Spotlight on: Joan

One of you recently requested a spotlight on Joan and I’d been thinking about it and looking up bits and pieces here and there and then I read this on the DMNES blog:

Joan: Many people may not realize that this is in fact a Biblical name, the name of a woman healed by Jesus and who later accompanied him as a disciple. She was later venerated as a saint, but it was the use of this name by many medieval queens, in addition to the “Maid of Orleans”, Joan of Arc, that helped the name maintain its place as one of the most popular women’s names throughout history.” (emphasis mine)

And knew it was time for the spotlight. 🙂

So Joan is a feminine form of John, which is a great way to start — any of the Sts. John could be honored with a little Joan. But there are loads of amazing Joans (in various forms — I’ll get to that in a minute) that are great patrons for a little girl.

First off, the biblical Joan mentioned above is, I believe, the woman whose name is usually given as Joanna; she’s mentioned briefly in Luke 8:3 as one of the women who accompanied Jesus as He “went on through cities and villages, preaching bringing the good news of the kingdom of God” (Lk 8:1):

And the Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” (Lk 8:1-3)

The footnote in my Bible (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Second Edition RSV) is particularly awesome regarding those verses (Lk 8:1-3):

Jesus’ urgent mission left no time for him and the disciples to settle into a trade. Several women thus accompanied them to offer provisions and financial assistance. This challenged Jewish custom, which discouraged men from associating with women in public (Jn 4:27).”

(That reference to Jn 4:27 is this: “Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman …”) (The woman was the Samaritan woman; interesting that they marveled that He was talking with a woman, rather than with a Samaritan.)

Then of course there’s St. Joan of Arc — a totally awesome warrior woman! She’s also known as Jean/Jeanne/Jehanne.  A personal favorite of mine is the mother of St. Dominic, known variously as Bl. Joan/Jane/Joanna/Juana of Aza. There are a whole bunch of others (lots of Sts. John included in that list as well).

Speaking of variants, these are all listed in the DMNES entry on Joan — they all had medieval use (I’m not listing all the variants — there are tons! But these were either my favorites or the ones I was most surprised by):

Genne, Genet
Ione
Jana
Jane, Jayn, Jayne, Jeyne, Jaen, Jaine
Janet
Janne
Jean, Jeanne, Geane
Jehanne, Jehenne, Jehanette
Jenna
Jenne
Joana, Joanna, Johanna
Joane, Jone
Johanetta
Jonet
Juana, Juanita
Vana
Vannella
Zoana, Zoanna

Awesome list, right? So many great ways to honor a Joan! Re: Ione, I’d recently come across this book, which lists several places in literature (like Shakespeare) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan (read the bottom of p. 156 and top of p. 157 — the link takes you right to it).

As for Joan itself, I’ve always thought the nickname Joanie is sweet, and Jo/Joey could also work; I’ve also seen Nonie. In this case, of course, the nicknames would be more affectionate or spunky rather than true diminutives or need for something shorter — you can’t get much shorter than the one-syllable Joan! There are a million nicknames for its variants too (Jane et al.), but I won’t get into them here.

What do you all think of Joan? Would you consider it for your daughter, or have you? Do you prefer one of its variants? Do you know any Joans (big or little), and if so, what do they think of their name? Do they go by nicknames?

Reading round-up

Buckle up guys, I’ve been adding to my “reading round-up” list for months now — today’s the day! I’m getting it done!

Grace told me about a NYC gathering she’d gone to called Catholic Underground, which is totally the kind of thing I would have loved when I was in college, and the name of the director:

Of course, it was fabulous with an hour of adoration and getting to see one of the actual missionary images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But the reason I’m emailing you is not just to tell you about a great experience but to share with you an awesome religious name I spotted. On the little flier we got walking in the door there was a nice little letter from the director of Catholic Underground, and his name is…….Br. Mark-Mary!!! How cool is that!? It’s so rare that you see men take feminine names, so it just makes me so happy to see it when it happens!

I love that!! #MenWhoLoveMary

Emma wanted to be sure I’d seen this post (from early December) over at Swistle’s blog, saying, “Oh boy, does Swistle ever need Sancta Nomina over at her blog today!!!!” Haha! The mom writing is expecting her third, and her older two are Harriet Paloma (“Hattie”), and Hugo Campion. Ohh my! In her dilemma letter she writes things like,

Their middle names feel (to my ears) more modern and have religious significance (“Paloma,” meaning “dove” which stands both for peace and for the Holy Spirit, “Campion,” after St. Edmund Campion)

and

[regarding the fact they’re considering Consuelo] I have always been fascinated by the French and Spanish-language tradition of naming children after the Virgin Mary, but using her many titles or apparition locations. English is pretty limited when it comes to honor names for the Blessed Mother. We have Mary, Marie, and some more unusual, but related, variants such as Mae, Mamie, Maren, Molly. But nothing compared with the range and diversity of the French/Spanish naming tradition: Lourdes, Carmel, Soledad, Guadalupe, Luz, Amparo, Araceli, Socorro, Belen, Pilar, Delores. And on and on! My daughter’s godmother is Monserrat after Our Lady of Monserrat (love!!).”

