Baby name consultation: Canon/outside- or inside-the-box/heavy-hitting names are all considerations for baby no. 5!

It’s Thanksgiving week! Woo! I am so grateful for all of you!! I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and enjoy today’s consultation by Theresa (who I’m also so grateful for!)!

Mama Katie writes in asking for help naming their 6th child!

We are 21 weeks along and haven’t found out the gender yet, but I just might if I can’t figure out the name! Ha!

This baby will be joining big siblings:

Gabriel (in heaven)
Paul Christopher sometimes called “PK”
Immaculata Gracie “Gracie”
Jacinta Katherine “Cinta”
Joseph David sometimes called “Bubba” or “Buddy”

She writes about names they’re currently drawn to:

Celine – especially after reading her relationship with her younger sister, St. Therese, this is probably our top runner. June – my mom’s name and my husband’s maternal grandmother – and I like the feel of it even as a first name, but I don’t want to have three J’s in a row – Jacinta, Joseph and June. Maybe a middle name for Celine, with the nickname of CJ? Christiana – I have always liked this name, but I don’t really want to have it shortened to “Chris.” Margaret Mary – This is my great grandmother’s name reversed (She was Mary Margaret) – but I also have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus). Maria- since I have a niece Mary, I have thought Maria would be a pretty name, but I’ve also considered making little one’s name even more like Celine Martin and having it be “Marie-Celine”…Timothy – the biblical connection to St. Paul, as well as our beloved pastor of our parish. I’m not sure about what to use for a middle name! Maximillian. Frassati – this has been a pipe dream of mine, because my husband wouldn’t go for something so out of the box for a boy. Haha. Roy – I don’t know if this would work in at all, but my dear father passed away a year ago, and his best friend is named Roy, and Roy has become so dear to me. My husband might reject that name, but it is in the background for me anyway. We have started attending the Traditional Latin Mass, and I keep looking in the Canon for some of those heavy hitting names, but I’m unsure of any of the names.”

Some thoughts on names they like but maybe don’t feel quite like “the one”.

Celine– I really love this one for them! I think it’s sweet just like their other girls, I love the connection to Celine Martin and sweet St. Therese. I think it’s a great fit with all of their kids. Since all of the Martin girls, except the oldest, went by the second part of their names, I think just Celine to honor her and Therese would be lovely. I like the sound of Celine with their others better than Marie-Celine. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Celine are so so sweet. I really really love this.

June– I like this for them but I agree that three Js in a row is a bit much. I like the sound of Celine June, June grounds it. Two names in a row that end in the N sound might be a bit much, though. I think there may be better names out there for them.

Christiana– I love this name, too! I really love Christiana June, too, and I think they could keep it from getting shortened to “Chris” by just insisting her name is Christiana. I knew a Christiana in college who had never been Chris. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Christiana sound amazing together.

Maria– Cute, good, standard, traditional name. I think it may be too close to their niece Mary, though. I think there are better names for them out there.

Margaret Mary– I like this but I don’t love it. It’s not as sweet as their other girls, but I do love the connection to her grandmother and the Sacred Heart.

Timothy– I really like this for them! Gabriel, Paul, Immaculate/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Timothy sound great to me. I think this name is really right in their wheelhouse. As far as a middle name with it, I think any of the other names they like would go well with it. Timothy Maximilian and Timothy Roy stand out to me.

Maximilian– I love this name for them. It fits right in with everyone else. The only drawback is it would almost definitely get shortened to Max (in my experience, this one gets shortened a lot more commonly than a name like Christiana does). Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Maximilian sound complete to me.

Frassati– I like this but I don’t think it fits with their other boys. Their boy style strikes me as very traditional, maybe a little old man chic. Frassati matches their girls, though! I think they could stick this in the middle spot and get the best of both worlds!

Roy– I’m not completely sure what it is about this name, but I really love it for them. It gives that old man chic that I think is their sweet spot and it has such a sweet meaning and connection for their family. I think this would be especially great in the middle spot.

Okay, on to new suggestions. Their current children’s names and the names they like really inspired me and I had a hard time getting it down to 5 names for each gender! Let’s start with the girls.

Girl

(1) Anastasia

This is a name found in the Canon, a great saint, and it’s a little frillier like their other girls. It’s slightly popular right now at #181 and I think that’s a great place for them to be. It means “resurrection,” so it has a direct connection to Jesus, too. Full disclosure, this is my oldest daughter’s second middle name and we adore it. I would’ve considered this as a first name for another daughter if I hadn’t already used it. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Anastasia sound incredible together! I really really love Anastasia Celine or Celine Anastasia or even Anastasia June! Really, this name goes with every other name they like and I love how it fits into their family.

(2) Annunziata

This one was directly inspired by Immaculata and Gabriel. I think they lean a little unusual and frilly in their girl names and this one fits that to a T. I love the Marian connection for their girls (Jacinta is Marian to me because of being one of the visionaries at Fatima). It’s a reference to the Annunciation, tying in some of their other children and I think it’s just such a sweet name. If, like Immaculata, she’s a little hesitant about her name, she can always shorten it to Annie. However, I think Immaculata may be more into her name if she had a similarly named sister. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Annunziata/Annie sound so spectacular!

(3) Hildegard

Not many families could pull this name off, but I think theirs totally could. It’s outside the box like their other girls, unusual but not weird, and has a powerhouse saint connection (St. Hildegard of Bingen). It means “battle enclosure” and is outside of the top 1000 names. It can shorten to Hildie or Hilda if necessary, but I like the whole thing. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Hildegard sound stunningly Catholic and they all fit together well.

(4) Beatrice

I thought of this one because it was a style match for some of their girls and names they like and because it’s a little bit frilly but still sweet. It means “blessed, happy” and is at #565 right now. There is one saint and several blessed by this name, so it’s steeped in Catholicism. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Beatrice are all so sweet together.

(5) Aurelia/Aurora

I wasn’t sure which of these they’d like better, so I’m including them both. Aurelia means “golden, gilded,” is at #516, and there’s Bl. Aurelia of Wirberg for patronage. Aurora means “dawn,” is at #36 (so significantly more popular, although not enough to see a double in their circles, most likely), and has Ven. Aurora Calvo Hernández-Agero for patronage. I like that both of these are a little unusual and frilly and super sweet, just like their other girls. These are just a little outside the box, especially in Catholic circles, and I think that’s their sweet spot for girls. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Aurelia/Aurora are so beautiful together.

On to boys!

Boy

(1) Thaddeus

This is such a sweet, traditional name that’s in the Canon for the Apostle St. Jude Thaddeus. It’s uncommon (it sits at #818) but it’s not weird. And it shortens to the super sweet Tad (or Tadpole when he’s really little. Swoon!). It means “heart” or “gift of God” and may be related to the mega-popular Theodore. I think Thaddeus is a great fit and bridge between their girls and their boys. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Thaddeus sounds really great, very Catholic, and somewhat
traditional to me.

(2) Silas

I thought of this name because St. Silas/Silvanus was a companion of Paul and I thought that would be a sweet way to honor brothers. Silas means “wood, forest” and sits at #91, meaning it’s gaining in popularity but is not overly popular. This one is a little more up-and-coming than their other children’s names, but I don’t think it’s a mismatch. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Silas sound fun, modern, and yet traditional.

(3) Walter

I said elsewhere that I think their boy style is old man chic and this name is old man chic! It sits at #271 which means it’s up-and-coming but not overly popular, traditional but also modern, uncommon but not unusual. This is their sweet spot. There are plenty of Sts. Walter but I always think of Ven. Walter Ciszek who was an American chaplain in the Army. Fitting, since the name means “ruler of the army.” Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Walter sound so great together–– traditional,
outside the box, uncommon but not weird, very Catholic.

(4) Charles

This name is pretty popular at #50 right now but it also gives me the old man chic vibes that their other boys (and names they like) give me. It means “man” which is cool and can relate to St. Charles Borromeo or even Pope St. John Paul II as his given name was another form of Charles, Karol. This name is up-and-coming but yet traditional, which is a good spot for them to be. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Charles sound like a complete set to me.

(5) Blaise

This name is way less common than it seems at #997! I was shocked to find this out. I would’ve put it in the #400s but the numbers don’t lie. What that means is that this name is uncommon but not weird and modern-sounding. It also sounds energetic for its homophone “blaze.” It really means “lisping” but meaning is what we put into a name. St. Blaise is the patron saint of throat problems. Gosh, I just really love this name for them. I think it checks every box for them. Gabriel, Paul, Immaculata/Gracie, Jacinta, Joseph, and Blaise sound so cool, modern, traditional, and Catholic to me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that this is my favorite. Blaise Timothy, Blaise, Roy, and Blaise Thaddeus stand out to me as full combos.

These are my thoughts. What do you think?


Read all about how to get your own baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself here.

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Louis Sebastian!

I did a consultation for Monica and her husband several years ago, and posted a birth announcement for her third baby — I’m thrilled to share that she’s since had another baby! She had her second boy and gave him the fantastic name … Louis Sebastian!

Monica writes,

You did a consultation for us between our 2nd and 3rd babies, and a birth announcement for our 3rd. I thought it would be fun to share that we just welcomed baby #4, Louis Sebastian, on Monday, at a whopping 9 lbs 14 oz. He joins big siblings Magdalene Eve-Marie (Maggie), Genevieve Rose (Genny), and Judah Abraham.

We had the hardest time yet settling on his name. In general, we tend to agree on a lot more girl names than boy names. I’ve analyzed it into the ground this time, and come to the conclusion that my preferred boy names are ‘sweet spot’ names: not super common but not totally unheard of. I liked the names Blaise and Eamon this time, as well as Roman in the past. My husband likes names on both ends of the spectrum, but not so much in that middle ground (with the exception of Judah!). He liked Peter, Charles, Louis, and Casimir this time. We both like John paired with an unexpected middle, but decided to save it for later. We kicked around Magnus, but mainly as a middle name since it sort of conflicts with Magdalene/Maggie.

In addition to our general taste, there were a few other considerations: I preferred a non-biblical name this time to loop in Genevieve, and I didn’t want a third “J” sound in a row (hence John going on the back burner).

We particularly like King Louis IX of France, who was the first to institute the law of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ He’s baby’s primary patron, although St. Louis Martin is a good secondary patron for an October baby. (Especially if he had been born on St. Therese’s feast, though he ended up missing it.). St. Sebastian is another cool patron for a little boy. Louis is also my Grandpa’s middle name. We think Louis is French and non-biblical enough to tie in Genevieve nicely, and Sebastian adds a little bit of flair while still being a strong and masculine combo. We do like that strong, masculine sound! (Cf. Judah Abraham)

I absolutely love the in-depth analysis Monica offered of her and her husband’s name taste, and the explanation of inspiration and patronage for her newest little guy!! Louis Sebastian seems like an absolute perfect fit!!

Congratulations to Monica and her husband and big sibs Magdalene/Maggie, Genevieve/Genny, and Judah, and happy birthday Baby Louis!!


Read all about how to get your own baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself here.

