Baby name consultation: Brit/Italian(/French?) name for no. 4 green bean

Please keep the Cronin family in your prayers, and if you can donate to their post-Harvey rebuilding efforts, they would be so grateful!

Francine and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big siblings:

Grace Christine
Sophia Rose (frequently called Sophie)
Gemma Catherine

I love these names! Grace and Sophia are gorgeous, feminine names that everyone’s currently loving, so I might have expected their third girl to be something like Ava or Emma, and really loved being surprised by Gemma! Such a beautiful sibling set!

Francine writes,

[For girls we] tend to like names that are somewhat traditional, obviously feminine names (no Taylors or Jordans), and something that could be tied to saint names. You’ll see from our older girls we tend toward British or Italian-sounding names. I do have Italian heritage, but with our family name and the fact that we’re now living in the Midwest it’s not very common around here, so I’m less likely to lean toward those since I don’t want our kid having to explain the spelling/pronunciation of her name to everyone for the rest of her life! We don’t mind nicknames, but prefer to keep them pretty close to the original name, and to call them by their first name. When we were deciding on our oldest’s name, we had a hard time coming up with a middle name that worked well — it seemed like everything sounded better with Grace as the middle name, but we knew we wanted to call her Grace. We also prefer names that will wear well over time … I hear so many names that sound cute for a little girl, but it’s hard to think of it when she’s 40 or 80, you know?

I’m sure you’ll notice that we ended up repeating initials with our first and third… it was coincidence only, and we’re not looking to repeat the pattern. We just liked Gemma’s name enough to not change it. We also don’t mind very much if the name tends to be popular (like Sophia’s), because we figured that if we loved the name our kid can be unique enough on her own!

I love that! I totally agree with Francine that “if we loved the name our kid can be unique on her own” — perfect!! That’s the best mindset!!

[For boys we] do have a front-runner from our last time around, but it’s not set in stone and we thought it would be fun to see what you come up with. 🙂

I have a really big extended family that tends to not reuse names, which also complicates things slightly. This isn’t exhaustive, but here are a few that we’ve ruled out:
Charlotte
Celine
Monica
Magdalene
Theresa/Therese
Victoria
Ava
Bridget
Isabelle
Lucia/Lucy
Marian
Cora

Joseph
Jacob
Michael
Leo
Gregory
Clive
Benjamin
David
Joel
Thomas
John
Caleb
Samuel
Lucas
Joshua
Matthew

This was fun to work on! In particular, Gemma adds a twist that was fun to include when I was trying to think of names that I thought might work for this family. I also don’t mind the repeated initials of Grace and Gemma at all, since they have different sounds.

So first I’m going to mention the two girl names that I decided not to suggest (but I think they’re helpful to mention, just in case). This is based on my research (you all know that I look up the names the parents have used and 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) and my own ideas. They are: Tessa (too close to Theresa/Therese? But such a cool way to nod to either saint without repeating a family name) and Charlotte (on their No list, but it was listed as a style match for both Grace and Sophia!). I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Tessa, and I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Charlotte! But I can see why they’d say no to both. And Leo and Lucas both made my final cut for boys before I went back and realized that they were on the No list.

Now on to the names that I actually am suggesting!

Girl
(1) Clare
I really like how Francine said they like British or Italian sounding names — I really kept that in mind when I was thinking of names for them. When I saw Claire listed as a style match for Grace, and Clare for Gemma, I thought it was a winner! It’s a similar length to their other girls’ names, and doesn’t repeat an ending, which isn’t the end of the world if it did, but it’s kind of cool it doesn’t (I mean, yes, it ends in E like Grace, but has a totally different ending sound). It’s the variant traditionally used for St. Clare of Assisi, which is where the Italian comes in (her actual name was Chiara, which would be so gorgeous too! And in fact, both Gemma and Chiara are styles matches for each other in that they’re both listed as matches for Gianna), and it’s the English variant (as opposed to Claire, which is the French. Also gorgeous! But if they want English or Italian, I think Clare’s their best best. Although, Grace’s middle name, Christine is also a French variant, and and so is Gemma’s middle name, Catherine, and even though they use Sophie as a nickname, it too is French, which is a nice nod to Francine’s name and a nice theme to carry throughout). (I also love Clara, if they wanted to go with an A ending.)

(2) Anna (or -anna) or Annabel
This was actually my first idea, before I’d started doing any research for them. Anna is one of those beautiful pan-European names that can be Italian as well as having good usage in English-speaking countries, and it’s got that lovely vintagey feel that Grace and Sophia have. I’m just not entirely sure it’s a great match with Gemma — maybe they sound too similar? If so, I wonder if any of the -anna names would be more appealing? Susanna and Julianna come to mind — both beautiful! Or perhaps Annabel?

(3) Felicity
I took special notice of the names that were similar to Gemma, since her style is a little bit different than her sisters’ — not in a bad way at all! They go together so well! Just a little less popular. One that jumped out to me was Felicity — I love Felicity with Francine’s older girls! I did a spotlight of it, including nickname ideas, here.

(4) Juliet(te)
This is another one that’s a style match for Gemma, and I love it because like Clare it’s an anglicization of an Italian name, so it combines Italian and English pretty well I think. If they liked the idea of continuing the French theme, Juliette’s a beautiful spelling too. I did a spotlight of it and its faith connections here.

