Baby name consultation: Welsh-ish, old, and/or Epiphany name needed for little green bean!

Emily and her husband are expecting their third baby! This little green bean joins older brothers:

Llewyn Peter
Linus Casimir

How cool are those names?! I love them both!

Emily writes,

I am currently expecting (team green!) and due in January. I realized recently that it’s very likely I will be scheduled for my repeat C-section on or around the feast of the Epiphany, and I thought, hmmm, epiphany-inspired names perhaps? This sounds like a job for Sancta Nomina!

This next kid may make or break our L streak, haha. I’m not sure I want to get stuck with L names but if we find a really good one, I’m not opposed either.

Boy names I like and/or considered in the past:
Cyprian
Theodore
Lawrence
Colm

Girl names I like and/or considered in the past:
Leonie
Magdalena
Sophia
Anastasia …
very flowery and princessy, haha

My husband doesn’t tend to feel strongly about names — or so he says — until we try to decide, haha. He also really likes Maude for a girl, which… I do not… however, I’m willing to compromise and accept it as a middle name. 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts!

This was so fun to work on! Llewyn, Linus, and Casimir are such fun, unexpected names! Usually when I’m coming up with name ideas for parents, I first try to figure out what the names they’ve already chosen for their older kids have in common: are they all of a certain ethnicity? Are they fancy or simple? Long or short? Unusual or familiar? Llewyn and Linus have very different feels to me on their own — Llewyn screams “Welsh!” with that double L, and has a little bit of a fantasy feel to me, in the style of Narnia or Lord of the Rings, probably because of the Welsh feel and its similarity in sound and appearance to Lewis (C.S. Lewis). I think it can also have an “old” feel — I think Welsh names were very popular earlier in the twentieth century, and still have that “grandparent” feel, like Gladys, Glynis, and Lloyd — this fits well with some of the names on Emily’s list, like Lawrence and Leonie, and her hubby’s Maude. Linus on the other hand comes across as very Catholicky Catholic to me — some families I know that have a Linus have other children with names like Ambrose, Blaise, and Simon. But, different as they are, I think Llewyn and Linus are excellent brother names! The shared L is part of it, as is the fact that they’re both unusual. I think Linus has that “grandparent” feel too.

Emily said they aren’t wedded to the L theme, so when I was looking for boy names that I thought would fit their taste, I leaned heavily on “unusual” and “Welsh” (or Celtic, more broadly, as with Colm), and less heavily but kept in mind the “grandparent” feel as well. I did similarly for girl names, but added in a frilly element. I was actually pretty surprised by Emily’s girl list — they’re gorgeous names, all of them! But much less unusual than Llewyn and Linus. And of course, I did some research for Epiphany names!

Before getting into my ideas, I thought I’d touch briefly on some of the things/names Emily mentioned in her email:

I do think she and her hubby are wise to consider their feelings on another L name. Generally, they’re thinking the way I would advise: there’s no need to continue the L theme, but if they find an L name they like, that’s great too. I will just say, though, that while two children with the same first letter aren’t yet an established theme, three children with the same first letter would make it hard to move away from L for a fourth baby, if they were to have one. In my mind, this is more an issue of fairness than anything — would Llewyn, Linus, and Leonie’s little sister Sophia feel left out? Would Llewyn, Linus, and Leonie think Sophia lucked out? But then again, the more children a couple has, the less of a problem it would be. If Emily and her hubby end up having eight children, for example, they can easily add in more L names without issue: a sib set of Llewyn, Linus, Cyprian, Anastasia, Leonie, Theodore, Lawrence, and Magdalena isn’t that big a deal L-wise at all. Just something to keep in mind!

All that said, they have some great L names on their list! Leonie and Lawrence are both amazing with Llewyn and Linus!

Regarding the names they like/have considered in the past, Cyprian and Colm were more the kind I expected to see, while Theodore and Lawrence were more familiar than I would have thought they would like. But then again, Theodore and Lawrence have a gentlemanly feel that I think both Llewyn and Linus have. So I like their boy list!

I love their girl list too! The only one I might suggest staying away from is Sophia, only because it’s SO popular and Llewyn and Linus are not at all popular. However, writer/speaker/blogger Simcha Fisher has ten children, some of whom have names like Irene, Benedicta, and Cornelia, and some of whom have names like Sophia, Clara, and Lucy. So currently popular names can certainly coexist happily with currently rare names.

I was so surprised by Maude! Especially from a man who doesn’t otherwise feel strongly about names! However, it fits in very well with their boys from a “grandparent” perspective, as well as with Theodore, Lawrence, and Leonie. Funny how that happens! An interesting thing about Maude is that it’s described by behindthename.com as the usual medieval form of Matilda. I love discovering things like that! (Maybe Matilda with the nickname Maude would be something they’d like to consider?)

