Baby name consultation: Little brother needs a familiar+unexpected saintly name with an international feel

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!! We did — my husband took a couple little videos of our boys’ reactions to opening their presents yesterday morning, and he and I watched them a couple of times last night. The sweetness, the anticipation, the innocence, the pure joy … I know you all know why I cried watching them each time. (Also, I’m re-opening my consultations today — details are here.)

Nikki and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their first boy! Little Mister joins big sisters:

Sonja Rose Marie
Zoie Ann
Viola Grace

Not only do I love these names (familiar but unexpected! I love that!), but Nikki specifically said,

We are recent Catholic converts so this is our first baby that we are naming with Saints in mind

So I love being able to say that, despite the fact that they didn’t name with saints in mind, she and her hubs did an amazing job saint-wise! Sonja is a variant of Sophia, which can be biblical (book of Wisdom) or Marian (Seat of Wisdom) or saintly (St. Sophia), and of course both Rose and Marie can nod to Our Lady, as well as St. Rose of Lima. Zoe was the birth name of St. Catherine Laboure (the Miraculous Medal saint), and St. Ann(e) is one of my faves. Viola is a Violet variant and violets are a symbol of Our Lady, and Grace can be for Our Lady of Grace or the concept of grace, which is so faith-filled. All in all, they did a wonderful job, and their girls’ names fit right in with the families I come across through the blog. So great!

Nikki continues,

We are very open to name suggestions. We want something that goes with our daughters’ names but is clearly Catholic. Some of our favorite Saints are St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina (although husband vetoed the name Faustina), St. Therese, St. Gianna Molla, and St. Catherine of Siena. We would like some kind of Marian name included.

The names that we can’t use because of family are Henry, Daniel, and Robert.”

What a fun thing, to find names that bridge the pre-conversion names with the post-! Though, as I said, it wasn’t too hard — it’s so fun revealing the faithiness of names to those who didn’t realize!

I heard Sonja (Sonia? Sonya?) on a little girl at my boys’ swimming lessons this summer and loved hearing it, such a pretty, unexpected name! We have a relative (Norwegian immigrant) named Sonja, same spelling as Nikki’s daughter, so it has a really Old World feel to me, and that style of name is really coming back. Nikki and her hubs are ahead of the curve! Viola fits in with that old, chic feel to me– it’s a bit more unexpected than Violet — and Zoie is so spunky and has a long history of use though it feels perfectly modern. Really nice job! I feel like each of the names has a distinct feel, but they all go together so nicely!

When I was trying to come up with ideas for their little boy (!!), I focused mostly on trying to find names that were similar to the style of names their girls have, though there are a lot of families that have different tastes in girls’ names and boys’ names, so if my ideas aren’t exactly on the mark, that could be why. Even though I think most people have girls in mind when they say they’d like some kind of Marian name, I included some thoughts in that vein for Nikki’s boy. And knowing their favorite saints was helpful! In fact, of them, I thought Maximilian was a great idea for them! It’s got good international usage and is definitely Catholicky Catholic. In addition, you all know that I use the Baby Name Wizard in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — Max was listed as a match for Zoie! And St. Maximilian Kolbe loved Our Lady so much, his name definitely loops in a Marian feel.

In terms of other ideas, in addition to the BNW, I also used the Name Matchmaker at the Baby Name Wizard web site for this family. Using their girls’ names as inspiration, as well as my own mental files, this is what I came up with (in addition to Maximilian!):

(1) Conrad
Because Sonja has such an ethnic feel to me (which I love!), I really tried to find names that had a similar European feel (Scandi/German/Eastern European) or even just “international” without being “too much.” Conrad was actually listed as a style match for Viola by the Name Matchmaker, and it immediately felt like a good idea to me! It was on our list for my youngest boy, I think it’s such a great name — unusual but not unfamiliar, easy to say and spell. We would have used the nickname Cord for it; Kurt/Curt is another traditional nickname/variant of it, and the mama of this family has told me she uses Kon for her Konrad, which I think is adorable. My only hesitation with Conrad is that I don’t think it comes across as obviously Catholic to most people, though there are loads of Saints and Blesseds named Conrad to choose from for a patron. But maybe Nikki and her hubs don’t need “obviously Catholic”? Just the fact that it *is* Catholic might be good enough?

