Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs name that connects to both big brothers

(Be sure to check out the great piece Fr. Michael Rennier — husband, father of five, and an ordained Catholic priest through the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen that was created by Pope St. John Paul II — wrote on naming babies over at Aleteia! He mentions Sancta Nomina! 😍)

(Also, don’t forget about my book signing this Sunday [July 29 from 1-3]! I know there aren’t many of you in my area, but I’d love to see any of you who live close by or happen to be passing through!)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! 🌱 He or she joins big siblings:

Peter William (“Peter is for Peter the Apostle, William for Dad“)
Damien Andrew (“Damien for St. Damien of Molokai, and Andrew for the apostle and also for St. Andre Bessette, recently canonized when hubby and I were both students at Notre Dame (he was the first saint to be canonized from the Holy Cross order, which established Notre Dame)“)

Loooove both of these names!! You know I have a particular soft spot for Damien. 🙂

Lauren writes,

My favorite thing about their names is that they link together: Peter and Andrew were brothers, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. I also found out after they were born that there is a St. Peter Damian who is a Doctor of the Church.

I like that both boys have great saints as their namesakes. I especially like that Peter hears about St. Peter frequently at Mass during the readings, especially during the Easter season, when he was born.

For New Baby (gender TBD, due on Christmas Day), we would love to find a name that links to at least one (preferably both) of the other kids’ names, looks up to a great saint or mystery … Because our last name is so common, we would like a first name that is somewhat more off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien).

Names we are considering for a girl:

Cora (for the Sacred Hearts: St. Damien was a priest in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Notre Dame basilica is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart [of Jesus] — is there a connection to Peter in there somehow? This is the front-runner)

Madeline (for St. Mary Magdalene, a favorite — but I don’t like the nickname “Maddy” and am afraid that people would call her that)

Bethany (maybe where Mary Magdalene lived, but at any rate it’s where Jesus’ friends lived)

Grace
Monica
Cecilia
Adelaide (I love this name but my husband is not sure)

Other favorite female saints include [Mother] Theodore Guerin (born Anne-Therese), Hildegard of Bingen, Veronica, and Mary of Egypt — but these names don’t seem to suit our taste.

Names we are considering for a boy:

We are having a harder time with this, and none of these feels quite right.
Adam
Thomas
Michael
Patrick
We like St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas More, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Augustine, John Paul II, etc.

Family names we can’t use:

Ann
Paul (love this name!)
Joan
Daniel
John
William, Willem
Matthew
Sebastian
Willem
Xavier
Annika
Charlotte
Janet

Names that have been floated that one of us has vetoed:

Clementine
Mary
Ruth
Gregory
Joseph
Nicholas
Theodore
Vera
Noel(le)
Stella
Gloria
Noah
Jacob
James
Anthony (I love this name and St. Anthony of the Desert, but my husband doesn’t like it)
Many of the most obvious Christmas names: Natalie/a, Emmanuel/la, Gabriel/la, Lucas. I like the idea of a Christmas name, but I just haven’t come across one that I really like

Some names that have come up recently on the blog that we don’t care for are Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel.

We also don’t really care if the style of the names match among our three kids. We are all about the meaning, namesake, history, spiritual significance. We want them to be spiritually inspired by their names and hopefully feel connected to their siblings by means of the spiritual (not necessarily stylistic) connections among their names.”

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge!

You should have seen me doing research for this family — I looked everywhere I could think of for connections between names, it’s such a fun thing they want to do, but hard! Wow! I think Lauren and her hubs will find it’s even more difficult the more children they have (if they’re so blessed), but it’s still a really fun thing to do. Honestly, I could probably spend months seeking out more ideas with connections to their Peter William and Damien Andrew. Hopefully the ideas I have here are helpful in some way!

