of useless people … The problem was that German public opinion was not yet sophisticated enough to understand the need for such deaths, so the program had to be kept quiet.”

Of course parallels have been drawn for a long time between the Holocaust and abortion, but still I was struck by the similarity between what I was reading and what Planned Parenthood (and all abortionists) is and has been doing. In fact, our government does sanction the killing of handicapped children. Healthy children too! The particular horrors have been kept quiet for some time, and there are those (one example here) that seem to think the same as what’s being said in this passage — that the graphic revelation of horror shouldn’t change hearts because we need to be “sophisticated” enough to understand the need for this “necessary” evil.

Just like the Nazis.

God help us all, in Jesus’ name.

THE promoter of the Holy Name

I was doing a little reading on the Holy Name of Jesus — teachings about It, devotion to It, etc. — and discovered that, though many saints loved and promoted the Holy Name (St. Ignatius of Loyola is a notable example, having chosen the monogram of Jesus’ name — IHS — for the symbol of his Order, which he named after Jesus as well [the Jesuits]), there was one saint who rose head and shoulders above them all as the one most known for his devotion to and promotion of the Holy Name: St. Bernardine of Siena.

This might not have meant that much to me, except a little known fact about my alma mater (especially little known by those who didn’t attend, but even also by some [many?] alumni) is that, though its current name is Siena College, its original name was St. Bernardine of Siena College. (I can’t tell you how many people think it’s named for St. Catherine of Siena, even though it’s a Franciscan college and St. Catherine was a Dominican.)

St. Bernardine of Siena College, Loudonville, N. Y.
St. Bernardine of Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. by Boston Public Library (2011) via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

How cool to discover that my school’s patron was a superfan of the Holy Name??

So this isn’t really a name spotlight, because Bernardine is kind of … out of fashion? Even among Catholics who go bananas for heavy duty saint names. This is really more of a Holy Name of Jesus post, a note on one of the many awesome things I discovered about it. Which St. Bernardine, being a saint and a lover of the Name, would probably prefer — having Jesus be the focus. Like how St. John Paul the Great would put the crucifix in front of him, so when people looked at him they had to see Jesus first.

Luxembourg-5151 - Pope John Paul II
Luxembourg-5151-Pope John Paul II by Dennis Jarvis (2013) via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Says the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:

“… the greatest promoters of this devotion were St. Bernardine of Siena and St. John Capistran. They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, where with they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind. They recommended their hearers to have the monogram of Jesus placed over the gates of their cities and above the doors of their dwelling (cf. Seeberger, “Key to the Spiritual Treasures”, 1897, 102). Because the manner in which St. Bernardine preached this devotion was new, he was accused by his enemies, and brought before the tribunal of Pope Martin V. But St. John Capistran defended his master so successfully that the pope not only permitted the worship of the Holy Name, but also assisted at a procession in which the holy monogram was carried. The tablet used by St. Bernardine is venerated at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome.”

I love too that St. Bernardine’s partner in crime good was St. John Capistran — one of the friars that I particularly loved during my time at Siena was a Fr. Capistran.

St. Alphonsus wrote about St. Bernardine and the Name of Jesus:

If we read the life of St. Bernardine of Siena, we shall see how many sinners the Saint converted, how many abuses he put an end to, and how many cities he sanctified, by trying when he preached to induce the people to invoke the name of Jesus.”

So powerful! We could all use a little of that, right?? St. Bernardine, pray for us! Protect us from all evil, in Jesus’ Name.

IHS and St. Bernardine of Siena
IHS and St. Bernardine of Siena by John Donaghy (2013) via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names

I’d been composing this post in my head all morning, and when I sat down just now to write it, I logged into Twitter to access the link to an article I wanted to reference here, and saw that the fifth Planned Parenthood video has just been released (warning: graphic). I briefly skimmed the beginning of the article, stopping before I got to any graphic visuals, and yes, it’s truly awful, and I’m glad to join in the outrage in the way that a name blog can.

This was the article I logged into Twitter to get, which I’d retweeted the other day: The Difference a Name Makes by Molly Oshatz at First Things. An excerpt:

It’s amazing the difference a name makes. On one day this past week, nearly a hundred endangered elephants were killed and around 3,000 abortions were performed in the United States alone, and we were unfazed—but the killing of Cecil the lion broke our hearts. He wasn’t just any random lion. He was Cecil. Mere lions (along with chickens, cows, lambs, and pigs) are killed, but Cecil was murdered. We love the lion that was named Cecil. We feel as though we knew him.”

I hadn’t given one thought to the idea that Cecil had made such huge headlines because he had a name (and all that a name implies) before reading this, but it makes sense. Knowing one’s name is what makes a person — or in this case, a lion — emerge from the nameless hoards as an individual. It’s like a sea of body-shaped gray-scale shades until names become known, and then faces emerge, detailed and clear and in color. It’s an individual marker for an individual, an entity separate from the crowd.

“The abortion industry knows very well the difference a name can make … “

This was certainly the reasoning behind this article posted at, which I’d also referenced on my Instagram last week: Call Him Emmett. An excerpt:

The little boy in the most recent undercover Planned Parenthood videos from the Center for Medical Progress has been referred to as “Eleven Six”, meaning that he was aborted at 11 weeks 6 days gestation. His tiny body parts are easily identifiable in the horrific videos as they are sorted in order to be sold.

This baby deserves a name, deserves dignity that is rightly afforded him as a member of the human race … 

His name should be Emmett, after the boy of the same name who became the catalyst for the 1950s and 60s Civil Rights Movement.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who dared to speak to a white woman when he was visiting relatives in Mississippi. He was subsequently beaten with one eye gouged out, and then shot through the head before being tethered to a heavy gin and thrown in the river. His body was recovered three days later and returned to his mother in Chicago … 

Rosa Parks even said she was inspired by the boy: “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back.”

This baby boy in the Center for Medical Progress is the Emmett Till of the pro-life movement.”

I thought Emmett seemed most appropriate for this baby. It made me think of the web site 50 Million Names, a “grassroots campaign to collect names for the now-more-than 50,000,000 children aborted in our country.” As it says,

We ask Namers to register and then add names in a way that shows reverence for the lives of the aborted babies. Each name registration is accompanied by some concrete gesture made by the Namer in honor of this particular child.

Our hope is that these names will someday be read into state congressional records one by one, once each state’s million names are given. When all the names have been collected, perhaps the entire list could be read into the national congressional record.”

Because names are that important. How different it is to say, “These are the aborted babies: Daniel, Jayden, Marisa, Benjamin, Keisha, Trey, Moses, Ava, Chloe …” than to say, “Fifty million babies have been aborted.” (It’s actually closer to 60 million. God help us.) Even I, a lifelong ardently pro-life pro-lifer, get lulled into an almost settled unhappiness when faced with the abortion statistics (all numbers, of course) instead of the devastation and horror I should always have when presented with this information. But now, when I think of Emmett? I’m going to think of that one individual baby, and the gruesome specifics of his death, and the injustice and evil of it all.

Names have power. But more than that, being named=being loved and known and wanted, and that sense doesn’t come from nowhere. God tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5) and, as we’re reminded at the end of the First Things article,

“… everyone is loved and named, even those whose parents don’t want them and can’t bear to love them, and whose lives the rest of us don’t deem worth living. Even before each and every one of us emerges from the womb and gains official “baby” status, we are already known, named, and loved; as in Isaiah 43:1, God says to us, “I have called you by name, and you are mine””