(5) A Lily name, or Violet
I loved seeing Lily as a style match for Grace, Lillian for Sophia, Lillie for Sophie, and Lilia for Sofia (I looked up Sophia, Sophie, and Sofia, because I thought it gave me the most complete view of its style and similar names). All those variants are amazing! I was really feeling like a flower name would fit in well with the older girls — a Rose name probably would have been my first thought, except that Sophia’s middle name is Rose — but a Lily name is perfect too, and actually Violet was a style match for Gemma, and I love that too.

Boy
(1) Maxwell
I always love seeing names that are listed as similar to more than one name on the parents’ list. Maxwell is one such, being a match for Grace and Sophia. Max is such a great nickname too!

(2) Henry (or John Henry?) (or Jack?)
Henry’s another that’s a match for more than one name — in this case, Grace and Sophie. It’s definitely got that British feel, and there are lots of holy Henrys. When I looked up the spotlight that that link brings you to, I was reminded of John Henry, which is such a darling combo! I know John is on their No list, but maybe a double name would be okay? And all this makes me think of Jack, which I think would also fit in nicely with their girls, either as a given name or as a nickname for John or a John+ double.

(3) Owen or Oliver
Owen is a match for Grace and Sophie, and you know I love it because of St. Nicholas Owen! Oliver is a match for Sophie and Felicity from my suggestions above, and St. Oliver Plunket is awesome. Both Owen and Oliver are great names that I think would go really well with all the girls, including Gemma, since her name has that British vibe as well.

(4) Nicholas or Colin
Nicholas is a match for Sophia and Colin for Gemma and since Colin can be a variant of (or even a nickname for!) Nicholas, I thought they were both swirling around the right area. I especially liked finding a name that was a match for Gemma — I really like Colin. Using the nickname Nico can also skew Nicholas more Italian-ish, if they’d like to do so.

(5) Tobias
I was so interested to see Tobias as a match for their Gemma’s name, and also for Juliet on my list of suggestions for them. I love it! I feel like it’s kind of unexpected, and the nickname Toby is amazing.

Bonus: Timothy
Timothy didn’t show up in any of my research, but it was my first thought for this family for a boy’s name, before cracking open the BNW. It isn’t Italian or French — in fact, it always strikes me as having an Irish feel, as well as of course biblical — but it seemed to have the boy equivalent of the sweetness I get from Francine’s girls’ names. The full Timothy is so handsome; Timmy and Tim are great, traditional nicknames; and I like the idea of Ty as a nickname for it as well.

And those are my ideas for Francine and her hubs! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Grace, Sophia, and Gemma?

New ideas for yesterday’s consultation

Sandra left a comment on yesterday’s baby name consultation that I thought brought up a good point. The part I was struck by was this:

To me Rocco and Kolbe, whilst lovely, are not really in line with the classic style of their other children.”

I know what she means — Rocco is a very Italian name, classic and saintly, certainly, but a different style from Timothy, Emma, Matthew, Margaret, and Abigail (although I know a Rocco who has a brother Daniel, so maybe not that far off!). Kolbe isn’t as classic in the sense that it has fairly new usage as a first name, though of course it has loads of saintly cred.

I feel like I didn’t do a great job of suggesting ideas that acknowledged the fact that Laura and her hubs love names outside of the style of the names they’ve already chosen. I’ve definitely seen parents’ name taste evolve and change the more kids they have, so the fact that their list departs from what they’ve done a bit isn’t that unusual.

I do think, from their current list, that John Paul is definitely a good fit, since it’s a combo of two biblical names, which goes so nicely with the other kids’ names. Maximilian leans a little weightier than their other kids, and is a lot of Ma- with Matthew and Margaret, but otherwise I could see a little Max fitting in well. But since Laura and her hubs love Rocco and Kolbe, I thought I’d do this quick post with some more ideas that are more along those lines. This is what I came up with:

(1) Christian
Christian fits with lots of different styles, I think. It’s certainly biblical, but not in the traditional sense; definitely faith-y and beyond saintly (!); and it feels more contemporary, like Kolbe, all of which I think might make it appealing to Laura and her hubs.

(2) Gabriel
Gabriel is one of my favorite favorite names. It’s biblical and saintly, and while it has a long history of use, I think it feels like an unexpected addition to a list of “classic” names, which I quite like.

(3) Garrett
I tried to think of same saintly surnames or names with a surname feel that I thought fit in well with their older kids, besides Kolbe on their list and Bennett, which I suggested in yesterday’s consultation. I thought of Becket, Kapaun, Fulton, Campion, and Savio, but when I thought of Garrett (which was originally a surname and derived from Gerard or Gerald, both saint names), I thought it was a slam dunk. I know brothers Matthew and Garrett, so it feels like a good fit to me!

(4) Roman
Finally, Roman — a style match for Maximilian and pretty clearly Italian without being overly so. I’ve always loved that Roman points to Rome, and you can’t get much more Catholic than that.

I know it’s unusual for me to revisit a consultation like this! But I felt like I’d let Laura down a bit, and wanted to remedy it. What do you all think? Do you have any other ideas along these lines?

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!

 

Baby name consultation: Help pick the right combo for baby no. 5/boy no. 3!

