“To give witness with joy and simplicity…”

Chelsea is a reader from New Zealand (!) and also the editor of Restless Press, which has the amazing “vision to be a modern design, magazine inspired, Australasian based website, containing real life and popular culture from a Catholic Christian perspective, across the spectrum of charisms.” She also gave this great little snippet about it on her blog Grow the Roses, including this quote from Pope Francis, which she said summed up the Restless Press mission quite well:

To give witness with joy and simplicity to who we are and what we believe in.”

Amazing mission, right? She asked me a few weeks ago if I would mind doing a little interview about Sancta Nomina, why and how I got started doing it, and I’m really humbled and overjoyed that she would think I fit in with her mission, how beautiful and wholesome.

The interview posted on Sunday — here it is for your reading pleasure! 🙂

Naming Catholic Babies: Kate from Sancta Nomina

So cool, right?! And get this — she called me “a baby name guru”!! Seriously guys, my life is made. Never in a million years have I ever thought others would think my obsession with love for names would get me anywhere. 😀 Nor did I think I’d get to connect with people from all over the world who love the names of our faith as I do! My heart swells, “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” God is so good. ❤



Tapped as a “name expert”! :D

Remember how I said in my year in review post that I’d been asked to provide a quote as a “name expert”? Can you believe it? 😀 You better believe I’m going to bring that up with my husband next time we’re discussing names and he’s pooh-poohing my favorites! (*ahem* Joachim)

(It’s really a terribly unfair thing for me to say though, as my guy is tremendously supportive of everything I do and I might have even heard him telling people a time or two that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to names. He’s a catch, that one. ❤ )

Anyway, the quote was going to be part of a visual representation of the kinds of info provided in articles like this one, which basically tell you how messed up your child’s life is going to be if you choose the wrong name, and while I suppose data doesn’t lie, it’s also not the full and only story.

So I was simultaneously flattered and terrified because I felt a responsibility to say something good and wise and universally appropriate (the site it would appear on, MomJunction.com, is not American) and also soothing and realistic — this stuff’s important to me! — and I think I did okay … this is the article: How Your Name Can Affect Your Success. And this is the part where I’m quoted (at the bottom):

How Your Name Can Affect Your Success-my_bit

What do you all think? Do you agree? What would you have said? Thanks to MomJunction for thinking I had something worthwhile to say!

Yesterday’s Design Mom kids’ names

Do any of you read Design Mom? I’d like to say I do because it looks really chic and big-window-sunshiney and sheer-white-curtains gorgeous, like one of those magazines where each page has a whole lot of what my house needs, but better!, because it focuses on moms and so they know about trying to figure it out with dirty messy house-wrecking children. But alas, as is my way, despite the fact that it’s “praised as a Website of the Year by Time Magazine, and a top parenting blog by the Wall Street Journal, Parents Magazine and Better Homes & Gardens,” I didn’t even know about it until yesterday when one of you dear readers pointed out the names of the children of the mama whose house and design talents were featured yesterday. I’m going to take a really wild (=not so wild) guess that that family is a Catholic family because check out these names:



So if I saw Flavia, Lucas, and Hugo in a sibset, I wouldn’t think much of it. Maybe I’d think they sound really international. Siena is familiar and I feel like it could go two ways: St. Catherine/St. Bernardine (mostly St. Catherine) or (as the Baby Name Wizard says) Savannah/Willow/Dahlia/Shiloh/Luna/Sierra. But if I ever see Bosco? Catholic. And if Bosco is paired with Siena? Catholiccccc. And with Lucas and Hugo? Catholicky Catholicky Catholic. (Also, there’s a crucifix on the table in the third photo, so …) (Also the mom, Celia, is Spanish. From Spain.)

Flavia I had to look into, but I shouldn’t have doubted — not only is there St. Flavia Domitilla of Terracina, but St. Helena’s full name was apparently Flavia Julia Helena Augusta! In my head I was saying FLAY-via, which was a little too much flavors-of-ice-cream (or Flavor Flav, who’s surely on his own journey like the rest of us, but maybe not what you want people thinking of when you introduce your sweet rosebud baby girl?) for me, but when I read that Celia’s Spanish I immediately switched to FLAH-via and oh my, that’s really pretty.