I’ll start with thoughts on the list of names they’re considering:

  • Cora: A gorgeous name! I love that they’d be using it for the Sacred Hearts, and so cool that they already have a connection to Damien! The only connection to St. Peter I could find — which I think is a pretty great one — is that, in St. Peter’s Basilica, there’s the Altar of the Sacred Heart, whose altarpiece was blessed at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s canonization (she was *the* promoter of the Sacred Heart).
  • Madeline: I love Madeline, though I wonder if they might be interested in switching to one of its variants: Magdalen/Magdalene/Magdalyn/Magdalena? That way they bypass the Maddy issue, and they have a less common name, more in the vein of Damien (Damien is no. 266, while Madeline is no. 100 and none of the Magdalene variants I listed are in the top 1000 except Magdalena, which is no. 955) (note that the spelling Damian is no. 119, which is actually pretty similar to Madeline in terms of popularity. Funny enough, Peter’s no. 213!).
  • Bethany: Another nice connection here is that Bethany is where Jesus ascended from, and his apostles (including Peter and Andrew) were there: “Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50–51)
  • Grace: A beautiful name! It can be Marian, for Our Lady of Grace, and also in the Hail Mary, “full of Grace.” I didn’t find any connections between Grace and Peter/William/Damien/Andrew, except if they wanted to think of them as living grace-filled lives, or being open to the grace of God, etc.
  • Monica: I love St. Monica, I love that they have her name on their list!
  • Cecilia: Ditto, beautiful name and saint.
  • Adelaide: I love it too! I looked at the various blesseds/saints named Adelaide and found that St. Adela of Messines (also known as Adelaide) was the mother-in-law of William the Conqueror, but I’m thinking that’s probably not the kind of connection to their Peter William that Lauren and her hubs were hoping for …
  • Adam: I don’t see many parents considering Adam these days! Nice job to Lauren and her hubs picking something that feels fresh! Although … looking at the data, Adam’s actually no. 77, so it’s not as uncommon as I thought. I looked through the holy Adams I could find, and the only one I could find a connection to their older boys of any kind is with Adam the Patriarch in the sense that he was a biblical character like St. Peter and St. Andrew. Not the greatest connection, but a cool thing is that his memorial is celebrated on Dec. 24, which is nice for a Christmas baby.
  • Thomas: Thomas fits all of their criteria except being less common … he was an apostle like Peter and Andrew, and one of the connections I thought might be useful (especially moving forward with possible future children) is that there are holy Peters, Andrews, and Thomases in the listings of Martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland (there are a lot of martyrs in those countries, so I thought it might provide good fodder for the future as well).
  • Michael: There are loads of holy Michaels, too many for me to go through them all! Here’s the list in case it’s helpful. It’s a great name, but I suspect it’s more popular than Lauren and her hubs would like? It’s been a top 10 name since 1943, spending more than 40 years in the no. 1 spot, and only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 (it’s currently no. 12). One way to jazz it up, if they’d like to, is to consider an alternate nickname for everyday use … one of my favorite unexpected nickname ideas for Michael is Miles, and one of the English martyrs is Bl. Miles Gerard.
  • Patrick: I like it! And Ven. Patrick Peyton is a great patron that ties in with Andrew, since he was a member of the Holy Cross order like St. Andre Bessette.

I’m glad Lauren included the list of family names they can’t use (such a bummer about Paul!) and those that one of them has vetoed, this is such helpful info! I’m also glad to know they don’t care for Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel, as I almost certainly would have suggested Leo and Annabel to them otherwise! As for Christmas names, I’m glad they listed the ones they’ve considered and decided they don’t like, that’s very helpful. Here’s my latest Christmas-and-Advent-names post, which they might like to go through (lots of names!). I looked through it myself to find ideas for this family, some of which I incorporated in my official suggestions below.