(I forgot to let you all know that I was going to be away on vacation last week! So sorry for the quietness of the blog! If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen that I got to meet and spend a few hours with Colleen from Martin Family Moments — it was so fun! She was so great! We talked and talked about all sorts of things, just like you do with your dear friends, and her hubby and kids hung out with my hubby and kids, and I got to meet two of her sisters, it was all just really familiar and family-like. It’s hard to make that happen when meeting someone for the first time — it’s a rare gift! Thanks again Colleen! 💕😘)

Christie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Kolbe David (“After Maximillian Kolbe and David of Wales“)
Isaac Austin (“after a more obscure saint named Isaac of Cordoba with a super cool and relevant story and Augustine of Canterbury“)
Eva Therese (“after Mary the New Eve and Therese of Lisieux“)
Alexis Chiara (“after OL of Perpetual Help – Alexis means help in Greek – and Bl. Chiara Badano“)

Great names, right? I really love all the significance in each one, I love how they’ve incorporated Marian names in unexpected ways, and I love that I’m posting this on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of my very very favorites — happy feast day to Christie’s oldest!!

They have, as Christie put it, “a pretty specific naming schema” for their kiddos, and in fact “already have a list of names to consider, and just need help finding the winning combo” — I’m happy to participate in baby name conversations in any way that might be helpful! And I really love what Christie and her hubs have done so far, and the names on their list. As she explained,

Our kids’ names are like super-infused with meaning, Catholic dork style (and proud of it).”

(Yasssss!!! 👊👏😍)

Our boys are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and another saint who was a first evangelizer of the British Isles that honors their paternal heritage all over that region. Our girls are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and some sort of homage to Mary. We don’t care which name comes first of the two saints, just whatever sounds good.

A few other name preferences:
– We hate nicknames beyond infancy, and don’t want to give our kids names that they will never go by (just ask us: we’re a Christopher and a Christina). Obviously our kids do get nicknamed, but it’s things that won’t stick for forever.
– our last name is Collins, so no Phil, Tom, or other celebrity drinks/people ending in Collins!!! And my husband also threw out Nicholaus because that’s the origin of the last name Collins (I mean… ok, fine, hubs)
– I’m Italian/Cajun/Irish in heritage and we lived in Rome for two years and still study the Italian language and culture as a family. If only Marcellino Collins was, like, even okay-sounding LOL!
– not too obscure of a saint (minimum: must be able to find a holy card or book or something about the guy)

Finally, we want there to be some sort of pilgrimage that makes sense for their saint because our dream is that a high school or college graduation present will be a pilgrimage with just one parent and that child to “their” spot. For Kolbe, that will be Auschwitz, for Isaac it’ll be Cordoba (very southern Spain), for Eva it’ll be Lisieux, and for Alexis, Rome. So far that’s a pretty trans-European experience too.”

I loved reading all of this!! I laughed out loud in several spots, and I also think the pilgrimage idea is so cool.

Continuing,

For the heritage name: we’ve scoured all the early evangelizer saints and let’s be honest…we’re not naming a kid Cunegard or anything without vowels (or entirely composed of them), so it’s a bit restrictive. Here are the remotely good ones.

Aaron
Patrick
Aidan
Finnian
Andrew
Brendan
Kieran
Declan

For the saints-we-look-up-to name, there are lots. Some were tossed out because they were too out there for my husband (Ephrem, Cyril, Cyprian, Fulton). I’ve researched other ways to name a kid after each of them and I’ll include that info.

Augustine (Augustine, but we already used Austin…)
John the Apostle (John)
Gregory the Great (Gregory, Magnus)
Peter Damien (Peter, Damien)
John Paul (born Karol Jozef, Karol means Carl and Charles: John, Paul, Karol, Carl, Charles, Jozef, Joseph)
Ambrose (Gio and Giotto are Italian diminutives/derivatives: Ambrose, Gio, Giotto)
Benedict (established monastery at Monte Cassino: Benedict, Bennett, Monte)
Leo the Great (Leo, Magnus)
Bonaventure (born Giovanni, and he’s the Seraphic Doctor, if there’s anything there, Bonaventure)
Phillip Neri (darn you, Phil Collins, for being famous!: Neri?)
John Bosco (born Melchiorre, Forrest for a play on words – bosco = woods/forest, Bosco, John)
Thomas More (Thomas)
John Chrysostom (John)
Dominic (middle name was Felix after his father: Dominic, Felix)
Francis of Assisi (Francis)
Damien of Molokai (born Jozef: Damien, Jozef))
Francis de Sales (born Francis Bonaventura: Francis)
Peter Julian Eymard (Peter, Julian mayybbeeeee)
Louis Martin (we don’t like Louis, but maybe Martin)
Nathaniel (Nathaniel, Nathan)

Other names we like okay that are also saints:
Blaise
Basil
Luke/Lucas
Jude
Sebastian
Pio
Owen (St. Nicholas Owen)
Oliver

I love how Christie’s mind works! I loved reading all her ideas for naming after saints without using the exact name (who knew Gio and Giotto were Italian variants of Ambrose? So cool!).

I admit that at first I wasn’t sure what I could contribute, since Christie and her hubs have all their names pretty much figured out. But I did have some thoughts, both about the names they already have on their list, and even some new ideas that I think fit in well enough that they won’t hate them.