As you all know, I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. It’s not usually very helpful for parents with unusual taste, however, which is often when I go to the Baby Name Wizard web site, as its Name Matchmaker tool has a much larger database of names. I did so here, and also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas. The ideas I’m offering here are all those that I consider good matches for Emily and her hubby’s style; I’ll discuss Epiphany names afterward:

Girl
(1) Gwenfair, Mairwen
My first suggestion is from my book of Marian names! These two names were some of my favorite finds when I was researching and writing my book — they’re Welsh, and they’re basically the same name, just with the elements reversed! The Mair part (becomes “fair” in Gwenfair) is Mary, and the Gwen/wen part means “white, fair, blessed.” I love how feminine, unusual, and Marian they are! The Mair/fair parts rhyme with “fire” in Welsh, which makes them a little hard to say in English, but I think one can choose to use the pronunciations that rhyme with “care.”

(2) Carys, Charis
Carys is one of my favorite Welsh names. I love the sound, the spelling, and the meaning of “love.” I also love the name Charis, which is said the same as Carys, and is Greek for “favor, grace, gratitude” and is contained within the word Eucharist (I know of a family who named their daughter Charis because of the Eucharist connection!). It’s funny that Carys is similar in style to Llewyn and Charis is more like Linus! I like either one for this family.

(3) Genevieve
Genevieve is heavily influenced by Magdalena and Anastasia on Emily’s list — those long, flowy, gorgeous names. I think Genevieve fits in really well with that feeling, and I love that it’s French like Leonie on her list.

(4) Rosalie
Rosalie is a style match for Lawrence, and I immediately loved it for this family! It’s feminine and flowery with a vintage feel, and it can be considered a Marian name as well, via “rose.”

(5) Flora
Finally, I was thrilled to see that Flora is a style match for both Linus and Maude!! It’s feminine and flowery, literally!, and I really like it with Llewyn and Linus. Flora Maude? That is really striking me as just an amazingly vintage-chic-turned-cutting-edge name.

Boy
(1) Casper, Caspian
My number one suggestion for another boy is Casper! Though I’ll discuss Epiphany names after these official suggestions, Casper is an Epiphany name that makes my list of official suggestions because it’s a style match for Linus! As a matter of fact, when I was reading Emily’s email before I ever did any research for her, I’d scribbled Casper down because it just seemed like it would fit their style. I was so excited to see it explicitly listed with Linus in the BNW! Casper is one of the names traditionally given to one of the Three Wise Men, and is also sometimes seen as Caspar, Gaspar, and Jasper — they’re all variants of the same name.

I couldn’t not suggest Caspian, and since it’s similar to Casper, I thought I’d group them together. Caspian was inspired by Cyprian, with its similar appearance, and by Llewyn, with its reminiscence of Narnia (at least to me!). Such a fun name!

(2) Tristan
Tristan is an Old French name with ties to the Celtic world through literature, and it’s also an entry in my Marian name book in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. I would love it as a brother to Llewyn and Linus!

(3) Gareth, Garrett
Gareth is, like Tristan, another Arthurian name that was listed as a style match for Llewyn. As far as I know it’s not a saint’s name BUT it made me think of the similar Garrett (which does have saintly connections, as it’s derived from either Gerard or Gerald), and I know of a family who named a son Garrett because of their devotion to St. Margaret (the “garet” at the end of Margaret was used to inspire Garrett as a first name) — Margarethe is the Danish and German form of Margaret, so I could see Gareth being used in the same way. I like them both!

(4) Hugo, Hugh
Hugo is a style match for Linus and Hugh is a match for Maude so I figured we were swirling in the right area! Hugh also has that Celtic feel, which fits in well with Llewyn. Hugo nicknamed Hugh, maybe?

(5) Gregor
Gregor is actually the Scottish form of Gregory, which gives it a nice Celtic feel like Llewyn, while having St. Gregory the Great (or any of the Sts. Gregory) as patron, which fits right in line with Linus. I love that!

(6) Bram
I had one extra boy name that I just couldn’t not mention! Bram is a style match for Colm, and is one of my favorite names — it’s been on my own list forever! It’s a short form of Abraham, which gives it a faith connection, and Irish author Bram Stoker (Dracula) gives it a Celtic feel. It can be said to rhyme with “ram,” which I think emphasizes its connection to Abraham, or it can be said to rhyme with “bomb,” which I believe is how Bram Stoker said it, and has more of a Dracula feel with that pronunciation I think.

Now for my Epiphany ideas!

Girl
(1) Theophania, Tiffany, Tiphanie, Tiphaine
I remember feeling so excited when I found out that Tiffany is the medieval form of Theophania (Theophany is another name for the Epiphany) and according to behindthename.com it “was traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany (January 6)” — how cool is that?! I know Tiffany isn’t compatible with most current parents’ name taste, but I think Theophania might be perfect for this family — it’s like Theodore on their boy list, and is long and frilly like Magdalena and Anastasia! Tiphanie is a cool spelling if they like the sound of Tiffany but want to distance themselves a little, and the French Tiphaine, said like “TEE-FEN,” is sort of gorgeous. Even if they don’t like these as first names, maybe they’d do as a middle?