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Eloise, Penelope, or … ?

This is the first of the five consultations I opened up for January — this baby is coming any day! Rebecca and her hubby are expecting their first girl after four boys! Big brothers are:

Henry Blake 

Theodore Jude (“we call him Theo“)

Everett Scott

Oliver Ambrose

I love these! Such a fantastic bunch of names — all so handsome!

Rebecca writes,

With each of our boys we tried to have a way to honor our family either in the first name or the middle name. We also tried to have either the first name or the middle name be Catholic/biblical/a saint name. The only name that didn’t fit it was our third son Everett Scott, which is my cousin’s name and my husband’s middle name.

We have had a girl name picked out with each of our boys just in case. However, now that we are pregnant with our first girl I don’t seem to want to use any of those names. Some of the names that we had picked before are: Amelia Eloise, Lucia Eloise, Vivienne Simone, Violet Eloise

The day I took a pregnancy test and found out it was positive I immediately looked up the due date which turned out to be January 21. I looked up the Saints feast days and it turned out to be the feast day of Saint Agnes who is the patron saint of girls

Prior to finding out and that I was pregnant … I swore if I would have a girl I would name her Eloise. So this whole pregnancy I’ve pretty much been trying to find a middle name that I like with Eloise but I can’t seem to find ‘the one’ … I feel a lot of pressure to find the exact perfect name because I am 41 years old and this is probably going to be my only daughter so I want to find the most perfect name haha!

I totally get that!!

Rebecca continues,

Names that we have considered: Eloise Agnes, Eloise Marie, Eloise Lucia, Eloise Bernadette. My husband isn’t a big fan of Agnes but he said he would be fine if the name was Eloise Agnes Marie. But that feels like quite a mouthful

Names that I would love to use but cannot would be Eloise Therese, Eloise Beatrix, Zelie. My husband doesn’t like Beatrix or Zelie

Names other than Eloise that we like: we have seriously considered Penelope Eloise. My problem is is there doesn’t seem to be a Catholic connection in any way. Other names that we have considered: Opal, Lucy, Marigold, Josephine. My husband does not like Marigold. I adore floral type names and would love to call her Posie, Blossom, little flower as a special ‘between us’ nicknameOne other name that we can’t use is Claire!

There aren’t many family names left that haven’t been used by other people and I’ve been trying to avoid using the same names as other people in my family. Some family names that I have considered is Lorraine but only as a middle name, Anne or Anne Marie (This is my mothers name and she would really like me to use it in some way but ok if I don’t). I’m not set on having a family name this time.

I just feel like if I don’t use Eloise I’m going be sad but at the same time I can’t seem to find the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows. I would love some suggestions that go well with my boys names!

Such a fun “dilemma” to have — naming a girl after so many boys!! I love the names Becca and her hubby have considered for girls in the past, and of course I immediately picked up on the fact that Eloise was part of almost every combo, so my first thought was, “Why not Eloise as a first name?” And then of course the very next thing Becca wrote is that she swore to herself she’d name a girl Eloise! So I definitely think that Eloise as a first name should be at the top of their list. I’m not surprised, though, that they’re having a hard time finding “the one” in terms of a middle name for Eloise — while working on this, I spent a lot of time trying to think of some, and I find Eloise to be an unusual rhythm to work with, so not a lot of names seem to flow quite right. Not that that has to matter at all — they’ll likely find they’re happy with a middle name that has significance, whether it flows exactly right or not.

So I want to start with the idea of Agnes. I love that Becca’s due on St. Agnes’ feast day! She’s a great patron for a little girl! I would encourage Becca and her husband to lean into that, whether their daughter ends up being born on her feast day or not! I wonder if using an Agnes variant might appeal to them? Agnes itself still has an “old lady” feel for a lot of people, but Ines/Inès, Inez, Inessa (like this family’s second little girl), Annis, Agnesa, and Agneta are all variants that have a very different feel than Agnes while still being 100% Agnes.

Back to Agnes itself, I actually quite like how Eloise Agnes sounds — it’s a nice-flowing combo! I’m surprised that Becca’s hubby doesn’t care for Eloise Agnes, but wouldn’t mind Eloise Agnes Marie — in my experience, husbands tend to like “less fussy” rather than “more fussy.” But I love Eloise Agnes Marie as well! And I really like that it loops in Becca’s mom.

Let’s talk about Marie for a minute, and also the fact that another thing that jumped out to me right away is that Becca loves French girl names!! Vivienne, Simone, Bernadette, Therese, Zelie, Josephine, Marie itself, and even Lorraine (the name of a region in France!) and can’t-use Claire are all beautiful French names, so I let my mind wander a bit down the French path and wondered what they’d think of switching Agnes Marie to Marie-Agnes? That is SUCH a French construction, and I think the French girl names come across as so girly and feminine! Marie-Agnes as a first name can take the nickname Maggie, which makes everyday life so easy. If they were open to considering the French spelling/pronunciation of Agnes — Agnès, pronounced like ahn-YES — then Marie-Agnès become even more gorgeous, and I would still use Maggie as a nickname. If Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès feels too much for a first name, and/or they like the Agnès idea but don’t want their daughter to have to deal with it in the first name spot, I think Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès would be an amazing middle for Eloise! It also absolutely without a doubt fits the “Catholic, girly name” theme Becca was hoping for. As for a double middle name being a mouthful, I encourage them not to worry about that — the middle name spot is the place to put all the names, and when one has a girl after so many boys who is likely to be the only girl in the family, it’s very likely one has All The Names to work into her name! I spotlighted writer Rachel Balducci on the blog once, and she did that with her daughter, too — the only girl and youngest baby after five boys; she named her Isabel Anne-marie and noted “her middle name is Anne-marie, which is from each of the grandmothers. It’s a lot of name but I had to cram a lot into this one girl!

I’m actually also loving the idea right now of Annis Marie — Annis is a form of Agnes, and has Ann in it, so Annis Marie could be a double nod to Becca’s mom while still getting St. Agnes in there! And I’m also thinking of the French diminutive of Marie: Manon. I’ve always loved that! Maybe it could work here? Marie Eloise nicknamed Manon? Marie Agnes nicknamed Manon?

One last thought about Marie — it’s a very traditional thing for a Catholic girl to have Mary as her official/legal first name but go by her middle name. The Marie Eloise idea above made me think that Becca might like to do that too — Marie Eloise called Eloise? I think Marie Eloise is very girly and any name that includes a form of Mary sounds very Catholic to me, especially when it’s in the first name spot like that.

Don’t you love how my mind jumps all over the place?? Haha! Let me back up a minute and share some thoughts I had about names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Amelia: I wonder if the French Amelie (said like AH-muh-lee) would appeal to them? Or maybe the spelling Emilia, which is the way St. John Paul’s mom’s name was spelled?
  • Lucia, Lucy: The fact that Becca mentioned both Lucia and Lucy as names they’ve considered, and the fact that they share a lot of sounds with Eloise, makes me wonder if they might like the idea of Louisa with the nickname Lucy?
  • Vivienne, Violet: Because of their obvious love of V’s with Vivienne, Violet, and of course Everett and Oliver, I wanted to suggest Evangeline or Genevieve … but then I thought, that’s a lot of V’s! And Evangeline is probably too similar to Everett anyway, but I wanted to mention them just in case.
  • Opal, Marigold: Both of these make me think of Margaret — Opal, because it’s a jewel and Margaret means “pearl,” and Marigold because of the similarity between Marigold and Margaret in terms of appearance, sound, rhythm, and the nickname Maggie. There are a lot of Margaret names that Becca might like! Marguerite is the French form, and not only does it mean “pearl,” as the French form of Margaret, but it’s also the French word for the daisy flower! Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret, and with a Margaret name Becca would have her built-in flower connection for using Daisy or even Posie/Blossom/Little Flower as nicknames for her girl. Another form of Margaret that I thought she might like is Margot — it’s also French (am I killing you all yet with all the French ideas?? They just seem so perfect!) and can take all the Margaret associations, since it’s a French short form of Margaret (and can be a nickname for Margaret, if they prefer). One last thing about “pearl” — not only would Becca have a flower connection if they used a form of Margaret, but her girl would also have her very own gem! Pearls could be one of her things!
  • Josephine: I love Josephine anyway, and Posie is one of my favorite nicknames for it, so that was fun to see on the list.

I wanted to discuss Penelope on its own and not as a bullet point in the previous list. Penelope is a great name! I’ve heard from many parents who love it but don’t love that they can’t find a faith connection, but you don’t need to worry about that, because indeed there is! Venerable Ersilia Penelope Frey was declared Venerable in 2015! So Penelope Eloise would work just fine!

On to new ideas! Becca specifically said she wants “the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows” and that goes well with her boys’ names. To that end, I looked up her boys’ names, as well as the names she and her hubby have considered for a girl, in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also consulted the article I wrote a few years ago called Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names (from that list, Becca and her hubs have already considered Bernadette and Marie). Finally, I tried to think of names with a floral connection that I thought they might like. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Fleur, Flora

The very first idea that came to mind was one of the names that actually means “flower”! Any of the sweet flower nicknames could work if they used a name that means flower! Fleur is the French version, and Flora is every other language; they’re both lovely (and Flora is a style match for Opal).

(2) Eleanor

Eleanor is the name that’s the biggest style match for Becca’s boys’ names and the names she and her hubby like overall! It’s a style match for Henry, Theodore, Oliver, Penelope, and Josephine, and the variant Leonora is a match for Ambrose. It also begins with El-, like Eloise, so I wondered if making a small switch from Eloise to Eleanor would preserve what they like about Eloise while giving them a name that flows easier with other names? Eleanor Amelia, Eleanor Lucia, Eleanor Simone, Eleanor Agnes, Eleanor Marie, Eleanor Agnes Marie … they all have a really lovely rhythm. Nicknames include Elle/Ellie/Ella, Nell, and Nora, which really go well with the big brothers (Nell can also be a nickname for Penelope, and Nora is specifically a style match for Theo). (I discuss Eleanor in depth in this consultation post, which also includes some great, heavy-hitting middle name ideas that Becca might find helpful as well!) (I also recently discovered Bl. Eleanora, in addition to the saintly connection I discussed in the blog post and also below [no. 7].)

(3) Elizabeth nn Lily

The El- of Eloise and Eleanor, as well as Becca’s love of “floral type names,” encouraged me to add Elizabeth to this list. It’s feminine and serious, solid and saintly, and I even included it in my book of Marian names because of how closely tied Elizabeth is to Our Lady via the Visitation. But what I really love about Elizabeth for this family is that Lily is a traditional nickname for it! Not only is Lily a floral name, and not only would using Lily as a nickname for Elizabeth be a little offbeat (despite its traditional usage), which is fun, but Lillian is a style match for Theodore and Lily is so for Oliver. (If they like the idea of Elizabeth but would prefer a different nicknames, there are a zillion and one!) They might also like to consider the French spelling Elisabeth, which is said the same as Elizabeth but I think that S really gives it something different. (Do you know about Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur? I love her!)

