Baby name consultation: Bold Catholic names okay for Baby no. 2!

Rachel and her husband are expecting their second baby — a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 He or she joins big brother:

Albert Francis (Albie)

How cuuute is Albie??!! 😍

Rachel writes,

We always knew we wanted to have an Albert, as he is my husbands favorite saint, I am a nurse and my husband is a Physician Assistant so we spent most of undergrad and grad school praying that he would help us with tests as he is the Patron of the Sciences! St. Francis is also a favorite or ours and when our newest Pope took that name, we also felt called to use it when we were naming a baby someday. We love that Albie’s name is a mixture of a person so full of worldly knowledge and the sciences as well as a saint best known for his humility.  We didn’t know what we were having with our first (we also don’t know this time around) we were lucky that it was a Boy- as we had not really settled in on a girl name but had some options that we liked. However, settled in on Albie’s name right away- which I think is why it feels different this time around not being able to think of a name that we both agree on or have been able to feel connected to.

Naming babies is something that we have loved to do, we try and be really intentional in praying about it, as we really see as a making such an important decision for our kids- we celebrate Albie’s Feast day, have come across relics of St. Albert, visited the one St. Albert the Great church we could find- and have really looked to St. Albert as a protector for our son- trying to bridge the gap between the saints and us- even in a small way. For that reason I know that we would like the name to be a specific saint or blessed so that we can have that same connection for the next baby.

Currently the names that we like for girls are

Chiara Agnes (I really love that Agnes was Mother Theresa’s real name)
I like Faustina because I think she is a wonderful saint.
Being a working mom I probably ask St. Gianna for help 12 times a day 🙂

We do really love Blessed Chiara, I have been praying to her a lot during this pregnancy but for whatever reason just haven’t settled in on it for sure.

Names we have tossed around in no particular order for boys are:

Jude (this is maybe my favorite?)

There are not many names that are definite “no’s” but we have a lot of Michaels in our family- so not really a name we would use- also our siblings names are Luke, Andrew, Joshua, Anna, Therese so would probably avoid these as well.

Nicknames are super important to us- so would love a name that we could shorten in a creative way. The most important thing is that we can feel connected to the saint that we are naming him or her after and that we are able to help blend the lessons we can learn from that person into the life of our child.

We aren’t intimidated by using pretty bold names (or “super Catholic” as my husband puts it!) We love being able to evangelize through this process, even in a small way, by teaching others about the lives and stories of saints through explaining how we named our kids- which is a position the I really think God has put us in time and time again when being able to explain how we named Albert to people may not otherwise hear these stories. We have always been so passionate about the way that science and religion in many ways complement each other rather than go against each other- and being able to speak about a saint whose life mission was to blend the 2 has been so fun for us!

Did you all see that? >>> “We aren’t intimidated by using pretty bold names (or “super Catholic” as my husband puts it!)” >>> Yessss!!! 😁

I love the names Rachel and her hubs are considering for their baby, and in fact I thought it was such a great and complete list that I had a hard time thinking of what I would add to it! Each one is heavy hitting and faith-y, and I love how St. Gianna and Bl. Chiara have been close to Rachel this pregnancy. I wonder if they would consider putting them both in one name? Chiara Gianna doesn’t have the best flow, but knowing that Chiara is the Italian variant of Clare/Claire/Clara and Gianna is a feminine form of John (so Joan, Jane, Joanna), they could do Chiara Jane or Clare Gianna or any of those combos, and though Clare/Claire/Clara/Joan/Jane/Joanna aren’t as obvious to others as Chiara and Gianna, they’re just as legitimate.

Also, re: Chiaria, I wanted to address how Rachel “for whatever reason just [hasn’t] settled in on it for sure” even though it seems clear to me that it’s her frontrunner. I wonder if maybe it’s because it’s such a different style from Albert? Certainly there’s no requirement to stick with the same style of name for every child—indeed, that’s one of the things I love about Catholic naming, that Archangela, Kateri, Joseph, and Bernadette can all be siblings under the umbrella theme of “Catholic saints”—so that might not be the hold up for Rachel and her hubs here. But Albert has a very distinct old-man feel to it (which is great! He’s a great saint and the names that peaked when his did [early 20th century] like Alice, Walter, and Helen are totally coming back right now) while Chiara feels more current and very Italian. So anyway, all that to say that Clare/Claire or Clara are much closer in feel to Albert. They can totally still honor Bl. Chiara, though I do understand that they might not feel close enough to her name.

So then I also wanted to suggest Mary Chiara. Adding Mary in front of any name makes that second name totally doable in my opinion, and can jazz up a second name (Mary Kate), sober a second name (Mary Willow), feminize a masculine name (Mary Charles), and Catholicize a more secular name (Mary Topanga). Or, in this case, it can pull Chiara a bit closer to Albert with its old-school Catholic feel. A Mary Chiara could still go by Chiara as a call name (most of my dad’s first girl cousins are Mary ___, and they all go by their middle names. One of them signs her name M. Kate, so that’s an option too, for signatures and school papers and that kind of thing), or she could go by the full Mary Chiara, or of course just Mary (or one of Mary’s many nicknames, like Molly, Mamie, Mimi, Mae/May).

If they liked the idea of Mary Chiara, they could still do Agnes as a middle name, thus considering “Mary Chiara” to be the first name. They could hyphenate it, if they wanted it even clearer: Mary-Chiara Agnes. Or maybe they’d like it to just be firstname Mary middlename Chiara, and save Agnes for a possible future daughter?

All that said however, they have such a good mix of older names and more current names on their list—and with Rachel’s favorite, Jude, being at an all-time high—that I’m guessing all this doesn’t fuss them a bit! I really do love the mix of styles.