I would indeed have loved to get my hands on that dilemma! But this bit from Swistle sums up my feelings pretty exactly (the question was Margaret vs. Consuelo as a first name):

Margaret Consuelo is a pretty kick-butt name, and coordinates beautifully with Harriet Paloma and Hugo Campion. Paloma (peace) and Consuelo (solace) are particularly well-matched.”

Speaking of Swistle, I also loved the sib set in this post: Charles (Huck), Isaac, Katherine, and Seth. (I love Huck for Charles!!) One of the commenters (our very own eclare!) said she guessed the family might be Catholic, based on the size of the family, the kids’ names (which she accurately described as “saint/biblical”), and some on their list (including Xavier), and I agree. I was disappointed by Swistle’s reply though — she said, “I don’t think Seth or Charlotte are saint names,” which is misleading. Seth the Patriarch (from the Old Testament) appears in Book of Saints by the Monks of Ramsgate as well as Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints, and his feast day is March 1. There are also several Blesseds Charlotte, and, as eclare correctly pointed out, Charlotte can be and is often used as an honor name for any of the Sts. Charles/Karl/Carl/Carlo/Karol.

One more Swistle post: Baby Names to Consider: Classic/Traditional Names with Atypical/Non-Traditional Nicknames. I loved reading the ideas from her and the commenters!

Shelby told me about this article: The Saint behind the Jagermeister Logo is also one of the 14 Holy Helpers. I love finding out stuff like that! As Shelby put it, it “goes well with your post about Catholic things in plain sight like the Sophie the Giraffe.” “Catholic things in plain sight”! I love that!

It reminds me of something else I read recently: Nutella Founder Dies, Said Secret of Success Was Our Lady of Lourdes: Devout Catholic took employees to visit site of Marian apparitions. Yes, Nutella is now my new favorite food. 🙂

Then there was this: A 3yo boy named Diesel will only answer to Popcorn, and so his parents are going to legally change his name.

The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources is one of my favorite resources, and I was so struck by one of its recent blog posts about the rise of certain names in Protestant records after the Reformation that I raised a question:

dmnes1-01.27.16

The Apocrypha in this context are the books (or parts of books, as in the case of Daniel) that are part of the Catholic bible but not part of the Protestant bible. (As opposed to books Catholics consider to be apocryphal, like the Protoevangelium of James.) It was so strange to me that Judith (the book of Judith is rejected by Protestants) and Susan (the English form of Susanna(h), from the part of the book of Daniel that’s considered apocryphal by Protestants) would receive an uptick in use by Protestants after the Reformation. So interesting! And even better — the DMNES team (including our own Sara) is on it!

dmnes2-01.27.16

I find stuff like this so fascinating. As I said to Sara, I learn so much about culture, religious, politics, history, and language through names. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with!

I was also interested by this bit in the DMNES post on New Testament names after the Reformation, about our dear St. Anne:

Anne: This name could be classified as either an Old Testament name or a New Testament name. In the OT, this was the name of the mother of Samuel (more often modernly transliterated as Hannah); in the apocrypha, Anne is usually identified as the mother of Mary, though she is not named explicitly in the NT. Whatever the origin and whatever the spelling, this name was always common; it was, in fact, one of the most common feminine names throughout all of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, due primarily to the early veneration of the mother of Mary. The name was so well entrenched that the Protestant turning away from the veneration of the saints did not cause any reduction in its popularity.” (emphasis mine)

How cool is that! It’s also particularly funny that its entrenchment was “due primarily to the early veneration of the mother of Mary” — not only a saint, despite “the Protestant turning away from the veneration of the saints,” but a saint who’s never named in the bible we all agree on, nor even in the apocrypha rejected by Protestantism — Mary’s mother’s name is only given in the Protoevangelium of James, so its use is totally due to Catholic tradition. She’s a great lady, that St. Anne. 🙂 ❤

Finally, I was enjoying these dilemmas on the Baby Name Wizard site recently:

Thoughts on Gemma

Bishop as a first name?

Religious or not religious? (this mom has since figured out a solution, but I really liked some of the ideas offered in this post)

(Also, I think the commenter Optatus Cleary would like it here. 🙂 )

Whew! I think that’s all I have for today!

ETA: Oh! Also this: Twitter Reveals That All Kids Hate Their Names (my takeaway: pray and do the best you can, and then don’t worry), and this: Are There Any More Z Names? Neither the author (Laura Wattenberg herself) nor any of the commenters mentioned Zelie/Azelie!

 

 

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!