First off, I totally wouldn’t cross Italian names off their list just because they don’t have an Italian last name! Christie has Italian heritage, and as she said they lived in Rome and still study the language and culture as a family — to me, it would be kind of weird to not include Italian names in their considerations! Christie’s concern about it clashing with their last name reminded me of this post from Swistle, which discussed what her reader called the “Juan Pablo Jones problem,” and which I thought was spot-on. I especially like this bit:

I think it’s unnecessary for [your husband] to bring cultural appropriation into it when what you’re discussing is using names FROM YOUR OWN CULTURES. It sounds as if his concern is that other people will THINK it’s cultural appropriation: that is, if someone didn’t realize your cultural background, they might think you shouldn’t have used the name. I am generally on the side of worrying what other people think and of taking into account the society we live in (I don’t want to give a child a name that will make people think badly of her or of us), but this doesn’t seem like an issue here. First/last-name incompatibility could happen any time the parents didn’t come from the same cultural background, or any time a surname gets married out of usage. It seems like even (or especially) people hyper-aware of cultural appropriation issues would also be aware that the current particular surname doesn’t tell the story of the family background.”

So I’d say, use Marcellino with joy!

Secondly, working with the names they already have on their list, I felt like Finnian and Kieran from their British Isles list seemed like they’d fit well as first names with the other kids. I was also really struck by how many holy Johns they love, and if it were me, I would definitely take that as a sign that John is a slam dunk as a first name. I’ve also always loved that John goes in front of most any name for boys in a similar way as Mary for girls — I think a John ___ could easily go by John or a nickname of John, or the fn+mn as a double name (like John Paul), or the middle name, just like those girls with Mary ___ as a given name have traditionally found Mary, fn+mn, or just the middle name as options available to them that generally don’t raise eyebrows. I know I’ve said this a million times, but most of my dad’s first cousins who are women, as well as one of his sisters and his mom, are all Mary ___, and most of them go by their middle names in real life (signing their names as just their middles, or sometimes M. Middle), or by both Mary and the middle. And John is just the same in my opinion. Perhaps it doesn’t have the long history of use in that regard like Mary does, so maybe others might raise their eyebrows at a John ___ that goes by a double name or his middle name or whatever, but to me it’s an awesome option. I posted a huge John+ consultation post here, which might have some helpful info.

So I love the idea of John Aaron, John Patrick, John Aidan, John Finnian, John Andrew, John Brendan, John Kieran, and John Declan. I think they all sound just amazingly handsome and masculine but not overly macho or anything, just really nice combos. If it were me, I’d be tempted to call them by the double names because I’m so enamored of the John+ doubles! But even if he just went by John, I think they’d be pleased because John is an easy name to use and enforce that no nicknames are to be used. It’s great and solid for a man and increasingly unexpected on a little boy.

I also love the idea of going by the middle names, which I think might be more their style anyway, based on the names they’ve already used for their older kids — Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis don’t have the feel that a family that would choose John for a son would traditionally have, I think. So doing something unexpected with a little John’s name would be more expected in a family that uses a saint’s last name as a first, for example.

But even though I think John makes so much sense, because it honors all the Sts. John they love (and even St. Bonaventure, with Giovanni as his birth name), it does make choosing the patron saint and pilgrimage place difficult — which John would they focus on? Of course they could solve that by using the middle name as the patron and place, which is probably what I would recommend, especially since they don’t have any British Isles pilgrimage places represented yet among their kiddos.

So after swooning over all the John+ possibilities, my attention shifted to Leo, because when I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I was really struck by what a good fit Leo is for this family based on the names Christie and her hubs have already chosen and those they like/are considering: In general, there wasn’t any real overlap among the names that were listed as similar to the names they’ve chosen, BUT Leo was listed as a style match for Eva as well as Oliver, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix — I thought that was pretty significant! I loved the combos Leo Patrick, Leo Finnian, Leo Brendan, Leo Kieran, and Leo Declan, and I didn’t know if they’d be interested in going full Irish, but if so I also love Leo Padraig (a combo I had on my list for a while). They could of course use the middle name to choose the pilgrimage spot, but I looked up St. Leo the Great and his Wiki entry said he was born in Tuscany, which is an amazing place to visit, but not sure *where* in Tuscany they’d go? He’s buried in Rome, but they already have Rome on the list for Alexis … A cool tidbit is that he played an important role in the Council of Chalcedon, and Chalcedon is in Turkey today, so that would be a good option I think.