(4) Rosalie

Rosalie is a style match for Everett, Eloise, and Vivienne, and I’m also struck by how many sounds it shares with Eloise, making me think Becca might really like this one! It’s also got the nice Rose connection, and Rose, Rosa, and Rosie/Rosey are all great floral nicknames.

(5) Camille, Camellia

Camille is a match for Vivienne and Simone, and Camila for Lucia, so I thought there might be something there. I also love its similarity to the flower name Camellia. The Camille names aren’t obviously Catholic, but there is a Bl. Camila Díez Blanco, Bl. Camilla Gentili, and St. Camillus de Lellis. (There’s also a Bl. Angela Truszkowska, whose birth name was Zofia Kamila Truszkowska. Zofia Kamila! Wow!)

(6) Felicity

Felicity is a style match for Oliver, and it’s included in my article of Unmistakable Catholic Girl Names. I think it’s so feminine and pretty, so I had to include it! Sts. Perpetua and Felicity are such a well-known saintly pair and such great patrons for girls. I spotlighted Felicity, including nickname ideas (one of which is Lily!), here.

(7) Seraphina, Seraphine

This is totally inspired by Becca’s hope for a Catholic girly name. I think Seraphina is just so beautiful, and I included it in my book of Marian names because it “refers to the seraphim, the order of angels who ‘stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court,’ and gets its Marian character from two of Our Lady’s titles: ‘Our Lady of the Angels’ and ‘Queen of the Angels.’” I like how the French variant Seraphine flows with Eloise!

(7) Archangela

This was inspired both by Seraphina, in that it’s an obvious angel name — and specifically for the archangels, which means three patrons! — but also by Eleanor, because of Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor.

(8) Immaculata

Finally, Immaculata is one of my favorite of the super-obvious-Catholic feminine names, and I LOVE how it sounds with Eloise! Eloise Immaculata! Ohhh my! This is one of my very favorite ideas for Becca’s baby girl.

I also wanted to offer a list of names beyond the obvious (but also including some of the obvious ones) that have floral connections. I used the posts Daring Flower Names and Botanical Girl Names on Appellation Mountain to compile this list (I didn’t include all the ones listed in those articles, so definitely check them out!), and I’ve asterisked the ones that I included in my book of Marian names. I also want to share the quote I found in a book called Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations by Vincenzina Krymow: “It is thought that at one time all flowers and plants honored Mary, the ‘Flower of Flowers,’ in legend or in name,” which would give a Catholic connection to any floral name (Behind the Name is the site I use for all name meanings if you wanted to look up the less obvious ones below).

  • Anthea
  • Azalea
  • Briallen
  • Calla
  • Carmel*
  • Eden
  • Hazel
  • Iris*
  • Ivy*
  • Jacinta, Jacinthe, Hyacinth
  • Lily, Lillie, Lilia, Lillian, Liliana, Liliane*
  • Linnea
  • Magnolia
  • Primrose*
  • Rosanna*
  • Rosary*
  • Rosemary, Rosemarie*
  • Susanna*

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry, Theodore/Theo, Everett, and Oliver?


The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Strongly saintly+Marian names for baby no. 4

Please keep in your prayers the family of longtime Sancta Nomina friend Rosie from A Blog for My Mom — her two month old baby girl, Margaret Mary, died a few days ago. There are efforts to support the family, if you are willing and able — links are included in this post.

Here’s the latest consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams:

Mama Lucy writes in:

I am pregnant with our 4th child. Praise God! This babe is due in February 2022. We are not yet sure what gender this baby is, and I’m out 100% sure we will find out before birth! Our names for a boy and girl were set before we were even married, but the third was debated (mostly only by me ha!) until I saw her face.”

This baby will join big siblings:

  • Michael Dominic
  • Clara Marie-Therese
  • Gianna Marie-Rose

She writes:

Our girls have the Marie- _____  middle so that each one would be sure to have a Marian name. We kind of stole it from Louie and Zelie Martin. We also like that they will always share that even if their last name changes down the road. We have unintentionally gone with Italian saints for the girls first names so far, and I’d like to break from that so to not get too stuck on it. It’s not that we only like Italian names. Those just happened to feel right.

If we have another boy we’d like another strong saint first name (St. Michael) and a nod to Mary with the middle (st. Dominic spreading the rosary). Michael’s initials are MDW just like my husband’s and his father’s. I do love the name Jackson though and would love a baby Jack, maybe you could help find a saint connection? 

The only other non-canonized saint on our (very long) list is Anna Mae. This was my paternal grandmother’s name, and I love It but we have a lot of short a sound in or girls and the “Anna” in Gianna already. Am I overthinking? Names do not have to be canonized saints but we’d love a connection to our faith. Virtues, places, etc. I LOVE nicknames. Our first two mostly go by their first names but Gianna goes by Gigi, Geeg, and Geeger, and my husband and I both Love that she has multiple nicknames. We’ve discussed having a Lily Marie-Catherine and calling her Lily-Cate in the past. I also have a devotion to the miraculous medal. Catherine Laboure is another Catherine I’d love to honor. Like I said though, so many Catherine’s in the family already.”

Names they cannot use:

  • Caroline
  • Louie
  • Catherine (“So many variations in our family, but my confirmation saint was Catherine of Alexandria and I‘d love to honor her somehow“)

Names they like but don’t feel like the one:

  • Joseph
  • Peter 
  • Benedict
  • Karol (“as a middle“) 
  • George (“if Gianna was a boy she was going to be George Karol, two saints we love + GK for GK Chesterton who is one of my husband’s favorite authors“)  
  • Bosco (“nicknamed Bo“) 
  • Augustine (“I love Gus and Auggie!“) 
  • Sebastian (“Bash! I saw on this blog and loved!“) 
  • Jackson/Jack
  • Zelie
  • Beatrice (“my husband loves that a girl named Beatrice is what inspired Dante’s writings“) 
  • Anna Mae
  • Vianney (“I love St. John Vianney but we don’t like John, but again with that short a sound/ann“) 
  • Felicity (“husband is not a huge fan, I need nickname suggestions“)
  • Lily
  • Alice 

So first, I thought I’d give some thoughts on names they said they like but don’t feel like “the one”.

Joseph– Great, strong name, especially in this year of St. Joseph. Has a built-in Marian connection, too! Lots of great nickname potential here, too, including Joe, Joey, Joss, and Seph.

Peter– Another great, strong name literally meaning “rock”. Doesn’t get more solid than that! I love this name because it has so many faith and pop culture connections but is still fairly underused. I love the nickname Pete, too.

Benedict– I see a pope theme emerging! Another really great, strong name with lots of nickname potential. If they named their son Benedict Joseph, they could also call him Banjo, like a slur of Ben Joe. (Someday, someone will take me up on this and it will be glorious!)

Karol– They said they like this in the middle spot and, with their other kids, I agree. Pope St. John Paul II had a huge and very public Marian devotion, which is wonderful. Karol is also the Polish form of Charles, meaning “army, warrior” which is super cool for a kid of the faith. I love all the connections here.

George– On the rise but still fairly uncommon. I love this name. Nicknames here can be Georgie, Geo, Jory, or, a little bit of a stretch, Rory.

Bosco– This veers a little bit from their strong names for boys in that it’s not traditional or classic but is still very strong and is a trendy surname name. I think this is a really cute name, especially with nickname Bo, and St. John Bosco is a lovely patron.

Augustine– Can’t go wrong with this one, although it’s not a classic name but it is still very strong. I LOVE the nickname Gus and Auggie is super cute, too. Fun fact, this name means “exalted, venerable” which is cool considering St. Augustine is a Church Father and a Doctor of the Church.

Sebastian– Love this name and it has been growing in popularity. This would bridge the gap between their son’s name and their daughters’ names really well, too. I LOVE the nickname Bash! It just reminds me so much of a little boy.

Jackson/Jack– Super popular and trendy but because they’re such good, strong, classic names! They asked for a faith connection for these. Jack is a diminutive of John and Jacob (through the French Jacques) so any saint John, Jacob, or James (Jacob and James are etymologically the same name) can be patron! Lots and lots to choose from! Jackson could mean “follower or devotee of [insert patron saint John, Jacob, or James]” which is a cool connection. Jack has also come into being a slang term for a man which could then relate it to the Italian Guido and there’s a super cool Servant of God Guido Shaffer who could be patron. He was a Brazilian doctor, seminarian, and surfer, and has been proposed as the eventual patron saint of surfing.

Zelie– Super on-trend, rising Catholic name. I absolutely adore this name. It’s got the cool Z beginning and the lovely -ee sound ending. St. Zelie was also amazing and this brings them away from the Italian saints like they said they wanted

Beatrice– One of those clunky cool old names coming back. This is another Italian name, though, but just so lovely and I don’t think it has a very immediate Italian connection. It means “voyager, traveller” which is what we’re doing in this life. In this way, it could be a cool nod to St. Therese who said, “The world’s thy ship and not thy home.” There’s a St. Beatrice of Rome and several other Blessed Beatrices.

Anna Mae– I love this combo and I don’t think Anna is too close to Gianna. The one thing for consideration here is that Mae is a form of Mary, so they’d have to figure out a different way to do their Marie- middle name. Maybe Anna-Mae in the middle and a different first?

Vianney– This was super unexpected! St. John Vianney is a lovely patron but I just didn’t expect this for a girl! They could do nicknames Vi or Annie with this name for her, too.

Felicity– Great name that’s rising in popularity. They were wondering about nicknames for this so I’m assuming they thought of Lissy and didn’t like it. Flick and Flicka are two unexpected nicknames and a Hungarian diminutive is Zita (I know this is also an Italian name and might defeat their trying to get away from Italian names rule). Another nickname could be the literal “Happy”, which is the meaning of the name or “Lucky” which is another meaning of the name.

Lily Marie-Catherine nn Lily-Cate– Oh my goodness! I read this and I just felt like this is “the one” for them! It checks all of their boxes! It moves them away from Italian saints, gets their love of Catherine in there, stays the course with all of their girls having Marie- middle names, and has a lovely nickname! I really think this one is it for them.

Alice– Another clunky cool old name making its way back. I like this for them and with their other children. It’s a short form of Adelaide and there are a couple Sts. Alice or Adelaide to take patronage from.

On to new suggestions! Let’s start with the boys first.

(1) Joachim/n

This uncommon names means “Yahweh establishes” and is the name of Mary’s father. I think they might like this best in the middle but it does shorten to Joe, which is an especially cute nickname in this year of St. Joseph. Their love for Karol made me think they might like this name. It’s still strong, just not classic, and gives them more leeway in naming any future children. It opens up their style a bit without going completely left field. Again, though, I think they may like this in the middle best.

(2) Gabriel

It doesn’t get much more Marian and classic, strong than this name! It means “God is my strong man”. Gabriel was the archangel at the Annunciation and is also the name of St. Gabriel Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows, giving it a double Marian punch. This would mean that two of their sons would have the same names as Archangels, though.

(3) Luke

St. Luke wrote the most Marian Gospel, which is what gives this name its Marian connection. It’s simple, sweet, and classic. I don’t think they could go wrong with this name and it fits so nicely with all of their other children.