So you all know that I start each 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 that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be for this family, since their taste is more eclectic and harder to pin down in one area (which is awesome), but it did give me some good ideas that I thought might be helpful for them. I admit I was swayed by the fact that Albert is the name Rachel and her hubs have already used—every time I saw a name that I thought had the same feel as Albert I’d excitedly scribble it down! But I did also try to bring in some names that fit more of a Chiara/Zelie/Gianna/Sebastian/Jude sensibility:

(1) Edith
Like Albert and Agnes, Edith is an old-timey name that’s coming back around again. I think, for broader society, the amazing nickname Edie has a lot to do with it; for Catholics, St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, is a major inspiration.

(2) Hildegard
Rachel said they’re not intimidated by bold names, and Hildegard is definitely bold! It’s Germanic like Edith and Aloysius and really heavy-duty Catholicky Catholic because of our new(ish) Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. And is Hildi the cutest nickname ever or what??

(3) Genevieve
I like that Genevieve is an older name with some good current use, and St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris, which is pretty cool. It’s also got some great, popular nicknames: Evie, Vivi, Genny.

(4) Regina
Regina is one of the *most* Catholic names! I really can’t imagine anyone using it who isn’t Catholic, and I think everyone knows right away when they hear it that it refers to Mary. I’ve seen the combo Regina Caeli used recently as a first+middle combo, which I love.

(5) Veronica or Monica
Veronica is another Catholicky Catholic name—I know non-Catholics use it, but that always makes me chuckle! There are some really pretty nicknames for Veronica too—there’s the expected Ronni(e), but also Via, Vera, Vero, Vivi, Nica, and Nicky.

Monica has exactly the same sound as Veronica except the beginning V—which I think makes all the difference! V is hot right now, which makes Veronica a less surprising choice these days than the more mid-century Monica. But St. Monica’s an amazing saint, of course, and Mo, Mona, and Nica/Nicky could be nicknames for it. Or even Molly for something like Monica Zelie.

(6) Zita
Zelie always makes me think of Zita, and though there’s the Italian St. Zita, who is a great patron, it’s Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria that I’ve been loving lately. What a woman she was!

(7) Gemma
Gemma was one of the names listed as a style match for Jude, and to me it’s 1000% St. Gemma Galgani. It’s such a pretty name with a Brit feel, due to its good use in England, that I think it fits in really nicely with Albert.

(1) Ambrose
Maybe following Albert with another A name won’t be their favorite idea? But since they have Aloysius on their list I thought Ambrose was a good one. It’s been on our list for a long time, and I’ve come up with a few nicknames that I love for it: Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially with a D middle name, like Ambrose Dominic).

(2) Leo
Leo has a similar feel to Jude—short, punchy, and totally Catholic, like Pope St. Leo the Great. There are a bunch of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee.

(3) Stanislaus
I’m living a bit vicariously through this suggestion! I love St. John Paul II and one of my favorite stories had to do with how he defied the Communist government with the help of St. Stanislaus—I shared it here. I’ve wanted to get on board with Stanislaus for one of our boys, but so far no luck! Stan is a natural nickname and has that friendly, old-timey feel of Albie (and funny enough, my not-really-namey husband has been telling me recently he likes the nickname Stan!).

(4) Gerard
I love St. Gerard Majella—he’s an invaluable help to expectant mothers and those whose babies are already born! I was thinking about how important nicknames are to Rachel and her hubs, and the ones I’ve suggested in the past for Gerard are Ged and even Jedi for the Star Wars inclined! But I was thinking … what about Jude? As a nickname for Gerard? That way they’d have a given name that was a natural fit as a brother to Albert, and a cool, equally saintly nickname. It might also provide a really natural “bridge” into other naming styles—Jude would help make Chiara/Zelie/Gianna a little less jarring I think (not that it matters what others think, of course!).

(5) Benedict
Up until 1968 Benedict stayed in the top 1000 but never got higher than 447 (1914) and dropped off completely after that, so I can’t even say it’s got a similar popularity arc as Albert, but it definitely has an old-school feel while still being able to hang out with the 21st century kids because of Pope Benedict and Benedict Cumberbatch. The nickname Ben has always struck me as friendly and easy, and Benny is also really sweet. I’ve also heard Ned for it, and I’ve often thought Bede could work for it too (another twofer! Two saints in one!).

(6) Louis
Not only have Louis and Albert followed a similar popularity arc, but—like with Benedict—Louis has a modern Catholic feel because of St. Louis Martin, St. Zelie’s husband. Maybe the connection between them would knock Zelie off their list for the future? Or maybe, like with this mom, they would like it!

(7) Blaise
Finally, Blaise was included in the Saints list in the BNW—a list at the back of the book that focuses on more unusual/exotic/surprising names like Aloysius, Chiara, Philomena, and Faustina—and as soon as I saw it I wanted to suggest it for this family because of their science/medicine connection! St. Blaise of the throat blessings was a physician—described as a “Healer of men and animals” on—and Blaise Pascal is familiar enough to people I think that he automatically adds a math and sciences feel to the name.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Albie’s little brother or sister?

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 4 needs easy biblical and/or saintly name that works with middle name and last name

Andrea and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and fourth boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

James Giovanni (“I might have picked the name James because I love Jim Halpert from the show the Office 🙂 Also, the church I went to growing up was St. James. The bishop of the church my husband attended growing up was named James, and he really looked up to him — so there are lots of connections. For his middle name, we picked Giovanni — my husband’s middle name is John, so I picked Giovanni as a different form. Also, there is some Italian ethnicity on my mom’s side, so I thought it would be fun to incorporate that, too“)

Dominic Antonio (“Dominic I have just always liked. I love the works of art depicting Mary giving St. Dominic the rosary. Dominic just sounds so Catholic and traditional. We chose Antonio for his middle name, after St. Anthony“)

Rose Eve (“My grandma’s name was Rose, and I thought Rosie would be a cute nickname. Eve I just liked. I love short and simple names. Rose was stillborn and is our family’s saint“)

Joseph David (“We prayed a novena (or a few) for pregnancy and childbirth to St. Joseph. David is after the biblical David, and also my dad“)

Wonderful names, all! I love the Italian influence — it’s so fun to put ethnic names in the middle if you don’t feel comfortable using them for firsts. (Also—I’m DYING over the fact that James’ name might have been inspired by Jim Halpert! Haha! I love him too, he’s definitely one of my favorite characters.)