(2) Epiphany, Epifania
Epiphany is also used as a given name, if they wanted to be more explicit. Epifania is the Spanish and Italian variant, which is really pretty.

(3) Stella, Estelle
Stella means “star,” and could refer to the star that the three kings followed. I feel like it could fit in well on Emily’s girl list! Estelle is the French variant, which has a nice rhythm as well.

(4) Reyes, Regina, Reina, Reine
Reyes is a Spanish name used for both boys and girls, and is actually in my Marian names book because it’s usually used (as I understand it) in honor of Our Lady of the Kings (Nuestra Señora de los Reyes). But Reyes literally means “kings,” so it’s perfect for an Epiphany baby as well! If they wanted to use a strictly feminine variant, the Latin Regina, the Spanish Reina (RAY-na), and the French Reine (REN) are the feminine variants of Rex (king) — but of course they mean “queen,” which might feel too far from the point of an Epiphany name.

(5) Sophia, Wisdom, Sage, Reina
Names meaning “wise” or “wisdom” can suit too, for the Three Wise Men. They already have Sophia on their list! Wisdom itself is also used as a given name. Sage means “wise person,” and in a very cool coincidence, Reina — Spanish for “queen,” as noted above — has separate usage as a Japanese name meaning “wise”! That’s amazing!

Boy
(1) Casper, Balthazar, Melchior (Melker, Melchor)
I mentioned Casper above as one of the names traditionally associated with one of the Three Kings; Balthazar and Melchior are the other two. I was also intrigued by the Swedish form of Melchior: Melker, and the Spanish form: Melchor — I thought they both might be easier to live with?

(2) Rex, Reyes
Rex is Latin for “king,” and Reyes — as noted above — is a Spanish name used for both boys and girls, and it means “kings.”

(3) Frodo, Wisdom, Sage
Frodo is actually derived from the Germanic element for “wise” (frod)! Maybe that’s taking the fantasy thing too far? Or maybe it’s perfect! If they like it but aren’t sure, maybe they’d feel more comfortable with it as a middle name? Wisdom and Sage, both of which I mentioned for girls, are also used for boys.

(4) Theophanes, Theofanis, Feofan
These are the masculine variants of Theophania, which I discussed above (the first is Ancient Greek, the second is modern Greek, the third is Russian) — since they’re so close to Theodore on Emily’s list, they might be perfect! The first two can take Theo as a nickname as well, or Ted(dy) if they prefer. Or something like Finn can work as a nickname for all of them!

And those are all my ideas/thoughts/suggestions for Emily and her husband! What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Llewyn and Linus?


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!

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Thoughts on Lisieux (et al.)?

If you’re looking for a great Prime Day deal, look no further than my book of Marian names! It’s currently on sale, and there’s a $5.00 off promotion running as well! 

(You guys had SO MANY great thoughts and ideas for Kathleen’s TV character!! I loved reading them all, both here on the blog and on Facebook and Instagram! You often fill in holes in my knowledge and make connections I didn’t see. I hope to post the name Kathleen chooses soon!)

Abby from Appellation Mountain posted on Facebook a list of names trending on her site last week, which included Lisieux — a name I would only expect to see among Sancta Nomina readers! (As in St. Therese of Lisieux.) One of her readers asked how it’s pronounced, and since I’ve heard it said a couple different ways by Americans for whom English is their native language, I thought I’d do a poll on Twitter to see if one pronunciation was used by a clear majority. I first asked my mom (who took years of French) and checked out Forvo to try to replicate in writing what the actual French pronunciation is, then I added in other pronunciations I’ve heard, and posted the poll to Twitter.

lisieux

Do you see how many votes I got? Eighty five (85). Eighty five! That’s like, four times as many as I usually get for my name polls! I received several comments too, who knew this would be such a hotbed of controversy??

In hindsight, I realized I should have phrased my question differently — I wasn’t looking for the correct French pronunciation of the town, though I can see that it could come across that way. I was looking for how *you* say it — I know not everyone says it the French way, and I wanted to gather data for how the average American Catholic Joe/Jane says it (apologies to my non-American readers! I’m always happy to get your input, even if it’s not entirely relevant for American parents). I also realized it would be helpful to add the context: “Lisieux as a given first name for an American baby girl.”

Those who know and use the authentic French pronunciation were well represented both by the poll results (receiving 33% of the votes, only one percentage point behind the leader of lih-SOO, with 34%) and especially in the comments. I do appreciate how frustrating it can be for those who *know* how to say a name to hear it said “wrong” — Sean said as “SEEN” is one example for me. But even then, I’ve written about how, when it comes to proper names, no one has the market on the “correct” pronunciation.

