Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Advent names)

I’ve had “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” in my head the last few days, which is such a lovely Adventy thing to have in my head now that Advent has begun, and what better way for a name blogger to celebrate Advent than by making a list of Advent names!

At least, that was my intention — and not just Advent names, but *new* names, not the same names everybody has written about forever and ever for babies born this time of year — but I had a hard time coming up with anything new! So many of the names that could qualify as Advent names are also legitimately Christmas names, and I’ve written about Christmas names a few times already (see the end of the post for a list), so I didn’t want to rehash or repackage the same names over again. (Also, even though I didn’t package it that way my Nameberry article from last year is explicitly Adventy, since it refers to titles of the coming Messiah as noted by Isaiah in the context of the O Antiphons — it’s all prophecy and anticipation about Christmas.)

That said, I just have to say that I think there are some Christmas names that just *are* Advent names, and no Advent list would be complete without them, like Mary, Joseph, Emmanuel (is O Come O Come Emmanuel not one of the most Adventy of songs?), Gabriel, John and Baptist, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Belén (the Spanish for Bethlehem) or even Bethlehem itself, so if you’re looking for an Advent name, don’t ignore the lists of Christmas names.

I was able to come up with a few new ideas though, and this site was incredibly helpful, as it explained a bunch of things about Advent that I actually didn’t already know, like how the first Sunday of Advent is set (it’s not actually the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as I might have mindlessly thought for a long time … I mean, it *is* the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but that’s not how it’s set of course, since most of the world doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving but they do celebrate Advent), and also what each of the candles means and represents. Based on those things, as well as some of my own ideas, here are some Advent names that you may not find on any list of Christmas names:

Andrew: Currently, the first Sunday of Advent is set on the first Sunday near the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30). Did you already know that? I didn’t! How cool!

Catherine: This is definitely a little bit of a stretch, but St. Catherine of Siena was known to be so joyful as a child that she was nicknamed Euphrosyne, which is Greek for “joy,” and between the “Rejoice” of Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent, when we light the third [pink] candle) and the fact that the third candle is called the Candle of Joy, a Joy name is quite appropriate for Advent (it’s already on lists of Christmas names). You could certainly use Euphrosyne, but I thought Catherine might be a bit easier!

Isaiah: This Old Testament prophet foretold the coming of the Messiah and shared all those amazing titles of the Messiah as remembered in the O Antiphons (see my Nameberry article for more on those).

Lydia: Lydia in the New Testament was a seller of purple cloth — this could be a subtle connection to the three purple candles of the Advent wreath.

Old Testament ancestors of Jesus: I wrote about Jesus’ genealogy here and here — using one of His ancestors’ names is a neat way of nodding to the centuries of preparation for the first Christmas.

Rose: Of course Rose always refers to Our Lady, but it can also refer to the pink candle on the Advent wreath, lit on the third Sunday of Advent aka Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete=Rejoice).

And jumping out of alphabetical order, maybe the craziest+coolest idea: Rorate Caeli/Coeli. As explained by the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:

(Vulgate, text), the opening words of Isaiah 45:8. The text is used frequently both at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent, as it gives exquisite poetical expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messias. Throughout Advent it occurs daily as the versicle and response at Vespers. For this purpose the verse is divided into the versicle, “Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum” (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just), and the response: “Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem” (Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour”). The text is also used: (a) as the Introit for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, for Wednesday in Ember Week, for the feastof the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin, and for votive Masses of the Blessed Virgin during Advent; (b) as a versicle in the first responsory of Tuesday in the first week of Advent; (c) as the first antiphon at Lauds for the Tuesday preceding Christmas and the second antiphon at Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin; (d) in the second responsory for Friday of the third week of Advent and in the fifth responsory in Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin.”

The nickname Rory could totally make Rorate as a first name doable! What do you think? Crazy? Cool? Both?

In a fun twist, Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas tweeted me (tweeted to me?) yesterday asking about my Advent names post, which was so weird since I was thinking about this as-yet unwritten one! But then I listened to her and Christy’s latest Fountains of Carrots podcast and realized they had mentioned it there, and I think they were referring to that same O Antiphons Nameberry article I’ve referred to several times here.

This is another post and article I wrote about Christmas names, which also contain good Advent ideas:

Holy Family Names for Christmastime Babies (Catholic Mom)

Names for a Christmas baby

And this post is the most comprehensive I’ve ever come across, containing both familiar and surprising ideas (not written by me): Christmas Baby Names

What do you think of these Advent names? Would you consider them for an Advent baby, or are they too un-obvious for your taste? I’d love to know what unexpected/new names you can add to the list!


Names for the Joyful Mysteries

Yesterday was one of my very favorite feast days and the first of the Joyful Mysteries, which makes today the perfect Tuesday to post names associated with them! And also, Dwija’s little Helen was discharged from the NICU yesterday and is home with her family, happy and thriving. Joy all around!!

Today’s post is a continuation of my Mysteries of the Rosary series, having already done names for the Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, and your comments have been invaluable — keep them coming!