Andrea writes,

Picking out a baby name has been pretty easy for us in the past, but we are stuck on this one! We have a baby boy on the way, and there aren’t a lot of names jumping out at us — and the names we like we can’t use for one reason or another.”

Their preferences for this baby’s name include:

  • Old Testament or well-known saints name
  • Easy to pronounce/ not confusing for general population 🙂
  • Would like to use Nicholas as a middle name if possible
  • Doesn’t start with J
  • Doesn’t start with A (“if we use Nicholas for a middle name, baby’s initials would be ANL 🙂 “)

Names they like but can’t use for various reasons include:

  • Levi (“our last name starts with L, so it might sound weird..?“)
  • Mark (“we have a nephew Marcus — it’s too similar sounding“)
  • Michael (“we know way too many Michaels“)
  • Daniel (“know too many Daniels“)
  • Stephen (“I like it, but there would be confusion about pronunciation — is it Steven or Stefen?“)
  • Ian (“spouse and I can’t agree on how to pronounce it, we both know people who are named Ian but both pronounce it differently“)
  • Patrick (“I LOVE, but my husband has a brother and a brother-in-law named Patrick. We checked with them, and they said they don’t care if we used the name, so…. I’m tempted! I feel like Patrick goes really well with the names of our children. However, I feel Patrick doesn’t work well with Nicholas as a middle name, though.. do you think so, too?“)
  • Their nephews’ names: Matthew, Jeremy, Leo, Victor, Morgan, Chester, William, Aaron, Jesse, Jonathan, Peter, Marcus
  • Others: Paul, Robert, Gregory, George, Henry, Philip, Albert, Gerard

Finally, Andrea wrote to me again and said,

[My hubs] and I were recently talking about using the name Sullivan for a middle name. It was the last name of one of the bishops in our diocese, and my husband was close with him. I looked up the name meaning of Sullivan, and it is derived from an Irish surname meaning ‘little dark eye.’ My heart kind of melted a little bit when I read that. I think that would be cute — especially since [we] both have brown eyes!!

Okay, first off, I love Sullivan! I completely agree — the meaning is so sweet! And I feel like it really opens up a lot more possibilities for this family — I found Nicholas really hard to find a first name for!

I love their older kiddos’ names! James, Dominic, Rose/Rosie, and Joseph are a wonderful sibset — saintly, classic, and so handsome!

I’m definitely picking up an Italian vibe from the kids’ names — not only because of Giovanni and Antonio being middle names, but also Dominic, Rose, and Joseph are sibling names of several Italian families I know! So I was really interested to see Ian and Patrick on Andrea’s list! I do like that both Patrick and Ian would be a nudge toward James’ name (not that James doesn’t go with Dominic, Rose, and Joseph! I don’t mean that at all, just that it has less of an Italian feel than the others to me … and really, I think Dominic is the name that shifts the set toward Italian. James, Rose, and Joseph would just be lovely saintly names that go well, and Ian and Patrick would fit in well … but Dominic really brings in that Italian flair. Which is funny, because I’ve often argued AGAINST the idea that Dominic is overtly Italian! I did a whole spotlight on it, and how it’s totally fine for non-Italians to use, and included several non-Italian actors that are named Dominic [including some Irish]! So I guess I am more swayed by middle names Giovanni and Antonio than I realized).

Patrick Nicholas is tough … I’ve said it out loud several times and I could really go either way … on the one hand, the end of Patrick and the beginning of Nicholas rhyme (trick and Nick), so that might be kind of weird … on the other hand, I don’t think they sound terrible together! I think I’d support their decision one way or the other. And Patrick Sullivan takes care of that issue altogether.

Andrea and her hubs have a really great list of names they like, and it was really helpful when I was doing my research for them. You all know that I almost always start a consultation 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. Based on that research, these are my three ideas for this baby boy (Andrea requested a mini consultation, hence only three ideas) (“three.” You’ll see what I mean):

(1) Vincent
James, Rose, and Joseph are very similar style-wise, and the names suggested by the BNW as similar to them were all the same — Thomas, William, Carl/Charles-type names. So I really wanted to make sure Dominic’s style had a chance to shine a little in my suggestions for them, and when I saw that Vincent was listed as a style match for Dominic, I knew it was a great idea. Like their other kiddos’ names, it’s super saintly and classic, and I think it fits in really well with James, Rose, and Joseph, while being a really nice match for Dominic as well. I think both Vincent Nicholas and Vincent Sullivan sound fine.

(2) Timothy
Timothy was 100% inspired by Patrick — when I saw it listed as a style match for Patrick, I knew I had to suggest it, since it’s also a biblical name. Then I discovered it’s also a match for Stephen and Nicholas! Timothy Nicholas isn’t terrible; Timothy Sullivan is awesome.

(3) Samuel, Gabriel
I love both of these names for this family for different reasons. Samuel is a match for Rose and Joseph, and the nickname Sam is always amazing. Gabriel has more of Dominic’s feel to me, which I love, while also being biblical, and I always point to Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as an example of how it can be considered Irishy. I’m not sure I love either of them with Nicholas, but Sullivan feels really good with both of them (and I don’t hate them with Nicholas). My only hesitation with them is that they end in L, and some people don’t care for first names ending in the same letter their last name begins with. I personally don’t mind, especially if they’ll usually use a nickname (Sam(my) L___ and Gabe L___ both sound great).

(Bonus) Andrew
This is the name that was one of my finalists until I remembered they didn’t want an A name. BUT with Sullivan in the mix, I’m throwing Andrew back in! It hits their preferred criteria — biblical as well as well-known saint; easy to pronounce/not confusing. I initially also loved it because I thought it sounded the best with Nicholas of all my ideas! Oops! But I love Andrew Sullivan too.