I had to poke around just a tiny bit, just to get a better feel of the site, and discovered that the impossibly stylish founder/designer/mother of six has some pretty awesome name taste herself. Her kiddos are:

Flora June

They’re not all my taste, but I love boldness in naming, and I love these particular names all together. (I also love that they used to live “in the French countryside, in a farmhouse with a name instead of an address.” I guess you’d have to if you were a famous designer and gave your kids those names. It’s like a movie, no?)

In the spirit of Design Mom, I’ll leave you with this picture, which is probably the only one of my house I would share with the world. I took it last winter because I loved that you could see the brown basket and the Irish vase flanking the toaster behind the glowing candlefire. Also the clean counter. (!) But the real star of the shot is the cheesecake and homemade caramel latte-type thing. Food&coffee’s my jam. Happy Wednesday! 😀


Birth announcement: Philip Rivers’ baby has arrived!

Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers, favorite football player of Sancta Nomina 🙂 , and his wife Tiffany welcomed their eighth baby and sixth daughter, Clare, this past Wednesday!

Despite the fact that I was googling every couple of days to be sure I didn’t miss the announcement, I didn’t see it until earlier today, hence the belated birth announcement. But better late than never! You can read more here (awesome article. I’m constantly blown away by how he and his wife are loud and proud about their faith and marriage. Catholic courage, baby!) and here.

It was so fun being given a sneak peek into the Rivers’ baby naming, and knowing ahead of time what little Miss Clare’s name would be! Thank you all for keeping Tiffany and Baby Clare in your prayers, and congratulations to the Rivers family!!

Updated to add: I assume the little one’s full name is Clare Magdalen(e) but I haven’t seen any report to confirm that, nor to confirm the spelling.

Rivers Family Baby Naming

You guys. Do you remember the post I did about Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers’ baby #8, due soon? I ended by saying if anyone knows Philip or his wife Tiffany and wanted to pass on the post, I would be delighted? Well our lovely reader skimac was actually able to pass it on to them, and Tiffany wrote back.

Tiffany wrote back!!!!!!

((Trying not to squeal with excitement.))

(Maybe I squealed just a little. 🙂 )

I’m still blown away that (1) she read the post and (2) took the time (very near her due date!) to respond and (3) her response was just so beautiful! I know you’ll all love it! It was left here as a comment by a friend of her mother-in-law’s, but I wanted to post it so you’d all have a chance to read it:

Halle Elizabeth- Philip and I just loved the name Halle and when I was in mass while pregnant with her I noticed the song we were singing had Hallelujah in it and I took it as a sign 🙂

Elizabeth is Philips mom’s middle name and two of my favorite saints. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and St Elizabeth Anne Seton. Although at the time I think we were just naming her after her grandmother 🙂

Caroline Leigh- we loved the name and her god mother’s name is Leigh Anne

Grace Marilyn- because I was in awe of Gods grace and his love for me. Marilyn- after Mary and my mom’s middle name

Philip Gunner- Philip obviously after his dad 🙂 and Gunner is Philips mom’s maiden name. Her parents had 9 children and passed down the Catholic faith in a very Protestant part of the world.

Sarah Katherine- Philip picked Sarah, he loved the name and I love Old Testament names 🙂 Katherine after my grandmother and st Katherine Drexel

Peter Michael- Peter is my brothers name, but we most of all love it because we both have a heart for the Protestants coming home to our faith and Peter symbolizes that for us… The rock

Michael- Philips middle name and the name of the one who has done much battle for us and all God’s children (St Michael the archangel )

Rebecca Marie- another Old Testament name we both loved. Marie after our mother Mary.

We are awaiting our next blessing, and plan on naming her Clare Magdalene (or Magdalen) not sure about the spelling, maybe you could help me decide 🙂

With all the opinions we have here in our house now, we finally came up with one everyone likes. And will name her after St Clare of Assisi. Magdalene because it reminds me again of God’s grace and no matter how far we fall from God he is always our Father and wants us home! Plus love that fact that she (Mary Magdalene) was at the cross.

