a Becket, a Kempis, a Cruce

St. Thomas a Becket, Thomas a Kempis (author of The Imitation of Christ), and St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein) all have that “a” in common — have any of you wondered what it means? I admit I’d only had a vague, noncommittal curiosity until today, when I decided to try to find out.

Basically, it means “of” or “from.” Thomas à Kempis , who is also known in German as Thomas von Kempen and in Dutch as Thomas van Kempen — “von” and “van” meaning “from” in their respective languages — is so called because Kempen was his home town. St. “Teresia Benedicta a Cruce” is simply “Teresa Benedict of the Cross” (isn’t Teresia a pretty variant? Behind the Name says T(h)eresia is a German, Dutch, and Swedish variant, and that Tessan is a Swedish diminutive and Trees a Dutch diminutive).

I’m sure the “a” in “a Becket” means the same thing, though the reason is less clear. Check out this rabbit hole I went down:

  • “Thomas Becket was the son of Norman settlers who lived in the city of London. His father was a merchant who traveled among the circles of French-speaking Norman immigrants. The name ‘Becket’ is likely a nickname, possibly meaning beak or nose, which was given to his father.” (source)
  • “Deeply influenced in childhood by a devout mother who died when he was 21, Thomas entered adult life as a city clerk and accountant in the service of the sheriffs. After three years he was introduced by his father to Archbishop Theobald, a former abbot of Bec, of whose household he became a member.” (source)
  • “Bec Abbey, formally the Abbey of Our Lady of Bec (French: Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec), is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in the Bec valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Bernay. It is located in Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy, France, and was the most influential abbey of the 12th-century Anglo-Norman kingdom.” (source)
  • “Like all abbeys, Bec maintained annals of the house but uniquely its first abbots also received individual biographies, brought together by the monk of Bec, Milo Crispin.” (ibid.)
  • “‘Bec’ is the name of the stream running through the abbey, Old Norse bekkr, in English place or river names Beck.” (ibid.)
  • “Becket” is from “Beckett,” which is from “an English surname that could be derived from various sources, including from Middle English beke meaning ‘beak’ or bekke meaning ‘stream, brook'” (source)

Becket could refer to a nickname of St. Thomas’ father because of his nose! Or it could be a reference to Bec Abbey, which was originally named Abbey of Our Lady of Bec! A famous monk of Bec (a Beccan  monk? A Becket monk?) was named Milo! Which has separate Marian connections! So many fun discoveries! (So many exclamation marks!)

Back to the “a” — tell me what you know! I see that “à” is French — are all the a’s really à’s? So all these have a French origin? But German seems a big factor here too — but then German has “von”? Is it Latin, maybe? And is there some more nuanced meaning I’m missing, since a Kempis means “from a certain place,” a Becket might mean the same or “son of the father with the nickname,” and a Cruce means “of” in the sense of possession? I’d love to spend more time researching but I have a deadline I should be working on!

I’m totally loving the “a” construction — I could see “a Cruce” being an amazing name in honor of both St. Edith and Jesus. And of course Katheryn has set an amazing example with giving her son the amazing first name “à Kempis.” I mean. So brilliant. And such a really cool addition to Kolbe, Avila, Siena, and other saintly surnames/place names.

What other saints have an “a” construction in their names? I guess we could do this with any “of” saint, right? St. Catherine a Siena? St. Teresa a Avila? St. Bernard a Clairvaux? Or am I misunderstanding how this works?

I look forward to reading your comments! Happy Thursday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Spotlight on: Quinn

Happy Tuesday everybody! I’ve done a bunch of private consultations recently (which is totally fine and wonderful! There’s absolutely no requirement or pressure to have your consultation posted here for reader feedback!), so I don’t know when my next Monday consultation post will be — I just wanted to let you know, because I can see from my traffic stats (generally, and specifically yesterday) that a lot of people pop in on Mondays to see them!

I’ve been wanting to do a spotlight on Quinn for a while, ever since I posted this baby name consultation back in January, where I stated confidently: “Quinn: not in top 1000 for girls; no. 384 for boys” and reader VEL gently pointed out in the comments: “I’m pretty sure Quinn ranked #84 for girls for 2018:)”. She was right, of course — I have no idea how I got that wrong, since I looked up Quinn for both girls and boys in the SSA data — could I have spelled it wrong? Who knows, but the point remains that I was 100% completely wrong and that Quinn is currently a top 100 name for girls, and it’s got a great faith connection that lots of parents of have been loving: Ven. Edel Quinn.

I’ve written about the Irish Ven. Edel before, including my encounter with an actual real-life Edel in Ireland, in several baby name consultations (including the one mentioned above), and these Sancta Nomina babies who were named after her: Kyteria Quinn and Harper Edel. She’s pretty amazing! And totally my go-to for a holy patron for a Quinn, girl or boy. I don’t know of any other Ven./Bl./St. with the name Quinn, but I’ve also seen Quinn suggested as a nickname for Aquinas for a boy, which is pretty awesome, and there’s also the girl name Aquinnah (like one of Michael J. Fox’s daughters), which can take Quinn as a nickname and St. Thomas Aquinas as a patron. The spelling Quin might feel more natural as a nickname for Aquinas and Quintus, and doing so moves it a bit away from the Irish surname feel, which some parents might prefer.

Here on the blog, I’ve seen Quinn suggested for a fifth baby because of its similarity in sound to “quint,” as a namesake for St. Quentin, and in honor of Our Lady because of its similarity in sound to “queen.” I totally think they work! (Though Quinn has no etymological connection to any of these, being instead from the anglicization of an Irish surname meaning “descendant of Conn,” where Conn means “head” or “chief.” So then maybe using it to mean “queen” is pretty accurate after all!)

As a given name, I first heard it on a little boy years ago, before I was married, and I thought it was so cool. These days, I mostly hear it on girls (even though I claimed in that consultation I mentioned above that it wasn’t nearly as popular for girls as for boys, I really just don’t know where my head was). We have a little friend who’s just a couple months older than Luke named Quinn, and her family calls her Quinnie and so does my 6yo, and it’s the cutest thing ever. I will also say that with at least one of the little Quinns I know, I spent months thinking her name was Gwen before realizing it’s actually Quinn (and I try to be really careful about names!). But I don’t think that’s a big deal at all — both Quinn and Gwen are beautiful!

What do you all think of Quinn? Do you like it better for a boy or a girl? Would you ever consider the name Quinn for your son or daughter, or have you? If not as a given name, maybe Quinn or Quin as a nickname for something else? Do you know any Quinns? Do they like their name?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

 

Baby name consultation: “Short and cute” vs. “flowery” for a girl, surname-style for a boy

Happy feast of Mary, Mother of the Church! And at the same time, in sorrow I share this Prayer for Racial Justice, and the call to participate in this 19-day period of prayer and fasting (from today to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) as an act of reparation to God for the sin of racism in all its forms. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us. St. Michael, pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless us and keep us close to You.