(2) Jasper or Casper
Viola doesn’t actually have its own entry in the BNW, so before I went over to the Name Matchmaker to plug it in over there, I used Violet in its place when I was looking up names in the BNW book, and Jasper was one of the style matches. I love Jasper! Such a cool name! And it immediately made me think of Casper, which is actually the same name — they’re variants of each other (as is Gaspar) — and Casper has more of a Scandi feel to me, which I thought might appeal to this family. Or not! Either way, I like this name family for them! One of the Three Wise Men has been traditionally known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (depending on where you look), and he’d be a great patron for a little boy; others are listed here.

(3) Clement
I might as well get all my C name ideas out of the way up front! Clement is 100% inspired by their devotion to St. Faustina — she’s the saint of Divine Mercy, and Clement means “merciful.” It’s one of the words used to describe Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen: “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” which also gives it a Marian character. I saw it pop up quite a bit in Catholic babies’ names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy last year, and it’s also the name of several saints (including a pope). Even if they don’t care for it for a first name, I think it would make a great middle name!

(4) Felix
I really like that each of their girls has a virtue-esque name — Sonja means “wisdom,” Zoie means “life,” Viola’s middle name literally means “grace” — so doing that for their son would be a cool tie-in among all the siblings. Clement (“mercy”) above qualifies, as does Felix — it means “happy” or “blessed,” and it also has that international feel that I think would fit in so well with the girls. There are loads of holy men with the name!

(5) August or Augustin(e)
Continuing the virtue-name theme, the August- names, which mean “great, venerable,” might appeal to Nikki and her hubs. Augustus is a style match for Viola and August for Violet; of those two, I thought August might be more their speed. But then, if they want something obviously Catholic, Augustine might be just the name. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most famous and influential saints in the history of Christianity! Spelling and pronunciation can be an issue, but I’m sure this family runs into pronunciation and spelling issues with both Sonja and Zoie, so they can probably pull it off with no problem! There are a bunch of other holy men with that name, too; Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro is another great one who isn’t included in that list.

(6) Damian/Damien
Damon was listed as a style match for Sonja, which made me think of Damian and Damien. I love both! Damian is St. Damian, twin brother of St. Cosmas, and St. Peter Damian, who’s a Doctor of the Church; Damien is all St. Damien of Molokai, who was amazing. I love these names! I’ve done birth announcements for a couple little boys with this name recently: here and here,  and blogger Grace Patton considered Damian for her youngest (she ended up naming him Abraham).

(7) Luke or Lucas/Lukas
My last idea for Nikki and her hubs is one of the Luke names. Lucas and Lukas have more of an international feel (the Lukas spelling is the German and Scandinavian variant), while Luke is simple and solid and handsome. I also think Luke can be considered a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains the Annunciation and Visitation and Our Lady’s Magnificat — so it’s an easy way to work a Marian name in for their son.

And those are my ideas for Nikki’s little boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Sonja, Zoie, and Viola?

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Birth announcement: Gerhardt Joseph!

I posted a consultation for Mary and her husband back in July, and Mary’s let me know her little boy has been born and given the amazing name … Gerhardt Joseph!

Mary writes,

I have a birth announcement! Gerhardt Joseph was born 9-19, 7lbs 3oz, 18 3/4 inches … Gerhardt was named for [hubby’s] great grandfather John Gerhardt and we are calling him Hart. Joseph you may recall is [hubby’s] middle name 🙂 “

Gerhardt nicknamed Hart!! I love that so much!! And Gerhardt fits in so well with the theme they’ve already established of using family surnames as first names — love love love!!

Congratulations to Mary and her husband and big sibs Curtice, Leavitt, Hayden, Johnston, and Larkin, and happy birthday Baby Gerhardt!!

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Gerhardt Joseph “Hart”

Baby name consultation: Five-syllable, not-“harsh” name needed for boy no. 5

Two years ago I had the privilege of doing a consultation for Amanda and her husband, and then announcing the birth of her baby boy, and today I’m thrilled to post this new consultation for her new baby-on-the-way, another boy! This little guy joins lots of big brothers and one big sister:

Oliver Lawrence
Elizabeth Joan
Theodore William
Henry John Vincent
Adrian Leo

I’ve always loved their style, and also the precision with which Amanda and her husband have named their kiddos — each one has a five-syllable first+middle combo! This is something Amanda would love to continue if possible. She writes,

Vince really likes Conrad … I like Rodrick (or Roderick, but does that spelling make it three syllables?), Walter and Gregor. Trying to keep with the 5 syllables with middle name, and I realized after the last one that ALL of the boys have an “R”in their first name, which happens to be my maiden name initial, and I love that, so I’d like to continue it. And he needs his own first letter… O, E, T, H and A are out.