Thanks for writing such a nice blog post about Philip 🙂 and you never know we may have to talk about some of your name suggestions- we have been known to change names last minute!!

In Christ,

How exquisitely beautiful are the reasons behind all these choices?! I love each and every one of them. I had my husband read it, and he — a convert himself — was so impressed by how Tiffany said they “both have a heart for the Protestants coming home to our faith.” Along that same line, I also loved the use of Philip’s mom’s maiden name, Gunner, because her “parents had 9 children and passed down the Catholic faith in a very Protestant part of the world.” Beautiful.

And now I think I’ve used up my quota of how many times I can say “beautiful” in one post!

I just have to point out one more thing — “Halle” is contained within “Hallelujah”!! I put that right up there in Master Class naming, I am very impressed with that! And like my sister-in-law said when she read it, now I have a new name to suggest!

(Also, I was totally way off about the Scandinavian influence I thought was revealed by Halle and Gunner. I love the real reasons so much more!)

Please say a prayer for Tiffany and her baby girl as the birth nears, asking especially for St. Anne’s intercession! I’ll be sure to post when I find out that the baby’s been born, and in the meantime — what would you suggest regarding the spelling of Magdalene or Magdalen? (My response, which I’d posted as a comment, was: “this is one instance where I don’t have much of a preference; I quite like both Magdalene and Magdalen. Mayyybe I’d tip toward Magdalene, just because that’s what I see most often when St. Mary Magdalene is written out, but really, I think either spelling quite obviously points out which saint they’re referring to.”)

Updated to add: I forgot to say! The choice of name for their new baby isn’t one I suggested (though I did reference Magdalene in my suggestion of Lena), but I love love love their plan of Clare Magdalen(e) for their new little one — saintly, elegant, just wonderful!

Twilight Reimagined

For a long long time, on all the name boards and name discussions I witnessed/participated in, the Twilight names — by which I mean specifically Edward, Bella, Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, and Esme — were totally taboo. (I’m not including Jacob, because it was already monster hit on its own merits; other names like Victoria, James, and Sam were already in enough use that the Twilight association is not the overriding one; and Carlisle hasn’t ever been in the top 1000.)

The actual stats show a somewhat different story — Edward was already on a downhill spiral before the first book was released in 2005, and continued so until a small bump right around when the first movie came out in 2010, and then declined again; Bella was already on an upward trajectory but started moving up faster with the release of the books and even more so with the movies.

Rosalie wasn’t even in the top 1000 until the year the buzz for the first movie began, and has made the most dramatic climb; Jasper has been in the 500s or so since at least 2000 but jumped up a bit in conjunction with the movies; Esme made the top 1000 for the first time the year the first movie came out but stayed in the 900s every year since then until 2014 when it moved to #816.

The books and movies definitely helped make most of the these name more accessible to the general population, but that same association tainted the names for parents whose naming sensibilities are, I think, more closely aligned with ours here than not. For myself and many of you, our children’s names are chosen with heavy consideration given to our faith as realized through its holy people and places, its teachings, and its history. For many of the other people I encountered who crossed Edward, Bella, Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, and Esme off their lists because of Twilight, if their children’s names weren’t chosen with a Catholic sensibility, then it was with a literary or artistic or offbeat or funky sensibility very informed by education or even just plain contrariness. The fact that names like those of the characters were even on their lists to begin with attests to that.

For our purposes, I have found Twilight to be quite a bother. Edward, to me, is St. Edward the Confessor! An amazing saint, a wonderful model and patron for any boy. Rosalie is a Rose- name, one of the many beautiful ways to honor Mother Mary or St. Rosalia (which Rosalie is a variant of). Jasper is one of the Three Wise Men, as I’ve mentioned so many times before. Emmett, Esme, and Bella don’t feel as faith-y, but they could be — there’s a St. Emma (Emmett is a male diminutive of Emma); Esme means “beloved,” which could easily fit into a beautiful name combo having to do with the faith; Bella on its own means “beautiful,” which could be treated the same way as Esme, or it can be a nickname or form of Isabella on its own or as a form of Elizabeth, both of which have their own very saintly connections. I actually love all those names, they are very much my taste.