Trish and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a little green bean! He or she joins big siblings:

Donovan Kolbe (“we liked last names that were first names for boys and Kolbe had special significance since my husbands grandfather escaped from the Warsaw ghetto as a boy“)

Genevieve Louise (“I love very feminine names for girls, while my husband likes short and cute. I sold it to him by saying we could call her Evie, which we did for a few years but she is now asking to be called Genevieve (YAY). Louise was after my husbands grandmother“)

Veronica Caeli (“we call her Caeli … we knew we wanted a Caeli, but didn’t want her to forever be spelling it … so made it a middle name so she can choose“)

Are you as swoony as I am over these names?! 😍😍😍

Trish writes,

My husband and I have different tastes and had a VERY difficult time coming up with our son’s name … I have a list of names for this baby but my husband pretty much doesn’t like any of them because they are “too flowery.” He would like Emma or Claire but they’re too common for me. I think Gemma is a good compromise and he likes it, but is Gemma a different name than Genevieve? I really don’t like super common names. Even Mary! Sorry to Our Lady but every other family has a Mary and I just can’t.”

(“and I just can’t” — haha!)

Names Trish and her hubby have discussed include:

Xavier
Leo
Oliver
Jerome
Gemma
Eloise Grace (“but can we do an Eloise with an Evie Louise??“)
Emmeline
Annalise
Seraphina

And Trish specifically said, “I hope you can bridge the gap!!!” which, as I told her, is one of my very favorite things to do! (In fact, my very first CatholicMom.com column [five years ago!] was about this exact issue!)

First off, I’ll say that I really love that they both like Gemma, and normally I’d think it would be a perfect compromise, but for Genevieve! I mean, Genevieve starts with the sound *jenna*, and Gemma is *jemma* — they’re SO close! If they always called Genevieve “Evie,” then perhaps it wouldn’t be too problematic, at least on an everyday basis. Of course, that said, if Trish and her hubby just really love Gemma and the similarity between Gemma and Genevieve doesn’t bother them, then it’s certainly not the end of the world to choose Gemma!

I’m interested in the divide between Trish and her husband over girl names — he likes feminine, shorter names (Evie, Caeli, Emma, Claire), while Trish has feminine, longer names on her list (Emmeline, Annalise, and Seraphina). I see a lot of potential here!

I actually think Emmeline is a perfect compromise name here — it’s got Emma in it, from Trish’s hubby’s list, and a little Emmeline could easily and naturally go by Emma and/or Emmy. Annalise and Seraphina are similarly good I think, because Anna/Annie and Sera are less “flowery” names and I think they would qualify as “short and cute,” as Trish described her husband’s taste (I also think Sophie could work as a nickname for Seraphina, which I also suspect Trish’s husband might like). Another name that might also be a good compromise is Clairvaux. It’s pronounced clair-VO, like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and having the Clair- at the beginning means a little Clairvaux can go by Claire with no problem. Two of my readers have daughters named Clairvaux! I definitely think Trish should check them out (here and here) as both families have name taste similar to hers, I think.

As for Eloise Grace, I wouldn’t think it would be a problem unless they regularly tack Louise onto whatever they’re calling Genevieve. That is, do they regularly call her Evie Louise? Or even the full Genevieve Louise? If so, I do feel like Eloise might be too similar. But if Louise rarely shows up when they’re referring to Genevieve, then I think it’s fine. It also reminds me of a friend of mine who gave both her first and second daughters the middle name Catherine, but the older daughter’s middle name was for her grandmother Catherine, and the second daughter’s middle name was for St. Catherine of Siena. And I know more than one family who used a certain name as a middle name for one child, and liked that name so much they used it as the first name for a subsequent child. I say all this to say, even if Trish and her hubby use Louise with some regularity and still want to use Eloise for their next daughter, other families have done similar and even crazier things and the world didn’t fall apart. They can easily say for those who wonder that Louise was for Hubby’s grandmother and Eloise is just because they like it, or whatever. And actually, Louise and Eloise aren’t linguistically related! Louise is a feminine form of Louis, while Eloise is a variant of Heloise.

Another name that I thought they might like to consider is Elise — very similar to Eloise but even more different from Louise than Eloise is. It’s a short French form of Elizabeth, which opens up lots of great patron saints. Or Elisa, which flows better with Grace than Elise, I think. Or Elodie? That’s also a really pretty name.

There’s no problem at all about not liking the name Mary! Many Catholic families feel similarly, both because of name fatigue from all those years of Mary as the Number One Girl’s Name as well as a preference for more unexpected names (and not at all because of any disrespect toward Our Lady), which is in large part why I wrote my book of Marian baby names! There are so many gorgeous, legitimately Marian names that aren’t Mary — names that fit all different tastes in names! I included some in my list of suggestions below.

As for boy names, I think they’ve got a great list! I’m surprised there aren’t more surname-type names on there, since Trish had said that she and her hubs like last names that are first names for boys. Xavier is the only name on their list that fits that criteria, though it’s been used as a first name for so long that many people don’t know that it started as a last name. Leo and Oliver are great, and I regularly see them on lists of names considered by parents I do consultations for, but I rarely see Jerome! I admit though, when I was looking for boy names for this baby, I focused mostly on finding last name type names.

Okay, on to my suggestions! You all know that I start each consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas for both boys and girls. These are what I came up with (a few extra for girls, given that girl names are particularly problematic for this couple):

Girl
(1) Ave
I feel like Ava is the kind of name Trish’s hubby would like — “short and cute” — but changing it slightly to Ave makes it both much more uncommon and more obviously faithy. It’s said like AH-vay, like in Ave Maria. I’d love to see such a short first name paired with a longer middle — because Ave means “Hail” (Ave Maria=Hail Mary), it might be weird to put it with a non-Marian middle, so maybe something like Ave Immaculata? That strikes me as a combo Trish might really like, and I think Ave might be the kind of name her husband would be okay with. I could also see putting Ave and Maria together as Avemaria, that would be amazing.

(2) Isla
I was actually inspired to add Isla by one of the Clairvaux families I linked to above — they have another daughter named Isla, and Isla’s an entry in my book for the Marian title Our Lady of the Isles. It’s “short and cute,” and so pretty!

(3) Pia
This is another name in my book, it’s the feminine form of Pius/Pio, and in the Salve Regina Our Lady is specifically referred to as pia, which is translated in the English version as “loving,” though it’s technical translation is more along the lines of “pious, devout, dutiful.” Actor David Henrie (of Wizards of Waverly Place fame, which I never watched but he’s got loads of followers), who’s actually a devout Catholic, recently named his daughter Pia, and I love seeing her sweet face and name in my Instagram feed! If Trish could convince her husband to use a longer name, I think Pia could also work as a nickname for Seraphina and Philomena and Phillippa.

(4) Liesse
This is yet another name in my book — it’s French for “joy” and refers to Notre Dame de Liesse (Our Lady of Joy). Isn’t it such a pretty name? It can definitely be used on its own, and if Trish wanted to lengthen it, Marie-Liesse isn’t uncommon (especially in France).