And those are my ideas for Andrea’s newest little guy! What do you all think? What would you suggest for a little brother to James, Dominic, Rose, and Joseph, with the middle name Nicholas or Sullivan and last name that begins with L?

Baby name consultation: Twin baby miracle girls!

I have such a fun consultation to share with you all today! Kristin and her husband are expecting twin girls!

Kristin writes,

After 9 years of marriage, infertility, and countless prayers & tears, my husband and I are finally expecting! Not just expecting, it’s twin girls! They will be here shortly after our 10th anniversary March. God is so good!!!!

You guys! What a story! 😍😍😍

Throughout our infertility and this pregnancy, we pray to St. Gerard Majella, St. Elizabeth, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I was convinced I was having a boy, so we thought to name him Elliott Gerard. Now that it’s two girls, we just don’t know what to do.

We don’t want our twins to have matching names, but rather names that go together well. We’d prefer not to have the same initials or rhyming. We both like more traditional names that are less common. Old fashioned names are great.

Our last name is Pelletier (Pell-let-ee-ay) and my husband is half French, half Italian. His first name is Olivier (Olive-ee-ay) so from growing up with his name he has two criteria: shorter names & nothing that rhymes.

We’d like to pull in his heritage with international names, but don’t want anything that is too difficult for American speakers. We considered Amelie, but after mentioning it to a number of people there were a lot of mispronunciations, usually Amelia. It’s somewhat on the table, but simple is best.

Names that work well in both English & French are nice to have, but not a hard requirement. From that we really like the name Alice. I like Alice Elizabeth, but her monogram would be APE so that’s out 🙂

On the Catholic side, we’d love to have a saint for each girl either in her first or middle name. We have lots of saints that have been a part of our prayers, but aren’t sure how to incorporate them [the above named St. Gerard Majella, St. Elizabeth, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, as well as] St. Andrew and St. Faustina.

We currently love St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Clare of Assisi as such strong women that fiercely followed their faith. We also like St. Francis (although it’s not my favorite name) and St. Clare, representing the strong bond that they shared. St. Cecelia has also been popping up in discussions – she is my grandmother’s namesake … We’re open to nicknames/shortened versions of saints if you know of any!

As for names and combos they’re considering:

We’ve been tossing around Alice Frances and Eloise Claire, but they don’t feel ‘perfect’.

Other names we like are Rose, Mae, Nora(h), Claire, Camille, Amelie, Violet, and Felicity.”

There are so many things about all this that I love! Two girls to name! French and Italian names! Saints’ names! Less common+traditional, old fashioned, short versions of saints’ names or nicknames! A great list of ideas!

Alright, so for my own mental organization I first condensed all Kristin and Olivier’s thoughts/criteria thusly:

  • Shorter, simple names (but with meaning) and no rhyming, different initials (and none that spell something like APE), no matching (but want names that go together), old fashioned is great
  • Elliott Gerard was their boy pick (so awesome)
  • French and/or Italian names would be nice (hubs’ heritage), but nothing too difficult (e.g., Amelie)
  • Names that work in both English and French would be nice
  • Current list includes Alice Frances and Eloise Claire as well as Rose, Mae, Nora(h), Claire, Camille, Amelie, Violet, Felicity
  • Saint for either first or middle (St. Andrew, St. Gerard Majella, St. Elizabeth, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Faustina, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Clare of Assisi [and her friendship with St. Francis], St. Cecilia)
  • Open to nicknames/variants of saints’ names

Alright! I also just have to start by saying that I love Amelie! I know not everyone gets it, but I’ve long loved it, and we know a family at church with an Amelie—I love hearing it! I also think that if they end up going with Alice Frances and Eloise Claire—or any of the names on their list, really—I wouldn’t be at all disappointed and I can’t imagine Kristin and her hubs would be either. Such a great list!

You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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. It was really fun to do so for these babies, since Kristin and her hubs’taste is really consistent! I also combed my own mental files for ideas, and based on all that, I came up with these:

(1) Elise
This is the first of several ideas I have regarding variants of saints’ names. Elise is so similar to Alice, but it’s a French short form of Elizabeth, so it gets the St. Elizabeth connection in there, as well as being a short, French name that I think is pretty easy to work with/pronounce. Elise Frances would be a lovely alternative to Alice Frances.

(2) Cate
Like Elise instead of Elizabeth, Cate instead of Catherine could be the answer to naming a baby after St. Catherine of Siena without using the long Catherine.

(2) Louise
I had thought that Eloise was a variant of Louise, but I looked it up and it seems that’s not correct (though Louise is sometimes thought to be related). But I love Louise on its own because it’s (1) French, and (2) a variant of Louis, which could be a nice nod to any of the Sts. Louis, but I was specifically thinking of St. Louis Martin because he’s French! Haha! There are certainly other Sts. Louis, and Bl. Louise de Marillac is a great option as well.

(3) Lucy or Lucie
How sweet is Lucy?! It’s a style match for Alice and Nora, and I posted a birth announcement not too long ago for a little one named Lucie—that spelling, because it’s the French spelling.

(4) Rosalie
This was another name inspired by one of the names on their list (Rose). I think it’s my current favorite Rose name, but for I love it for this family because it’s the French form of Rosalia! It’s a bit longer than Rose, maybe a bit too long for their taste, but it’s so pretty I had to include it.

(5) Sophie
I think Sophie hits so many of their requirements: short, simple, old fashioned, great meaning (wisdom), and Sophie’s the French form of Sophia. There’s also the French saint, Madeleine Sophie Barat, who was known as Sophie (St. Sophie’s Day in France is in her honor) and—so fun!—the Sophie the Giraffe teether was named after that same saint!  Sophie can also be considered Marian since one of Our Lady’s titles is “Seat of Wisdom.”