Conrad has still not grown on me. I’m ok with it for a middle name, but it is just too harsh sounding compared to the rest of our names (they all start with a vowel or very soft consonant).

Vince nixed Roderick, and he isn’t crazy about Walter or Gregor. However, he does like Gregory, and then I could always call him Gregor, or Rory. 😉

Sylvester has come back in… If you remember, my grandpa’s name was Sylvester Leo, and we named the last one Adrian Leo after him. Well, he passed away last year (about 8 months after Adrian was born). I asked Vince the other day, if I had no say, what he would name this baby. His answer was Sylvester Conrad. Lol! … He would want to call him Sly… My grandpa went by Slivy… And would want to call him Sully … I love it!

We both like Finnian, which is awesome because it’s so Irish, but it sounds a lot like Adrian to me….. What do you think? Finnian Conrad?

I kind of think there’s still something out there that I haven’t seen or thought of yet. And maybe it won’t come to me until I see his face. We’ll see, I guess!

 

I think they’ve done such a great job of finding fairly uncommon names that are still familiar! I love Rory for Gregory—Amanda and her hubs have some Irish interest in their names, and using this classic Irish name as a nickname for a heavy duty Catholic name is great. Finnian is a great name too—I’m a huge fan of the Finn names, and Finn as a nickname—and I do love Finnian Conrad—so handsome! But it does have the same ending as Adrian, and it doesn’t have an R in it, which Amanda had said was important to her. I wonder what they would think of Finbar instead? Finbar Sylvester works. Another idea I had is Francis with the nickname Finn—I suggested it quite a bit on the here for a while, I just love it—Francis has that same classic, saintly, old-man feel as so many of the names Amanda and her husband like, and it has an R, and Finn as a nickname for it makes it a bit easier to handle on a day-to-day basis.

And of course I came up with a few more ideas for them that I thought might be useful conversation starters for Amanda and her hubby! I started from scratch—I looked up all the names they’ve used and Amanda has mentioned liking (in recent emails and two years ago) in the Baby Name Wizard without looking at the names I suggested last time until after I’d formulated my list of ideas (when I checked I saw I don’t have any overlap between last time’s ideas and this time, interesting!). I then crossed off any names that didn’t have R’s in them (Simon, Sebastian, Bennett), or that sound weird with their last name (Jasper, Victor), or that I’d forgotten they considered previously (Raphael, which I still love for them—perhaps they’d reconsider?), and was left with these:

(1) Brennan
Last time I suggested Brendan and Brannock, but this time Brennan is inspired by Sullivan, which I looked up because of Sully, just to see if there might be any inspiration there. I like Brennan! It’s softer than Brendan, and it has an R in it.

(2) Roman
Roman’s a match for some of the names they considered last time (Ivan, Raphael, and Dominic), it’s got an R in it, and I love it with Sylvester.

(3) Frederick
Frederick’s a match for Conrad and Theodore; it’s long like Theodore, Sylvester, and Elizabeth; it’s got the same ending as Dominic and Aidric from their previous list and it has the cutest nickname options: Fred, Freddy, Fritz, Erick. Frederick Conrad could work, as could Frederick Gregor, Frederick Walter, and Frederick Ivan.

What do you all think? What other name(s) can you suggest for the little brother of Oliver, Elizabeth, Theodore, Henry, and Adrian?

Spotlight on: Mina

Kathryn requested a spotlight on the name Mina, which is such a sweet name — I’m happy to do so! Specifically she asked,

Could you do a spotlight on Mina (as a nickname and/or on its own)? I’m really digging the name lately, but curious about catholic/saintly connections.”