Okay! On to those suggestions! I used a few different strategies to find ideas for Lauren and her hubs. My first one was to look up all the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I start all my consultations with, as it provides for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I know Lauren said they don’t care so much about their kiddos’ names matching each other in terms of style, but this kind of research gives me an idea of the kinds of names she and her hubby are likely to prefer. I then looked through the list of potential matches for the for any connections with their older boys’ names. I also looked up St. Peter, St. Damien, St. Andrew, and St. Peter Damian to find any possible connections between them that might be helpful. That’s where I came up with the idea of looking through the list of British Isles martyrs (here and here), which has several Peters, Andrews, and Thomases, as well as the holy people of the Holy Cross Order and the Dominican Order (as a Third Order Dominican, I kept being struck by how many names I remembered from the litany of Dominican Saints and Blesseds that I thought might provide good connections for Lauren and her hubs).

All that said, these are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions:

Girl
(1) Susanna
I rarely suggest Susanna, which is funny since it’s the girl name we’ve held on to through all six of our boys! But I really like it for this family, for a few different reasons: it’s biblical, like Peter and Andrew; it’s saintly (there are several); it’s more unusual, like Damien (in fact, it’s not even in the top 1000!); and I consider it a Christmas name as well, via the movie It’s a Wonderful Life — Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names, so George Bailey’s little Zuzu was likely Susan, as Susan was popular at the time. Susan’s also one of the Narnia children, but while siblings Peter and Susan might possibly feel like too much, I don’t think Peter and Susanna would raise an eyebrow.

(2) Lucy
Speaking of Narnia, Lucy might be too much Narnia with brother Peter, or maybe they’ll love the connection! Lucy means “light,” which, in order to connect it to one of their older boys, they could think of as relating to the light of the Advent candles, and the first Sunday of Advent is set by St. Andrew’s feast day!

(3) Josephine
I know Joseph is on their vetoed list, but what about Josephine for a girl? I love that St. Damien’s birth name was Joseph, so Josephine would connect to him, as well as to their devotion to St. Joseph the Worker. It’s also, of course, a feminine variant of a biblical name, which loops in Peter as well.

(4) Christina, Christine, Christiane, Christiana
Lauren didn’t mention any of the Christ- names as possibilities for their Christmas baby, but Christina was a style match for them based on my research in the BNW, which made me think of all the gorgeous Christ- names for girls. I love Christine, Christiane, and Christiana as well as Christina.

(5) Margaret
There’s more than one Margaret in the list of martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland, which connects it to Peter and Andrew in that way. Since they have Madeline on their list, which made me think of the Magdalene names, I wondered if Margaret — which of course can also take Maggie as a nickname, like Magdalene can — would be appealing to them. There’s also the Sacred Heart connection with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and there are several Dominican saints/blesseds named Margaret (along with St. Peter of Verona and several Bls. Peter, Bl. Damien of Finale, and a few Bls. Andrew).

(6) Maura
A very cool connection I found is that St. Peter Damian lived for a time in Ravenna, Italy (in fact, he took the name Damian after a priest he was sent to live with in Ravenna AND St. Andrew the Apostle is one of the patrons of Ravenna!). On top of that, St. Maura of Ravenna was martyred in Ravenna, and as I’m a sucker for any Marian name, I thought Maura would be an amazing idea. As a variant of Mary, it even works as a Christmas-y name!

(7) Ravenna
Just in case they want to have at least one far-out suggestion, what about Ravenna as a first name? I actually know of a devout family who named one of their daughters Ravenna (there are other saints associated with Ravenna, I’m not sure which one they chose the name for). Its rhythm reminds of Susanna, it’s a really cool idea for a certain kind of family.

Boy
(1) Dominic
Let’s kick off the boy names by going right to the source of the Dominican Order! Not only does Dominic have the Dominican connection like the Peters, Andrews, and Bl. Damien listed above, but I also included it in a list of Advent names having to do with the O Antiphons.

(2) Henry
Henry’s a big name in the lists of British Isles martyrs, including Sts. Henry Morse and Henry Walpole, and Bl. Henry Suso is a Dominican blessed. I liked that it seemed like yet a third, distinct style from Peter and Damien.