(5) Maristella
I know Trish said she doesn’t care for Mary, but what about something like Maristella? It reminds me of Genevieve and Veronica (and Emmeline, Annalise, and Seraphina) because of its length and femininity (which probably means her hubby won’t care for it, oh dear), but both Maris and Stella can be nicknames for it, as well as some other creative options like Mia, Mari, Molly, Missy, Milla and Mella (I could see Trish’s husband particularly liking Mia and Molly). Maristella is a reversal of the Marian title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). Two Sancta Nomina readers have daughters named Maristella: here and here.

(6) Mercedes
I know Trish’s husband is freaking out at this point that I’m including all these ideas he won’t like! So sorry! I just really love the idea of compromising by using a longer, less familiar name like Trish likes with a familiar, “short and cute” nickname more like her husband’s taste. Mercedes is in my book — it means “mercies,” and is for Our Lady of Mercy or Our Lady of Mercies. It’s a Spanish name with quite an interesting (and very Catholic!) history — I posted more about it here. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, quite a few of my readers chose names related to Mercy for their children, and not only did Mercedes get some usage, but so did Mercy itself. I thought maybe Trish’s husband might like Mercy? It can stand on its own, or it can be a nickname for Mercedes. Sadie can also be a nickname for Mercedes, which I also thought her hubby might like. Lots of options!

(7) Tessa
Again, Tessa seems to me like the kind of name Trish’s husband would like — I would definitely call it “short and cute.” I actually thought Trish might like it too! Or maybe this could be another possible compromise, where they could use the given name Therese or Teresa and call her Tess or Tessa. I mentioned Marie-Liesse above, which makes me also think of Marie-Therese — I just love how the French do that! And I think doing a double first name (with or without the hyphen) automatically gives the name a more unusual character, which Trish prefers. So maybe Marie-Therese plus a middle name, called Tess or Tessa?

(8) Zara
Finally, Zara: in my research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, I actually didn’t find a whole lot of ideas that I thought would work for them. But Zara is a style match for both Gemma and Xavier, and it’s short and cute while also being uncommon, so I thought I should definitely include it in my suggestions. I actually did a spotlight post on it a while ago, as I’d discovered that it’s a feminine short form of Zechariah — I loved finding that connection! Zechariah is a name I’ve often thought would be great for a boy as a sort-of nod to the Visitation, since he was Elizabeth’s husband and John the Baptist’s father; a little Zara could claim that same connection.

Boy
(1) Tiber
Okay, moving on to boy ideas. So I totally latched onto the fact that Trish said she and her husband like last-names-as-first-names for boys, and I always include place names in that category (especially since so many last names started as place names, and so many saintly place names have a last name feel, like St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, etc.). And any time I know one of the parents is a convert, I immediately think of Tiber! Tiber is for the Tiber River in Rome, and many of you know that when someone converts to Catholicism a fun thing to say is that they “crossed the Tiber.” (There are even t-shirts that say “Tiber Swim Team” with the year the person entered the Church, like these.) Anyway, two of my readers have used Tiber for their boys and I love it! I think it’s so cool and so meaningful, but in kind of a stealthy way! Check them out here and here.

(2) Fulton
Another name that came right to mind when seeing Donovan Kolbe’s name is Fulton! Fulton was actually Fulton Sheen’s mom’s maiden name, so a legit last name, even thought it’s so tied to him as a first name.

(3) Owen
A name that did well for this family in my research was Owen, which I love because of course it’s a first name, but it’s also St. Nicholas Owen’s last name (he’s amazing)! So it reminds me a lot of Donovan in that they both have good usage as first names.

(4) Elliott
Elliott’s another one that did quite well for them in my research, and like Donovan and Owen, I love that it has usage as a last name (poet T.S. Eliot is one example) while still being a familiar but not too common first name. It’s actually a variant of Elijah, which gives it both a faith connection and a specifically Marian connection (via Elijah’s connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which I discuss in my book).

(5) Campion
Camden was listed as a style match for Donovan, which made me think of the similar and saintly Campion, for St. Edmund Campion. Isn’t Campion a cool name? I’ve always had a soft spot for the nickname Cam, and I love St. Edmund Campion, and I love how brothers Donovan and Campion sound!

I also encourage Trish and her hubby to check out my posts on saintly surnames — there are so many great options for those who love the surname style!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Donovan, Genevieve (sometimes nicknamed Evie), and Veronica Caeli (called Caeli)?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Family names and special initials a consideration for baby number 3

Two consultations in one week, what?! 💃💃💃 Margie’s baby’s coming soon! No time to wait until Monday! She and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱, who joins big brother and sister:

Henry Lucas (“Henry after my husband’s uncle who passed away when my husband was 5 and Lucas as a tribute to my grandfather Frank Luke. We follow St. Henry (July 13) as his patron saint“)

Penelope Rose (“Penelope is our “Penny” sent from heaven. One of my sisters died while pregnant with Henry, then my dad died two years later and then I had a miscarriage. We haven’t started calling her Penny yet though, usually Little Pea or Sweet Pea. Rose is from St. Rose of Lima and I was called Rosebud when I was a baby“)

I love these! Margie and her hubs did a great job incorporating family names into their Henry’s name, even changing Luke to Lucas to fit their style. And the “penny from heaven” story is great — I love how they turned that into a meaningful name for their little girl, a nod to hope and happiness after such sorrow! Rose being for both St. Rose and a nickname of Margie’s is wonderful too.

Margie writes,

We’ve been struggling with a name for this one, especially for a girl … My husband and I were both named after our grandparents — he has two middle names from both grandfathers [and] part of my first name and my middle name are after after my grandmothers … We like including family names and the tradition we have of being named after our grandparents but [are having a hard time figuring out how to do so for this baby].

Parents — Francis “Frank” Alan and Kristina Robin and goes by Robin. Philip “Phil” Allen and Michelle Elizabeth. 

Names we can’t/don’t want to use:
Amanda
Stella
Claira
Patrick
Lucy
Katherine/Catherine
David
Daniel
Crystal
Stephanie

Names we like for girls:
Bernadette — I’ve liked this one for years. Finally convinced my husband and now I’m not sure I like it due to length and can’t decide on a middle name
Eleanor
Edna — possible middle name (my grandmother’s middle name)
Veronica
Rebecca
Coralynn
Carolina
Edith
Agnes
Josephine (his grandfather’s name is Joseph, and Joseph is a family name for my side)
Frances — possible middle name (female form for Francis)

Names we like for boys:
Theodore — Gift from God — this is our number one choice
Francis — possible middle name, [Hubby’s] dad’s name and my grandfather
Dennis – possible middle name, form of my mom’s maiden name (Denes)
Allen/Alan — possible middle name, our dads’ middle names
Edward — possible middle name, is Theodore Edward weird together?
Thomas
Michael — My brother’s middle name

We also like the idea of having a baby with the initials KC because that’s where we are from and love the city ([Hubby] was in the Navy for years, and we moved away from home because of it).”