Firstly, Mina can definitely stand on its own, though I’m pretty sure it started as a nickname. Behind the Name says Mina is the “Short form of WILHELMINA and other names ending in mina,” like Giacomina (!), but also includes names that don’t end in mina as possibilities:

Zhaklina
Jacobina
Jamesina
Jacqueline

I can definitely see Mina being used as a nickname for Jamesina, and I assume Jacobina and Jacqueline are on the list because James, Jacob, and Jacques are the same name, even though Mina as a nickname for Jacobina and Jacqueline would be unexpected. Giacomina is also related to James, via its Italian form Giacomo. And Zhaklina’s definitely unexpected! Though I just looked it up, and it’s actually a variant of Jacqueline. I think Mina could work for Thomasina too, since, like Jamesina, it ends in ina and has that M in there. And the saintly connections there are obvious, any of the Sts. James, Jacob, and Thomas, and in fact, because James/Jacob is so well represented in this entry, I’m feeling like an argument could be made that Mina could honor Grandpa James or Uncle Jacob?

But I think Wilhelmina is the name that most people would think of as the most natural fit for Mina-as-a-nickname or variant. Wilhelmina is clunky-chic, used by such amazing namers as Natalie Hanson (though they use the nickname Willa), and Mina trims Wilhelmina down for everyday use really nicely. I wasn’t able to find any holy Wilhelminas (unless they use a different spelling?), but there are a bunch of Sts. William to choose for patron.

I could also see Mina working really well as a nickname for something like Minerva or Mary Christina, or any of the names Minnie can be used as a nickname for (for example, actress Minnie Driver was born Amelia, and Nameberry argues Minnie can be used as a nickname for any M name — so Mina too?). There’s also an Italian singer that goes by Mina, but her given name is Anna Maria. I love that!

What do you all think of Mina? Do you prefer it as a given name or a nickname, and if a nickname, what is your favorite formal name for it? Do you know any Minas, and if so what do you know of their name story?

Updated to add: How could I forget Philomena?? Such a great given name to get to the nickname Mina/Mena!

 

Spotlight on: Matthias

A reader asked for a spotlight on Matthias, one of my favorite favorite names! Specifically, she wrote,

Biblically, I have only seen it as Matthias, but when I ask my family members who are not as familiar with the biblical spelling, they think it is spelled Mathias. When I read the name, I pronounce it as ma-THIGH-as, whereas, in Germany, for example, where the name seems to be more popular than in the US, it is pronounced Ma-TEE-us. It has the same meaning as Matthew (gift from God), but the spelling of Matthew is far more prevalent than the use of Mathew, although there are some of those. Matthias, on the other hand, is much more uncommon than Matthew, so it seems as if there is more room for variance and not an assumed way to spell it.”

Indeed! It’s just as she said: according to Behind the Name there are two traditional spellings with the “th” (Matthias and Mathias), though Matthias is the one used in the  English Bible (not sure about other translations?), and it seems that both spellings have usage in a bunch of languages as listed on Behind the Name, with Matthias having broader usage:

Matthias: Greek, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, French, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek

Mathias:  French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Pronunciation-wise, it seems that Mathias is only pronounced ma-TEE-as (and there’s also the variant Mat(t)ias, which makes that pronunciation more obvious), while Matthias can be either ma-THIGH-as or ma-TEE-as. I looked both Matthias and Mathias up on SSA and was interested by the results:

matthias

mathias

Matthias is slightly more popular BUT 2003 is the first year it made it into the top 1000, while Mathias has been on and off since 1900. Also, I found this very telling:

matias

Over the same time period, Matias — which of course has that ma-TEE-as pronunciation — has been like 100 spots more popular than either Matthias or Mathias, so just from these charts Americans might be more familiar with the ma-TEE-as pronunciation and/or might be baffled by having an “h” in the name, never mind two “t”s. (The spelling Mattias has never been in the top 1000.)

So it’s definitely one of those names that requires some decisions, and then firm consistency when sharing the name with others.

I think it’s a name that’s totally worth it though. I mean, it’s a Matthew variant, so it has the same great meaning (“gift of God”), and it can take the same friendly, accessible nicknames (Matt, Matty), but names that are a twist on the familiar are some of my favorites, and Matthias totally fits that. Never mind that I always think of Matthias as a Catholicky Catholic name because he was chosen by Peter and “the brothers” to replace Judas in, dare I call it, the first Church Council??  😉

During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said … ‘Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.’

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.’ Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:15,21-26)

(I also need to point out, because it can be confusing, that the Apostle Matthew, also known as Levi, who was one of the original twelve, is not the same person as Matthias. I’m guessing that we use Matthew and Matthias (and also Levi for Matthew) to distinguish between the two, because they’re both more recent variants of the original Hebrew Mattiyahu via the Greek variant Matthaios.)