(6) Grace
Along the same lines as Sophie (short, simple, old fashioned, great meaning) is Grace, which is a style match for Alice, Rose, and Claire. Also, like Sophie, Grace can be a Marian name, after Our Lady of Grace.

(7) Annabel(le)
Speaking of Marian names, I know Annabelle is long, but it was such a great match for them per the BNW and one of my very favorites that I had to suggest it! I’ve recently become aware of the fact that Annabel is considered to be a variant of Amabel, which arose in Scotland in the Middle Ages. Amabel is a variant of Amabilis, which means “lovable” and is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (“Mother Most Amiable,” where amiable=lovable). What a beautiful and unexpected Marian name! For this family, I thought the Annabelle spelling was best, since it makes it more French.

(8) Juliet(te)
Speaking of great matches for them—Juliet is a grand slam! It’s a style match for Elliott, Claire, Camille, and Felicity (as well as Annabelle, which is how I was able to determine that Annabelle would be great for them). Can you believe it?! I love the name Juliet, and spotlighted it recently to pull out the faith connections. The Juliet spelling can fit into their “short, simple” requirement I think, but the Juliette spelling is more French.

(9) Maylis
This is also based on a name from Kristin’s list: Mae. Maylis is a French name with a pretty straightforward spelling and pronunciation; it’s the name of a town in southern France that behindthename says is possibly derived from “mother” + “lys” (French for lily) and is also sometimes considered a contraction of Marie + lys, both of which point to Our Lady, so beautiful!

(10) Ruby, Pearl
Ruby’s a style match for Rose, Violet, and Alice; Pearl’s a match for Rose and Mae. They’re both short, simple, and old fashioned, and they can both have great faith connections—I spotlighted Ruby here and Pearl here with a follow up here. I like them each on their own, and I *might* even like them as names for twin sisters, but that’s probably too matchy for Kristin and her hubs. No worries—I have a few ideas of how to pair up some of the names I suggested (below)!

So I had a lot of fun trying to come up with name pairs that I thought were great names for twin sisters that fit the criteria and tie in the saints Kristin and her hubs love! I was toying around with middle names, but they were really my secondary concern—I just wanted to give an idea of how I could see the first names pairing up with middle names that include all the criteria.

Elise Majella/Maiella and Rosalie Chiara—I focused a lot on coming up with French names in my suggestions above, since Kristin said they’d really like names that work in both English and French, but I didn’t forget that her husband is also Italian. It could be really fun to do Italian middle names that nod to their saints … Majella is for St. Gerard of course, or they could do Maiella, which was St. Gerard’s actual last name (given that he was Italian; Majella is the Anglicization of it). Chiara is for St. Clare of Assisi—since she too was Italian, her actual name was Chiara (Clare is an Anglicization of it). I love Elise and Rosalie together—they’re both elegant and French; they both point to important saints for this family (St. Elizabeth, and the Rose names always point to Our Lady in my mind); and they could even take the sweet nicknames Ellie and Rose/Rosie. I like the shorter Elise paired with the longer Majella/Maiella and the longer Rosalie paired with the shorter Chiara.

Sophie Majella/Maiella and Grace Perpetua—I like Sophie and Grace together a lot, since they’re both virtue names and can both refer to Our Lady. Majella/Maiella for St. Gerard, and Perpetua can be specifically for Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Clara/Clare and Lucy; Claire and Lucie … Claire Majella and Lucie Frances—I think the Clare names pair well with Lucy. I like the French-ness of the spellings Claire and Lucie, but the other spellings are great too. I also like the idea of Claire’s twin having Frances as a middle name (or even Francesca? To get some Italian in there?).

Elise Majella and Louise Perpetua—this is closest to their Alice and Eloise idea, just sort of with a twist. I might normally think that they’re a little too matchy because of having the same ending spelling-wise, but since they’re said differently (at least the way I say them: eh-LEES and loo-EEZ) I think they’re okay. I’m a big nicknamer and could see Elise and Louise going by Ellie and Lucy, cute!

Cate Cecilia and Lucy Faustina … or Cate Amelie and Lucy Faustine—I know that Catherine is too long for the, but they could totally bestow Cate as a full name (I chose the C spelling to specifically refer to St. Catherine of Siena; they could be even more specific with the first+middle combo Cate Siena … Lucy Majella could be a nice match for that), and I love Cate and Lucy as sisters. So sweet! In my second set there, I changed Faustina to Faustine to match the French Amelie.

Juliet and Annabel; Juliette and Annabelle … maybe Juliet(te) Frances and Annabel(le) Claire?—I know they’re too long, but I just love seeing them written out. 🙂

Lucy and Nora

Nora and Cate

Cate and Rose

Camille and Juliette

Amelie and Maylis

Felicity and Rosalie

Violet and Juliet (too matchy?)

Catherine and Elisabeth (I couldn’t resist! Catherine is the French spelling of the name, and Elisabeth is a French spelling … I know they’re too long for them, but I love seeing them together! Nicknames could be Cate and Ellie … Cate and Lily [Lily is a nickname for Elisabeth/Elizabeth] … Cat and Bess … so many options!)

Another thought that might be helpful in trying to work in as many of their special saints as possible is that St. Gerard was a Redemptorist, and the Redemptorists were instructed by Pope Pius IX to “make [Our Lady of Perpetual Help] known” (the Redemptorists actually just celebrated their 150th anniversary of being given that task) … so I could see a name connected to St. Gerard also sort of being a nod to OL of Perpetual Help and vice versa.

Other ideas that might be helpful for middle names (or even first names) are: Franca and Francesca are both Italian forms of Frances; Cecile, Cecily, and Cicely are all variants of Cecilia; Siena and Assisi could both make interesting middle names that nod specifically to saints that are special to Kristin and her hubs.

Whew! Those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for these sweet little baby girls?

Birth announcement: Annunziata Graziella!