But for years, to tell anyone you might like the name Rosalie, for example, seemed to automatically mark you as a Twihard — it wouldn’t matter how many times you protested, “No! It’s for Mother Mary! It’s for St. Rosalia!” people would just think vampire.

Finally, finally!, it seems, from what I can tell, that the Twilight names are becoming more acceptable. The association seems to be fading. And then I read Stephenie Meyer Announces New Gender-Swapped ‘Twilight’ Book (posted last week):

Stephenie Meyer went on Good Morning America on Tuesday to announce she’s releasing a new Twilight book in honor of the 10th anniversary of the original novel. It’s called Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, and it swaps the genders of almost every character in the book.

Bella is now a human named Beau and Edward is a vampire named Edythe. In a foreword to the story, the author explained that there are slight personality changes to the characters. Beau is “more OCD” and “not as angry,” but Meyer said the love story is the same. The book is already available in hardcover and e-book, starting Tuesday.”


Because Stephenie Meyer has really really good taste in names, so you know whatever she chooses is going to be delectable (at least to my taste). Which means there’s the possibility of a whole new bunch of otherwise awesome names that will have the Twilight taint. In From Bella, Edward and Jacob to Beau, Edythe and Julie: The Full List of Name Changes in New ‘Twilight’ Book, the full list is given (the article itself is pretty interesting from a namiac perspective):

Main characters, most susceptible to being heavily associated with Twilight
Bella (short for Isabella) to Beau (short for Beaufort)
Edward to Edythe
Jacob (or Jake) to Julie (or Jules)
Dr. Carlisle to Dr. Carine
Esme to Earnest
Alice to Archie
Emmett to Eleanor
Rosalie to Royal
Jasper to Jessamine

More minor characters, probably no real risk here
Billy to Bonnie
Jessica to Jeremy
Angela to Allen
Mike to McKayla
Tyler (b) to Taylor (g)
Lauren to Logan
Eric to Erica
Rachel and Rebecca to Adam and Aaron
Ben to Becca
Connor to Colleen
Lee to Leann
Samantha to Sean
Sam to Samantha (also known as Sam)

The bad guys — not main characters, but not minor either
James to Joss
Victoria to Victor
Laurent to Lauren

So I’m most disappointed by Beau (I have a soft spot for it), Edythe (though the spelling is so different from our St. Edith that I’m hoping, since it will only be a book and not a movie, it won’t even seem like the same name), Carine (which was our girl middle name for a while), Eleanor (but it’s so popular already it’ll probably be fine), and Jessamine (a personal fave). I love the Juli- names, but I don’t think Julie will affect the Julia/Julian(n)(e)(a)/Juliet(te) names as much, since it’s been on its way down for a long time, and is currently much less popular than all the other forms. And Victor has been on my list for a long time, and is more distinctive/less traditionally popular than Victoria, so I’m just hoping, as my husband pointed out, that there’s very little chance that this book will take off the way the others did, especially since (as noted) there won’t be any sequels or movies (and indeed the SSA stats showed the bumps in popularity were more associated with the movies than the books).

What do all think? Do you think there’s any risk of a Twilight Reimagined backlash against any of these names? Would it matter to you if there was? Did it matter to you before, with the original books and movies?

Reading round-up

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary! Such a lovely feast for little Rosary, and also a good day to pray for special intentions — I have one, if you don’t mind adding it to your own. And I’ll remember you all and your intentions in my rosary this evening. ❤

So we’re all going crazy wanting to know Emily’s baby’s name, right? For anyone who didn’t yet see, Emily linked to her consultation on her blog, and added the tantalizing note that she’d actually had the baby that morning, and that she’d reveal his name soon. I’ll share it as soon as she gives the okay!

The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources, which I just love, and whose Editor-in-Chief, Sara, sometimes offers her thoughts in our comments here (I’m still a little dazzled!), has just added Joachim to its database! You know it’s one of my very favorite names, and I asked Sara about it a few months ago, and she tweeted me the other day to let me know it had been added. I *love* the entry! This is my favorite part: “The name was never common in any culture, but the importance of the saintly father of Mary meant that this name could be found pretty much anywhere” (emphasis mine). That’s one of the things I love about it!