I, too, love using family names in the naming of my children, so I had fun trying to think of ideas for this family on how to incorporate Margie’s parents’ and in-laws’ names into this baby’s name! Francis for a boy or Frances for a girl is certainly a great option, as a nod to her father-in-law (and her grandfather). What about Christopher for a boy? It can be spelled Kristopher or Kristofer to get it closer to Margie’s mother-in-law’s spelling. I can see that they might think Theodore Christopher is overly long — what about Theodore Christian? Or Theodore Kristian? I actually quite like how Theodore Kristian looks and sounds — it’s handsome and unexpected! Kristian is a Scandinavian spelling of the boy name Christian, and I also really like that Kristian has all the letters in Margie’s mil’s name, just shuffled a little! Her mil’s middle name that she actually goes by, Robin, is both a boy and a girl name. So: Theodore Robin? I know a family with a teenage son named Robin! Robin started as a diminutive of Robert — Theodore Robert sounds natural together! I also really like the Allen/Alan idea, since both dads share that name.

Otherwise, I like the possibility of Dennis as a middle name for Margie’s mom’s maiden name, but I would love to encourage her to use the Denes spelling! There’s no reason not to (from a name perspective), especially when it’s in the middle spot. Theodore Denes is awesome. Theodore Edward sounds fine together, but I’m assuming Margie’s question about it being weird has to do with the fact that their nicknames Ted/Teddy for Theodore and Ed/Eddie/Ned/Ted for Edward rhyme (and are even the same in the case of Ted)? I mean, that shouldn’t be a problem in the sense that Edward as a middle name will never be nicknamed, and they can avoid any kind of rhyming altogether by using Theo as a nickname. I also think Michael is a great option — not only is it Margie’s brother’s middle name, as she noted, but it’s also the name from which Margie’s mom’s name, Michelle, is derived. That is, Michelle is a feminine form of Michael. So Michael can be for both her mom and her brother! Theodore Michael is very handsome.

For a girl, not only is a Frances a great option, but perhaps also Robin? Pippa is originally a nickname for Phillippa, and now often stands on its own as a name, so maybe Pippa as a middle name for Margie’s dad? I also like the idea of a nod to Allen/Alan for a girl — I looked up feminine variants and there are some really pretty ones, like Alana/Alanna/Alannah, Alaina/Alayna, and even Allyn, which I found intriguing. Maybe Allyn could be the answer to Margie’s quandary of what to use as a middle name for Bernadette? I like how Bernadette Allyn sounds! For that matter, I also quite like Bernadette Alana/Alayna! Or maybe they’ll feel that the honor to both dads remains if they switch the spelling to Ellen or Elaine/Elaina? They’re not related to Alan/Allen, but the similarity in sound might be enough?

As for first names they’re considering, here are my thoughts, in case they’re helpful:

  • Bernadette: I’m so intrigued by the fact that Margie’s liked this for years and now her hubby’s on board and now she’s not sure! That kind of thing has happened to me too, so I get it, but I’d love to see if I can help her salvage it, since her hubby’s come around (no easy task for many! It would be a shame to waste it, haha!). Margie said its length and the middle name are two reasons she’s cooled on it — as for length, it’s one syllable shorter than Penelope, so I wouldn’t think that should be a problem! If it’s a matter of thinking it’s too long for everyday use, finding a good nickname should do the trick, and Bernadette has some fun ones: I’ve seen Birdie, which is sweet, and I like that they can maybe think of it as a nod to Margie’s mother-in-law, being that her name is the name of a kind of bird! I’ve also seen Bernie, Etta, and Detta, and one of my favorite options is Betsy. I like that Margie’s mom’s middle name is Elizabeth — Betsy is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth, so maybe Bernadette nn Betsy would be enough of a nod to her? If so, then something like Bernadette Robin nn Betsy could nod to both of their moms!
  • Eleanor: You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used for older children and those they like/are considering for their current baby-on-the-way in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Eleanor is a style match for both Henry and Penelope! How cool! I wonder if they might feel that Eleanor can be a nod to Allen/Alan? It would be totally based on sound rather than an actual etymological connection, but it could work? The spelling Elanor brings it even closer (it’s the spelling Tolkien used, I love it!).
  • Edna: Wow! I’ve never seen Edna on any of the lists of names I’ve seen in the families I’ve worked with! But it makes sense that it will start to pop up here and there, as so many other “old lady” names are coming back, like Edith and Agnes on Margie’s list. I quite like how Eleanor Edna sounds — I’m a big fan of alliteration! Saying it with Bernadette doesn’t sound great as a middle name I don’t think, and I think it’s because they share so many sounds, which makes me wonder if Edna might be feasible as a nickname for Bernadette?
  • Veronica: Gorgeous name. Also, it’s a long name — the same number of syllables as Penelope and one more than Bernadette — if they’re okay with Veronica, then that should work in Bernadette’s favor, right?
  • Rebecca: Also beautiful.
  • Coralynn, Carolina: These two are similar enough that I thought I’d comment on them together. I wonder what they would think of changing the spelling to Koralynn or Karolina, to achieve the KC initials they’d like? Karoline/Karolina especially is a spelling I’ve seen used quite a bit among Catholic families in recent years in honor of St. John Paul II, whose birth name was Karol (the Polish form of Charles).
  • Edith: I love Edith! I think Edie is one of the darlingest nicknames, and I’m a huge fan of St. Edith Stein! Since it’s a short name, if they were to use it as a first name I’d love to see it paired with a longer middle. One of Rosie Hill’s little girls is named Edith Veronica, which I’ve always thought was a stunning combo! Edith Josephine, Edith Rebecca, Edith Carolina, Edith Bernadette, Edith Coralynn are all quite pleasing to my ear.
  • Agnes: Another lovely, saintly name. Aggie is a sweet nickname! Like Edith, I can see Agnes pairing nicely with the longer names on their list — they all work quite well!
  • Theodore: I really see no reason for Margie and her hubs to change from Theodore as their top choice! It’s a great name and it has great meaning for them, so I say go for it!
  • Thomas, Michael: These are the only other names they have listed as possibilities for a boy’s first name, and I like them both! Since Margie didn’t comment on either one except to point out that Michael is her brother’s name (and it’s the male variant of her mom’s first name), I feel like them don’t love them as much as Theodore? Of the two, I like Michael the best for them because of the family connection.

So those are my thoughts on the names on their list, and I also spent some time with the KC idea, which is a really fun one. For girls, as mentioned, Karolina and Koralynn are definite possibilities. Other K names include Konstance, Kassidy, Kalista, and Karine/Karina. C names can include any of those, as well as Charlotte, which I like for this family! (I wouldn’t use Charlotte as a middle name for Karolina though, since Karolina and Charlotte are both feminine variants of Charles.) Also Camille/Camilla, Cynthia, Chloe, and Claudia. Some pretty combos include:

Karolina Carine
Karoline Chloe
Koralynn Carina
Karina Constance
Kassidy Charlotte
Kalista Carine

For boys, I like the idea of Karol! For St. John Paul II! Or maybe they’d prefer the easier spelling Karl? (I believe Karol is said like Karl, though I have heard people say Karol just like the woman’s name Carol.) Other K names that I thought Margie and her hubs might like include Kenneth, Kirk (which means “church”), Kurt (which is a contracted form of Conrad), and Kolbe (which is fairly popular among Catholic families for St. Maximilian Kolbe), as well as most C names. C names can include Caleb, Clement, Casper, Casey, Christian or Christopher, Colman, Conrad, and these, which are actually style matches for some of the names they like per the BNW: Charles/Carl (but not paired with Karol/Karl), Clark, Claude, Cyril, Chance, and Cooper. (A fun note about Cooper: I’ve seen families use it as a given name in honor of St. Joseph of Cupertino, and also as a nickname for Cupertino as a given name. Maybe they’d like to consider Cupertino as a middle name?) Some nice combos include:

Karol/Karl Clement
Kenneth Charles
Kurt Cupertino
Kolbe Christopher
Kristian Clark
Kristopher Carl
Konrad Cooper

Those are all my thoughts and ideas having to do with the first and middle name ideas Margie and her hubby already have on their list, as well as their KC initials idea. Now for my new ideas!

