Spotlight on: Ludmila

Grandparents — especially grandmothers — have been on my mind this week. Feb. 20 marked the 17th anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s death; Feb. 23 was the 25th anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s; and my mother-in-law — my boys’ grandmother — is rapidly being called home, it won’t be long. Please pray for her and for our family.

In light of all this, today’s spotlight is perfect. Months ago Amanda emailed me this image from the Magnificat:


And said,

I love the story! It seems like more and more of these parent/grandparent saint stories are emerging lately, which makes perfect sense. The saints had to learn from someone!

And I was so struck by that thought — the impact of grandparents on the faith of their grandchildren — that it’s stayed with me all this time. My boys have been very very blessed to have two grandmothers who have contributed in immense ways to their faith formation, as well as a living grandfather (my dad) who’s a great model of Catholic manhood, and a grandfather in heaven (my father-in-law) who I know has been praying for all of us, and who himself was also a great model of Catholic manhood. And of course we can’t forget our dear St. Anne, Grandmother to the Divine, who holds the Sancta Nomina community close.

But — as much as I’m loving the story of St. Ludmila — that name! Oof! So what can we make of Ludmila. I think the secret lies in the second part of her name: Mila’s got a totally current look and sound, and according to behindthename the -mila element of Ludmila means “gracious, dear.” How lovely! Another spelling is Ludmilla, so –> Milla, a la actress Milla Jovovich, whose given name is actually Milica (said MEE-lee-tsah), from the same element that renders -mila in Ludmila; behindthename says Milica was “originally a diminutive of names that began with that element.” Lida is also given as the Czech diminutive of Ludmila, and the comments on behindthename’s entry for Ludmila list Luda, Lulu, Lidka, and Lila as nicknames for it (among other more ethnic options) — Lulu and Lila seem particularly suited to today’s tastes. The DMNES has an entry for Luda, which is from the same word as the Lud- part of Ludmila, and says that Luda can be a pet form of any Slavic name beginning with that element. Could be cute?

I’m also tagging this as a possible Christmas name, since St. Ludmila’s grandson Vaclav/Wenceslaus, who she had so much influence over in terms of teaching the faith, is the King Wenceslaus from the carol “Good King Wenceslaus.” Cool, right?

What do you all think of Ludmila? Would you consider using it as either a first or a middle? Or would Mila/Milla/Lulu/Lila/Luda be more the way you’d go, if you wanted to name a little girl after this saint? Do you know anyone with this name? What do they think of it? Do they go by a nickname?

“Father in heaven, through the intercession of St. Ludmila, bless all grandparents who seek to share the faith with their grandchildren.” ❤



Birth announcement: Edmund Terence Emmanuel!

It’s a two-birth-announcement day!! Wooo!! 😀

A mama I did a private consultation for not too long ago let me know her baby boy has arrived, and she and her husband gave him the incredible name … Edmund Terence Emmanuel!

She writes,

I’ve been meaning to write and tell you about our finally born and named little Christmas present!

Edmund Terence Emmanuel was born on December 27 – a week late!

We didn’t finally agree on our boy name until Christmas Day, so I guess it was good he was so late.  And I honestly thought he was a girl, so I didn’t think we would be using the boy name!

So, here are the details on his name:

Edmund has practically always been on my boy name list, since I began to love St. Edmund Campion when I read Evelyn Waugh’s biography back in middle school.

Since my husband finally agreed to Edmund, I let him pick whatever he wanted for a middle name, and he ended up with the uncommon name Terence, since it had been used in his family.

Then we both felt that since our son Peter’s full name is so long it would make sense to give another boy at least one more name, plus you know I really wanted that Christmas connection.  Emmanuel was not really being considered before, but it just fit in perfectly, and it gives Edmund the same number of syllables in his full name as Peter has.  And of course, it’s about as Christmas-y a name as you can get!

And you might have noticed that we now have an Edmund and a Peter!  More people than I expected have noticed the Narnia connection!  And we now have two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve too. 😉

In the end, his name was a compromise, but it continues to grow on me as I fall in love with my sweet baby boy.  I call him Edmund, but my husband and kids have been saying Eddie a lot, which is sweet too.”

How amazingly handsome is that name?? I LOVE Emmanuel for a Christmas baby, and I LOVE the Narnia connection! Two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve! 😀 And St. Edmund Campion. I mean, really. So great.

I also love (LOVE) how she says, “his name was a compromise, but it continues to grow on me as I fall in love with my sweet baby boy.” I’ve experienced that myself, and I’m sure you have too — it gives good hope that whatever name your give your sweet wee one will likely quickly become a favorite, even if it started as a compromise.