One comment surprised me — it suggested that bestowing the name Lisieux in honor of St. Therese without using the pronunciation she would recognize is disrespectful. I disagree, and the three names that came to mind immediately as names American Catholic parents use that they generally say differently from the way their saints would have said them were Avila, Jacinta, and Kateri. I’d never seen it suggested that the American English way of saying those names is disrespectful, so I’m not sure why Lisieux would be any different. Regardless, I always think that parents’ goal of naming their baby after a beloved saint is the opposite of disrespectful. I’m trying to think of examples where I think the execution of such a lovely desire might border on disrespectful, but I can’t think of any.

I’d be interested in your input! Both on what pronunciation you would use, if you were an American Catholic parent for whom English is your first language and you wanted to name your daughter Lisieux, and whether you think using a pronunciation different than how the saint would have said it (for Lisieux or any name) is disrespectful.


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!

Birth announcement: Sunday Josephine!

Don’t forget to enter The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life giveaway if you haven’t already! You have until Sunday at midnight!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little girl has arrived and been given the a-MAZ-ing name … Sunday Josephine!

She writes,

When we went to the hospital, our top choice was Sunny — it was a name we both liked early on, and our both of our kids liked it, too — but it honestly did not feel like “the one” to me. My reservation was that it felt very nickname-y.

The middle name, Josephine, just came to me one day. We wanted something on the serious side to balance out Sunny, that would flow well, and that was not a noun (“Sunny Clementine”). As you know, Joseph was a top choice on our boy list. The name is really special to me since it honors my dad, who passed away on the Feast of St. Joseph, and my surrogate grandfather, whose name was Joseph. I noticed that Joseph is listed in your book as a Marian name, so I feel like Josephine can be Marian also. My husband agreed that we both love the name, and we have plenty of other boy names if we have a son in the future, so we decided to use it.

As I mentioned, I did not feel like Sunny was THE name. So we were sitting in the hospital room on the day she was born, and my husband was reassuring me that Sunny was the name. He said something like, “We have to name her Sunny, it’s such a sunny Sunday.” I had a light bulb moment and asked him, “What if we name her Sunday and use Sunny as a nickname?” He did not jump on it, which did not surprise me. What did surprise me was when he brought it up again a few hours later because he liked it too!

So that’s the story — Sunday Josephine, but we usually call her Sunny. It’s completely different than where I thought we would end up, but we love it.”

How great is this story and this NAME?!! Sunday Josephine called Sunny?? I die! As I told the mama, it’s not often that I’m surprised by a name choice, I LOVE being surprised! And Sunny is just the best, sweetest nickname, I love everything about this. Kudos to these parents for a bold yet traditional, faith-filled choice with such a great, friendly nickname! (Fun fact: Notre Dame du Dimanche means “Our Lady of Sunday” in French [feast day June 8], and as a result Dimanche and Sunday are included in my book of Marian names. ❤ )

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


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!

Baby name consultation: Unusual name with great meaning needed for baby no. 5

Thank you again to all those who entered last week’s giveaway and suggested ideas for ways to honor St. Anne in a boy’s name! I’ll compile them into one post soon!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lynda’s fourth baby almost exactly two years ago, and I’m thrilled that today’s baby name consultation is for her fifth baby — a little girl!

This Little Miss joins big siblings:

Mirai Luna (“Mirai [meer-eye] means miracle in Basque and future in Japanese; middle name means moon in Spanish“)
Evander Sol (“Evander is greek and means “good man;” middle name means sun in Spanish“)
Aviva Estrella (“Hebrew name meaning innocence and springtime (she was born in April); middle name means star in Spanish“)
Taavi Orion [Taavi is the Finnish form of David, which means “beloved”; Orion continues the celestial theme]

Such cool names, right? Taavi was one of my suggestions in the private consultation I’d done for Lynda when she was pregnant with him, so I was so excited to see that she and her husband liked it!

Lynda writes,

As you can tell we like names that are not very common and also have a beautiful meaning … Middle name will likely be Cielo — Spanish for sky. I like Zelie, but can’t really find a strong meaning beside the connection with Saint Azelie. Which is great, but doesn’t really go along with the names with meanings of my other kids. My husband really likes Zazie (nickname for Isabelle in French — meaning consecrated to God I think?). I’m not completely sold though, so I’m eager to see what you find.”

I had so much fun with this, as I knew I would! I was looking back on my ideas for Lynda for when she was expecting Taavi, and apparently the Baby Name Wizard was helpful to me back then, which is funny because I didn’t find it at all helpful this time around! Instead, I tried to focus on names that have a great meaning, like her other kids’ names, and also names that are more … I’m not sure what the word is? Mirai is Basque, Evander is Greek, Aviva is Hebrew, and Taavi is Finnish, so I felt like Spanish/French/Latinate names or those from a more unexpected origin would be a better fit than those from an Anglo/Celtic background, for example. So I guess that’s what I would say — I just looked for names that are more unexpected, and generally ruled out Anglo/Celtic names.