(4) Thaddeus

He was the apostle also known as Jude and the name means “heart”. The nickname Thad is adorable, too! Likewise, an unofficial suggestion is Theodore. I think they may like this one for the same reasons and it has lots of nickname potential like Theo, Ted, and Teddy.

(5) Gerard

I always think of this name as a Marian name since he is the patron saint of expectant mothers. It’s classic, underused, and strong. I really love this name for them. It has a ton of nickname potential like G/Jerry, G/Jer, or, starting to stretch it a bit, Gordo or Rory.

Now for girls. This one was a little harder for me because their tastes lean Italian but they wanted to get away from that. I cast my net really wide for these suggestions and I think they’ll like what I’ve thought up.

(1) Alexandria

I thought of this one because of their love for St. Catherine of Alexandria. It gets one of their Catherine names in without using Catherine and is more unexpected. There’s TONS of nickname potential here: Alex, Ana, Ria, Alexa, Lexi, and even Alix or Alice! This name has the flourish like their other girls’ names without being an Italian name, which I think is something they’ll appreciate.

(2) Sophie

It’s a French name! And it means “wisdom”. There are lots of Sts. Sophia to take patronage from and I thought it would be cool to use a French name to honor an Italian saint, like they’ve done before. However, there’s also the French Bl. Madeleine Sophie Barat for patronage!

(3) Zoe

A Greek name and saint! St. Zoe of Pamphylia was a mother who lived in the 3rd century and watched her whole family be tortured and martyred. She’s an incredible, little-known saint. Zoe was also the birth name of St. Catherine Laboure. This name came to me because of their love of Zelie, it’s got all the same things going for it, plus it’s the Greek word for the spiritual life.

(4) Madeleine

Another French name! It’s the French form of Magdalen, so she could take her patronage there. St. Mary Magdalen also accompanied Mary to the cross, so it’s a solid Marian name, too. There’s also St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. Sophie Marie-Madeleine or Zoe Marie-Madeleine are just so swoony to me!

(5) Charlotte

I took their love of the name Karol and kind of ran with it. I thought they might like the feminine, French form Charlotte. There are lots of Venerable Charlottes, most of them martyred in the French Revolution. One other stood out to me, though, Ven. Marie-Charlotte Dupouy Bordes founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of Mary, making it a Marian name in another way.

These are my thoughts. What does everyone else think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: First baby, a boy! Parents like Blaise, Shepherd, and Rocco

I hope all the dads in your lives had a wonderful Father’s Day! St. Joseph, please pray for them all!

Emily and her husband are expecting their first baby — a boy! Emily writes,

We’re very excited, but man, boy names are tough. We had fallen in love with the name Noa(h) Rose for a girl before we knew the sex, but I can’t get on board with the name Noah for a boy due to its popularity

My husband is an only child and doesn’t have a naming tradition in place, so we have almost too many options! While we aren’t looking for Catholicky-Catholic names (to use your term!), I would love to use a strong, classic/traditional name with great history.”

(I love that I’ve inspired others to think in terms of “Catholicky Catholic”!! Haha!!)

Names we are/were considering (we’re all across the board):

  • Blaise Eliot (or Elliott) (“I remember celebrating St. Blaise on his feast day in school, and kid-Emily thought the blessing with the candles on the throat was soooo cooool. We also love St. Blaise’s tie to animals. Eliot after T.S. Eliot, or Elliott Smith“)
  • Shepherd (“honestly, after our dog/current child, an Old English Sheepdog“)
  • Roman
  • Beau (“after my childhood dog, mostly … we need to stop with the dog names“)
  • Luke
  • Graham 
  • Vincent (“Van Gogh! And St. Vincent De Paul, obv“)
  • Rocco (“San Rocco, and after my brother/BFF because that’s his confirmation saint. Hubby says his motivation is Rocky Balboa“)

(Loooove the Rocky reference!!)

Names that one of us loves but the other can’t get on board with:

  • Quentin (“his choice“)
  • Ignatius (“my choice“)

Names that we both love but we can’t use:

  • Max (“our dog’s name! And it’s been hard to convince Hubby that they can’t share a name. And that we can’t change our dog’s name“)
  • Theodore/Teddy/Theo
  • Henry (“my nephew’s name“)
  • Julian (“his cousin’s child’s name“)
  • Benjamin (“my brother’s name“)
  • Ryan (“my brother’s name“)

Our last name is very French, so I’ve been leaning toward French-sounding names. Blaise is definitely at the top of our list, but we both keep catching ourselves wanting to explain the significance, the spelling, etc., and waiting for negative responses. We would love to feel really confident when we announce our naming decision! And Blaise could be it, but we would so appreciate your ideas and, if you like Blaise Eliot/Elliott, your reassurance. 🙂

I love the girl name that Emily and her husband had chosen! Noa(h) Rose is just gorgeous and I love that the spelling Noa is listed on Behind the Name as a French variant, which goes right along with how Emily said she’s “been leaning toward French-sounding names” because of their last name. I know Noa isn’t really a French-sounding name, but the fact that it IS a French name cements the theme — between French-sounding names and Frenchy French names, there’s a really large pool of names to choose from for lots of kids! (Not that they should feel locked into the French theme, I just want to assure them that if they want to continue with it, they’ve got a great start with Blaise and Noa.)

But enough about their girl name, because I really want to talk about their BOY name!! Blaise El(l)iot(t) is AMAZING!! If I were them, I would stop looking right now. It’s a fantastic name with great faith connections (did you know that the Elliott names are from a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah? Which of course is both a biblical name and a Marian name! I have it in my book of Marian names because of the prophet Elijah’s devotion to Our Lady, long before she was ever born. I love that!), and there was a real song in Emily’s voice when she wrote about Blaise — not only its Frenchness and saintliness, but also his tie to animals, which definitely seems important to her and her hubby (soooo many dogs’ names on their list!! Haha!!). I also love that “kid-Emily thought the blessing with the candles on the throat was soooo cooool” — I did too! I think it’s neat that Blaise is one of those uncommon-ish Saint names that nevertheless has a really visible presence in the liturgical year. I’ve also always loved that Blaise sounds like “blaze,” which has always struck me as a really perfect name for a little boy — so fast and superhero-ish!

All that said, it is notable that Emily and her husband “both keep catching [themselves] wanting to explain the significance, the spelling, etc., and waiting for negative responses.” I do understand that — half of my boys have more uncommon names (for my area anyway) and half have very familiar names, and whenever we were planning on one of the more uncommon names, I always had a little twinge of hesitation, even though *I’m* the parent with the love for uncommon names! (My husband has always said his name style is “Bob”!) I can speak from experience that it all ends up just fine. Before birth and for a short time after birth when everyone’s hearing their news and meeting the baby, Emily and her hubs will probably have to do some explaining, but it really won’t be long at all before everyone gets it and their baby’s name is just his name and there’s no more real discussion about it. And all their friends and family will have their little guy as *the* example of his name, and whatever associations or unfamiliarity they had before he was born will be gone. For real!

Okay, so now that Emily and her husband have been convinced that their top idea is the best idea, I’ll sign off with prayers for Emily’s labor and delivery.

Just kidding! Haha! A little name-consultant humor! 😂😂😂 Though I do think they have an amazing choice in Blaise El(l)iot(t), I can always come up with more ideas!

I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the other names they’ve thought about/considered, in case they’re helpful:

  • Shepherd: It really is hilarious to me how many dogs’ names they have on their list and, in this case, a name that nods to their dog’s breed! There are a lot of dog lovers in my family, I get it! And I love the name Shepherd — I consider it a nod to Jesus, which is cool.
  • Roman: I love that Roman is such a very Catholic name — Roman Catholic! Rome where Peter was martyred and where the Pope lives! The seat of our faith is there! A great name!
  • Beau: I agree with Emily that Beau is such a cool name. And French! It’s in my book of Marian names as a nickname for or a nod to Beauraing (Our Lady of Beauraing).
  • Luke: My youngest’s name, I love it! I love that the gospel of St. Luke is the most Marian, containing within it the Annunciation, Visitation, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat. I also love that he’s the patron of doctors and artists.
  • Graham: I was surprised by Graham here! I don’t know why, it’s a great name!
  • Vincent: I love that Emily noted both the artist and the Saint, so cool when a name works on more than one level!
  • Rocco: Emily’s reasons sound good to me! Rocco is such a cool name, and I love that her hubby’s thinking of Rocky! We just watched all the Rocky movies with my older boys and I have such a new appreciation for them, great movies and he’s such a great character! (I don’t know if it will be helpful or harmful to share this, so I’ll whisper it: Rocky’s given name [character’s given name] was actually Robert! I too always assumed it was Rocco!)
  • Quentin, Ignatius, Theodore/Teddy/Theo, Henry, Julian, Benjamin, Ryan: I’m glad Emily included these as they all helped in my research.
  • Max: I just wanted to address separately the idea of using the same name as their current dog, and/or changing the dog’s name — I think this is a first for me! I get letters all the time from couples who can’t use names they love because they’re the names of current or former pets, but I can’t remember ever getting a letter where a parent was advocating for having both their baby and their dog have the same name, or changing the pet’s name! This seems like a particularly “dad idea,” haha! Anyway, I think Emily’s right to convince Andrew that Max the dog should keep his name and their baby should have a different name. But I did use Max in my research for them! It was helpful!

Okay! On to my new ideas for this family! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com to plug in both Blaise and Noa as a pair to see if anything additional came up. And I looked through the list of French boy names on Behind the Name to see if any of them felt right. Really what I was trying to do was think ahead to future children and what names would go well with Blaise and Noa, and I really leaned into Emily’s appreciation for French names. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Miles

We’ll start with one of my favorites, which you’ve all probably seen me talk about on the blog ad nauseam — Miles, which I absolutely loved discovering has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” I also recently discovered that in Scotland it’s historically been used as an anglicization of Maoilios, which means “servant of Jesus”! Such a great, faithy name that doesn’t come across as one! I’ve also been advocating it as a nickname for Michael, both due to it being sort of a contraction of the name Michael, and also since Miles means “soldier” in Latin, which ties in nicely with St. Michael. And for this family, it’s a style match for Elliott, Roman, Graham, Quentin! So many great reasons to love this name!

(2) Leo

Leo is one of those pan-European names that fits in with or has a variant in most European languages — Léo is the French versions which, like Thérèse, can easily be written without the accent, so I think you can think of Leo as French too! It’s a match for Max and Theo — I thought it was a pretty great substitute for those two names they love but can’t use.

(3) Jude

I’m always interested to see when a name shows up as a style match for two other names that don’t seem related at all. Jude is a style match for both Luke and Rocco! Both Blaise and Noa are small names, being just one syllable for the former and just three letters for latter, and Emily has some other small names on her list of names she likes: Beau, Luke, and Max. Jude fits in nicely with that style.