Can you believe it? THREE birth announcements in one day?! (I have a bunch more to post Friday as well! Woo!)

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

She writes,

The day finally arrived! Our sweet little baby girl finally arrived Saturday Sept 17 at 3:14!

She was definitely harder to name than the boys just because we had so many beautiful choices! We decided to name her Annunziata Graziella.

I fell in love with Annunziata the first time I saw it. The idea of her name meaning the Annunciation really struck me and I just kept going back to it. Plus Nunzia! I found it so fitting. It just really seem to fit her 🙂

Graziella just seemed like the perfect companion for her first name. My husband told me that in Italian families Annunziata is especially popular when the families have had 6 or 7 girls they name the last girl Annunziata so the next “Annunciation”baby will be a boy. I thought that was really cool.

Also! My grandmother’s name was Anna and my great grandmother on my father’s side was Grace so it was great to incorporate them in a way as well!

I’m just dying over Annunziata and Nunzia!! And you know that I don’t mind one little bit if my ideas are used or not — my only hope is to support parents in naming their babies, whether that means offering ideas or encouraging them in their own ideas — but it’s a special kind of thrilling when an idea of mine ends up being *the one* — so it was with Annunziata/Nunzia! I’m so excited! 😍😍😍

This lovely little lady joins big brothers:

Francesco Totti (called Frankie)
Marco Romolo

Such a wonderful bunch of Italian names! I love them all!

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


Annunziata Graziella

Birth announcement: Chiara Marie!

A mama who asked for some last-minute thoughts on their ideas for their fourth baby has let me know that they had a girl (!) and gave her the gorgeous, meaningful name … Chiara Marie!

She writes,

I usually go past 40 weeks carrying my babies but went in to labor a little earlier than anticipated this week at 38+6 and gave birth at 39 weeks on Wed, 7/20 at 11:22!  It was a LONG and HARD labor for a 4th baby, thanks to baby being OP.  Mm, back labor is so sanctifying and screamy.

Anyway, we had our FOURTH GIRL!!!!!!!  My husband, as I’d mentioned, got final naming rights and went with Chiara Marie.  We are smitten and so are her big sisters.  Thanks so much for your input on our list of names!

(“back labor is so sanctifying and screamy” — I love and loathe this line all at once! “sanctifying and screamy” is such a great description!)

Little Chiara was named for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who is such a great patron for a girl, and she joins her equally well named big sisters:

Margaret Anne
Felicity Perpetua
Genevieve Faustina

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


Chiara Marie

Birth announcement: Beatrice Lucia Marie!

I posted a consultation back in February for Elizabeth and her husband, and she’s just let me know her baby girl has arrived and been given the gorgeous name … Beatrice Lucia Marie!

Elizabeth writes,

I feel like proclaiming “Habemus Nomen!” Baby Beatrice is 1 month old today, and we just finalized her name! I’m notoriously bad at decisions, and this was a particularly tough one.

Beatrice Lucia Marie arrived on April 13 at 5:27am (after an amazing but whirlwind less-than-5-hour labor in which we made it to the birth center just 13 minutes before she was born). She was a perfect 6 pounds, 12 ounces and 19 inches long.

Here’s basically how it went:

We had pretty much narrowed first names down to Mary or Beatrice in the last few weeks of pregnancy. I was almost certain her name would be Mary, so I was surprised that when we saw her, we were both knew immediately that she was not a “Mary.” It still took us a good 48 hours to commit to “Beatrice.” But we were at a total loss on her middle name. We had too many great options and none that filled every criteria we had. We narrowed it down to Lucia, Chiara, Vittoria, Maria and Caterina and then down to Lucia, Chiara, or Caterina. We love St. Catherine of Siena. She’s such a powerhouse saint and one of the 2 patrons of Italy (along with St. Francis of Assisi). The fact that I lived in Siena for 6 months in college and Brian has visited there with me a couple of times was a big draw, too. And I just love her quote about setting the world on fire…But I felt like I just couldn’t come to terms with the potential mispronunciation, and I actually prefer Catherine, so maybe we’ll keep that in mind for a future daughter! 🙂 We went back and forth on Chiara and Lucia. I really liked that there is so much more documented about Chiara and the connection to Francesco (George’s middle name, as I’m sure you recall), and now there’s also Bl. Chiara “Luce” Badano. In the end, though, we decided that Lucia just fit her best. And we like the way it flows. And neither of us wanted to let it go since we’d loved the name from the start. And George called her Lucy for weeks during my pregnancy. We still struggled with the fact that so little is known about St. Lucia… but the essence of her story is so relevant to a Catholic growing up today. Lucia is such a strong example of standing up for your faith in a society that is (sometimes/often) hostile to it. Plus we love that it means light. And Beatrice could also claim Bl. Chiara Badano as a patron with the Luce-Lucia link.

As I said before, I was really hoping for a Marian name for baby Bea, and maybe they’re a stretch, but I came up with a few connections that I like (and I thought you’d appreciate). First, St. Beatrice founded the Order of the Immaculate Conception. Also, Beatrice in Italian is simply blessed (“beata” — or “beatus” in Latin) + ending indicating a female (“trice”). So, even though it’s usually said to mean “bringer of joy” or “she who brings joy” (which I love), to my Italian-centric ear it’s more accurately “she who is blessed,” which immediately makes me think of the Blessed Virgin Mary and “blessed are you among women…” Also the initials B.L.M. make me think of “Blessed Mother.” (Not quite so obvious as B.V.M. but it’s still reminiscent of Our Lady.) Then there’s Lucia of Fatima. And did you know there’s a Madonna della Luce/Our Lady of Light? So… Marian connections! Finally, at 2 weeks, we had the birth center send in her official documents with the name Beatrice Lucia!