Little Edmund joins big sibs:

Grace Elizabeth
Helen Ann
Michael Eugene Gerard Peter, Jr. (“This mouthful of a name is the same as my husband; he very much wanted a junior. But my husband goes by Michael, and our son goes by Peter“)

Such wonderful names! I also love how they worked with Dad’s desire for a junior, but Dad and Son go by different names. I also love that new baby Edmund’s name matches his big brother’s in number of syllables — Master Class naming!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Edmund!!

Edmund Terence Emmanuel and his big sisters and brother

Birth announcement: Gabriel Nicolas Peter!

A couple weeks ago our reader Isabelle, who blogs from England at A Piece of the Continent, left a comment on the Jude spotlight saying that her son is named Jude (“Jude René Marc, always a bit of English and a bit of French”) and that she was expecting another boy any day, and still contemplating names for him. I told her I’d love to know what name they ended up choosing, if she didn’t mind sharing, and yesterday she let me know that her littlest guy had been born and they’d named him Gabriel Nicolas Peter!

Isabelle emailed me some more details, which I just love:

We chose our boys names mostly because of the saints associated with them, for Jude, we LOVED the association between Saint Simon and Saint Jude (my husband is Simon) and Gabriel felt just perfect for a Christmas baby, without being too obviously Christmassy. (A friend of ours pointed out the they were both heroes from Thomas Hardy novels, which was completely unintentional. She suggested “Angel” for the next boy, to follow the trend, but I had to point out that having an Angel and a Gabriel in one sibling set is just, no!)

Another thing we had to bear in mind is how the names translate between French and English (“Jude” was very strange for the French set, although easy enough to pronounce, and they were a bit thrown by it — my great-aunt, a dominican nun (!) point-blank refused to admit that it was the name of an apostle :). I think they are relieved with Gabriel!

The middle names however, strictly follow the French tradition. It’s very rare in France for parents to choose middle names simply because they like them, most of the time, they will be a nod to a family member/godparent (I have my grandmothers names — Chantal and Anne-Marie — as middle names, my little sister has her godmother and our great aunt’s religious name — Claire and Marie-Johannes).

So Jude is Jude René (after my grandfather) Marc (after my brother, his godfather), and Gabriel is Nicolas (after my father) and Peter (after my father-in-law).”

Isn’t that all wonderful?? Gabriel is SUCH a perfect name for a Christmas baby! I also love that this note references Thomas Hardy, a great-aunt who’s a Dominican nun, French traditions with middle names, and alllll of those gorgeous names! Jude, Simon, Gabriel, Chantal, Anne-Marie, Claire, Marie-Johannes, René, Marc, Nicolas, Peter … I love seeing beautiful names all together!

Congratulations to Isabelle, Simon, and Jude, and happy birthday Baby Gabriel!!


Gabriel Nicolas Peter

More Christmas names!

I have an article up at Nameberry today discussing more ideas for Christmas babies — this time, names inspired by the O Antiphons, which started last night! Names for a Yuletide Babe: The O Antiphons


I’d love to know what you think — please hop on over there and leave a comment if you feel so moved!

Spotlight on: Chiara

One of you wonderful readers emailed me recently asking for a spotlight on Chiara, and it’s kind of been on my mind now as we prepare for Christmas because of the carols It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and Silent Night: the title of the former (“clear”) and these lyrics from the latter, “All is calm, all is bright” (the “bright” part).

What is going on in her head? you’re likely asking yourself, but wait! It does make sense! Chiara is the Italian form of Clara, and Clara is from the Latin for “clear, bright” (Claire is the French form of Clara, and Clare the English form). So I personally think, if Christmas carols make you think of a certain name, there’s something Christmas-y there. Therefore, Chiara can be a Christmas name. 🙂 (Once again, I *am* 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!😀 )

Anyway, Chiara: did you know it was St. Clare of Assisi‘s actual name? I mean, we call her St. Clare because that’s how you say Santa Chiara in English, but her name was actually Chiara. And our recent, beloved, and oh so relevant for today’s young girls Bl. Chiara Luce Badano (died 1990 at the age of 19) is another amazing namesake. I’ve also read recently about Chiara Corbella Petrillo, who died in 2012 at age 28 for Jesus and her own child in St. Gianna fashion. Beautiful beautiful role models and intercessors for a little girl.

Likely the first question one would have is how the heck do you pronounce Chiara? The Chi- is said like “key,” the -ara is said like “ah-rah.” key-AH-rah. So pretty, right? It can sound a lot like Keira when said quickly, I think, but it’s definitely three syllables. And like Gianna, I think it’s one of those names that transcends ethnicity, as does the Church — St. Chiara of Assisi and Bl. Chiara Luce Badano are ours, whether we’re Italian or not, so I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest this beautiful name to any family.