(4) Xavier

Names that are actual style matches for names that the parents have already bestowed on older children, or are frontrunners for the current baby, are always of interest to me, so I loved that Xavier is a match for Blaise itself, as well as Quentin, and it was in the list of French boy names on BtN! The French pronunciation is given as GZA-vyeh, which is closest to our ex-ZAY-vyer, but of course they could use the ZAY-vyer pronunciation if they prefer.

(5) Damien

Though Emily said they’re not looking for Catholicky Catholic names, they’re what my eye falls on always, and when I was looking through the list of French boy names, Damien jumped right out because I love St. Damien of Molokai. Damien is the French spelling (as opposed to Damian), which I thought was cool for this family, and it has a similar rhythm to Julian on the list of names they love but can’t use — and in fact, it’s a style match for Julian. I’ve had Damien on my own list for years, and planned to use the nickname Denny for it.

(6) Tristan

Tristan is another that is in the list of French boy names, as it’s the Old French form of the name Drustan, and its spelling was inspired by the Latin word tristis, meaning “sad,” likely as a result of the Tristan and Isolde story, and also the reason Tristan is in my book of Marian names — for Our Lady of Sorrows. (If you like this idea but hesitate over the “sad” connection, Theresa did a guest post on the beauty of using Catholic names relating to sorrow.) Tristan is also a style match for Quentin.

(7) Bastien

Like Damien and Tristan, I first noticed Bastien on the list of French boy names, and I liked it because that “en” ending is specifically French; because it begins with a B like Blaise, Beau, and Benjamin; and because its parent name, Sebastian, is a stye match for Julian (and St. Sebastian would be patron), but Bastien is maybe a little easier to work with.

(8) Remy

I wouldn’t have thought of Remy for this family, but I loved seeing it in the list of French names! Remy is such a fun name — I think it’s obviously French but not complicated to spell or pronounce — and it’s also a style match for Beau and Julian!

(10) Hadrien

Finally, I’m really only including Hadrien here because I’m always taken with it but I’ve never had the opportunity to suggest it, but seeing it in the list of French names means Emily might be interested! Also the fact that Adrian — which Hadrien is the French variant of — is a style match for Julian. I think Hadrien is so cool!

And those are my ideas for Emily and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for parents who like Noa for a girl and Blaise for a boy?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Philomena or Claire, Maximilian or Walter?

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiersloving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace

Today is also the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth! Such a beautiful feast day!

Alyssa and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) This little one joins big sister:

Felicity Rose

Such a gorgeous name — so feminine and pretty. I love it!

Alyssa writes,

[M]y husband and I just don’t feel as confident about names as we did for our daughter. We decided on Felicity for a girl before I was even pregnant!

Names we like are saint names that are a little bit different, but not weird and that are pretty easy to pronounce/spell. I definitely wouldn’t use any trendy names or very popular names. For example, I actually really like the name Sophia in itself, but it’s way too popular for our taste

Since our last name starts with M, all B names are out unfortunately. I don’t like the initials BM. And some other names we can’t use that are taken by family and friend’s kids that we would consider are Theodore, Henry, and Edward.
I also don’t particularly like very traditional/common names such as Matthew, Elizabeth, John, etc
.

I generally don’t like nicknames unless it’s very common (like Chris for Christopher, Ben for Benjamin, etc) or if it makes a kind of weird saint name into a more normal name or a very formal name into a less formal one. I can’t think of any examples of that weird saint name nicknames, but you probably know better than I do!

So now onto names my husband and I do like! I find myself liking longer names for some reason. I don’t know if I have a style necessarily, but I think I like very feminine sounding names for girls and I’m also drawn to french-ish sounding names (I think). Also, the flow of the first-middle-last name is very important to me. So I think I like a variation of syllables and sounds between the 3 names generally

We also are 2 for 2 conceiving after a novena to St Gerard so I think it would be cool to honor him somehow, but my husband isn’t totally sold on this. I think he’d come around though if he liked the name. I’m ok with Gerard as a middle name for a boy, but I dislike Geraldine for a first or middle name. I’ve heard of Majella, but if we did this I’d want to pronounce/spell it Mayella and only for a girl. I’m definitely ok with Mayella as a middle name and would consider it as a first name too. But if you have any other creative ideas, I’d love to hear them!

I have a list of names we’ve been brainstorming over the years that I’ll explain below.

  • Xavier (“Francis (for middle name potentially); my husband and I both really like Xavier, but I recently found out that people pronounce it differently. We would want to pronounce it ecks-zay-vyer, but I’m not sure if I want to deal with his name constantly getting pronounced zay-vyer or zay-vee-er or even Javier. I also would not particularly want him to have the nickname “X”. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on name pronunciations and correcting people are! My name is pronounced “uh-lih-sa” and I often have to correct people when they call me Alisa or Alicia and it gets old.”)
  • Vincent (“James for a potential middle name. James is my favorite boy middle name; My husband and I also both like Vincent. Vincent is my husband’s middle name. I don’t dislike Vince as a nickname, but I just feel like it sounds too old for a baby/young boy to be called Vince and Vincent sounds overly formal to call someone all the time. And I’m not fond of the nickname Vinny. I think I could get over Vince not sounding like a baby name, but idk it just doesn’t seem quite right.”)
  • Adeline (“Marie or Louise for potential middle names; I really like the name Adeline and my husband likes it too (but he is a little worried it sounds like Madeleine mispronounced), but I’m just not crazy about Addy. It’s fine, but it feels too plain/common and I feel like she would inevitably be called Addy and I’m not sure I want to deal with correcting people all the time and be “those people” who always corrects everyone. Again, I could get over it either by correcting people or just accepting Addy, but it just doesn’t feel perfect.”)
  • Claire (“Philomena?; my husband and I both like Claire and it is a little more on the common side, but for some reason I just feel like it sounds really good with our last name. And of course it’s after a great saint and I like the frenchness of it. I’m struggling a little bit with a middle name though. Originally I wanted Anastasia, but my husband didn’t want the initials CAM. I think I like Philomena as a middle name, but I’m not sure if I like the flow of it [with our last name].”)
  • John Paul (“I kind of like John Paul, but my husband isn’t sold. I don’t like either of these names separately, but for some reason together I do. I don’t dislike JP as a nickname, but it sounds way too informal with Felicity.”)
  • Dominic (“my husband and I both like Dominic, but he likes it more than me. The Dominicans hold a special place in our heart because we met at a Dominican run Newman center. I think like Vincent, Dominic just sounds a little formal and I’m not crazy about the nickname Dom or Nick.”)
  • Isaac (“I kind of like this name, but would probably never use it“)
  • Maximilian (“we both really like Maximilian and Max as a nickname (although I wonder if Max is too informal with Felicity), but we had some friends just name their baby Maximilian. We’re not very close with them, but my husband feels like it’s too weird to use that name right now, but maybe for a future child. I think it’s probably fine, but we both have to be on board.”)
  • Gianna (“I like Gianna, but my husband is so-so on it. And I’m not sure if it goes well with Felicity. But I really hate Gi-Gi.”)
  • Nathaniel (“I like Nathaniel but I don’t really love any nicknames for it, but I feel like just Nathaniel would be fine and wouldn’t necessarily be turned into a nickname by other people. But my husband isn’t super into it.”)
  • Walter (“I kind of like Walter and Walt, but my husband doesn’t. He says it’s an old man name.”)
  • Philomena (Fia?) (“I really like Philomena, but I feel like it’s too out there of a name to call her Philomena all the time and I don’t really like Mina as a nickname. I think I read you suggest the nickname Fia which I kind of like, but I worry it’s too out there and she’d always be correcting people because no one has heard of it.”)
  • Alice (“this name has really grown on me, but I wonder if it’s too vain since it’s so close to my name! (We also figured out after we named Felicity that my name sound is in her name! (Falyssa-tee)“)
  • Maggie (Margaret) (“Anne?; my husband really likes Margaret, but I hate it, but I think Maggie is kind of cute. So I’d potentially be open to naming a daughter Margaret and just always calling her Maggie.”)
  • Clara (“I’ve just always liked this name for some reason.”)
  • Jane (“Jane has grown on me, but my husband and I worry it’s too plain“)
  • Georgiana (“this name has really grown on me (definitely influenced by pride and prejudice!), I just think it’s so beautiful. But I don’t like Gi Gi, georgia, or Ana and I feel like this would be an inevitable nickname name. Also my husband’s late grandma was named Georgette, (but went by Bunny) and he feels a little weird that it’s so close to Georgette, but not that. However, he’s open to it.”)
  • Natalie (“both my husband and I like this name and it would be very fitting if we have a girl because I’m due in December! But idk, something about just doesn’t feel super exciting.”)
  • Finnian? (“my husband and I like this name and Finn as a nickname, but Finnian seems a little too out there/formal to always use and Finn seems too informal with Felicity.”)

Middle Names:

  • Gerard
  • Mayella
  • Francis (“St Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints, but I don’t like it as a first name“)
  • James
  • Elizabeth
  • Anastasia
  • Anne
  • Joseph
  • Marie
  • Rose
  • Louise
  • Bonaventure?

I apologize for my essay, but hopefully it’ll help you understand our taste/dilemmas and give you some good information! Thank you for your help!

(Just so you all know, no one ever has to apologize to me for sending “an essay” — I LOVE reading about name dilemmas and find each detail interesting and helpful!)