These are the Joyful Mysteries (read more here) (and here’s how to pray the Rosary):

The Annunciation by Gabriel to Mary (yesterday’s feast!)
The Visitation of Mary to Her Cousin Elizabeth
The Nativity of Jesus
The Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

Names associated with the Joyful Mysteries might include:


Angela, Angeline, Angelica, Archangela, Angel — the angel names all point to St. Gabriel

Annunziata — an Italian name referring to the Annunciation

Annunciación — a Spanish name referring to the Annunciation

Christina, Christine, Christiane/a, Kristin, etc. — the Christ- names refer to Jesus in the last three Mysteries

Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elise, Elisa, Eliza, etc. — for St. Elizabeth, Our Lady’s cousin

Emmanuelle, Emmanuella — for Jesus, especially in the Nativity

Felicity, Felicitas — means “happiness,” for the Joyful Mysteries

Fiat — for Our Lady’s agreement to what Gabriel announced (“let it be done”); Amy suggested Fiat recently, and suggested the particular first name-middle name combo Marian Fiat

Gabrielle, Gabriela — for St. Gabriel

Jane, Joan, Jo(h)anna — for St. John the Baptist, who leapt in his mother’s womb for joy at being in the presence of his Unborn Savior

Josephine, Josefa — for good St. Joseph

Joy, Gioia — means “joy” in English and Italian, respectively

Joyce — behindthename says it originally came from a name meaning “lord,” and that its more recent popularity may be related to its similarity to the Middle English word for “to rejoice.” “Lord” or “rejoicing” — it’s all good for a Joyful Mysteries name!

Mary, Maria, Marie, etc. — for Our Lady, of course

Natalie, Natalia — literally refers to Christmas Day

Noel, Noelle — French for “Christmas”

Presentación — a Spanish name referring to the Presentation

Seraphina, Serafina, Seraphine — refers to the angels (specifically the seraphim, but I think the angelic meaning is what most people think of)




Angelo, Angel — see the Angel names above

Annunziato — see Annunziata above

Baptista, Baptiste, Battista, Bautista — alone or in combination with a John name, for St. John the Baptist (these are all listed as masculine by behindthename, but they could easily be used for girls as well, as I don’t think they come across as masculine [or at least not exclusively so] in America)

Christian, Christopher — see the Christ- names above

Emmanuel — see Emmanuelle above

Felix — see Felicity above

Gabriel — of course!

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

John — for St. John the Baptist

Joseph — see Josephine above

Noel — see Noel above

Ryan — means “little king,” which especially calls to mind the Baby Jesus

Seraphim — see Seraphina above

What others can you add to this list? (There are lots more Christmas names, which I’ve posted about a few times — I just included the ones here that seemed particular to what I think of when I’m meditating on the Mystery of the Nativity.)

+ My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. +

Spotlight on: Ryan

We’re going to finish up Irish week with an Irish spotlight! ((irish twinkle eyes!!) (Thanks too for all the great ideas for Colleen yesterday!)

Not too long ago, Katrina of Hatch Prints (hand lettering and art shop on Etsy, goorrrgeous) and Cedars and Tiny Flowers (mama blog) fame posted about her oldest’s name, Ryan Donald (he who looks uncannily like my oldest nephew in several of his photos — Mom/sisters/sisters-in-law, do you agree?), and wrote,

We didn’t put much emphasis on for having a saintly base to his name. We think our names get a passing grade as long as there is just one saint that can be connected. I have all the hope in the world that there will be a St. Ryan someday even with my ordinary mothering especially after reading this the other day. There happens to be a St. Donald, but it is kind of a downer because there is almost nothing known about him. I do wish we had a specific intercessor picked out to call upon for Ryan. Maybe Kate could do a spotlight on Ryan? Hint, hint.”

I totally picked up the hint (:) ) and thought it would be the perfect name to spotlight not only at the end of Irish week (because it’s Irish, just in case you weren’t sure), but also as we go into Holy Week, since I’m totally thinking that the best faithy connection for Ryan is Jesus Himself.

Ryan is said by behindthename and babynamesofireland (which only has an entry for Ryanne, “a female form of Ryan,” but not Ryan. Weird) to come from from ri (=king) and the diminutive –in, in essence meaning “little king,” which is, to me, all that tiny Babe in the manger. How cool. I might then consider it a possible Christmas name as well. I’m totally loving this idea!

Further digging shows there may indeed be a St. Ryan, under the name St. Rhian, and he is a mysterious (but so intriguing!) fellow. There’s a Welsh town called Llanrhian, where “llan” means “place of” (according to my Welsh expert friend Clare from Name News [a treasure trove of name info] — check out her comments about Welsh names and pronunciations on my post here, so cool!), and “There are lots of place names that are Llan + saint’s name, e.g. Llanfair (Mair = Mary), Llanbedr (Pedr = Peter).” so Llanrhian is named after someone named Rhian, and despite the fact that behindthename says Rhian is a Welsh female name meaning “maiden,” this site says about St. Rhian,

Little is known of this saint, or of any other dedications to him. A few suggestions have been made:

  • The name may originally have been Rian, Rayn or Ryan, as early documents spelt it this way, and he could have been one of St David’s followers.

  • He could have been Rein, or Rhun, son of Brechan Brycheiniog, whose children have churches dedicated to them in various parts of Pembrokeshire

  • He could have been Reanus, Abbot of the 7th century

  • The name could have been descriptive – rian was an old Irish word for a trackway and Llanrhian might refer to the church on the trackway

  • It would recall some local chieftain who had embraced the Christian faith (rhi = king, an = little)

  • The Welsh word for maiden is rhiain, so the dedication might be to the Virgin Mary.”

(What’s that? A possible connection to Mother Mary?? ((heart eyes!!)) ) You can read more about Llanrhian and its founder/saint in this great document, and he even has a feast day (March 8).

So I’d say, if Katrina, or anyone else, wants a known patron for Ryan, I’d look to Jesus, and how awesome is that. But if a saint with the actual name is desired, St. Rhian’s the best we got, and not a terrible option at all.

What do you think of Ryan as a Jesus name? Do you have any other ideas for a patron saint for Ryan? Thanks to Katrina for the shout out and request!


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!