Looking more through the list of saints they love, I was struck by these things/had these thoughts that might be helpful:

  • I agree about not using Augustine since they already used Austin (which you all probably know is a variant of Augustine)
  • I love that Gio and Giotto are Italian variants of Ambrose, how cool!
  • Love Monte as a nod to St. Benedict!
  • Seraphim is used as a masculine name, which could make a cool middle name as a nod to St. Bonaventure
  • We considered the full Philip Neri as a fn+mn and I really wanted to use Finn as the nickname! If Christie and her hubs didn’t hate nicknames, this could get around the Phil Collins issue, but as it is, I agree with them—no Philip! Neri would be interesting … I also wonder if they would consider Finnian to be a double nod to St. Finnian and St. Philip Neri because of the Finn thing I just mentioned? Or maybe they’re hating my idea of trying to double up saints in one name!! Haha! No worries if so, I never get offended about differences of opinion in naming! And I’m certainly under no illusion that I have all the right answers
  • I love Melchiorre/Melchior for St. John Bosco! I love the idea of naming for the Three Wise Men anyway, and knowing that it also is part of St. Bosco’s name is so cool! It also reminded me of Malachy—I don’t know if St. Malachy fits the criteria they’re using to define “early British Isles evangelizer,” but he was the first native-born Irishman to be canonized, which is pretty cool
  • I wonder if they would be interested in Morey for Thomas More? This family named their son Thomas More and call him Morey, which is also a nod to Great Grandpa Maury (genius!), but I think Morey is a great name on its own and fine as a nod to Thomas More
  • I’ve never seen Felix considered for St. Dominic, very cool!
  • St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis de Sales, being both on their list, would make me want to use Francis as a nod to them both …
  • St. Francis de Sales has such great connections for this family—not only was Bonaventura his middle name, which could also nod to St. Bonaventure, but St. John Bosco was of course a devotee of St. Francis de Sales … again, I’m a fan of trying to tie together connections and honor lots of different people with one name, so I would find this all very inspiring—a way of checking several saints off their list of favorites with one child’s name. I’m not sure what name I would recommend though?
  • I thought of Christie on St. Peter Julian Eymard’s recent feast day; I discussed Julian a bit in my last consultation, which might be helpful?
  • I like Martin a lot, I always wonder why more people aren’t using it!
  • Love Nathaniel
  • I love Pio as a middle name! Ana at Time Flies When You’re Having Babies has a Joseph Pio, which I’ve always thought was an amazing combo
  • I would love to see them move Owen and Oliver from their “so-so” list to their “favorites” list! Oliver’s a style match for Eva, Leo, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix, and I know an Isaac who has a brother Oliver! I love St. Oliver Plunket. I also know an Isaac with a brother Owen (and a sister Olivia!), and St. Nicholas Owen is amazing!

One final thought I had was regarding an honor name for John Paul — I’ve seen Lolek considered a time or two as a first name, and we even discussed it as a possible “nickname” for Luke! So maybe Christie and her hubs would like to consider it as well? They seem to like the hard K sound (Kolbe, Isaac, Alexis, Chiara, and per their list Patrick, Kieran, Declan, Carl/Karol, Dominic, Felix, Luke/Lucas), and Lolek really does feel like an unexpected Luke.

And those are all my thoughts and ideas for Christie’s littlest guy! What do you all think? Based on all this, what name(s) and/or combo(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis?

Baby name consultation: Italian (+ biblical?) name for little girl that complements big brother

Robyn and her husband will be adopting their sixth baby on earth — second girl! — this fall! This little lady will join big sibs:

Robert Noah (who goes by Noah)
Elijah Christian (nn is Eli)
Aaron Joseph
Gianna Marie
Ezra Benedict

+Gabriel William
+Mary Patrice (MaryPat)
+Samuel Peter

Aren’t they just wonderful names? I love each one!!

Robyn writes,

After our losses [Gabriel, MaryPat, and Samuel were miscarried after Noah, Eli, and Aaron] we looked to adoption to continue to grow our family. In 2013 we were blessed to adopt a beautiful baby girl. [We named her] Gianna Marie — named after St. Gianna, a name I have always loved since first hearing of dear St. Gianna. Marie of course after our Blessed Mother and also a beloved grandmother. Also, I loved the meaning of Gianna — God is gracious, so appropriate for that time in our lives.

Last summer we felt called to start the adoption process again and in November we were blessed once again! This time a beautiful boy. [We named him] Ezra Benedict — Ezra to continue the old testament theme and Benedict after St. Benedict. We had just taken an amazing trip to Italy and one of our favorite places was Norcia the birthplace of Benedict. Also, we loved the meaning of his name. Ezra meaning helper and Benedict a blessing.

[They recently found out they’ve been selected by a birth mom to adopt her baby girl] Now we will have two babies 10 months apart as this baby comes in Sept and Ezra doesn’t turn one until November. Almost like twins!

(What an amazing story!! God is so good!!)

We like names that are saints, or variations of saint names. And it has to be an Italian name as my husband’s family is Italian and he would really like for his girls to have his heritage in their names. (Could be the middle name though) We love names that aren’t overly popular but unique and fairly easy to pronounce and spell. The meaning of the name is important to us, so something that means, blessing, gift, loved, happiness, peace along those lines. The middle name would be great if it was after family, but it doesn’t have to be. We also love Italian place names like Assisi or Siena. Perhaps a virtue for the middle name as well.”

What a fun challenge, to come up with an Italian name that goes well with Ezra!

Names on their list include:

Philomena (“Have always liked this but everyone we tell it to gets a funny look on their face. I like the nn Mena“)
Serafina (“So pretty but don’t like the nn options, don’t like Sera“)
Chiara (“Love this one, as well as the saint behind it but afraid that it will be mispronounced her whole life. Also what nn go with it?“)
Gemma (“Too close to Gianna“)
Kateri (“So pretty but not Italian so hubby’s not a fan. Love the nn Kat“)
Zelie (“I liked it but hubby nixed because it won’t age well“)

Additionally,

Some other names we looked at because they are family names were Patricia, Patrice, Eleanor, Alice, Ann, Renee, Lucille, Sadie.