I so enjoyed reading through the names on Alyssa’s list! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each one, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gerard: I absolutely love the idea of honoring St. Gerard in Alyssa’s baby’s name! And I love that she and her husband did novenas to him both times they conceived! I have a couple of stories on the blog of parents who similarly benefited from St. Gerard’s intercession, he’s awesome. I wanted to work St. Gerard into my last baby’s name as well, and while it’s easy enough to do so for a boy (Gerard as a middle name is perfect!), it was harder for a girl. I do love the idea of Mayella! I usually see Maiella, which is the Italian spelling and what St. Gerard’s actual spelling was (he was Italian: Gerardo Maiella); Mayella makes Alyssa’s preferred pronunciation more obvious (I think the first syllable in Maiella might be said more like “my,” so if you prefer “may” than Mayella is perfect!). The idea that I’d decided on if I had a girl (I had a boy) was Margaret, because of something one of my readers told me: she said that she knew a couple who had a devotion to St. Margaret, so they named their son Garrett (going off of the last few letters in Margaret); Garrett is actually derived from Gerard! So Margaret might be perfect for Alyssa for honoring St. Gerard in the first or middle name spot for a girl, but also maybe she’d like to consider Garrett as a first or middle name for a boy? Another idea for a boy, if she and her hubby are okay moving away from the obvious connection, is that Gerard is made of the elements ger (meaning “spear”) and hard (meaning “brave, hardy”), so I love Hardy as a possible honor name for St. Gerard. Oh, also — Alyssa said she wanted to avoid B first names, but since she has Bonaventure as a possible middle, then St. Gerard’s mom’s name might do well as a middle name for a girl: Benedetta (the Italian feminine of Benedict, equivalent to Benedicta). And in fact, my youngest son (the one who I wanted to work Gerard into) has Benedict as a middle name in part as a nod to the several Saints whose intercession I asked for (St. Anne, St. Rita, and St. Gerard), as Benedict means “blessed,” so I figured it could stand for all of them.
  • Xavier: Oh yes, the pronunciation debates over Xavier! I wrote an impassioned post about it here (with a related post here). I say it like Alyssa says it, as it was my grandfather’s middle name and that’s how he said it, which tells me that it has a very long history of being said like ecks-zay-vyer (he was born in Ireland in 1904). We live in the northeast, and most people we’ve encountered assume ecks-zay-vyer is the pronunciation, but I do think there is a regional aspect to which pronunciation people will default to. Those who are familiar with Xavier University in Cincinnati, for example, will default to zay-vyer, since that’s the way the University has chosen to pronounce it. Those who live in an area with a lot of native Spanish speakers might hear the Javier pronunciation more often. But lots of names have issues like that! If they’re firm and consistent about correcting people, it will be fine. But if that’s too annoying to think about, I get it! As for nicknames, I’ve seen Xav(e) and Xav(e)y (“Zave” and “Zavey,” rhymes with Dave/Davy), as well as Xave pronounced ecks-zave. Francis is a great middle, which really reinforces the St. Francis Xavier connection, but I also like Xavier James, since Alyssa said James is her favorite boy middle name.
  • Vincent: I love that Alyssa’s husband’s middle name is Vincent — using Dad’s middle name for a son is a great way to honor him without using Junior! Regarding Vince vs. Vinny, first I should say that they don’t have to use a nickname — they can plan to call their son by the full Vincent. That said, if they don’t choose a nickname, then it’s very possible someone else will somewhere along the way—even if Alyssa’s son grows up being called Vincent and being introduced as Vincent (which is awesome, btw), there will be someone who will want to shorten it (sports coaches, for example, and even her son’s friends), and if Alyssa and her hubs haven’t decided on a preferred short version, the coaches/teachers/friends will shorten it to what feels natural to them, whether Vince or Vinny. So if Alyssa prefers one over the other, she’ll probably want to decide right off the bat and call him that at least some of the time (not saying that will prevent a Vince from being called Vinny, for example, but I think it will help). She could also consider a different nickname — V, for example, or Vin, or Cent, or Cinco! (Because V is the Roman numeral for five!)
  • Adeline: Adeline is a gorgeous name! Alyssa’s husband’s worry that it sounds like Madeline mispronounced is hilarious — I can see that is the kind of thing that gets in a person’s head and sticks there! If they were to choose Adeline for their daughter, I think that he would quickly get over it. I wonder if switching to Adelaide might help him with that? Though doing so wouldn’t help with the nickname issue. Alyssa articulated exactly what I was trying to say above about Vincent — how it might be inevitable that people will nickname her Addy. And while I agree that “’those people’ who always correct everyone” can be annoying, the way it’s done is what makes it annoying or not. A person’s name is a person’s name! If a person can stick up for nothing else in life, at least stick up for one’s own name! For what it’s worth, I think Addy is sweet, but Alyssa and her hubby might like to consider other nicknames like Allie, Annie, or Del/Della.
  • Claire, Clara: I’m including these two together, since they’re variants of the same name. I actually love Claire Anastasia, and I actually love the initials CAM and the nickname Cam or Cammie, but I also like Alyssa’s idea of Claire Philomena, and I like Claire Philomena with their last name! Clara is also beautiful, and they probably wouldn’t want an ends-in-a middle name for Clara (Clara Anastasia and Clara Philomena might be too sing-song-y? Or maybe they like it!), but Clara Marie and Clara Louise are both really pretty. They could also do the French variant of Philomena, which might flow better: Clara Philomene. I wonder, too, given that Gianna is on Alyssa’s list, if she might like to consider the Italian variant of Clare: Chiara?
  • John Paul: I always love any nod to JP2! So Alyssa brings up a point here that she referenced other places, which I wanted to address — the idea of some nicknames sounding too informal with Felicity. I do know what Alyssa means — if Felicity is always Felicity, I can see how she might think that a sibling with a nickname might sound weirdly informal, but I promise that no one else will think so! (Though, again, I totally get it when something’s in your head and it’s hard to get out.) (Also, I tried really hard to find names for my list of “official” suggestions below that are not too likely to be nicknamed.)
  • Dominic: I love Dominic too, and I love that Alyssa and her husband share that Dominican connection! Dom/Dommy and Nick are definitely possible nicknames, but also Nico — I wonder if Alyssa would like that better?
  • Isaac: While I, too, love Isaac, and I think it could be great in Alyssa’s family, I’d probably want to shelve it for now to see how her children’s names shake out … it might feel right after a couple more kids! I love St. Isaac Jogues, and I love the nickname Zacky.
  • Maximilian: Oh man! I hate having to grapple with issues like that! Shelving it for possible use for a later child is a great idea — a good compromise I think. I love that Alyssa said “we both have to be on board” — the ideal totally is to find a name they both like for this baby.
  • Gianna: Again, if Alyssa’s husband is so-so, I’d suggest shelving it for now, though I want to assure her it goes great with Felicity! Felicity and Gianna are names I see used a LOT among Catholic families right now, so while Gianna might seem jarring to those unfamiliar with currently popular Catholic Saints, anyone who’s tuned into Church-y things will think Gianna’s a great choice for Felicity’s sister (same with Chiara, which I mentioned above). I don’t know how inevitable Gigi is — it feels very natural, but I don’t actually know many little Giannas, and the one I do know goes mostly by Gianna (but I think I’ve seen Gigi from time to time).
  •  Nathaniel: Unfortunately, the longer the name, the more likely people are to nickname it, so unless they’re firm and consistent with Nathaniel being called Nathaniel all the time (which I would 100% support, I love the name Nathaniel), I think Nate is sort of inevitable. I’ve seen Nash used as a nickname for Nathaniel, which is kind of cool; also Niel. But again, if Alyssa’s hubby doesn’t like it, let’s move on!
  • Walter: This one made me laugh! Walter is another name I see with some frequency among my readers, usually used for Servant of God Walter Ciszek (awesome story), which also reflects the fact that “old man/old lady” names are definitely back! My own husband wanted to consider Stan for our last son. Stan! (I totally think Bl. Stanley Rother is also awesome.) I actually suggested Walsingham with the nickname Walt to him, after Our Lady of Walsingham, and I thought Walt would be the kind of nickname he’d be right on board with because of Stan, but no.
  • Philomena: I love that Alyssa’s considering Philomena as a first name! I love it. Like with Nathaniel, I do think it’s likely to get shortened because it’s such a long name. Fia is awesome; I also like Pia and Pippa (not the same sounds, but I think they’re doable), and Finna, which is like Finnian that Alyssa likes.
  • Alice: First of all mama, it is NOT VAIN to name a child after yourself! Men have done it for centuries with their sons, and I LOVE seeing a woman honored in a little one’s name, whether it’s the mama or a grandmother or whoever. Boy or girl! Indeed, Alyssa is a variant of Alice originally (which is a variant of Adelaide! I mentioned Adelaide above as a possible replacement for Adeline — it could be a great way to nod to Alyssa!), so Alice could be awesome for her little girl, a nice connection between Alyssa and her daughter. And I NEVER would have figured out the fact that “Alyssa” is contained within Felicity — but that makes me love it more! How cool! I’m a little uppity about the whole “naming after a woman is bad” thing — first of all, it’s awesome, and also totally appropriate, and also it’s not at all a bad thing that men name their sons after themselves — I wrote more about all of it here. All of that said, I wonder what Alyssa would think of the similar but different name Elise? It’s a French diminutive of Elizabeth, so not related to Alyssa in any way (though, like Alice, has similar sounds).
  • Margaret: So I talked about Margaret above as being a possible way of honoring St. Gerard, so maybe that idea will help sell Alyssa on it? Especially since her husband really loves it? Maggie is a sweet nickname. Speaking of Maggie, I wonder what Alyssa and her husband would think of Magdalene? It could still take Maggie as a nickname if they wanted, and it’s a little rare/more offbeat than Margaret, which I think Alyssa would prefer? Or maybe the French version of Margaret: Marguerite?
  • Jane: Jane is certainly a simple name, but I’d also call it “trim” and “chic” and “sophisticated,” and I actually think it’s great with Felicity because they can both sort of have a gentle British feel, which I love. A short name like Jane also opens up lots of long-and-luscious middle name possibilities, similar to Claire: Jane Anastasia, Jane Philomena, Jane Magdalene/a, Jane Immaculata, etc.
  • Georgiana: I was so surprised to see this on Alyssa’s list — I LOVE being surprised by names! So fun! I love P&P too, and Georgiana is definitely my favorite of the George names for girls. It’s also funny that Alyssa’s hubby’s grandma was Georgette! I could see how that feels a little weird to use a name that’s so similar to Grandma’s name, but to not use her actual name. They could spin it as: they combined Grandma’s name with St. Anne or something. They could also do Georgiana nn Bunny! As with the long names on their list, I think a nickname here is inevitable — if they don’t like Gigi, Georgia, or Ana, maybe Jorie? Giana? Jana? Nina? (It’s totally okay to switch letters for nicknames, like Kate for Catherine — Jorie and Jana are fine for Georgiana.)
  • Natalie: I wonder if simply switching to Natalia would give this name more sparkle for Alyssa? It retains the Christmas meaning, and I love it with Felicity. Or they could switch the spelling to the super French Nathalie. Or, if they want a Christmas name, what would they think of Noelle? Also, Magali is a French (Occitan) variant of Magdalene and it rhymes with Natalie — maybe they’d prefer Magali to Margaret?
  • Finnian: I don’t think Finnian sounds too out there or too formal! It’s not any more formal than Felicity, and while Finnian itself isn’t in the top 1000 currently, the Finn names in general (Finley, Finnegan, Finn as a given name, etc.) have been rising in popularity, so I don’t think anyone else will think it’s “out there” either. And I go back to the fact that I don’t think a nicknamed sibling is overly informal with big sister Felicity. One idea I’ve suggested on the blog is Finn as a nickname for Francis — Alyssa said she doesn’t like Francis as a first name, but maybe she wouldn’t mind it if the nickname Finn was always used? One thing to consider is whether they want to follow Felicity with another F name (or Ph-, as in Philomena), or possibly save it for a future baby. There’s no right answer, whatever they’re comfortable with is fine!
  • Middle names: I don’t have any comment on the middle name ideas other than to say they’re all great, and I see Alyssa has Felicity’s middle name, Rose, on there — if they decided on Rose for all their girls’ middle names, that would be sweet!

Whew! Alyssa apologized for her essay, but you can see I don’t mind being long-winded, haha! Now on to new ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they love in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also used the Name Matchmaker took on babynamewizard.com for Georgiana, since it doesn’t have its own entry. Based on all that, and some ideas of my own, this is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Gemma

This was the very first idea I had for Alyssa when I read her email, before doing any research at all! Gemma is like Gianna, but I think loses the Gigi possibility, since it doesn’t have that “ee” sound at the beginning. And while it’s an Italian name, like Gianna, it actually has decent usage in the U.K., which plays off of Felicity’s bit of Pilgrim feel. Felicity and Gemma are tremendous sister names!