Girl
(1) Felicity
I think Felicity is a really nice “bridge” name between Henry’s style, which has a sweet, sort of British feel to me, and Penelope’s style, which is a little more offbeat (Felicity was specifically listed as a style match for Penelope). I did a spotlight post on it a while ago, which discusses saintly connections and nickname possibilities.

(2) Susanna
Suzy is a style match for Penny, and as soon as I saw that I thought of Susanna — it’s biblical and long like Veronica and Rebecca, and can take a bunch of fun nicknames in addition to Suzy/Susie, like Anna/Annie, Sookie, and Zuzu. (Susanna’s in my book of Marian names!)

(3) Genevieve
This is another long, lovely name like Penelope, Bernadette, Veronica, Rebecca, and Carolina/Coralynn, which is also style match for Theodore, Eleanor, and Josephine. A beautiful name! The little Genevieves I know mostly go by Evie or Gigi, though Gen/Gennie/Genna, Vivi, and Vieve are possibilities for nicknames.

(4) Beatrice or Beatrix
Beatrix is a match for Penelope and Beatrice for Eleanor and Theodore — I’m not sure which spelling I like more for this family! It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and the nicknames Bea, Trixie, and Tris are sweet. I also know of a little Beatrice who goes by Betsy!

(5) Violet
I loved seeing Violet as a match for Eleanor and Josephine, and Viola as a match for Edna! Violet’s also an entry in my book of Marian names — it’s a such a sweet floral name and the Marian character just kicks it up about a million notches, in my humble opinion. 😉

Boy
(1) Charles
I know I included Charles, and its variants Carl, Karol, and Karl, above, but I wanted to give it some more attention here. It’s a style match for Henry, Eleanor, and Theodore, and it strikes me as being exactly the kind of boy name Margie and her husband would like.

(2) Samuel
In addition to being a match for the biblical Veronica and Rebecca, Samuel’s also a match for Henry and Eleanor! It’s a great name, and the story of Samuel and Hannah in the bible can hold great meaning for any woman who has longed for a child. And is there any friendlier nickname than Sam?

(3) Milo or Miles
Milo is a style match for Penelope, and it and its variant Miles are included in one of my favorite entries in my book of Marian names! I like that it’s a little offbeat, like Penelope, but I also think both Milo and Miles have a nice gentlemanness that goes nicely as Henry’s brother.

(4) Elliott
I know that using Elliott now would knock Eleanor out of the running for the future, but it’s a style match for Penelope, and like with Milo/Miles, I think it goes handsomely with Henry as well. It’s a form of Elijah, which gives it its Marian character (as noted in my book), and I wonder if Margie could also consider it a nod to her mom’s middle name because of the El- beginning? (A total stretch? Or a possibility?)

(5) Frederick
Frederick is a match for Theodore and Josephine and I like that it has a longer length, like Penelope. Fred and Freddy are sweet, as is Fritz. I even know a little Frederick who goes by Erick!

I’m really reluctant to push too hard on any of these boy name ideas, though, because I think Margie and her hubby will be happiest with Theodore!

And those are all my ideas/thoughts/suggestions! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Henry and Penelope?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Marian names, Italian names, and family names in consideration for fourth baby girl

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. 🗽🇺🇸 This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiers, loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace. ❤ ❤ ❤

Jessie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby this month (!!) — their fourth girl! This little lady joins big siblings:

Leonard Edward (after his father)
Lillian Victoria (after two grandmothers)
Jude Thaddea (after St. Jude)
Majella Magdalene (after St. Gerard)

Aren’t these fantastic?! I was so surprised by Leonard — so unexpected on a little guy, I love that! And then to discover that their Jude is a girl — I LOVE Thaddea as a middle name with Jude for a girl! And Majella Magdalene! Of course I’m not forgetting Lillian Victoria, what a stunning combo! Jessie and her husband have done a great job!

Jessie writes,

We are having a hard time agreeing and coming up with a girls name for our fourth girl that is significant to family and also maybe had a little Catholic meaning.

We currently like:

Lucciana (Lucia) Lourdes
Maribel (after mother Mary, my mother Maryanne and his mother Marie)
Francesca (Frankie as a nickname)
Rosie Jane (after his grandmother)
Giana (after St Giana)

I was really eager to see what names Jessie and her hubby are considering, and I wasn’t disappointed! These are my thoughts on those names, in case they’re helpful to them:

  • Lucciana (Lucia) Lourdes: I actually know a little Lucciana! Her family calls her Lucci, and I’ve always been impressed that they used a Lucy name that’s much less familiar! Lucia is a gorgeous option too, and always brings Our Lady of Fatima to mind, to whom I have a special devotion. Our Lady of Fatima’s feast day is May 13, so a name connected to her — like Lucia (or Lucciana as a variant of it) — would be pretty cool for a baby born in May. And Lourdes! I love Lourdes! Fatima and Lourdes in one name is pretty great! I also love alliteration, so Lucciana/Lucia Lourdes (and Majella Magdalene) really sing to me. Also, I wonder if Jessie and her hubs have considered Lourdes as a first name? One of my readers has a little Lourdes, I love it!
  • Maribel: I really like the idea of a Marian name beginning in Mar- as a way to honor both Jessie’s mom and her mother-in-law — so great to have that option! Of course, as you all know I’m a huge fan of Marian names in general, and I love the double Marian whammy of giving a May baby a Marian name! Maribel is beautiful, and I have some more ideas below, too.
  • Francesca: Italian girl names tend to be so gorgeous, and Francesca is one of the prettiest. Frankie as a nickname is adorable too!
  • Rosie Jane: I’m not sure if this would be a double name or the first+middle combo? Either way, Rosie Jane is so sweet! I wonder if it was Jessie’s husband’s grandmother’s given name? It has a little bit of a different feel than their older kids’ names and the other names they’re considering — a little lighter and more informal — which is totally fine! But something like Rosemary/Rosemarie Jane or Rosanne/Rosanna Jane or Rosa Jane or Rosary/Rosaria Jane as the given name, with Rosie or Rosie Jane as the nickname, feels a bit more stylistically similar to the other names they’ve used and like. Either way, Rose is a Marian name!
  • Gianna: St. Gianna’s awesome, and a big favorite among the Sancta Nomina families! I like how the “anna” part could be a nod to Jessie’s mom, if she wanted it to be. Also, Gianna is an Italian form of Jane, so they could consider it an honor name for Jessie’s husband’s grandmother too. Or they could even do a Rose first name with Gianna as a middle and still call her Rosie Jane!