Our whole family has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart and to our Blessed Mother. Don’t know if that helps or not! 😉

We really have no front runner names right now and we are completely stumped as nothing sounds right. We would like it to be a nice compliment to Ezra since they are so close [in age]. But we don’t want it to be too matchy.”

This was so much fun to work on, I LOVE Italian girl names, they’re so pretty and feminine! And so many super saintly ones! I also love that their family has a devotion to the Sacred Heart and to Mother Mary — I took both of those into account when thinking of names for them. Another big thing that informed my ideas was their hope that the name be “a nice compliment to Ezra” but not “too matchy.” As well as, of course, biblical + Italian.

First though, I thought I’d give some feedback on the (gorgeous) names they have on their list:

— Philomena: I love Philomena! I’m not sure why people get a funny look on their face? I think it’s a great name! I might think of changing to Filomena though, as that’s the Italian spelling (as I understand it). Mena’s a great nickname.

— Serafina: a gooorgeous name!! If nicknames are the only thing holding them up, I can think of a bunch more besides Sera, like Fina, Fia, Sofie, and Sunny. Some fun options!

— Chiara: I love this one too, and I tend not to worry too much about pronunciation with a name like this — with Gianna and Giada part of our vernacular now, it’s not a huge stretch to add in Chiara — a quick correction is all it takes. As for nicknames, the only ones I’ve come up with are Key (I read an article when I was a teen about a girl named Key and thought it was THE coolest name!) or Kiki, which is cute (it’s actually the name I called myself when I was little, not being able to say Katie correctly).

— Gemma: I agree it’s too close to Gianna, and such a bummer, because otherwise it’s perfect!

— Kateri: I love Kateri and Kat too, and this seems an easy fix to me — St. Catherine of Siena (for whom St. Kateri was named) was actually Caterina (Catherine is our anglicization of her name), and Caterina’s so similar to Kateri! And Cat is an obvious nickname, really cute.

— Zelie: I would have thought Robyn’s hubby nixed it because it’s not Italian! I mean, obviously it *does* age well, because St. Zelie was a grown woman with the name, but even for her Zelie was a nickname — since her given name was Marie-Azelie, maybe they could do something like Maria-Zelie, to give it an Italian touch? If they did that, they could even use Zelie as the everyday call name, and when she’s an adult she can choose to go just by Maria if she prefers. I searched and searched for the Italian variant of Azelie, but since Azelie’s origin is unclear, there wasn’t any Italian variant offered. Some think it’s a variant of the flower name Azalea, so I looked up what the Italian variant of azalea is and just got … azalea! So I think Maria-Zelie might be the best Italianate option (and I love it! What a cool name Maria-Zelie would be! And I love the Z of Zelie with the prominent Z of Ezra — that to me suggests complementary without being too matchy). Also, both other girls (MaryPat and Gianna Marie) have a form of Mary in their names, so something like Maria-Zelie would continue that theme AS WELL AS the biblical connection! I’m dying. So swoony.

Okay, as for new ideas, first I tried to think of Italian names that I thought would complement Ezra, and the biggest characteristics I had to go on (not having yet done research to see what names are actually similar to Ezra’s style) was that it’s four letters, followed by the fact that it has a prominent Z. A few names that came immediately to mind were:

(1) Zita
I can’t think of any name that has more of an Italian feel than Zita! St. Zita’s an awesome saint too. I love that, like Zelie, Zita has that prominent Z, as well as four letters, and ends in A. I don’t think Ezra and Zita are too matchy, especially because one is super duper Old Testament and the other is super duper non-biblical Italian! I’ve also been crushing lately on a more recent holy Zita: Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria (her full name was Zita Maria delle Grazie Adelgonda Micaela Raffaela Gabriella Giuseppina Antonia Luisa Agnese! Wow!).

(2) Rosa
This is another four-letter, Italian name that ends in A, and has a Z sound even though there’s no Z in the name. And it’s Marian! Ezra and Rosa are sweet together!

(3) Cora
Cora is 100% inspired by their love of both the Sacred Heart and Our Lady! I’ve seen families use it to honor both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because of its similarity to the Latin for heart, “cor.” I don’t think Cora is Italian, but it’s similar in spelling and rhythm to other Italian girl names (especially since it ends in A), and I love that it’s four letters and ends in A, which is nice with Ezra.

(4) Dora
This too is because of its meaning — “gift” — as well as the fact that it’s four letters and ends in A. This isn’t an Italian name either, and has a bit of baggage because of Dora the Explorer, but the meaning can’t be beat.

I then tried to think of other names that I thought could connect to Ezra that might be more do-able for the middle name, and I thought of these:

(1) Norcia
Robyn said she loves Italian place names, and Norcia has special meaning to them because they loved their visit there, and it helped inspire Ezra’s middle name. It would make a cool connection to give their daughter Norcia as a middle name!