Anyway, I’ve always loved Matthias’ story, and I’ve always loved his name. Not only are Matt and Matty possible nicknames, but I’ve seen Mitt/Mitty for Matthew, which can work for Matthias as well, and the Dutch nickname Thijs and its variant Ties I find so appealing — Matt Lauer has a son named Thijs, pronounced TICE. Love it! (But that would probably interfere with getting everyone on board with the ma-THIGH-as pronunciation, huh?)

What do you all think of Matthias? Which pronunciation do you prefer? Do you like the spelling Matthias or Mathias better? Do you know anyone named Mat(t)hias? Does he like his name? Does he go by a nickname? All of which is my way of saying the same thing as the reader who requested the spotlight: “I would be interested in hearing your opinions on it and the opinions of your readers.”

This Saint’s got some pretty cool names (and a cool title!)

One of you darling readers emailed me yesterday with this fabulous bit:

Today is the feast of Bl. Clemens August von Galen, “The Lion of Munster”. He might already be on your radar, but just in case, I thought I’d share it.

I’m thinking that there are lots of great naming possibilities here… Especially Galen. Sounds modern (short, long a sound, ends in a n) … If anyone is looking for a “fresh” Catholic name, this could be it. And imagine how fun it would be for a little boy to have a patron called “the lion of Munster”!!

First of all: Clemens. And August. And Galen! What amazing names this guy has! And to be called “The Lion of Munster”! Of course I had to look him up, and of course I loved what I found:

Born to one of the oldest German noble families. Ordained on 28 May 1904 at Münster, Germany. Chosen bishop of Münster on 5 September 1933. Fiercely anti-Communist, and an outspoken opponent of the Stalinist regime. A strong nationalist who loved his homeland, his was known for his opposition to the Nazis, their programs and policies. He was a key opponent in the fight to end the Nazi program of “euthanasia“, the murder of the old, the crippled, the ill. Created Cardinal–Priest of San Bernardo alle Terme on 18 February 1946.”

I love him already. ❤ There’s more great stuff at that link, including homilies against the Nazis and euthanasia, if you want to read more.

What do you all think? Would you consider Clemens/Clement or August in his honor? And I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on Galen — like the reader said in her email, “If anyone is looking for a ‘fresh’ Catholic name, this could be it.”

Also, “the Lion of Munster”! 🦁😍

 

 

Spotlight on: Klaus

A reader is considering the name Klaus for her baby-on-the-way and asked me if I’d get your feedback on it. What an unexpected name!

Klaus is a German short form of Nicholas (and so can take any of the Sts. Nicholas as patron) and is said “klows,” which can be problematic for anyone who doesn’t know that — it might be annoying to have to correct people on a regular basis (though not a deal breaker imo), and said “klaws” would bring Santa to mind right away. But is that really a big deal? It strikes me as such a distinguished name and in fact, one of the comments on the entry for the name at Behind the Name said, “it has a sophisticated brevity.” I love that! Another commenter mentioned the Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer — you guys! Klaus Maria!!! 😍😍😍 So I had to dig a little deeper and I’m fascinated by this: Klaus Maria Brandauer was born Klaus Georg Steng but replaced his middle and last names with his mom’s first and maiden names — Maria Brandauer — to create his professional name. I love that so much!! What a guy!! And not really any different from a man taking a Mary name as his own (religious name, Confirmation name), no?

Klaus is such a short name that it doesn’t really need a nickname (though I did see in its entry on Namipedia the nickname Klausie, which could be cute), but it’s also got some baggage (pronunciation, Santa) that could be managed with an easier nickname. I think Nick/Nicky/Niko/Nico could work, as a nod to its Nicholas connection. Or perhaps KC, if the middle was a C name, like Klaus Christopher (I had a friend in college named Keith Christopher who went by KC). Or Kip if the middle had a P in it (Klaus Patrick), or Kit if the middle had a T (like GoT actor Kit Harington, whose given name is Christopher — Kit is a traditional nickname for Christopher, which makes an extra nice argument for Klaus Christopher nicknamed Kit). Or Kam, for something like Klaus Abraham/Amadeus or Klaus Matthew/Matthias — Kam fits in easily with the Cameron/Cam crowd.

What do you all think of Klaus? Do you know anyone named Klaus? Does he like his name? Does he go by a nickname?