(2) Juliet(te)

This was my immediate second idea for them, and I was so pleased to see it show up in my research as a style match for them as well (Juliet is a match for Felicity and Vincent!). I thought Alyssa might like the French spelling, Juliette. Either way, this is one of my favorite names, and I did a spotlight post of it here.

(3) Caroline, Karoline

I’d already had these names in mind for Alyssa when I saw John Paul on her list, and I loved seeing that Caroline is a match for Claire and one of its nickname possibilities, Callie, is a match for Maggie. It’s a feminine variant of Charles, which is how it connects to John Paul, since his birth name, Karol, is the Polish for Charles. If they switch the spelling to Karoline, it both becomes more uncommon and connects even closer to JP.

(4) Josephine, Josefina, Josefa

I wanted to suggest a Joseph name to this family anyway, since their baby might be born in the Year of St. Joseph (it ends Dec. 8 and Alyssa is due near Christmas), and even if he or she isn’t, the Joseph names are always wonderful! Josefa is actually a match for Georgiana; Josefina is a bit longer and so pretty; and then of course Josephine, which is actually French, which I know Alyssa likes! Another thing that’s fun is that I’ve often suggested Sophie as an unexpected nickname for Josephine, and since Alyssa likes Sophia but feel it’s too popular for her, maybe something like Josephine/Josefina/Josefa nicknamed Sophie would be perfect? (If she likes the idea of a Joseph name, but not the ones listed here, the Lily names can be for St. Joseph, since the lily is one of his symbols: Lily, Lillian, Lilia.)

(5) Lucy, Lucia

Lucy is such a great fit with Felicity, and is a style match for Alice and Max as well. Lucia, which can be nicknamed Lucy of course, is a match for Gianna and Clara. One of these names would be great! So beautiful!

Boy

(1) Simon

Simon is a match for Felicity, Claire, Alice, and Isaac! I love it! And Simon is another name that’s unlikely to be nicknamed, which I think Alyssa prefers.

(2) Colin

Colin is a match for Felicity, Claire, and Natalie — another fantastic boy name that’s unlikely to be shortened! It’s a short form of Nicholas, which is the Saint connection, so handsome.

(3) Roman

Continuing my unlikely-to-be-nicknamed list, I was delighted to see Roman as a match for Sophia, Dominic, and Maximilian, and the similar-sounding Ronan as a match for Finnian! I love Roman, it reminds me of all things Catholic — Rome, the Vatican, Roman Catholic.

(4) Leo

Leo is such a little name but it packs a big punch I think — not only is it a papal name, but a Pope St. the Great name (Pope St. Leo the Great), and a different Pope Leo is the one who composed the powerful St. Michael Prayer. It’s a great Catholic name, and it, too, is unlikely to be nicknamed — a formal name that doesn’t feel overly formal, a great match for Felicity.

(5) Gabriel

Gabriel is a match for Sophia, Xavier, and Dominic — it’s a heavy hitting saintly, angelic, and Marian name (I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names because of the Annunciation), and while I think it would be harder to prevent Gabriel from being nicknamed, I love the nickname Gabe — I think it’s so friendly and masculine, great for a boy and for a man — and I’ve also seen Gib, Gil, and Eli given as nickname possibilities.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Felicity?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Birth announcement: Thea Noelle!

Christa and I emailed a bit about names a couple of years ago, and I was so excited to receive an email from her just recently letting me know what name she and her husband had ended up choosing for her baby! They welcomed a little girl and gave her the gorgeous name … Thea Noelle!

Christa writes,

We had a little girl on Dec 19, 2018. We decided to name her Thea Noelle. I really loved the name Therese … but was afraid that people would mispronounce her name for her whole life so when I heard a nickname for Therese being “Thea” I loved it! My husband wasn’t fond of this name … but I kept it on my list. We had come to the conclusion before delivery that our baby’s name (if she was a girl) would be Amelie Noelle. I loved the first name Amelie for all the reasons I discussed above in my email. But when the baby was born, she just was not an “Amelie” — it may have been her dark hair, or just something about her … but my husband looked at me and said “She is a Thea”. The final decider was that one of the Saints listed for December 19 was St. Thea of Alexandria. There couldn’t be a more clear sign in my head because I had went into labor on December 18 … but my baby girl had waited to be born just after midnight around 12:30am on December 19th. We loved “Noelle” because it was French and she was born so close to Christmas.

And there you have it… sorry this is such a delayed explanation of the name we chose. But…better late than never!

Thank you for the gift of this naming ministry! I’m so grateful for your assistance in our road to naming our sweet girl. And two years later we feel the name fits her perfectly!

Isn’t that such a great story?? And HOW COOL that she was born on the feast of St. Thea of Alexandria!! Wow!!

Congratulations to Christa and her husband and big siblings Elodie and Donald (on earth) and Olive, Alouette, Bennett, and Michel in heaven, and happy belated birthday Baby (Big Girl) Thea!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Celebrity guest: Pauline, who started reading as a daughter and continues as a mama!

On Thanksgiving 2015, I posted such a fun consultation — a pseudo consultation, really, because it was commissioned by the eldest daughter of the parents in question, who wrote,

I don’t see my parents having more but they always joke that they would have absolutely no more name ideas if God were to send us a #10. If you want a project, even though there truly is no baby coming (that I know of!) I thought it might be fun to see some name suggestions that you might come up with!

There haven’t been any more babies for her parents, BUT that daughter is now a mama herself! And she still reads the blog! And I was so excited to talk names with her! Scroll down to read all about Pauline and her beautiful family!

Kate: Tell me about yourself! Hubby’s name (if he doesn’t mind), are you home with your kids and/or do you work? Anything you want us to know?

Pauline: My husband’s name is Ian and we met at Benedictine College. We have been married for 3 years. Ian works in surgical technologies and he is Army National Guard. I am home with our boys full-time, so life is a hot mess but I couldn’t imagine it any other way 🙂

Kate: What are your boys’ names (first and middle) and how did you and your husband choose them?

Pauline: Our boys are Rowan Michael (2) and Fulton Patrick (5 months). We joke that we are lucky we had two boys first because those were the two baby names we were sold on from the start — after this we are in trouble!

Rowan Michael is after St. Rowan of Lorrha, who is known as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland and studied under St. Finian. We didn’t know any of this until researching the name and we loved what we learned! Michael is after St. Michael, Ian Michael and Rowan’s grandpa Mike.

Fulton was actually a name my parents almost used but they thought it might be confusing because they already had a Fintan! Ian and I babysat the sweetest kids when we were just dating and one of them was named Fulton. We have talked about it ever since! Ven. Fulton Sheen has always been a favorite of ours and we liked the unique Irish style of the name. Patrick is after St. Patrick and my dad, Patrick.

Ian and I cherish the opportunity to find out our babies’ genders at their anatomy scans during pregnancy. We named both boys soon after we found out and prayed throughout the pregnancies for the intercession of their Patron Saints. I have difficult pregnancies so this really helped me to have hope and to bond with our little ones long before they were born. I love the identity and personhood a name gives.

Kate: I know your parents were really influenced by their French and Irish heritage in choosing their children’s names — did you or your husband have a theme in mind?

Pauline: We are drawn to the idea of Irish names for boys and French names for girls, just like my family. I think Ian and I both like less traditional/more unique Catholic names. I love that it is becoming more common to get creative with Catholic baby naming!

Kate: Since both of your little ones are boys, do you mind sharing the names you guys discussed for girls? Or, if you don’t want to get specific, maybe just broadly: is your taste in girl names similar or different than your taste in boy names?

Pauline: It’s so fun to talk about French girl names! Rowan would have been Caroline if he was a girl, but we probably won’t be using that name. We had a discussion when I was pregnant with Fulton about whether or not we wanted to give our daughters “normal” French names (names that would pass as “normal” here in the States like Caroline, Genevieve, Sophie) or if we wanted to use more uniquely French names (like my sisters’ names — Florie, Domitille, etc.). Ian really liked the latter and sold me on it so even though we still love Caroline, we are going to use names that are much less popular here. We have two that we love. We will see what God has in store for our family and if we ever get to use our girl names!

I am honored that anyone might even want to read our crazy baby naming thoughts. Isn’t it funny that we put so much thought into it all?! 

Sancta Nomina was so special for me to find years ago because I couldn’t believe someone else was as interested in names as I was! So thank you for your amazing work on the blog and thank you for thinking of our family!

Isn’t this all just so wonderful?? I absolutely loved reading Pauline’s answers to my questions, and then going back and reading my previous post about Pauline’s parents and her siblings (I’ve actually referred to it many times when doing consultations, as there are some really great French names for girls in it!). This is an extended family with great taste in names! I also love that her parents are Patrick and Beatrice and she and her husband are Ian and Pauline — Irish + French, both. So cool to see that reflected in their children’s names!

Thank you so much to Pauline for introducing us to her family and talking names! I’m sure you’ll love to follow her: here’s her web site and her Instagram.

pauline_taylor

Pauline with her husband Ian and their sons Rowan and Fulton ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Short name with no nicknames needed for a little sister

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (Blessings to you all on St. Patrick’s Day!)

I’m so sorry I didn’t post this consultation yesterday — I came down with a wee (only a wee, thank goodness) stomach bug and felt gross for most of the day, but I’m much better today! I’ve got my Guinness stew cooking (yes, while everyone else was making sure they had enough toilet paper and canned goods, I was making sure I had enough Guinness and stew beef 😂☘️) and a plan for the boys’ school for today (huge shout out to our teachers who have nearly seamlessly transitioned to distance teaching) and a nice cup of coffee so here we go!

I had the honor of doing two previous consultations for Caitlin and her husband, for babies no. 3 and 4, and I’m so happy for them that they’re expecting their fifth — a little green bean! This sweet baby joins big sibs:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (Maggie)
Beatrice Jacqueline (Betsy)
George Warren

I just love their style, and I love Betsy as a nickname for Beatrice! So perfect!

Caitlin writes,

We’ve followed the pattern of patron saints as first names and our grandparents’ names as middle names. We’re pretty set on a boy’s name: Patrick William. But we’re struggling with a girl’s name that meets our criteria and that we agree on!

Our second and third daughters’ names are in a very similar style. They are both on the longer side, but we call them by nicknames that have the same ending. We want to avoid that name ending this time, and we want to have a shorter name (like our oldest, Claire) that doesn’t have any nicknames.

We also only have one grandmother’s name left to use. Her name was Shirley Anne and we’d be happy with either Shirley or Anne as a middle name.

I really like the name Alice and my husband really likes the name Helen. We’re trying to think of more names to add to our list. Lydia? Adele? We like Joan and Jane but feel like they’re a little *too* short.”

I couldn’t wait to see what names they considering, especially for a girl (I do love Patrick William, so handsome!), and I wasn’t disappointed! Alice and Helen as frontrunners, and Lydia, Adele, Joan, and Jane as possibilities are all fantastic!