So those are my thoughts on the names on Mom and Dad’s list. As for new ideas, you all know I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — this research gives me a great idea of the kinds of names that fit into the style(s) that the parents are most likely to like. I also looked through my book of Marian names for ideas for this family (especially more Mar- ideas). Based on that research, these are my ideas:

(1) A Mar- name
I really liked what Jessie and her hubs were thinking with Maribel — honoring both Maryanne and Marie in one name. I have these names in my book that I thought might also be good contenders:

— Marienne: This is like a Marian/Maryanne mashup pronunciation-wise, but it’s French like Marie and actually contains Marie within it. It’s quite pretty and feminine to look at, it’s obviously Marian, and I like that it’s so much of an almost exact combo of Jessie’s mom’s and mil’s names.

— Mariae: I’m excited about this one for this family, as it’s one of the more unusual Mary names, and I think their taste runs to the more unusual. It’s pronounced MAR-ee-ay, and it’s actually a Latin version — it’s the genitive (possessive) form of Maria — it literally means, “of or belonging to Mary.” How amazing is that? Micaela Darr (who graciously endorsed my book!) bestowed it on her daughter. I LOVE seeing her write out her daughter’s name on Instagram, it’s so beautiful!

— Maristella: This one reminds me a lot of the ultra-feminine names Jessie and her hubby have used so far, I have a feeling they might like it! It’s a reversal of the Marian title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). On that note, perhaps they’d rather consider just Stella? Or Stella as a first name and Maris as a middle? Or Stellamaris? Actually, now that I think about it, I might prefer Stellamaris for them, only because Maristella and Stella by itself both rhyme with Majella, where Stellamaris doesn’t, since it has a different ending.

— Madonna: Okay, I know this isn’t an Mar- name, but I wondered if they might like the idea of Madonna — which of course refers to Our Lady’s motherhood — as a way to honor both Jessie’s mom and her mil (since they’re both mothers, and Madonna doesn’t begin with Mar- but it does begin with Ma-, like Maryanne and Marie)? I know it’s still really controversial as a first name (I hope Catholics can reclaim it one day!), but I LOVE it in the middle name spot, like this mama did for her daughter. It wouldn’t work as a middle name for Lucciana or Gianna, since it would rhyme with them, but something like Lucia Madonna or Rosa Madonna would be lovely!

(2) Jacinta
I’d actually already jotted down Jacinta for this family while reading Jessie’s email, even before doing my research (I was inspired by Lucia), and then I was excited to see it listed as a style match for Maribel in the BNW! I like that it’s a more unusual name, and relates to Our Lady of Fatima, so it has that nice connection for a May baby. It’s got similar sounds as Gianna, and it occurs to me that Jane or Janie/Janey could even be a nickname for Jacinta! (Or not, if they hate that idea! I always have lots of ideas, haha!) If they really prefer Italian names, they could spell it the Italian way: Giacinta, which also opens up Gia or Gigi and even Giana as nickname possibilities.

(3) Gemma
When doing my research in the BNW, I really look for names that are listed as a style match for more than one of the names on the parents’ list. Gemma is one! It’s a match for both Jude and Gianna, and St. Gemma Galgani is a saint much loved by many. Additionally, Gemma means “gem” (as in “precious stone”) in Italian, which is such a sweet meaning for a little girl.

(4) Chiara
Chiara was actually a match for three of the names they like: Lucia, Francesca, and Gianna! It’s the Italian form of Clare, and it’s a name I see considered quite a bit by families I work with, not only for St. Clare of Assisi, but also for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano and Servant of God Chiara Corbella Patrillo.

(5) Loretta
Finally, when I saw Loretta listed as a style match for Leonard, I knew I wanted to suggest it! Though I think most people might think of it as either an old lady name or a Hollywood starlet name (since it peaked in popularity in 1938, and was the name of beautiful 40’s Hollywood actress Loretta Young), which may or may not appeal to Jessie and her hubs, it’s actually an Italian name! It could be a form of Lauretta (an Italian elaboration of Laura), but Catholics consider it to be a nod to Loreto, “the name of a small town in Italy where stands a small house, held by tradition to be the house in which Our Lady was born and grew up, and in which the Annunciation and the Incarnation took place (known as the Holy House of Nazareth). Angels are said to have carried the house there in the 13th century. The Litany of Loreto (Litaniae Lauretanae in Latin), also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lists many of Our Lady’s beautiful titles” (quote taken from my book).

And those are all my ideas for Jessie and her husband! What do you think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister of Leonard, Lillian, Jude, and Majella?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

2019 Name Data Delay, and the Best Mother’s Day Gift

You guys! The release of the new (2019) name data from the Social Security Administration, which namiacs look forward to all year, and which is always released the Friday before Mother’s Day, is being postponed indefinitely! The SSA site says:

Out of respect and honor for all people and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement of the 2019 most popular baby names is being rescheduled to a to-be-determined date. The agency sends its gratitude and heartfelt thanks to everybody fighting the pandemic and providing vital services throughout the country during these difficult times.”

I’m so surprised! I might have thought this would fall more along the lines of, “Give people a welcome, lighthearted distraction to keep their spirits up.” Also, I figured it would just be a matter of running a program and posting the results? That is, not too much manpower or time required by the people at SSA? Pam at Nameberry gave a little more insight in her latest post (as well as the history of this “Baby Name Christmas,” as she calls it, which I didn’t know — very interesting!). When I know more, I’ll let you know!

In the meantime, maybe you’d like to take a look at my past posts about the annual SSA data — I’m never great at spotting trends or analyzing data, but I include in my posts links to the people that *are* great at that:

2018 data

2017 data

2016 data

2015 data

Also, with Mother’s Day this weekend, I just wanted to remind you all about my book! 💃💃💃 It’s a book of baby names and it’s a book of and for Our Lady — sounds like a perfect Mother’s Day gift to me! 😊 Amazon is saying that Prime delivery won’t get it to you until Tuesday if ordered today, but if your family/friend are like mine, just write up a little card letting the mom you’re giving it to know that it’s on its way and you’ll be good!

BABY (1)

Have a great Thursday! 🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙🌹💙


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Benedict Campion Marie!

I posted a birth announcement for Teresa’s first baby almost two years ago, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s had her second baby — another boy! She and her hubby gave him the fantastic and so Marian name … Benedict Campion Marie!

Teresa writes,

As promised here’s a bit behind our baby’s name. Benedict Campion Marie was born today! Glory to Jesus Christ!

Mostly I love the name Benedict, I think it’s strong and lovely … We don’t have much of a devotion to St Benedict but I have found that as we teach Emil about Father Kapaun our love and friendship with him grows and hope that will be the same with St Benedict. Campion is after St Edmund Campion, who was known as a great orator and debater. My husband and I met on the debate team in college and spent our first years of marriage traveling the world teaching debate, so when I heard that about St Edmund I sort of fell in love. Benedict was due in May and our girls name was very Marian. I felt like we needed to honor Our Lady with his name too but didn’t want to give up Benedict Campion. So we decided to add on Marie and I absolutely love it. He was due the 10th but came early (hallelujah!) and just squeaked in being born in the month of Mary.