(2) Schola, Scola, Scholastica
Continuing with the St. Benedict theme, Benedict and Scholastica are famous saintly twins, and while I love the full Scholastica — especially as a middle with a shorter first name like the four-letter ones I list above (Zita Scholastica, Rosa Scholastica, Cora Scholastica, Dora Scholastica … ohhh my!) — I thought they could legitimately shorten it if they felt more comfortable with that. Scola is a Sicilian surname that means “school” or “retreat” according to Ancestry.com, a nice way to shorten Scholastica.

(3) Benedetta or Bettina
Both Benedetta and Bettina are Italian feminine variants of Benedict (Bettina’s a diminutive of Benedetta). Could be cool to give Ezra’s sister the feminine Italian variant of his middle name for her middle name! It also means “blessed,” so it can be for Our Lady too (“blessed among women”).

After coming up with these ideas, I then looked up all the names they’ve used for their older kiddos and those they have on their list in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and I looked through the results for names that I thought particularly complemented Ezra. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Eva or Ava (or Ave?)
Obviously they have a super biblical theme with their boys, and even with the girls — Mary is biblical of course, and so is Gianna by the fact that it’s a John and Joanna variant. So I really liked finding other biblical names that were also Italian and even Marian if I could. Both Eva and Ava fit the bill! They’re both variants of Eve, and Mary is the New Eve — how lovely! I particularly like Eva with Ezra — though I probably wouldn’t usually suggest the same initials to actual twins, the fact that Ezra and the new baby are so close in age seems to validate the idea of same initials, to me anyway. But then, maybe they’re done with E’s because they already have Elijah as well?

If they like the idea of an Eve name but not an E initial, Ava is great, and I’ve seen Ava paired with Maria as a middle name in order to mimic the Ave Maria. And really, I see no reason why Ave itself couldn’t work! Though it’s not technically an Eve variant, there is that beautiful stanza in the Ave Maris Stella that says about Our Lady:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Such a cool connection between “Ave” and Eve! So they could consider Ave a Marian name, especially when paired with Maria.

(2) Stella (or Maristella)
Speaking of the Ave Maris Stella, what about Stella? It’s Italian and Marian and ends in A like Ezra, but is decidedly non-matchy with it. If they wanted to up both the Marian and Italian aspect, they could use the lengthier Maristella, which is such a confection of a name! I’ve done two birth announcements for baby Maristellas, here and here.

(3) Sofia
I know the Sophia/Sofia/Sophie names are popular right now, but it’s a style match for Noah, Elijah, and Gabriel, and given that it means “wisdom,” it’s also the name of a book of the bible. The Sofia spelling is Italian, and it can also be considered Marian, via her titles Our Lady of Wisdom and Seat/Throne of Wisdom (which of course points to Jesus — a great two-for-one name!).

(4) Isabella, Bella, or Elisabetta
Going along with the biblical theme, the Italian variants of Elizabeth are so beautiful! Isabella and Bella are both lovely, and with Bella meaning “beautiful” in Italian, it’s a great nickname for a girl, or even a given name, which can take any of the Sts. Elizabeth as patron. Elisabetta ratches it up a notch, what a gorgeous Italian name! And as with Eva, I like that it begins with an E as a sister to Ezra. But also, it’s another E name, and on top of that another El- name, like Elijah, so maybe too much?

(5) Lidia
Another great Italian variant of a biblical name is Lidia. Lydia/Lidia’s such a great name for a girl not only because it’s the name of a Christian woman in the New Testament, but also because she was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia/Lidia would have her own color, so fun!

(6) Lucia
With this year being the 100th Anniversary of Fatima, Lucia would be a pretty great name for a little girl born this year! And though Lucia of Fatima was Portuguese, of course Lucia is the Italian variant as well, said loo-CHEE-ah. This would tie in nicely with the Lucille on their list of family names.

(7) Carmela
The Mount Carmel referenced in the Marian title Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a mountain mentioned in the bible, which they probably already know from their Elijah, as it was on Mount Carmel that the prophet Elijah defeated the pagans. The Carmelite Order traces its origin back to Elijah on Mount Carmel, which is so cool! So I love that Carmela, which is such a traditional Italian name, is also biblical! I did a post on nicknames for Carmela here — there are some good ideas both in the post itself and in the comments.

(8) Maddalena
Finally, since I was already in the biblical place name frame of mind, I thought of Maddalena — the Italian form of Magdalene. What a beautiful name Maddalena is! I like both Maddy and Lena as nicknames for it.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What Italian name would you suggest for Robyn’s little girl, taking into account earth-side sibs Noah, Elijah, Aaron, Gianna, and especially Ezra, who will be less than a year older than her?

Spotlight on: Beretta

So my post on Beretta got a lot of attention! Not only did I get a lot of great comments here, but even Linda from Nameberry weighed in on Twitter! The overwhelming reaction was, “That’s a gun name,” followed by, “Don’t name your child after a gun.”

I posted that post, followed by this one, because a mama had emailed me asking about Beretta used in honor of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Despite my love for that saint, I admit my first reaction was “that’s a gun name!” (and I have very little familiarity with guns), but I wasn’t sure if others would feel the same, so getting all of your feedback was really helpful to me and that mama, I’m sure. I also loved discovering that the name also calls to mind for many the car by the same name (which also reminds me of Shelby), as well as a hair barrette, and also biretta, which is the name for that square hat for priests, and according to one of our Italian readers also the word for “small beer.” (She also said that Italians don’t use surnames as first names, which is so interesting to me! I love learning about other cultures through names.) In hindsight, I wish I’d left out the part in my post about it being used as an honor name for St. Gianna, just to see if anyone would have that association right away as well.