First though, I wonder if Caitlin and her hubby have considered Anne Shirley as a first+middle combo?? I mean, what an opportunity!! I think Anne fits their criteria of a great patron saint for a first name, it goes great with Shirley as a middle (not just because it’s the name of one of the best literary characters ever), and it’s short, like Claire. The only thing working against it is that Annie is such a common nickname for it — but it doesn’t have to be! They can definitely be firm and consistent and insist on “just Anne” always, just like the amazing Anne-with-an-E herself. I could also see Nan arise as a non-ee-ending nickname — it was originally a diminutive of Anne (even though it’s not any shorter) and it feels sweet and affectionate to me. I looked back at my previous emails with Caitlin and saw that I suggested Anna for them before, but I’m loving Anne even more for them this time.

Okay, now that I’ve tried to convince them of Anne as a first name (!) here are my thoughts on the other names they’re considering:

  • Alice: I love it with the older kids, great name
  • Helen: I’m surprised that Caitlin’s husband is the one who likes Helen — I feel like moms are the ones who usually like the older names! It’s a great name too
  • Lydia: I love Lydia! The older girls definitely have an Austen-type feel, so I think Lydia fits in nicely
  • Adele: Also great! They’ve done really well coming up with names that don’t necessarily automatically nickname to anything (though I love Nell for Helen)
  • Joan and Jane: I love both of these, and since they’re both one syllable, they’re not any shorter than Claire!

So basically I’m like, I have nothing to offer! They have such great ideas! I can see each one of them working really well with both of the middle name options, and they each sound great as sisters to the older kids. I’m pretty excited to see what name they end up giving this baby!

Of course, even though they have a fantastic list, I can always come up with more! I did my usual research, looking up the names they’ve already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard and compiling a list of names from there, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also had some of my own ideas of names that I thought they might like, and once I had a good list I went back through our old emails to be sure I wasn’t repeating any. Sure enough, I was — I’d suggested Eleanor with the nicknames Nell or Nora, and this time I was going to suggest just Nora as the first name due to its short length and lack of nicknames (and also it fits with their Irish/Scottish/British heritage that Caitlin had told me they wanted to stick with). Otherwise, all my ideas are new! This is what I came up with:

(1) Elise or Eliza
Elise is a style match for Claire, and I loved it as soon as I saw it! Because it’s already a diminutive of Elisabeth, I think it’s less likely to be nicknamed? I also love that it’s French, like Claire. Eliza is a match for Lydia, and I could see it also working quite nicely for this family! Any of the Sts. Elizabeth would be wonderful as patron.

(2) Edith
Edith wasn’t a style match for any of their other names per the BNW, but Helen made me think of it right away. Even though a lot of people love Edith for its sweet nickname Edie, Edith on its own with no nickname is totally doable. St. Edith Stein is a fantastic patron for a young girl.

(3) Rose or Rosa
Is Rose too similar in length to Joan and Jane — too short? It’s so lovely and feminine though, I love it! And it’s a style match for Alice and Jane. Rosie is certainly common, but again: firm and consistent can make sure she’s always just Rose. I think Rosa is less likely to be nicknamed, maybe? And it’s just that wee bit longer, and it’s a match for George!

(4) Ruth
As with Edith, people who I see drawn to Ruth are usually totally taken with the sweet Ruthie, but just Ruth is great too! Its meaning of “friend” is wonderful, and because Catilin and her hubs love their heritage, I know they’ll be interested to know that the only person I know my age with the name Ruth is native Irish.

(5) Stella
Despite Edie, Rosie, and Ruthie, one of my main motivators was trying to find names that didn’t have an obvious or natural nickname, so when I saw Stella listed as a style match, I thought it might be just right. Also, of course, I love the Marian connection with her title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea).

(6) Flora
Same as with Stella because of no obvious nickname, when I saw Flora as a match for Adele, I thought it could be perfect! It’s one of those names that I never think of, but when I do encounter it I’m always pleased.

(7) Faith, Eve
Finally, I did a search in the Name Finder on babynamewizard.com for one-syllable girl names that don’t begin with C, M, B, G, or P, and of the results, I thought both Faith and Eve would be lovely with the older kids. They both have great Marian connections, and I like them both with the middle name options. (Hope and Grace also fit, and in fact, Grace was a huge hit for this family in my research, but I thought Gracie would be even harder to avoid than Edie and Rosie. I didn’t think Hope was exactly right.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and George?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9 needs a name that isn’t “completely ordinary,” yet not unheard of

Sarah and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little girl or boy joins big siblings:

Cody Michael
Benjamin Scott
Claire Elizabeth
Dominic Anthony
Grace Cathryn
Peter Charles
Caroline Maria
Charlotte Zelie (“she goes mostly by ‘Zelie’“)

What a great bunch of names!! It’s important to note that Sarah acknowledged that her oldest’s name is more modern than they have come to prefer, though I did try to find names that can bridge Cody’s style with that of his siblings’ names.

Sarah writes,

This baby will be a “tiebreaker”, as we currently have 4 boys and 4 girls. We are starting to run out of (primarily boy) names, so are curious what you are able to come up with. We have an unwritten rule that the names be traditional and also double as a Saint name. Our style of “traditional” appears to be names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of. The middle names have either been a family name or a powerhouse Saint. We are open to nontraditional for a middle name if it is a super Catholic “mic drop” of a name.”

A “super Catholic ‘mic drop’ of a name”!! I love that!!

Names we cannot use are:
Alexander
Nicholas
John (open to John Paul, however)
Christian
James
Andrew
Rachel
Gabrielle
Lily
Thomas

I was sort of glad to see that they’re struggling with boy names, because I felt like I had an easier time coming up with boy names than with girl names!

As I mentioned, Cody was actually a big inspiration to me when I was trying to come up with name ideas for this baby. His name is certainly an outlier, and I really wanted to try to come up with an idea or two that might make his name seem more a part of the group. First though, I was glad to see that it means “helpful,” which could put it in the same category as Grace — that is, a virtue-type name. That’s a nice spin to put on it! And Michael is a great middle. I’ve included Cody-esque ideas in my suggestions below.

I do like that they’re open to John Paul, I think that’s a great option! I like that it incorporates biblical names, like Benjamin and Peter, and is a heavy-hitting faithy name. It can also take the nicknames Jack and JP, which I think fit in quite nicely with Cody.

You all know that I always start consultations by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel popularity. Within those results, I look for names or connections that have a solid faith connection. It’s a fun process! Based on that, these are my ideas for Sarah’s little one:

Girl
(1) Josephine
I couldn’t help but notice they like French girl names — Claire, Caroline, Charlotte, and Zelie are all French, but in an understated way (especially Claire, Caroline, and Charlotte), where they don’t at all clash with the other kiddos’ names. I hoped to find a similarly not-overly-obvious French name to suggest, and Josephine was a result from my research that seemed perfect. It can honor St. Joseph, or any of the holy Josephines.

(2) Isabella
Funny enough, though the French Isabelle is a style match for Charlotte, I thought the spelling Isabella was a better suggestion for this family, as Queen Isabella of Portugal, aka St. Elizabeth of Portugal, is a great patron. Isabelle can, of course, honor her as well if they prefer, as can Isabel, which was a style match for both Claire and Caroline. I normally wouldn’t suggest an Elizabeth name for them, since Claire’s middle name is Elizabeth, but since they used three Charles names, I thought they were probably fine with considering another Elizabeth name.

(3) Hannah
I was excited to see that Hannah is a style match for Benjamin and Grace—Benjamin is the only Old Testament name they have, so I like that Hannah would loop him in a bit, and having it be a style match for Grace makes it really feel like it fits in well with the other kids as well. Hannah is such a sweet name and can take St. Anne as a patron, as it’s an Anne variant.

(4) Felicity
I think Felicity is the kind of name that exactly fits Sarah and her hubby’s style of “traditional,” as they put it: “names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of.” It’s super saintly and has a long history of usage, and St. Felicity is one of the best patrons for a girl, in my opinion (there are others as well). I spotlighted it here.

(5) Avila
Finally, in my hopes of finding names that could feel a little more Cody-esque while still checking off their other boxes, I’d thought a saintly surname or place name might do the trick: Kolbe, Clairvaux, or Cabrini, for example (but not those, since they’re too similar to Cody, Claire, and Caroline). Avila was one that I thought might do nicely. It’s got its own entry on behindthename, which tells you that it’s “definitely not unheard of,” and it’s the kind of name that families with Dominics and Zelies often choose. St. Teresa of Avila is a great patron, and a Doctor of the Church, which is so great for a little girl!

Boy
(1) Luke
Luke is biblical, like Benjamin and Peter; it’s four letters, like Cody; and it’s Marian, like Dominic! (Marian due to the fact that his gospel is the most Marian, containing within in the Annunciation and Our Lady’s Magnificat, for example; St. Dominic is a very Marian saint due to the fact that Our Lady tasked him with promulgating her rosary). I like Luke a lot for for this family! Being short, it can also take a longer middle name, which some of the heavy hitting “mic drop” names are (e.g., Luke Augustine, Luke Maximilian, Luke Emmanuel).

(2) Gabriel
Speaking of biblical names and the Annunciation, what about Gabriel? I’ve seen Benjamin and Gabriel brother sets fairly frequently, as well as Dominic and Gabriel brother sets, so it feels like a good fit. Gabriel’s also mentioned in both the Old Testament and New Testament, which is nice for Benjamin and Peter. They have Gabrielle on their “no” list for girls, but I’m hoping Gabriel’s okay for a boy!

(3) Joseph
I suggested Josephine above for a girl, but what about Joseph for a boy? I’m loving that it’s both an Old and New Testament name, and St. Joseph is such an amazing patron for a boy. It was also St. John Paul’s birth middle name, and Pope Benedict’s pre-papal first name. Lots of great connections!

(4) Henry
Henry reminds me of Hannah in that it’s such a sweet name! It’s a style match for Grace, Caroline, and Charlotte, and has a great saintly pedigree — I actually did a spotlight post of it here. Also, since Sarah mentioned possibly being open to John Paul, I wonder if they’d consider John Henry? It would be a really nice nod to our brand new St. John Henry Newman, and can also take the nickname Jack.

(5) Owen
Owen actually showed up a few times in my research — it’s a style match for Claire, Grace, and Charlotte, as well as Logan, which I looked up in order to add to the names that could be style matches for Cody. I think Owen is a great idea for this family! My favorite patron is St. Nicholas Owen — he was amazing! But there are actually a few Owens they can choose from for patron.

(6) Austin
Austin might be my favorite suggestion for this family for a boy. It’s a style match for Cody (!), and it’s a contracted form of Augustine! While it might have a modern feel, it’s been in use for a long time. There are the Austin Friars, founded in 1253, also known as the Hermits of St. Augustine, and I loved this medal for St. Augustine of Canterbury that says “St. Austin” on it. They could also do Augustine with the nickname Austin if they want.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Cody, Benjamin, Claire, Dominic, Grace, Peter, Caroline, and Zelie?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!