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?

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!!

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Annunziata Graziella