I have a bunch of unusual options in my book of Marian names, which is actually where I started when looking for names for Lynda and her hubs. I also of course couldn’t help but notice that the two names they’re considering — Zelie and Zazie — are Z-heavy, so I tried to think of other Z names that might have good meanings for them.

Before I get into the ideas I thought they might like, though, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Zelie: Most people who offer opinions on what Zelie means argue that Azelie is French for azalea (the flower), and I’ve known parents who’ve considered Azalea as a name, in honor of St. Zelie. But since “azalea” comes from a Greek word meaning “dry,” I don’t think that’s the kind of meaning Lynda and her hubs would like. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a spotlight on Zelie a few years ago, and included possible connections to Celia and Solene, both of which were actually discussed in a comment here at Sancta Nomina as well. The Celia connection is interesting, since Celia and Cielo both mean sky/heaven, so if they thought the Celia-Zelie connection made the most sense, they probably wouldn’t want to do Zelie Cielo.
  • Zazie: I love learning new things about names! I’d never heard of Zazie as a nickname for Isabelle, how cool! As far as meaning, behindthename.com is my go-to for name meanings, and it lists “God is my oath” as the meaning of Elizabeth (Isabelle is a French variant of Elizabeth).

Okay, so based on the parameters that I thought would yield some interesting ideas for Lynda and her hubs, this is what I came up with:

(1) Janua or Ianua
One of Our Lady’s titles is “Gate of Heaven,” as listed in the Litany of Loreto, which in Latin is rendered both Ianua Caeli and Janua Coeli. Caeli and Coeli (generally pronounced CHAY-lee) are both related to Cielo, and refer to heaven, so I thought Janua Cielo or Ianua Cielo would be an interesting combo for Lynda’s little girl. A reader actually shared with me that her niece’s name is Ianua Caeli, so pretty! Janua and Ianua are pronounced the same, and can be said YAH-noo-ah; Ianua can also be said ee-YAH-noo-ah. Janua and Ianua are definitely different! I know “gate” isn’t the most interesting meaning, but when you consider the whole combo “Ianua/Janua Cielo/Caeli/Coeli, ‘gate of heaven’” and that it’s a title of Mary, it’s a really lovely meaning.

(2) Liesse
Another title of Our Lady is Our Lady of Joy, which in French is Notre Dame de Liesse. Liesse is such a pretty name! I love its femininity and rhythm. I’m not sure Lynda will love how Liesse Cielo flows — one possibility is to switch Cielo to Araceli, which is a Spanish name where the “celi” part means sky/heaven and “ara” means “altar” — it’s another Marian name, as Araceli means “altar of heaven.” Liesse Araceli?

(3) Lux or Luz
Both Lux (Latin) and Luz (Spanish) mean “light,” and refer to Our Lady of Light. I like that they have an X or a Z, depending on which version Lynda and her hubs like, which is similar to Zelie and Zazie. Lux Cielo and Luz Cielo work fine I think.

(4) Maylis
I know they haven’t repeated initials yet, so maybe an M name is off the table? But Maylis is such a pretty name, I really wanted to suggest it for them. Like Zazie and Liesse, it’s a French name, a mashup of Marie and lys/lis (=lily). Maylis Cielo is pretty.

(5) Reina
Reina is Spanish for “queen,” which is a fantastic meaning on its own, and also nods to Our Lady, Queen (of many things: Heaven, Angels, Apostles, the World, Ireland, Peace, etc.). Regina Caeli is one of her titles meaning “Queen of Heaven,” so Reina Cielo would be similar but unexpected, I really like it.

(6) Zara
This is one of my Z ideas for them. One of its possible etymologies is as a variant of Zahrah, which derives from the Arabic word meaning “blooming flower.” So pretty! Another, separate meaning that I really like is that Zara is a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is a feminine form of Zechariah! Zechariah is said to mean, “Yahweh remembers” in Hebrew. I actually spotlighted Zara here.

(7) Zuzu (Susanna, Azucena)
If you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life, you’ll know that Zuzu is what one of George Bailey’s daughters is called, likely a nickname for Susan, as Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names and Susan was popular at the time the movie was made (“Zuzu’s petals” is the line from the movie). I like Zuzu on its own for this family, it really strikes me as similar to Zazie, and the Susan- names mean both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, so they have really lovely meanings. They could use Susanna itself (or any of its variants, including Zuzanna and Zuzia) with Zuzu as the nickname, or another idea is the name Azucena — it shares the same roots as Susanna, and is the Spanish name for the flower known as the Madonna lily; Zuzu can easily be a nickname for it.

(8) Zephyr(ine)
My last idea is Zephyr, which is usually a masculine name, meaning “the west wind,” but one of my readers recently named her daughter Zephyr, with the most amazing explanation. I love the meaning and I love its soft sound! I also thought I’d mention Zepherine, which was my great aunt’s name and one of the coolest! She went by Zee.

And those are my ideas for Lynda and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Mirai, Evander, Aviva, and Taavi?