But I still felt like something was missing and wasn’t totally at peace about her name. I even called our state’s department of health to see what the rules were for changing middle names on the birth certificate. (You have until the baby is a year old to change the name! I think that includes first and middle names.) I really wanted her to have a form of Mary in her name, and we talked about adding Marie as a second middle. I liked the idea of carrying on the tradition of “Marie” (both my mom’s and my middle name), but both Brian and I had mixed feelings about a double middle name (for a few reasons, mostly logistics though). We’d been praying about it, and stumbled across the solution when we were finalizing the info for her baptismal certificate. (She’ll be baptized this Sunday!) When I mentioned our middle name dilemma to the office manager at church and asked if it might be an issue if we changed her middle name later, she said the name on her baptismal certificate did not have to match her legal name. Total lightbulb moment! I called Brian immediately, and we decided that the perfect solution would be to have her baptized as Beatrice Lucia Marie and keep her legal name as Beatrice Lucia! (For now… we have 11 months to change our minds about that. ;)) I immediately felt a flood of peace about the whole thing, which had been weighing on me heavily since she was born. I’m so glad that she’ll have Marie as an official, even if not legal, part of her name! Bonus, I think my mom is pretty happy about it. 🙂 It’s great that she has connections to all sides of our family, too: Beatrice (mother-in-law’s suggestion and, inexplicably, her nickname in Jr. High(!)), Bea (my paternal grandmother’s nickname), Lucia (husband’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Lucas), and Marie (my mom’s middle name and mine)….

We’ll mostly call her Beatrice but also use the nickname “Bea.” (She ended up being born the day before my grandmother’s birthday (Albina a.k.a “Bea”)!)

We’ve also gotten a bit creative with other nicknames. I’m not sure if any of these will stick, but I thought you’d appreciate them.

Bea (“bay-ah”; nn for Italian pronunciation of “bay-ah-tree-chay)
Bella (first and last letters of her first and middle names)

I’m all a-swoon over all these details!! What a beautiful, thoughtful, meaningful name Elizabeth and her husband have chosen for their little girl!!

Baby Beatrice joins equally well-named big brother:

George Francesco

Nice job, Mom and Dad! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Beatrice!!

Beatrice Lucia Marie with her big brother and parents

Baby name consultant: Saintly, Italian, meaningful name for Baby Girl

You can see how much better I did at staying off the computer last week than I did at Christmastime! 😀 I hope you all had a great week, and I’m glad to be back!

In today’s consultation, Elizabeth and her husband are expecting their second baby, a girl! She’ll join her big brother:

George Francesco

Amazing combo, right? I love that George is handsome and normal-ish, and then pow! You’re hit with an amazing and unexpected middle name! And a fun little tidbit is that I recently did a poll on Twitter — what’s your favorite way to name a baby after Pope Francis — and I included both George (for his birth name Jorge) and Francesco!


So yeah, George Francesco is just a great name all around. 🙂

Elizabeth writes,

We would be so delighted if you were to weigh in on our current naming quandary … I’m Italian and my husband is part Scots-Irish … We like names that are fairly traditional (although we could possibly be swayed by a really great not-so-traditional Catholic name), saintly, meaningful, and not too popular. And there has to be an Italian name in there somewhere. I love love love our son’s name and hope to be equally in love with our daughter’s name.

A little background on our son’s naming: “George” is a family name … We love that it’s strong, traditional, not very popular, a saint’s name, and a family name. “Francesco” we chose for several reasons: George was born just a few months after Pope Francis’s election (fall 2013), St. Francis of Assisi is one of my favorite saints, and [there’s a connection to my maiden name as well]. Other potential first names were Gianluca, Luca, Henry, and James, and even though George was the front-runner even before we knew we were expecting, we didn’t officially bestow the name until he was a few hours old. (Funny story about “George”: I woke one morning in July 2013 and saw on Facebook that Duchess Kate was in labor, and I immediately thought “Oh, no, the baby is going to be a boy and they’re going to name him George, and it’s going ruin everything!” Well, it didn’t ruin everything, but I have noticed the name becoming tad more popular lately. 🙂 )

So, for our daughter, we definitely want an Italian middle name (or even first name but “at least” a middle name). We’d like the Italian part of her name to be obviously Italian (i.e. not something that could be easily confused for another origin or that has a widely accepted American pronunciation, for example Maria or Veronica). If we go with an Italian first name, we want it to be fairly easily pronounceable in English, without having to “put on” an Italian accent to say it properly.”

I always think of really Italian names as “confection” names — beautifully delicious. I was excited to come up with some ideas!

Some more thoughts:

We both love “Francesca” as a first name (for many of the same reasons we love Francesco), but we feel a little weird about using it so soon after naming our son George Francesco… maybe if we have another little girl in the future?

We want our daughter to have a strong saint to connect with (and whose feast day we can celebrate as her “name day”). For George, we celebrate St. Francis’s feast day as his name day, because we love St. Francis and love that there’s so much more to read/learn/emulate about him (in comparison to St. George). I hope that at least one of the saints our daughter is named for will be that way too. I don’t want her to be disappointed if there’s not much to know about her saint or most of what we “know” is as much folklore as fact. (One reason I like modern day saints so much.)

The names Elizabeth and her hubs are considering include (the asterisks are the current favorites):

*Beatrice (Elizabeth’s grandmother is nicknamed Bea)
Alice (“I’ve always written this one off because “alice” means “anchovy” in Italian, but I recently saw that it’s in the top ten names in Italy, so I guess no one cares“) 😀

And their favorite middle name ideas (largely dependent upon first name):

Luisa (“I have a great-grandfather Louis/Luigi“)
Rose/Rosa (“I’m afraid Rosa isn’t obviously Italian enough to work with an English-language first name“)
Marie (“my and my mom’s middle name; but would only work if she had a very Italian first name; I wish Maria were a good alternative, but most people associate it with Spanish-language origins more than Italian, at least around here“)

Elizabeth also said she’d love to honor St. Anne in some way but is struggling with ways to do so that fit their style and taste:

I’ve considered Marianna as a middle name (Mary and her mother!), but neither [of us are] sold on it. And it also has the potential to sound not Italian.”