(3) Owen
St. Nicholas Owen is one of the English martyrs and one of my favorite saints. I might have suggested Nicholas to Lauren and her hubs, in order to loop in the Christmas theme, but since Lauren said Nicholas has been vetoed, then Owen it is! (Owen’s actually a style match for Madeline and Grace, which made me think they might like it).

(4) Edmund (or Campion?)
Sts. Edmund Campion and Edmund Arrowsmith are two of the English martyrs — Edmund’s a great name! If not Edmund, while Arrowsmith seems a bit much for a first name, I’ve seen Campion used from time to time, and I like it a lot. Campion might seem like an extra good option if Lauren and her hubs thought brothers Peter and Edmund were just too much Narnia (like with Lucy).

(5) Lewis
I was enjoying coming up with names that I thought were a different style from either Peter or Damien, and I thought Lewis was another one. St. David Lewis is one of the English Martyrs, and while I thought Damien and David were too similar in sound, I thought Lewis might be perfect. This family named their youngest Lewis in his honor.

(6) August
Lauren said they love St. Augustine, and there’s also a St. Augustine Webster who was one of the English Martyrs, but I thought maybe August might be more their speed (and could still nod to either/both of those men).

(7) Bartholomew
This is my farthest-out idea for a boy, and I love it for this family. Not only is Bartholomew an apostle, like Peter and Andrew, but it’s also the name of two Dominican blesseds: the male Bl. Bartholomew of Cerverio and the female Bl. Mary Bartholomew Bagnesi. I would also consider Bartholomew “off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien),” as Lauren put it.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Peter and Damien?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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Birth announcement: Walter Dominic!

I posted a consultation for Michelle the day after Christmas, and I’m delighted to share that she’s let me know her little guy has arrived — the so-handsomely named … Walter Dominic!

Michelle writes,

Baby boy arrived! After two months of bed rest and nearly three weeks in the hospital due to chronic placenta abruptions we welcomed Walter Dominic on January 21 at 3:30 pm, 6pounds 6ounces! He arrived on the last day of the Dominican Jubilee year, in fact I was able to watch the closing Mass live early that morning after my water broke in the hospital!

I loved loved loved your suggestion of Albert and Gregor and Casper was on the table (especially as I was in the hospital through the week of Epiphany) but ultimately both hubby and I agreed that he was to be Walter Dominic. Servant of God Walter Ciszek along with Holy Father Dominic are both men whom I only pray our son will mirror in this life! Both men whose faith and spirit are relevant in our current world and so with them I pray for our new babe.

We are thrilled he is here and that Our lady kept both of us safe throughout the 36 week pregnancy. Thank you for your ideas!

What an end-of-pregnancy this mama had! And I’m so happy that the baby was born on the last day of the Dominican Jubilee Year, with Michelle having a Dominican sensibility and her other kiddos having such Dominican names — God’s perfect timing! And I love the combo Walter Dominic — it fits in so perfectly with his big sibs’ names, and has such wonderful patrons!

Congratulations to Michelle and her husband and big sibs Henrik, Philip, Martin, Dennis, and Brigit, and happy birthday Baby Walter!!

Walter Dominic and his big siblings!

And a bonus picture! This is from last All Saints’ Day — all the kids (minus Walter of course) dressed up as Dominican saints! 😍

image1-16

Left to right: Fra Angelico (Philip), St. Martin de Porres (Martin), Bl. Imelda (Brigit — her brothers chose for her!), St. Hyacinth (Dennis), St. Dominic (Henrik)

Baby name consultation: No. 6 baby/No. 5 boy with some serious rules!