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

Baby name consultation: Baby girl no. 7 needs uncommon but not unfamiliar, feminine, French-sounding name

Shannon and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their seventh girl! Shannon writes,

We’re expecting a baby girl on the Feast of the Assumption! We have all girls and are struggling to find another name. We tend to gravitate to feminine, French sounding names that are more traditional, not too trendy, but also not unheard of. Here are our other names:

Annabelle Grace (6 1/2) Annabelle was my great grandmother’s favorite name, so I named her this in her honor. I like the Marian connotation — Mater Amabilis. Grace was chosen because it took us a few years and many prayers to conceive her, and we felt she was truly a gift from God.

Celeste Rose (nearly 5) Celeste is just a name I’ve always loved — probably hearkens back to my days reading the Babar books! I like the connection with Heaven and stars. Rose is after St. Rose of Lima, a beloved saint.

In 2015 we had identical twin girls who were sadly both stillborn on February 6 due to a heart problem. We named them:

Nora Catherine — I like the meaning “honor” for Nora and Catherine is my middle name as well as my other great-grandmother, who was very devout. As a woman who loves the academic side of the Church, I’ve always loved St. Catherine of Siena as well.

Mary Elizabeth — In honor of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth. Through the ordeal of a high risk pregnancy and the stillbirth, Our Lady was my constant companion and comfort. Though this tragedy brought suffering, it also has brought our family the most beautiful graces.

After the twins I suffered an early miscarriage where we had decided on the name Claire after St. Clare.

Noelle Evangeline (17 months) She was due near Thanksgiving but didn’t arrive until Dec. 11th, so she became our surprise Advent baby. We chose Evangeline because after our losses she was a welcome reminder of the good news and all that is wonderful in the world.

We’ve decided that we probably shouldn’t choose another “elle” name as we already have two. “Ette” names are difficult because we live in an area with many French speakers who pronounce our name the French way, so an “ette” name would rhyme. Which is a shame because Colette is one of my very favorite names. I also love Lucy but [it sounds weird with our last name]. We like Lucia but everyone pronounces it differently — my husband likes the pronunciation of the island and I prefer the Italian way. I also love Felicity but think that “Felicity LastName” sounds like a gunslinger in a western novel, like she would be friends with Calamity Jane. I have a sister with two beautiful daughters named Liliana (goes by Lily) and Camilla, so those are out. We are considering Elise Dominica but I’m just not feeling a hundred percent sold on it at this point. My husband loves the name Gwendolyn (would go by Gwen) and I like it too.

I tend to like names that are a bit more whimsical than my husband, or a bit more “extreme Catholic” such as Dominica and Benedicta. My husband doesn’t mind them for middle names as much but doesn’t love them for first names. He loves the names Olivia and Margaret but I don’t really care for them (even though Margaret was my confirmation name). I’m leaning toward something that honors Mary though it’s been tricky. I like Marigold but don’t think it’s a style-match for the other names. I’ve mentioned it to some friends and family and they’ve thought it sounded too whimsical/Bohemian considering our other daughters. Names like Mariana are too close to Annabelle and Stella Maris/Maristella has the dreaded “elle.”

I’m so excited for this consultation — please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.”

Wasn’t it amazing to read all this?! I’m so sorry to hear of the losses of Shannon’s babies, and so happy for her and her husband that this baby is on the way! I love their older girls’ names — each one is so gorgeous and meaningful! And I love the names they’re considering, they have wonderful taste!

I chuckled at Shannon’s comments about Lucy, and especially at Felicity LastName — “friends with Calamity Jane” is hilarious! I wonder if something like Lucille or Lucienne would do better for them?

Elise Dominica is beautiful, and I love how it combines a French name with a heavy-hitting Catholic name! Perhaps my one nitpicky thing, if I had to have one, is that their Mary Elizabeth already has an Elizabeth name. But certainly it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker — I only mention it in case it helps them make a decision one way or the other, since Shannon said she’s not feeling 100% on it.

Gwendolyn/Gwen is such an interesting addition to their list! It’s a great name, and I was surprised by it at first, since I was so focused on French names, but its Celtic feel fits in well with Nora, Mary (from the perspective that Mary by itself and Mary double names have a particularly Irish feel to me), and Claire (even with Claire being the French spelling). Since Shannon said she’s leaning toward a Marian name this time, I wondered if she and her hubs would be interested in Gwenfair? In my [recently published] book of Marian names, Gwenfair’s one of the entries — like Gwendolyn, it’s a Welsh name, with the “gwen” part meaning “white, fair, blessed,” and the “fair” part being actually Mair (it changes to “fair” when added on to Gwen), which is the Welsh form of Mary. It’s a little more difficult than Gwendolyn, in that its Welsh pronunciation is something like GWEN-vire, but I think one could get away with GWEN-fair in the U.S. But I totally get that that pronunciation issue might make the name less appealing than Gwendolyn.

