Spotlight on: Atticus

(I put all the giveaways in the mail this morning — look for them at the end of this week/beginning of next! And please let me know if yours doesn’t arrive!)

You’ve all likely heard the news by now, right? Beloved Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird — who actually had a whole bunch of babies named after him (name story given here, several noted in the comments here, and quite a few celeb babies who may or may not have been named for the character but there’s a high likelihood he was at least part of the inspiration) because of his goodness, and who inspired a baby name book (one of my faves: A is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books by Lorilee Craker) — has been shown, in Harper Lee’s new book released today, Go Set a Watchman, to not be the virtuous man we all thought him to be. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read the novel, so all my info is coming from what I read in various places, but mostly here: Review: Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Gives Atticus Finch a Dark Side.)

What a devastation for so many parents! My husband and I ourselves even considered Atticus when naming our boys, in large part because of the reputation of goodness and justice it carries because of the Mockingbird character. For us, however, a literary character, no matter how beloved, couldn’t have been the only reason to choose a name, and so I had cause years ago to look up whether Atticus is a saint’s name, and therein lies the balm for the parents of little Atticus-es: Atticus the Saint!

Parents who named their children for a good man in Atticus Finch can rest assured that St. Atticus is even better a person to be named for: he was real, for one thing, and has already finished the race and won the crown. From CatholicSaints.Info:

Atticus supported the Macedonian heresy (i.e., the Holy Spirit is not God), opposed Saint John Chrysostom, and worked against him at the Council of Oak in 405. When John was exiled fromConstantinople, Atticus assumed the bishopric in 406. He eventually realized his error, repented his opposition, and submitted to Pope Innocent I‘s rulings. He remained as bishop, but a virtuous and orthodox one, and an opponent of heretics.”

His feast day is January 8. (I do believe he’s profiled in Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints, Second Edition by Matthew Bunson, though I haven’t read it myself.) (It’s definitely on my wishlist!)

You know me — I have to have a good nickname figured out before deciding on a name — and Atticus confounded me for a while. I didn’t care for Atty because of its similarity to the feminine Addy (though I’ve seen some parents of Atticus-es saying they use Atty), but then in various places I’ve seen Ace, Gus, and Kit — all of which I think are great!

What do you all think of Atticus? Does the new Harper Lee novel tarnish it for you? If so, does its saintliness redeem it? Do you know anyone who named their son Atticus, and if so, what do they think of all this hubbub?


Leprechaun names

Our reader (and my mum) irishnannie has her own blog connected with her book, Finney Hides the Pot o’ Gold (the first in the The Adventures of Finney the Leprechaun series), and not only is it thoroughly Catholic (it’s written in Finney’s voice, speaking to children, teaching them about God and how much He loves us and other truths of our faith), but it’s also all in rhyme! (Which is just amazing to non-poet me, and so fun to read out loud. My boys love hearing about Finney’s shenanigans.)

Anyway, today’s post is called “Namin’s” and it’s all about Finney’s family’s names! He’s got quite a few relatives and all with gorgeous Irishy Irish names. Pronunciations are explained too, which is always the kicker with those kinds of names. I think you’ll enjoy reading about Finney and his family!

Omri and his brothers

I’m reading The Indian in the Cupboard to my three oldest boys, a book I haven’t read since I was little, and I remember very little about it. We’ve only gotten through the first chapter and of course, what I mostly stayed with me are the names of the three brothers:

Omri — the main character

Adiel and Gillon — his brothers

They’re unfamiliar to me — if I had to hazard a guess, I’d guess a Hebrew origin for Adiel, with the -el ending being so like Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Nathaniel, Samuel. Gillon strikes me as French maybe. Omri I had no clue about, nor how to pronounce it — I was saying AHM-ree in the my head, short O, the O like in hot. I asked my son how he would say it, since he’s read it before, and he said he thought it was OHM-ree, long O, the O like in home.

So of course I had to look the names up. is my #1 go-to source for name meanings and origins, and it had no official entry for the brothers’ names! Only user-submitted entries, which may or may not be accurate:

Adiel is said to be “A Hebrew name meaning ‘ornament of God’ or ‘God is my ornament’. In the Old Testament, Adiel was the father of Azmaveth, who was treasurer under David and Solomon. Another bearer of this name in the Old Testament was a family head of the tribe of Simeon. In Ma’asseh Merkabah, Adiel is an angelic guard of the seventh heavenly hall.”

Gillon is only listed, with no info given.

Omri, however, had its own official entry: “Possibly means “life” or “servant” in Hebrew (or a related Semitic language). This was the name of a 9th-century BC military commander who became king of Israel. He appears in the Old Testament, where he is denounced as being wicked.”

In the comments, which again aren’t officially approved as accurate, the pronunciations OHM-ree and UM-ree are both given.

I’m interested in character-naming, and how authors choose the names they do — because they like them? Because they’re on their list of favorite names for children that they never got to use? Or because of the name’s meaning and connection with the character’s personality/role in the story? I’m kind of baffled by the choices here — they’re too unfamiliar to me to mean anything.

(Also, I admit that the name I really loved the most was Gillon, because of my recent post about Gil/Gilbert Blythe. I say it “GILL-en in my head — does that seem right? I kind of love it.)

Do any of you know any more about Omri, Gillon, and Adiel?

ETA: Given that the biblical Omri was “denounced as being wicked,” isn’t that a strange choice for a boy character? I don’t care as much about name meanings in real life, but for a literary character?

ETA2: My previous comment wasn’t entirely accurate — the biblical Omri “denounced as being wicked” is associated baggage, separate from the meaning. The meaning of “life” or “servant” is nice, and likely does have a tie-in with the book’s story.