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday!! I think the joy of heaven must be similar to the joy of children on Christmas morning. 💕💕💕

And happy feast of St. Stephen! A perfect tie-in with one of my ideas for today’s family. 😉

Michelle and her husband are expecting their sixth baby and fifth boy in January! This little guy joins:

Henrik Gaetano (“Henrik after the Scandinavian Saint, Gaetano after his great grandfather“)
Philip Llewellyn (“St. Philip the Apostle, Llewellyn after his great grandfather“)
Martin Sven (“St. Martin de Porres, Sven – great grandfather“)
Dennis Robert (“St. Denis, Robert – great grandfather“)
Brigit Catherine (“St. Birgitta of Sweden, St Catherine of Siena“)

We have lost two children and named them according to their days of their delivery so we also have Mary Sophia (after Our Lady of Wisdom and St Thomas Aquinas) and Vincent Marie (St Vincent Ferrer and Our Lady).

Such great names! All classic and saintly, but unexpected too, I love them! And all those Dominican saints! 👌

Michelle writes,

We are out of great grandfathers for middle names but are leaning towards Dominic or Guzman as possibilities (Dominican year of jubilee).

My favorite right now is Victor, for ‘Christus Victor’ but hubby isn’t thrilled. His top runner right now is Walter but I’m not feeling it and his connection is only that he likes the name.

Our rules have been two syllables for the first name, a strong Patron Saint and Catholic story, not top 100 in popularity, no repeat first initials so names that start with H,P,M,D,B are out. We have gravitated toward more Scandinavian/Germanic sounding names, though Dennis doesn’t quite fit with that. There has also been a six letter trend, but hubby is willing to forgo that trend as long as it is two syllables! Deo Gratias!

I’d love to hear your ideas, if you get a chance!

This was so fun to work on! You know I love naming rules — the more the merrier! I love a good name challenge. 😁

First though, a few thoughts about their current ideas: I love Victor. I even wrote an article about it! And I’ve been hearing Walter here and there both secularly (my sister-in-law’s a huge fan!) and religiously (Servant of God Walter Ciszek, amazing story). They both fit Michelle’s criteria, I think either one would be great for her little guy!

As for other ideas, I looked up all the names Michelle and her hubs already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as you all know it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; I then cross-checked my results against the Social Security info for name popularity to be sure they were out of the top 100; and I also used the NameFinder with their ideal parameters (no H, P, M, D, B; 6 letters; 2 syllables). Based on all that, these are my ideas for this family:

(1) Stephen
I noticed how Michelle singled Dennis out a little in terms of not really fitting into the Scandinavian/Germanic-sounding names of her other children (even though his name definitely fits with his sibs in terms of popularity arc), so I tried to give a little extra attention to the names that were particular similar to his. Stephen was one and I love it for them! Stephen Dominic is really handsome! (And today’s St. Stephen’s feast day! Woo!) (Did any of you catch that Stephen’s not six letters though? D’oh! I didn’t realize until way after the fact! But I’m keeping it on here because I love it. ☺ )

(2) Gregor
Gregory was another name that was listed as similar to Dennis, but it has the wrong number of letters and syllables. But Gregor is the German form, and it fits perfectly! Gregor Dominic is great, and I don’t mind Gregor Guzman either.

(3) Edward or Edmund
Edward is a style match for Henry (no entry for Henrik) and Walter, and is a great, handsome name. But I thought maybe Edmund would be more their speed? Edward was No. 158 in 2015, but Edmund hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1997, and the most popular it ever got was No. 130 in 1914. It derives from Old English elements (and St. Edmund Campion was English), but it has use elsewhere—there’s a German-Czech philosopher named Edmund Husserl for example, and Bl. Edmund Bojanowski was Polish — so there’s good evidence that it fits in well with the other kids’ names.

(4) Albert
I’m love love loving Albert for Michelle’s little boy, for the amazing Dominican St. Albert the Great! Albert Dominic would be amazing; I like Albert Guzman too; and if they were willing to be “Dominican” rather than St. Dominic specifically, they could do Albert Magnus! Magnus is Latin for “great” AND a Scandinavian name!