If we name her Beatrice, we could “get around” the Marian dilemma by using a middle name that starts with ‘v’ — so her initials would be B.V.M. I can’t think of that many Italian ‘v’ names that really speak to me, but I’ve thought about Valentina, Viviana, Vincenza…?

Okay, so I love their list of girl names. Beatrice seems so perfect — it can be Italian, but not necessarily. I also LOVE their idea of using a V middle name for initials BVM for Our Lady. Brilliant! I like Valentina, Viviana, and Vincenza, and another idea is Vittoria — a friend was telling me recently about Our Lady of Victory — Vittoria could be a nice nod to her! It seems that the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was originally the feast of Our Lady of Victory, after the victory of Lepanto, which Our Lady of the Rosary points to as well. Kind of like two Marian titles in one name!  I also like that Vittoria is specifically Italian, as opposed to Victoria, which is used across multiple ethnicities but not Italian. Do you all have other ideas for Italian V- middle names?

Mary, Lucy, and Bernadette are all great — impeccably saintly, beautiful, feminine.

It would be so great to get St. Anne in there! Marianna is a beautiful idea, but if they’re not loving it, I wonder what they would think of Annetta? Behind the Name says it’s a diminutive of Anna with exclusively Italian usage. I could see it being beautiful as either a first or middle name. Mary Annetta? Lucy Annetta? Beatrice Annetta? (Probably not Bernadette Annetta!)

I have similar feelings to Elizabeth about Francesca — gorgeous name! But perhaps for a later girl?

From the rest of their list, Alice, Claire/Clara, Jane, and Eleanor seem great matches for the style of George. All beautiful! Gianna, Guilia/Julia/Giulianna, Alessandra, and Elena definitely skew more Italiany Italian. George and Mary or George and Alice will likely come across as very English, while George and Gianna or George and Alessandra (especially George and Alessandra) will be more surprising. I like both options! I might suggest Elizabeth and her husband give a quick thought to how they see the rest of their children’s names playing out, if they have more. Do they want to feel like they’ve set an English bookish vibe and then if they choose something more Italian sounding it’ll sound out of place? Or do they like the freedom that comes with choosing a different style name from George right now for their second baby, which preserves the possibility of both English-y and Italian names in the future?

I loved their list of Italian middle names! Several of them were ones I’d scribbled down as I’d read Elizabeth’s email initially, before I’d gotten to that part (especially Lucia and Chiara). Benedetta, Maristella, Luisa, Rose/Rosa are all beautiful … I wonder if an Italian Rose variant like Rosetta, Rosina, or Rosella would appeal to them? I love that Marie is Elizabeth and her mom’s middle name — maybe the variants Marietta and Mariella would be good to consider? I like that they contain “Marie” within them, but they also have that Italian twist.

I had a few more ideas for super Italian middle names:
Amalia (I know someone from Italy named Amalia)
Annamaria (despite that both elements could seem Spanish on their own, put together they read really Italian to me. Am I crazy? There’s a character in a book I recently read named Annamaria, so pretty)
Assunta (I wrote here about how women from Italy named Assunta sometimes anglicize it here as Susan!)

Annnnd there are just a lot of gorgeous names! A great list with a lot more options is here (you can see I only got through the A’s!).

I liked this bunch of specifically Marian super-Italian names:
Incoronata (I have a friend whose daughter’s middle name is Incoronata after her Italian grandmother, and it’s hard to find on name sites, but this one says it’s only used in Italy)
Consolata (from Behind the Name: “Means “consoled” in Italian. It is taken from the title of the Virgin Mary, María Consolata.”)

And I’m sure there’s more of those too at that link above! I also love Josephine and wondered if they’d considered the variant Giuseppa?

Alrighty, so I have a few more ideas for this family, based on the names they’ve already chosen and those that they like:

(1) Gemma
Gemma was the first name I thought of. St. Gemma Galgani was an Italian saint and a pretty well known one, so Elizabeth’s little girl would definitely have a feast day — April 11, right near her due date! I also really like that even though Gemma’s an Italian name, it’s been fairly popular in England for a while, so I think Gemma could serve as a nice bridge between George and a future daughter named Alessandra for example.

(2) Stella
Maristella on their list made me think of Stella right away, and I love it for this baby for a first name. As with Gemma, even though it *is* Italian I like that Stella doesn’t necessarily come across as Italian, so it can be that kind of “bridge” name between George and some of their more ethnic options for later daughters.

(3) Carmela
I know Elizabeth might not like this because it’s apparently both a Spanish and Italian form of Carmel, but I think of Carmen as being more common as the Spanish form, while Carmela’s all Italian for me, probably because I know a young Carmela whose family is very Italian, and an older Carmela who’s from Italy. A reader asked for nickname ideas for her little Carmela here. I love that it’s also Marian!

(4) Maddalena
I love Magdalene in any form, but the Italian version is so beautiful, I had to suggest it! It’s got really cute nickname options too — Maddy, Lena.

(5) Giacinta (Jacinta)
I wouldn’t have thought to suggest this except Elizabeth and her hubs have Julia/Giulia/Giuliana on their list. Jacinta’s one of my favorites, and I love the Italian spelling as well (I didn’t even know there was an Italian spelling until discovering that Halle Berry’s character in the Bond movie she was in, who went by Jinx, was actually Giacinta, and Jinx was a nickname. God works in mysterious ways. 😉 ).

(5) Catherine or Caterina
Finally, my favorite idea of these two is Caterina, which was St. Catherine of Siena’s actual name. So beautiful! And so fun that this family can pull it off with their Italian heritage! (I have none!) But I was starting to feel like I was leaning too heavily Italian and not considering the other names they like, and loved discovering that Catherine is a style match for several of their favorites (George, Mary, Alice, Julia). Either one would be just beautiful.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the baby sister of George Francesco?