While we were in the hospital my husband was looking up the name Benedict in other languages and somehow we had missed that the etymological root translates to “well spoken” which with our reasoning for Campion seemed all too perfect and divinely orchestrated!

How great is this story and this name?!! I love it!! And Marie as a second middle!! We totally need to bring that back for boys — hurray for Teresa and her hubby to do so!! But really, I didn’t expect anything less, after what and how they named their first baby — I had linked to their telling of it on Instagram, but for those of you who don’t have IG, I just watched it again and took these notes on how they decided on the name Emil Byrd for their son:

His first name is after Fr. Emil Kapaun, whose cause for canonization is open. Not only does he have a great, heroic story that includes ministering to the soldiers even during battle, receiving the Medal of Honor, and being a prisoner of war (during which he died), but he’s also from the same small town that Teresa’s hubby is from!

His middle name is for William Byrd, who was a sixteenth-century English composer for Queen Elizabeth. He was Catholic at a time when it was illegal to practice the faith, including having Mass said, so the faithful had Masses celebrated secretly in their homes. William Byrd composed parts of the Mass to be sung in homes during that time. Additionally, Teresa’s husband is William as well, so Byrd is a little nod to him too.

They hoped that, like his namesakes, their Emil Byrd would find beauty in the Church, be courageous, and exemplify selfless compassion to others.

I know you’ll agree with me that Teresa and her hubby have done an amazing job naming their boys! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Benedict!!

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Benedict Campion Marie


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Naming in the time of coronavirus

Screenshot_20200423-073950

I forgot to share here the latest piece I wrote for Nameberry, from a few weeks ago: Babies Named Corona Are No Joke. It was fascinating to research the various disaster-inspired names that were bestowed on babies in the last century, and, as noted, we’re already seeing the coronavirus pandemic inspiring baby names.

If I were naming a baby born during the pandemic or whose existence was inspired by it (whether because of the Stay at Home orders, or because of reordered priorities in light of this encounter with widescale grief and death, etc.), I think I’d like to nod to the difficulties in some way, though I think I’d probably be inclined to stick more to Saints I might have asked for intercession, and/or (God forbid) the name(s) of any loved one(s) that might have been badly affected or tragically lost, or the names of associated heroes (family/friend heroes or public heroes). What about you? If you’re expecting a baby during this time, or think you might in the near future, are you considering including some connection to the coronavirus in the baby’s name? If so, how do you think you would do so? On the flip side, are any of you abhorred by this idea?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Marigold Azélie!

I posted a request for prayers for a family in the wake of the stillbirth of their beautiful baby, Zita Marie-Catherine, a while ago, and I was so very happy for them when the mama, Kara, let me know this past fall that they were expecting another baby! Now I’m thrilled to share that their baby girl has arrived and been given the amazing name … Marigold Azélie!

Kara writes,

Well, our newest baby GIRL arrived at 7:49am on November 8th. She weighed 8 lbs 14oz. And we named her. . .

Marigold Azélie!
(We’re using the ah-ZAY-lee pronunciation.)

As you know, I was sort of set on using an Italian first name, but your consultation made me realize I cared more about the story behind the name than the nationality. So here’s the story:

[Hubby] and I were pretty settled on a boy name, but struggled with one if the baby was a girl. After three girls, I felt like we had used up our most-favorite options. Sometime in late August I had tossed out the name “Marigold” (which I was reminded of in your book!) as a name we could use in honor of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, not thinking he would go for it. I was right, he wasn’t keen on it. So I moved on. Then in mid-September a friend threw me a shower and one of the cards I received was a vintage print of the marigold flower. I went home and jokingly told [hubby] it was a sign that if we had a girl we should name her Marigold. Of course, he rolled his eyes. Fast forward a week or two and one night I was complaining about something pregnancy related and he responded with, “Well, would it make you feel better to know that Marigold is now in my top three names for girls?” Um, what?? His change of heart was due to the fact that the Diocese of Des Moines’ feast day is August 22nd, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Due to his job and it being a big year for the diocese with the ordination of a new bishop, he thought it was very fitting. We also liked that a nickname is Mary because it’s a family name (his grandma Mary turned 90 two days before Marigold was born). By early October it became a slight frontrunner for us, but it also felt very “different” given the fact that all the other kids’ names are straight saint names. Then when I was 38 weeks pregnant I came across more info on the marigold, its meaning and its relation to Mary [in an article by Br. John M. Samaha, S.M., on the University of Dayton’s web site] … I also discovered that the marigold is the flower for October, making me convinced that if we had a girl she was going to be born in October. Ha!

One bit that particularly moved this mama in that article linked to above was the following:

Sometimes described as ‘the flower of grief’, the marigold actually weeps on occasion. Droplets gather in the flower during the night and drip off like tears when it opens in the morning. This characteristic moved Shakespeare to write in A Winter’s Tale:

“The Marygold that goes to bed with the sun, / And with him rises weeping.”

These flowers primarily convey the message “I will comfort your grieving heart”.

Grief mixed with joy, poverty linked with abundance of good gifts — that is the marigold’s reflection of the lady for whom she is named.”

How beautiful!! Kara continues,

For me personally, besides the grief aspect, Marigold’s name also is connected to Zita in that although Zita was due Aug. 24th, I had hoped she would be born on Aug. 22nd. I had thought it would be fitting that since Zita was named after an Empress/Queen, she’d share a feast day with the Queen of Heaven. So this is a way for me to honor Zita without making it feel so heavy.

Azélie is obviously for St. Marie-Azélie, but kind of surprised me in that it only came to us right before baby’s due date. For the past 18 months I was SET on using Clairvaux for a middle name, but [hubby] kind of liked it better for a boy middle name. One day I was thinking about Marie-Azélie, her own child losses and her motherhood, realizing that in the past year I’ve understood more fully what it means to be a mother and have worked harder than ever before at becoming a better one. A few days later my sis-in-law sent me a quote from a book she was reading on Marie-Azélie’s life and that’s what sealed the deal …

So many people have commented on the beauty of Marigold’s name, young and old alike! Many have added that they’ve never heard of it, but my favorite was a little old retired priest who said, “Lady Edith has a Marigold!” Haha.

Of course my Gabriel was hoping for a boy, so when he came to the hospital and discovered he had yet another sister he immediately asked, “What’s her name?” in a way that was holding out hope it was something he liked. When we said it was Marigold he crinkled his nose with an “ugh.” He admits he likes it now, though! The kids call her “Mare,” “Marigoldie” and “Marigoldilocks.” 🙂 [Hubby] and I use Mary from time to time, but I’m careful because I never want the full Marigold to get lost — it’s too beautiful!

Isn’t this such a wonderful story?? I love that they were able to find a name that connects to their little Zita without, as Kara said, “making it feel so heavy.” This is just so lovely, all around!