Has anyone seen this article? The New Tug of War Over Baby Names. I totally get having hopes, even very strong ones, that a family name will be used by the next generation; I get feeling badly if that doesn’t happen; I DON’T get offering bribes for baby names! Definitely an overstepping of bounds, no? Have any of you experienced this in your own families, or heard about it happening in real life?

Finally, a reader just sent me this today — I don’t know how I missed it! Cate Blanchett Got Her Son’s Name from a Captain Underpants Book (Yes, It’s True!). Despite how very Catholicky Catholic her kids’ names are, it appears Roman Polanksi and Captain Underpants provided inspiration for the naming of two of her sons. Which just illustrates one of the things I love about saints’ names: You can be as ostentatious or understated about your faith as you want in regards to your kids’ names and no one really need bat an eye; conversely, there are so many saints’ names that no matter your taste (and even no matter your faith), you can still end up with children that make people like me think swoonily of popes and martyrs. 😉

Happy Wednesday to you all!

All creatures of our God and King

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and with it comes the Blessing of Pets. Do you have this at your parish? Or are you otherwise familiar with it?

I wasn’t until I went to college — a Franciscan college — and St. Francis’ Feast Day was a big deal, and so was the blessing of the pets. Now my home parish, which is Redemptorist, does so too.

This year’s feast is particularly poignant for my family, as my brother’s dog died this week — Finnegan, nicked Finney, a boxer. He joined our family in 2006, when my oldest was about the age my youngest is now … there’s been much grieving this week … what a sadness it is when a beloved pet dies! And what a balm to know of St. Francis’ love for animals.

I liked this little article about the feast and the blessing, written by Fr. Kevin Mackin, OFM, former president of my alma mater.

Happy Feast of St. Francis, and God bless all your pets!

ETA: I forgot that I wanted to ask you all about your pets’ names! I’d love to see how your taste changes from naming babies to naming pets. 😉

Cate: Closet Catholic?

So yesterday’s post about little Roman had me thinking about actress Cate Blanchett because she also has a son named Roman — Roman Robert, which is another totally fab alliterative combo — and then I was thinking about her other kids’ names (because I’ve long loved each one), and was so struck (again) by the heavy-hitting saintliness of the names that I had to look up whether or not she’s Catholic. Because who else would name their children:

Dashiell John
Roman Robert
Ignatius Martin
Edith Vivian Patricia

So we have:

I mean, really. The only one that doesn’t scream ROME! (figuratively or literally 😀 ) is Dashiell, and while his middle name mightn’t seem particularly faithy if he was an only child or if his sibs had different sorts of names, within the context of the other kids, allllll I see is St. John [whoever]. Also, apparently they named their first after Cate’s husband’s fave author Dashiell Hammett, who was baptized Catholic. So! (And now I feel like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where everything turns out to be originally Greek. “Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!” 😀 )

Also — did you know her full name? I only just read it and I’m dying, it’s goooorgeous: Catherine Élise (with the accent and all!). Her great taste in names is genetic, clearly. (Her sibs are Robert and Genevieve. It just gets better and better.) And I’m 1000% not surprised that her full name is so beautiful and classy, since she seems that way herself. (And parents, take heart: apparently “[s]he had a penchant for dressing in masculine clothing, and went through goth and punk phases during her teenaged years, shaving her head at one point.”)

Anyway, to answer the original question: It doesn’t seem as though she’s Catholic after all — she was actually included in a list of Atheist, Agnostic, or Non-Religious Actors and Directors. So lots of time spent today on a lovely lady who’s only connection to our blog is her (probably) inadvertent use of some amazing saint names! What do you all think of her name taste? Are you as surprised as I to see so many Catholicky Catholic names used by a non-Catholic family?

Power’s out!

The power’s out! And posting from my phone makes me want to tear my hair out. So until tomorrow I’ll leave you with this question: What examples can you give in American culture (places, products, etc.) of saints’ names or references to Jesus or Mary, especially those who origins have been mostly forgotten? For example, Sophie the Giraffe (as I posted about the other day), or the city of Los Angeles (originally named for Our Lady).