As for nicknames, it’s one of those names that might not feel right to nickname, if that makes any sense. Kind of like Siena — also a name I wouldn’t think to nickname. But maybe Chi (said “Key”) or Kiki? Kind of like Gigi for Gianna?

What do you think of Chiara? Do you know any Chiaras, especially non-Italian Chiaras? Do they ever go by a nickname, and if so, what is it? Do they like their name?

ETA: I’d also be interested in hearing if you’ve heard other pronunciations besides key-AH-rah. This may be a Gianna situation, where the authentic Italian pronunciation is JOHN-nah but we’ve anglicized it to jee-AH-nah.

ETA2: Gah, sorry! I forgot I’d wanted to reference the art term chiaroscuro — it’s said like Chiara (key-AH-rah) with “scuro” added on, if that helps with pronunciation. (And the chiar– bit references light, it’s the same root as Chiara.)

December article posted today!


Last year I wrote what I thought was a pretty comprehensive post about Christmas names.

Oh, what a newbie name writer I was!

Not only have I since found better, more comprehensive articles (like this one), but I’ve also found articles and posts that cover ideas I’d never even considered (like names from Christmas TV specials).

So it seemed the only “new” thing to write about Christmas names was to just try to take a new angle (like the aforementioned Christmas TV specials idea), a new-ish way of talking about the same names we always talk about in regards to Christmas.

That’s what I tried to do with my latest column at, which posted today: Holy Family Names for Christmastime Babies. If you couldn’t guess from the title 😉 , I focused on names solely having to do with the Holy Family. They’re familiar to you, of course, but it’s always a nice idea to rehash ways of naming babies after the Major Players in The Christmas Story. I’m also limited with space, which is freeing, because I wouldn’t be able to list All The Names, even if I wanted to. (Whew! Thank goodness for word limits!)

Please hop on over and leave a comment — I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas for Christmastime babies, or tell me yours!

Names for a Christmas baby

Okay, so I considered Pascal for my born-at-Eastertime baby, but other than that the only holiday I would consider trying to work into a baby’s name born at that time is Christmas.

There are so many great Christmas names! And I don’t mean Holly and Ivy and Merry, festive as they are, but names brimming over with the Joy of the Season and its Reason for being. There are honor names, like:

Emmanuel or Emmanuelle or Emmanuella — from the Hebrew “God is with us,” a name for Jesus

The Chris- names, like Christian, Christopher, Christina or Christine or Christiane — literally for the Christ Child

Luke — Luke’s gospel is the only one that tells the story of the birth of Jesus

Joseph — the man chosen by God to take care of Mary and Jesus, a good and just man

Mary, Marie, Maria, et al. — the handpicked-by-God mother of Our Savior

Jesús — it’s not considered reverent to use the name of Jesus in English, but it is in Spanish

Balthazar — the name traditionally given to one of the three Wise Men

Caspar (Latin form of Jasper) — another of the three Wise Men

Melchior — the third Wise Man

Nicholas or Cole or Claus or Nicole or Nicola or Nicolette or Colette — besides Mary, Jesus, and Joseph, the saint most associated with Christmas. He loves the Baby Jesus.

And there are meaning names, like:

Natalie or Natalia — according to, “From the Late Latin name Natalia, which meant “Christmas Day” from Latin natale domini

Noel or Noelle — means “Christmas” in French

Stella — means “star” in Latin

Any of the Angel names, like Angela or Angeline or Angelica — they were the first to sing Gloria! to the newborn King

Gloria — praise and worship in one word. That’s why we sing “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest!”) at Christmastime (you know the one: “Glo-ooooo-ooooo-ooooo-ria in excelsis Deo!”). It’s one of the ways we thank God for HIs love for us in the gift of His Son

Deo — Latin for “to God” (as in “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” see above). An unusual choice, but one I’ve heard in real life. In the Latin hymn it’s said “DAY-o” but the boy I know of with the name says “DEE-o.” Maybe best for a middle name?

Magi — no, not Maggie, and for that reason maybe best as a middle name. It’s said MADGE-eye, and means the Three Wise Men. (It kind of reminds me of Jedi)

Shepherd — they were the first to come see and love and welcome and worship our Little Lord

Joy — I won’t include Merry in this list, as it’s a bit generically Christmas (i.e., too removed in people’s minds from the Birth of Christ) to me, but Joy? That’s what Christmas is. Joy to the world!

What are your favorite Christmas-y names? Do you know anyone born at Christmastime who was given a related name? Do you have any other ideas for appropriate names?