Congratulations to Kara and her husband and big siblings Gabriel Gerard, Cecilia Immaculée, Gemma Thérèse (and Zita Marie-Catherine in heaven), and happy birthday Baby Marigold!!

Marigold Azélie with her family ❤ (Photo credit: Laura Wills Photography)

(In the top left picture, she’s laying on the Sacred Heart blanket from Be A Heart)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9 needs a name that isn’t “completely ordinary,” yet not unheard of

Sarah and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little girl or boy joins big siblings:

Cody Michael
Benjamin Scott
Claire Elizabeth
Dominic Anthony
Grace Cathryn
Peter Charles
Caroline Maria
Charlotte Zelie (“she goes mostly by ‘Zelie’“)

What a great bunch of names!! It’s important to note that Sarah acknowledged that her oldest’s name is more modern than they have come to prefer, though I did try to find names that can bridge Cody’s style with that of his siblings’ names.

Sarah writes,

This baby will be a “tiebreaker”, as we currently have 4 boys and 4 girls. We are starting to run out of (primarily boy) names, so are curious what you are able to come up with. We have an unwritten rule that the names be traditional and also double as a Saint name. Our style of “traditional” appears to be names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of. The middle names have either been a family name or a powerhouse Saint. We are open to nontraditional for a middle name if it is a super Catholic “mic drop” of a name.”

A “super Catholic ‘mic drop’ of a name”!! I love that!!

Names we cannot use are:
Alexander
Nicholas
John (open to John Paul, however)
Christian
James
Andrew
Rachel
Gabrielle
Lily
Thomas

I was sort of glad to see that they’re struggling with boy names, because I felt like I had an easier time coming up with boy names than with girl names!

As I mentioned, Cody was actually a big inspiration to me when I was trying to come up with name ideas for this baby. His name is certainly an outlier, and I really wanted to try to come up with an idea or two that might make his name seem more a part of the group. First though, I was glad to see that it means “helpful,” which could put it in the same category as Grace — that is, a virtue-type name. That’s a nice spin to put on it! And Michael is a great middle. I’ve included Cody-esque ideas in my suggestions below.

I do like that they’re open to John Paul, I think that’s a great option! I like that it incorporates biblical names, like Benjamin and Peter, and is a heavy-hitting faithy name. It can also take the nicknames Jack and JP, which I think fit in quite nicely with Cody.

You all know that I always start consultations 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. Within those results, I look for names or connections that have a solid faith connection. It’s a fun process! Based on that, these are my ideas for Sarah’s little one:

Girl
(1) Josephine
I couldn’t help but notice they like French girl names — Claire, Caroline, Charlotte, and Zelie are all French, but in an understated way (especially Claire, Caroline, and Charlotte), where they don’t at all clash with the other kiddos’ names. I hoped to find a similarly not-overly-obvious French name to suggest, and Josephine was a result from my research that seemed perfect. It can honor St. Joseph, or any of the holy Josephines.

(2) Isabella
Funny enough, though the French Isabelle is a style match for Charlotte, I thought the spelling Isabella was a better suggestion for this family, as Queen Isabella of Portugal, aka St. Elizabeth of Portugal, is a great patron. Isabelle can, of course, honor her as well if they prefer, as can Isabel, which was a style match for both Claire and Caroline. I normally wouldn’t suggest an Elizabeth name for them, since Claire’s middle name is Elizabeth, but since they used three Charles names, I thought they were probably fine with considering another Elizabeth name.

(3) Hannah
I was excited to see that Hannah is a style match for Benjamin and Grace—Benjamin is the only Old Testament name they have, so I like that Hannah would loop him in a bit, and having it be a style match for Grace makes it really feel like it fits in well with the other kids as well. Hannah is such a sweet name and can take St. Anne as a patron, as it’s an Anne variant.

(4) Felicity
I think Felicity is the kind of name that exactly fits Sarah and her hubby’s style of “traditional,” as they put it: “names that aren’t completely ordinary, yet are definitely not unheard of.” It’s super saintly and has a long history of usage, and St. Felicity is one of the best patrons for a girl, in my opinion (there are others as well). I spotlighted it here.

(5) Avila
Finally, in my hopes of finding names that could feel a little more Cody-esque while still checking off their other boxes, I’d thought a saintly surname or place name might do the trick: Kolbe, Clairvaux, or Cabrini, for example (but not those, since they’re too similar to Cody, Claire, and Caroline). Avila was one that I thought might do nicely. It’s got its own entry on behindthename, which tells you that it’s “definitely not unheard of,” and it’s the kind of name that families with Dominics and Zelies often choose. St. Teresa of Avila is a great patron, and a Doctor of the Church, which is so great for a little girl!

Boy
(1) Luke
Luke is biblical, like Benjamin and Peter; it’s four letters, like Cody; and it’s Marian, like Dominic! (Marian due to the fact that his gospel is the most Marian, containing within in the Annunciation and Our Lady’s Magnificat, for example; St. Dominic is a very Marian saint due to the fact that Our Lady tasked him with promulgating her rosary). I like Luke a lot for for this family! Being short, it can also take a longer middle name, which some of the heavy hitting “mic drop” names are (e.g., Luke Augustine, Luke Maximilian, Luke Emmanuel).

(2) Gabriel
Speaking of biblical names and the Annunciation, what about Gabriel? I’ve seen Benjamin and Gabriel brother sets fairly frequently, as well as Dominic and Gabriel brother sets, so it feels like a good fit. Gabriel’s also mentioned in both the Old Testament and New Testament, which is nice for Benjamin and Peter. They have Gabrielle on their “no” list for girls, but I’m hoping Gabriel’s okay for a boy!

(3) Joseph
I suggested Josephine above for a girl, but what about Joseph for a boy? I’m loving that it’s both an Old and New Testament name, and St. Joseph is such an amazing patron for a boy. It was also St. John Paul’s birth middle name, and Pope Benedict’s pre-papal first name. Lots of great connections!

(4) Henry
Henry reminds me of Hannah in that it’s such a sweet name! It’s a style match for Grace, Caroline, and Charlotte, and has a great saintly pedigree — I actually did a spotlight post of it here. Also, since Sarah mentioned possibly being open to John Paul, I wonder if they’d consider John Henry? It would be a really nice nod to our brand new St. John Henry Newman, and can also take the nickname Jack.

(5) Owen
Owen actually showed up a few times in my research — it’s a style match for Claire, Grace, and Charlotte, as well as Logan, which I looked up in order to add to the names that could be style matches for Cody. I think Owen is a great idea for this family! My favorite patron is St. Nicholas Owen — he was amazing! But there are actually a few Owens they can choose from for patron.

(6) Austin
Austin might be my favorite suggestion for this family for a boy. It’s a style match for Cody (!), and it’s a contracted form of Augustine! While it might have a modern feel, it’s been in use for a long time. There are the Austin Friars, founded in 1253, also known as the Hermits of St. Augustine, and I loved this medal for St. Augustine of Canterbury that says “St. Austin” on it. They could also do Augustine with the nickname Austin if they want.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Cody, Benjamin, Claire, Dominic, Grace, Peter, Caroline, and Zelie?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!