I too love Marigold, but I can see what Shannon’s friends/family mean about it seeming too “whimsical/Bohemian.” One argument in its favor is that it’s the name of Edith’s daughter on Downton Abbey — I wouldn’t consider any of the characters on the show to be whimsical or Bohemian (though Edith leans the most that way of all of them). Considering it in light of early-twentieth-century England makes it seem more “quaint English rose” and less whimsical/Bohemian I think. If it’s helpful, I’ve posted two birth announcements for babies with Marigold as part of their name — one as a middle name, one as a first name — Shannon and her hubs might like to see the style of their siblings’ names.

Though Shannon said she doesn’t care for Olivia, I wondered if the fact that it’s actually an entry in my book might help? Part of what I wrote about it is:

One of Mother Mary’s titles is ‘Our Lady of Olives,’ also known as Madonna of olives, which makes any of the Oliv- names doable in her honor. Under this title, Our Lady has been compared to an olive tree in this verse in the book of Sirach: ‘Like a fair olive tree in the field’ (24:14), and also remembered for a miraculous occurrence involving lightning in a town in France.”

[Note that I did explain in the book that Olivia may or may not be etymologically related to “olive,” but as always I think intention is what matters most, and there’s certainly a visual/audial connection between Olivia and “olive.”]

I’m certainly not trying to sway Shannon one way or the other, but I do love helping parents come to an agreement on names, so if this is helpful in doing so, great! I particularly like that this title of Our Lady has a connection to France; you can read more about it here.

I’d love to find a way for Shannon to like Margaret as well, since it’s got that great tie to her and her hubby loves it. What about the French Marguerite? Or Margo(t)? Marigold actually made me think of Marguerite anyway, because the name for the daisy flower in French is marguerite, so while the Margaret names aren’t exactly Marian, this is one way in which they can be considered so, as daisies have a connection to Our Lady: the common daisy has been known as Mary’s flower or Mary-Loves, and the oxeye daisy has been known as Mary’s Star. (Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret because of this connection.) Marguerite or Margo(t) nicknamed Daisy might be the perfect solution to Shannon’s hubby’s love of Margaret plus her affinity for more whimsical names.

One last Marian idea before moving on to the ideas suggested by my research for this family, is that, with their daughter due on the feast of the Assumption, maybe a name related to that feast would be fun to consider? Assumpta and Assunta were the first to come to mind; second were the Susan names — as I related in my book, it seems Italian women named Assunta often “anglicized” their name as Susan when they arrived in the US! However, the more I think about it, the more I think the Susan names don’t work … Suzette would be great except for the -ette, and Susanne/Suzanne and Susanna are too similar to Annabelle. But I could see Assumpta or Assunta being really cool, especially perhaps in the middle spot. As a first name, Susie could work as a nickname for either of them I think, and Amy for Assumpta.

Alrighty, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and I also consulted the Exotic Traditionals, Saints, and French lists at the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool since Marigold doesn’t have an entry in the BNW book. And I did a post a while ago about a family with French roots whose girls all have really French names, so I consulted that as well. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Shannon and her husband:

(1) Genevieve
No list of French-type girl names would be complete without Genevieve! She’s the patron saint of Paris, and Gwendolyn was actually what inspired me to put it on this list, as they’re both long G names (though I know the fact that one’s a hard G and one’s a soft G makes a difference to many).

(2) Em(m)eline
The family in the post I linked to above has an Emeline, and Emmeline was actually listed as a style match for Celeste in the BNW! There’s a St. Emilina of Boulancourt, and behindthename.com also says it’s related to Amelia, which offers two more options for patron saints.

(3) Elodie
Continuing with French E names, Elodie was in the list of French names, Saint names, and Exotic Traditionals in the BNW! I immediately thought it might make a nice replacement for Elise, if Shannon ended up deciding Elise was too repetitive with Mary Elizabeth or if she decided she doesn’t care for it for other reasons. Elodie Dominica is lovely.

(4) Sylvie
Sylvie’s a style match for Noelle, and as soon as I saw it I was reminded of a family I posted a consultation for who has a daughter named Sylvie Regina, specifically because it sounds like Salve Regina. I have thought about how clever that is so often! AND that little Sylvie has a sister named Marigold! Sylvie feels like a less popular Sophie to me, I love it.

(5) Madeleine, Magdalene
Speaking of Sophie, I always think of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat when I think of French names. There’s a school near me called St. Madeleine Sophie’s, and I’ve always loved that they always say both names. Madeleine is the French form of Magdalene, and I wondered if Magdalene might appeal to Shannon and her husband? It’s so similar to Margaret in that it can take Maggie as a nickname, but it’s got a more unusual feel.

(6) Simone
When I do research in the BNW, I’m always looking for overlap — for names that are style matches for more than one name on the parents’ list of considerations. Simone was one of those names for this family! It’s a match for both Celeste and Noelle, as well as Dominique, which I looked up in place of Dominica, as Dominica didn’t have its own entry in the BNW. Simone is all gorgeousness to me, and St. Peter is an easy patron; there’s also a Bl. Simone who was beatified by St. JPII.