(5) Colman
This is neither Germanic nor Scandinavian—it’s the name of an Irish saint (which fits nicely with Brigit)—but I always (weirdly) think of Irishy names as having a similar feel to Scandinavian names (that Viking influence!), so it seems like it would fit for this family! I also took a picture when I was in Ireland of a sign on a wall that said, “Colman Rasmussen”—I took it because my husband is half Norwegian and his mom’s maiden name was Rasmussen—but it seems to reinforce my thought that an Irish name might be close enough to Scandinavian to appeal to Michelle and her hubs. (Yes, I’m a little nutty.)

(6) Gerald or Gerard
These are both Germanic names, and if I had to choose, I might favor Gerard because of St. Gerard Majella, but there are a bunch of holy Geralds as well.

(7) Casper
My last idea is Casper—a name I love and wish it would get more play! I love that it’s the name of one of the Three Wise Men (aka Jasper or Gaspar, depending on where you look—they’re all variants of the same name, with Casper being the Scandinavian form), and since Michelle’s due in January this might be particularly perfect, since the Three Kings’ feast is Jan. 6.

And those are my ideas for Michelle and her hubby! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother of Henrik, Philip, Martin, Dennis, and Brigit?

Eleven new Dominican priests

You guys, my Dominican Province — the Province of St. Joseph (Maine to D.C. and west to Ohio) — ordained their largest number of men to the priesthood in 45 years this past weekend! Says Charlotte Hays in her National Catholic Register article “Dominicans Ordain Largest Number of Friars in 45 Years“:

The 11 new priests, mostly men in their 20s, were ordained at a May 21 Mass that filled to capacity the Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is across the street from the Dominican House of Studies and seats 6,000 people.”

Mostly men in their 20s y’all!! We are in good hands!!

And they were ordained by none other than Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, himself a Dominican and adjunct secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

You know. No big deal.

😲😍😲😍😲😍

But what are their NAMES?? was of course my immediate question, because I know a lot of Dominicans take new names (swoon!) (a young Fr. Thomas More LastName, OP baptized my godson this weekend [that’s Fr. Thomas More, double first name, thankyouverymuch]), and I was excited to find them:

Clement
John Baptist
Dominic Mary
Raymond
Joseph-Anthony
Michael Mary
Patrick Mary
Louis Bertrand Mary
John
Gregory Maria
Athanasius

I love each one! And all those Marys!!!

What a wonderful thing for the 800th year anniversary of the Dominican Order! Please pray for our new Dominican priests!! ❤

Dominican religious names, etc.

I went to a Lay Dominican Regional Meeting today and had the great pleasure of meeting an awesome Dominican priest named Fr. Bede — Bede! I love it!! I’ve suggested it before as a nickname for Benedict, but I have to say, today I was loving it on his own. I asked him if it was a religious name or his birth name, and he confirmed it was his religious name, taken in honor of Fr. Bede Jarrett, OP. I asked him how many of the Dominican friars take a new name, and he thought about two-thirds. I thought that was really interesting! I also heard him talking about one of his brother friars whose name is Br. Athanasius. Swoon!

It also made me realize that I don’t think I ever told you all that I have a religious name — we’re able to take one when we take our vows if we’d like to, and mine is Maria Rosa Dominica, for Our Lady, St. Rose of Lima (a Third Order Dominican and my birthday saint), and St. Dominic of course. Some of our other members are: Esther Anthony, Mary Catherine, Mary Dominic and … I can’t remember who else! I’m pretty sure we have a Thomas (for Aquinas) … gah! How is my namey mind failing me?! I’ll have to get back to you with the others, each one is so beautiful and so personally meaningful.

We also had the amazing blessing of having several relics on display during our meeting — St. Dominic, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. John Neumann, Bl. Bartolo Longo (aka Br. Rosary, love it!), and Fr. McGivney (our meeting was held at our local Knights of Columbus hall). I felt like we had a roomful of heavenly friends with us. 🙂

I hope you all had a great Saturday!