My FB feed is regularly filled with gun posts — posts by those who are rabidly anti-gun, and by those who have no problem with them, and responses by both sides to the other side (often nasty) — so I can see even in my limited experience that the name Beretta definitely comes with some baggage that parents would need to feel comfortable with. But as the comments showed, as well as some quick research I did, there are some people who *like* gun names, whether because they just like tougher-sounding names, or because they nod to their profession or their hobby. There are many who see this as a negative (see The Frightening New Wave of Baby Names: Aggressive names from Gunner to Raider to Danger are on the rise [Nameberry] and Americans are naming their babies WHAT? We all know American are obsessive about their guns. But this is taking things too far. [Australian web site]), but I thought what Laura (Baby Name Wizard) wrote in her post Son of a Gun: The Firearms Baby Name Report was more balanced and well articulated:

What does the trend mean? I believe it points to two different cultural threads in the United States over the past decade. The first is the rising role of guns as a cultural identifier. For hunters and firearms enthusiasts, guns can be both a passion and a symbol of a way of life … Some gun owners perceive their lifestyle as being threatened by those who don’t understand them or share their values. Choosing a gun name, then, can summon up happy memories of hunting with your dad — or be a statement of cultural defiance. It’s an in-group statement, designed to speak to those who share your cultural touchstones.”

I’m sure we all have friends or relatives who we can see liking names like this for the reasons mentioned above, and we can certainly all relate with cultural defiance.

Beretta is a particularly interesting name in light of all this, for us especially. What Laura said about gun names being “an in-group statement, designed to speak to those who share your cultural touchstones” is exactly why so many of us choose the names we choose for our babies. Zelie, Jacinta, Kolbe, and Karol are examples of names that will likely only be fully “gotten” by those who share our worldview. It’s likely only we would also be able to understand the saintly significance behind the name Beretta, if chosen by a Catholic family. And in fact, being that it’s an Italian name as well, so many of which are loved by so many of Italian heritage and even those who aren’t, Beretta’s the amazing, solitary result of the Venn diagram of gun names, Italian names, and Catholicky Catholic names. For a certain kind of family, fully informed, Beretta is exactly perfect.

This reader suggested Beretta’s a name that should be reclaimed, because of its faith significance. She wrote:

I think, as a Catholic, one would have to ask the question: to what extent should worldly associations impact the choice of a saintly moniker for a child? Yes, there is a gun, but it is the maiden name of a saint nonetheless. And when other surname names (or place names) like Kolbe, Becket, Vianney, Avila, Lourdes, etc. get fair usage among Catholic circles, it doesn’t seem like Beretta should be an immediate write off. Actually perhaps there is reason to use it to “reclaim” the name so to speak, and when you are asked the child’s name it can be an evangelization opportunity to inform about St. Gianna Beretta Molla, and the Church.”

I do love the evangelization opportunities that names can provide! But I also think there are some names for which the negative associations far outweighs the positive, names that even I don’t think are ready to be reclaimed (Adolf comes to mind). I’m not saying Beretta’s in the same league as Adolf, but I am saying that worldly associations sometimes *must* impact the choice of a saintly moniker for a child. (Poor holy Adolfs.) Is Beretta one such name? I’m not convinced, not in a universal way anyway (I mean yes, if parents feel that way regarding their own child, but not in regards to a blanket disavowal of the name).

Another good point to make, which answers the question, “why not Molla, if using a saint’s surname instead of given name is going to be the ‘thing’?” is that personal taste is so often the deciding factor. It’s why some parents choose to honor St. Thomas Becket with the name Becket instead of Thomas, why Grandma Pearl’s namesake is named Margaret instead of Pearl, and why Catherine is chosen instead of Katherine or Elisabeth instead of Elizabeth. St. Gianna has three names — for some, Gianna is the best and only way to go; for others, Joanna or Jane or some other anglicized variant; for others Molly as a nod to Molla; for others Beretta or a spin-off of it.

In fact, some of you who appreciated Beretta’s connection to St. Gianna offered ways of working around the gun association by using its nicknames Retta or Etta as the given name, for example, or a sound-alike like Britta, or mashing up Gianna and Beretta to get Greta, or naming a boy Barrett. Some might be willing to go farther by choosing the full Beretta, but then tucking it in the middle spot where it can stay hidden if desired.

I suspect, though, that a family who loves Beretta isn’t going to be thrilled by the idea of using Retta, Etta, Britta, Greta, or Barrett-on-a-boy instead (though perhaps they be happy enough to use nicknames on a day-to-day basis, and/or might go for it as a middle name). Though many of us wouldn’t feel comfortable with giving our child a name rife with so many charged viewpoints, I’m going to guess that parents who choose Beretta are more than willing to defend their choice to the naysayers.

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)
Zelie
Philomena
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:

Charles
Aloysius
Sebastian
Dominic
Jude (this is maybe my favorite?)
Maximilian

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:

Girl
(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.

Boy
(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 CatholicSaints.info—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?