(7) Josephine
Finally, Josephine, listed as a specific a style match for Annabelle as well as being included in the list of French names and Saints names in the BNW. I love Josephine and all its possible nicknames, including Josie, Sophie, and Posy.

And those are my ideas for Shannon and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Annabelle, Celeste, Nora, Mary, Claire, and Noelle?


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

Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

Birth announcement: Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!

I had the great pleasure of posting a birth announcement for reader Isabelle’s second boy two years ago, and she’s let me know that she’s had a third baby — a little girl! She’s been given the gorgeous names Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!

Isabelle writes,

So, we have two boys (you posted a birth announcement for our second, Gabriel Nicolas Peter, our eldest is Jude René Marc) and for both of them, the names were fairly easy to find. I had liked Gabriel since I was a teenager, and always intended to use it, but by the time I got pregnant with my first I was feeling more “Jude”. My husband was happy either way, and we pretended to ourselves for a while like we hadn’t decided (we totally had, we never seriously considered any alternative).

When we found out our second was a boy too, Gabriel was the obvious choice, and again although we told ourselves we were considering other options, we really weren’t. All the while, our girl name was all chosen and waiting for a future girl: Alice. But two months after Gabriel was born, my cousin had gorgeous twin girls: Madeleine and Alice.

Fast forward a few months and I am pregnant again. And we’re stumped. A few boys names are swimming about (Nicolas? Can we use a middle name as a subsequent sibling’s given name? Methink we can) but for girls, it was getting complicated fast. I suggested we go for Alice anyway, but it felt a bit too soon. We loved Juliette, but Jude-Gabriel-Juliette felt a bit repetitive, so again, we felt we needed a few more names in the middle before using Juliette. That’s when I contacted you about consultations, but we decided to wait to find out the gender and then ask you if we were still stumped.

We discovered we were expecting a girl shortly afterwards, and my husband (who normally leaves me to talk names at him) was suddenly pushing for Virginia, he’s grandmother’s name (with the intention of nicknaming her “Ginny”, like his grandmother was). Whilst I really liked Ginny, I didn’t want Virginia, or use a nickname as a given name (I’m helpful like that). Besides, Ginny broke our rule (We’re a French-English couple, so we really try to choose names which are the same, or near enough in both languages – Jude was a stretch for the French since it is vanishingly rare as a French given name, people are much more likely to use the “Thadée” form to honour that apostle, but Jude is in the Bible so we went for it).

My long-suffering husband then offered Genevieve as another way to get to Ginny and still honour his grandmother, and whilst I love the sound of it in English, and it is spelled exactly the same way (with added accent in French) I couldn’t really get over the “middle-aged woman” feel the name has for me (due to when the name was popular in France). So stumped again.

I was starting to remind him that you offered a very handy service for people in our situation, when, in a totally unrelated instance of spousal awesomeness, my husband took me to Vienna for a little getaway just the two (and a half) of us. So here I am, on the train from the airport, doing what any self-respecting former PhD candidate in history would do, reading up on the history of Vienna and the Habsburg family, when suddenly, in a random paragraph about the Holy Roman Empire, I come across saint Matilda (she’s awesome). And that’s it. My husband is fully on board (although he pretends like he still favours Elisabeth for a few days), but he wants to spell it the French way, but pronounce it the English way when we speak in English (so, spelled “Mathilde”, pronounced “Matilda”). I’m ok with that. We decide the middle names will be the grandmothers (Agnes and Julia) job done.

Except, not quite.

Plot twist: giantly pregnant by then and extremely overdue, I am given a date for my induction: 9 July. Simon’s sister’s birthday. His sister passed away at just sixteen – she had a brain tumour. Feeling like we can’t just ignore the coincidence, we think of ways to honour Hannah in our little girl’s name and decide to just add a third middle name, even though Simon’s other sister already used “Hannah” as a middle name for her daughter.

Plot twist again: the induction is pushed back to the 10th. What do we do? Without the same birthday, Simon doesn’t feel right about copying his niece’s middle name (I have no such qualms, but then I come from a giant Catholic family where repeats are a fact of life). So I push for Hannah’s middle name, Frances. (I am a big fan of Saint Frances of Rome, and was planning on using “Francesca” as a future middle name – as soon as the grandmothers had been dutifully honoured (another French thing here, people almost always honour family members with middle names, so grandparents would take offence)).

And that was finally that (well, after the quickest, most ridiculously eventful labour).

Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances. Born in 45 minutes on 10 July 2017. All the names, all the saints.”

Can you believe that story?! Amazing! And I love love love all of Mathilde’s names!!

Congratulations to Isabelle and her husband and big brothers Jude and Gabriel, and happy birthday Baby Mathilde!!

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Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances