Baby name consultation: Names for a little brother that work in both English and Spanish

Happy Mother’s Day to you all! In honor of this day of remembrance and celebration, I’ve requested a Mass be said by the Marian Fathers at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy for “the Sancta Nomina community and their families and intentions,” which includes all those for whom Mother’s Day is a happy day, and all those for whom it’s a difficult day. ❤️❤️❤️

Also, I’m sure you all already know, but the new baby name data (based on 2020 births) was released by the SSA on Friday! Happiest day of the year for name enthusiasts! I haven’t yet had a chance to get into it too deeply (though I did notice that Ambrose is one of the boy names that climbed the most — up 137 spots from 958 to 821. I was surprised by that!), but Abby at Appellation Mountain always has great, immediate analysis and insight, as does Nameberry, Nancy’s Baby Names, and Namerology (formerly Baby Name Wizard). Here are the new top ten:

I hope to post more about it later this week!

Now for today’s consultation! Maggie and her husband are expecting a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown), baby sister or brother to:

Augustine James

Augustine James is so handsome! Nice job!

Maggie writes,

I need help with our son’s name should we have one. We’re due 5/31/21 and not finding out the gender … Our stipulation is obviously Catholic, nothing our friends have (which is becoming a short and shorter list) and can be said in both English and Spanish. I would love to honor Our Lady, but don’t care for Diego.

Here are some names I liked:

  • Roman Alexander
  • Felix 
  • Isaiah 
  • Dominic – astronomers 
  • Cristiano – travelers & children 
  • Sebastian  
  • Alexander
  • Cassian 

Cannot use:

  • Lukas [but Maggie loves it]
  • Noah 
  • Daniel 
  • Patrick 
  • Jude 
  • Gregory 
  • John
  • Blaise
  • Kolbe
  • Maximilian 
  • Basil 
  • James
  • Elijah

Maggie and her husband have a great list of names! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Roman: I love the name Roman, and it goes so great with Alexander!
  • Felix: I’m seeing the name Felix more and more among the families I work with, it’s a great name and I’m so glad it’s getting more usage.
  • Isaiah: I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, Isaiah’s a great one!
  • Dominic: One of my very favorites. It’s a style match for Augustine, so it would be a great fit for his brother! Maggie said that she’d love to honor Our Lady in a son’s name — I included Dominic as an entry in my book of Marian names because of this quote from Fr. Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary: “Saint Dominic was a Marian saint who, as he walked from town to town preaching the Gospel, raised his voice in song to Our Lady by preaching her Psalter and singing the Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea). His early biographers mention that he frequently received visions of the Virgin Mary and preached about her with great fervor. In one particular vision, Jesus himself informed St. Dominic that the Dominicans were entrusted to the protection of Mary.” Dominican tradition also holds that St. Dominic received the Rosary from Our Lady. Dominic is a very Marian name!
  • Cristiano: I love both Cristiano and Christian!
  • Sebastian: I like that Sebastian really matches the length and weight of Augustine, great name. One thought is that Christian and Sebastian have the same ending, so it’s probably the kind of thing where if Maggie and her hubby used one for one son, they wouldn’t want to use the other for another son — that could help them decide between the two names: which one would they be sadder to lose?
  • Cassian: Cassian is so cool, and the nickname Cash is so appealing.

So they have a lot of great options! But of course, I can always come up with more, haha! You all know that I 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 (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, keeping an eye out for names that were listed as matches for more than one of the names on Maggie’s list. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com to look up Augustine, as Augustine doesn’t have its own entry in the book, and I also paid attention to any names that could be Marian. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Leo, Leander

Leo is a fantastic option for anyone who loves the Luke/Lucas names but can’t use them! Leo is a match for a couple of the names Maggie and her hubby like, so I definitely think it’s a good bet that Leo might appeal to them as well.

Leander is a match for Augustine, and I’ve recently been loving it — St. Leander (Leandro) of Seville was a Spanish saint, so the name definitely works in both English and Spanish, and Leo can be a nickname for it, if they’d like.

(2) Nic(h)olas

Nicholas is a match for Alexander, but more than that, I thought of it because of Dominic having the -nic ending (and Nic can be a nickname for Dominic) as well as the fact that Maggie noted Cristiano is a patron of travelers and children — I’m not sure which Saint she means, but St. Nicholas is a patron of travelers and children as well. And it’s not on the list of names they can’t use, which is a plus!

(3) Milo

I’m not entirely sure Maggie and her hubby will like Milo, as I think it’s not as obviously Catholic as they’d like, but Miles and Milo are matches for several names Maggie likes — Miles and Milo are variants of the same name, and both have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Such a great, very Marian name for a boy! I thought that, of the two options, Milo was preferable to Miles, since I assume Milo is easier to say in Spanish, but maybe not? I like them both!

(4) Oscar

Though the results in the Name Matchmaker for Augustine were certainly helpful, I also looked up August in the book to give some added ideas — I’ve often found that the matches for August are appealing to parents who like Augustine. Oscar is a match for August, and it works really well in both English and Spanish.

(5) Gabriel, Raphael

Gabriel is a match for Isaiah, Christian (Cristiano doesn’t have its own entry), and Sebastian, and it, too is an entry in my book of Marian names for his role in the Annunciation, which of course is also the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — such a Marian name!

Raphael is a match for Roman, and is certainly the least common of the three angelic names, but I love that he’s mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which isn’t in the Protestant Bible, which makes me think of the names contained therein that aren’t elsewhere (also including Tobit and Tobias) as having a particularly Catholic character.

(6) Julian

Julius is a match for August, and Julian for Christian and Sebastian, so I think it’s just the kind of name that Maggie and her hubby might like. I also really wanted to include Jude on this list, but since it’s on the list of names they can’t use, I thought Julian was a good alternative.

(7) Xavier

Finally, Xavier is a match for Dominic, Sebastian, and Felix. It’s clearly Catholic, and points of course to the great St. Francis Xavier. You can choose the ex-ZAY-vyer pronunciation or the ZAY-vyer pronunciation, and Xave and Xavey are great nicknames.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Augustine James that can be said in both English and Spanish?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 7 needs beautiful Latin name (Greek is ok too)

Is THREE consultation posts in one week a new Sancta Nomina record?? Could be! Don’t forget to check on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, if you haven’t already!

Christine and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their fourth girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

Sylvester George (“This entire name was dictated by a family tradition of my husband’s. The firstborn son gets named after his grandfather — first and middle name. What this effectively does is make two names — Thomas Louis, and Sylvester George — alternate every generation. My son is the 8th generation *that we know of* to receive his name via this tradition. I kind of like that our kids mostly have names with a tangible meaning, and a ‘symbol’ I can draw for them when I label their ‘stuff.’ Sylvester means, basically, woodsman (or, as we like to say ‘lumberjack’) — so I use a tree symbol for him. He goes by the nickname Sly.”)

Stella Maris (“We knew we wanted to honor Our Lady with our first daughter’s name. We loved the name Stella, and decided to just use the full Marian title, by giving her ‘Maris’ as the middle name. Since Stella means ‘star,’ this is the symbol I draw for her. She goes by her full name Stella.”)

Linus Joseph (“My husband wasn’t as crazy about the name Linus as I was, but I was able to use the fact that I had had no choice in our first son’s name to get him to let me have my choice on our second! We both have a devotion to St. Joseph, so this was a natural choice for the middle name. We liked the fact that both our sons had ‘Pope names.’  Linus means ‘flaxen (haired),’ so I draw a bundle of flax for him. He goes by his full name Linus.”)

Flora Therese (“We didn’t settle on her name until after she was born. We were toying with a lot of different Marian name options, as we thought it would be really nice to name all our girls for Our Lady (whether in their first or middle name). But there were just no other names we found that we loved as much as we had loved Stella Maris. We were also considering the name ‘Rose’ — the name of my husband’s grandmother, and also just a beautiful name. But we felt it didn’t fit well with the ‘Latin theme’ we had started to develop. We landed on Flora, which we both thought was pretty, and chose another favorite Saint, Therese, as her secondary patron. I really like that the two names go together, as Therese is known as ‘the Little Flower.’ I draw a flower symbol for her. She goes by her full name Flora [though occasionally gets called Flo or Flossie].”)

Felix Amadeus (“This was another one by husband wasn’t as wild about, but let me have my way on. I liked that Felix was another Pope name, and one of the rare Latin boy names that didn’t end in the typical ‘-us’ suffix. And really, I just loved the meaning of the two names: Felix (happy/fortunate) and Amadeus (love of God) — and his personality fits it well! I draw a happy face as his symbol. He goes by his full name Felix.”)

Anastasia Rose (“Again, we really deliberated over her name, and didn’t manage to pick it until hours after she was born. We kept mulling over ways we could use the name Rose, but have it “work” with our other kids’ names.  Our top contender when I went into labor was probably Rosalia, but neither of us loved it. While holding her later in the hospital room, my husband was reading choices off of a big list of possible names we had made. When he said ‘Anastasia,’ the name really struck me. I suggested making it Anastasia Rose, and calling her by the double name of ‘Annie Rose’ (definitely inspired by the Alfie and Annie Rose picture books!). Also, my husband’s mother is named Anne, and his grandmother, as I mentioned, is named Rose — so there were some good family connections there. We decided to go with it, and I only later found out that my husband had totally ad-libbed that name suggestion on the spot — it wasn’t one we had ever put on our list! While Anastasia is technically a Greek name, we felt like it had the same feel of our other name choices, and so fit well. Anastasia means resurrection, so I usually draw a cross symbol for her. Everybody calls her Annie Rose … except my husband! He later decided that while he loves the sound of her name, calling her by the full name ‘Anastasia’ was too many syllables and didn’t roll off the tongue well; and he also realized that he dislikes the idea of a double name. So he’s been trying out the nickname ‘Ressi’ [a local nickname used in my neighborhood for ‘Resurrection’] as his personal pet name for her, but I’m not sure if it will stick.”)

I absolutely love all these names! This family’s style is really fun — elegant and unusual and just as Christine said: “less-common but recognizable first names.” Her hubby’s family tradition of Sylvester George is intense! I can’t believe that there are eight generations *that they know of* of firstborn sons having the same first and middle of his grandfather! Thomas Louis is fairly easy to work with, but Sylvester George is certainly not to everyone’s taste — but it seems perfect for this family, which is fantastic! Stella Maris, Linus Joseph, Flora Therese, Felix Amadeus, and Anastasia Rose are each just really stunning combos. Nice job! And I love how Christine draws little symbols to represent each one, I definitely kept that in mind as I worked on this. I also love Anastasia’s name story — Annie Rose is a darling nickname (I love the literary and family significance!), and I’m so intrigued by Ressi as well!

Christine writes,

So, we’ve gotten ourselves sort of stuck into a naming theme now! We have chosen mostly Latinate names for our kids. This is probably partially because we attend the Traditional Latin Mass and so have a strong appreciation for the Latin language, and also because my husband is a big Roman history buff. Additionally, we have the world’s most common and boring last name, so I feel like we need to give our kids less-common but recognizable first names. I don’t have strong feelings about middle names — I mostly think of it as a good place to add another Saint whose name we wouldn’t necessarily use as a first name.

Unfortunately, we have always struggled more with our girl names! I’m really just looking for a pretty and feminine name that fits well with the others. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Latin, but it should have the right sound/feel. I’m not totally tied to the idea of her name having a meaning which is easily conveyed by a drawn symbol, but that could be considered a bonus. I think I care more about the sound of the name than the meaning, though I do usually consider both. I’m happy to learn about and develop a devotion to her name Saint *after* choosing the name. In light of my husband’s difficulties with Anastasia’s lengthy name, it’s probably best to stick with names which are less than four syllables, or that have a pretty and short nickname we could use.

Some names we have considered in the past:

  • Aurelia: I love this one, but my husband isn’t so sure. I think mostly because many people pronounce the ‘e’ differently.
  • Camilla: I don’t really love the sound of the name, but ‘Millie’ is one of my favorites for a nickname.
  • Cora: We love the sound, and the fact that it would evoke The Sacred Heart, which I have a devotion to. But it rhymes with Flora! I’m open to other names with a Sacred Heart meaning.
  • Cordelia/Cornelia: My husband and I each have fairly strong feelings about which we prefer, and I’m not sure if we can compromise!
  • Eucharistica: I don’t know if we’re brave enough to ever actually use this one, because it’s an intense name! We saw it once, years ago, on a gravestone and it’s stuck with us.
  • Fidelia
  • Gloria
  • Julia
  • Louisa: Another name I like more than my husband. Louis is his middle name, so I like this one especially.
  • Leora: My great-grandmother’s name, which I just think is unique.”

When I read Christine’s older children’s names, I was immediately eager to see what names she and her hubby are considering for this baby, and I wasn’t disappointed — what a great group of names! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each of them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Aurelia: Such a beautiful name! But yes, I’ve heard it said different ways, and some people are really baffled about how it should be said. I wonder if Aurea or Aurora would appeal?
  • Camilla: I totally latched onto the fact that the nickname Millie is what Christine loves about Camilla — I kept that in mind in my suggestions below!
  • Cora: Rhyming with Flora definitely presents a problem for Cora! It’s a beautiful name, and I love that they’d use it for the Sacred Heart (I often see it used for the Immaculate Heart of Mary — both such wonderful intentions!). I wonder if the longer Corinna might appeal? According to Behind the Name, which I consider to be one of the most trustworthy sites for name meanings, Cora and Corinna are both Latinized forms of the Greek for “maiden” (kore), which can given an extra Marian layer on top of the nods to the Immaculate Heart or the Sacred Heart because of cor meaning “heart” in Latin. I like that Corinna has both Latin and Greek connections, since they’ve used both Latin and Greek names!
  • Cordelia/Cornelia: How funny that Christine and her husband each prefer one of these and dislike the other! Perhaps my Corinna idea above would be a good alternative that they could both agree on?
  • Eucharistica: WOW! I’ve seen some intense names used by families I’ve worked with, but never Eucharistica! I’m with Christine — I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to use it as a first name, but I would LOVE it as a middle! It makes me think of the name Charis — a family I worked with named their daughter Charis because of it being contained in the word eucharist, which I thought was a very cool and accessible way to get a heavy dose of the faith in their child’s name. Charissa and Carissa are elaborated forms of Charis — would either of those appeal?
  • Fidelia: I love Fidelia! However, one thing that I noticed is that they have two kids with S names, two with F’s, and one each with L and A, so adding in a third F might be a bit much? Or not! It also reminded me of this birth announcement — I think Christine will like that family’s style!
  • Gloria: Until I encountered a little Gloria somewhat recently, I thought it was such an old lady name, haha! But I’ve come to love its beauty and faith connection!
  • Julia: Beautiful, timeless.
  • Louisa: I too love Louisa as a nod to Dad’s middle name, bummer that he doesn’t like it as much as Christine does!
  • Leora: How cool that Christine has Leora in her family tree! I would definitely agree that it’s a unique name — I haven’t ever seen it in real life — but something funny is that when I was doing research for this family (you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard [affiliate link] as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) and I looked up Leora (not even expecting to find it — the rarer names don’t tend to have their own entries in the BNW), not only did it indeed have its own entry, but Flora and Aurelia are style matches for it! Wow! Christine and her hubs have such consistent taste!

So those are my thoughts on the names on their list — now on to my new ideas! As noted above, I did my usual research in the BNW, and I also went through the lists on Behind the Name of Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, and Late Roman names as well as names from Roman Mythology, and I had a couple ideas of my own for them as well:

(1) Caecilia, Caeli

Cecilia is much beloved by so many Catholic families that I feel like they must have already considered this one and decided they don’t like it, but it was the first one I thought of for them because of a family I worked with whose daughter’s name was spelled Caecilia, which is the “original Latin form of Cecilia,” according to Behind the Name. I love that! I don’t know how the family I worked with pronounces their daughter’s name, but Behind the Name says it’s pronounced kie-KEE-lee-a, which could be awesome, but I also think you could just use seh-SEE-lee-a. Or chay-CHEE-lee-a! Being into Latin and names, Christine probably knows that Cecilia means “blind,” which some parents who are particularly into name meanings really dislike (I addressed that here), but I would definitely focus on St. Cecilia’s connection to music, which would make a little musical note a perfect symbol for their baby!

Caecilia made me think of Caeli, which I see here and there in the families that I work with as a nod to Our Lady’s title Regina Caeli. Or they could spell it Coeli and really confuse everyone! On the one hand, I like that Caeli doesn’t end in A — I like how Christine noted that one of the things she liked about Felix was that it’s one of the few Latin boy names that doesn’t end in -us, and I thought similarly about Caeli. But then, all of her other girls have names that end in A, which makes me want them to continue it! Maybe Caeli could be a nickname for Caecilia? All sorts of layers of meaning in that!

(2) Regina

I mentioned Caeli, but what about the first part of that Marian title: Regina? Like with Cecilia, I feel like they must have considered Regina at some point and decided they don’t like it. But I was inspired to include it here because Christine said she’s “open to other names with a Sacred Heart meaning,” and I’d done a name spotlight a while ago on the name Ruby (which is a style match for Stella and Annie!) at the request of a reader who loved it and wanted to figure out some faith connections, and one of the main ones I made an argument for was in honor of the Sacred Heart! I think many people who might love the faith connections for Ruby might not love Ruby as a given name — which is my assumption about Christine and her hubby as well — so I’d offered several first+middle pairings in that post that I thought could nickname to Ruby, and Regina Kolbe was one, which Christine might like, but then I thought she might like Regina Beata even more! So that’s my suggestion here: Regina Beata, which translates as “blessed Queen” and is a clear reference to Our Lady, continuing the Marian nods they have in each of their girls’ names, with the nickname Ruby, which is for the Sacred Heart. Christine could draw a little crown for a symbol, or a little jewel, depending on her drawing skills!

(3) Aemilia, Emmelia, Emilia

Aemilia’s one of the first names on one of the lists of Latin names I looked through, which could be great — another A name, like Anastasia, which continues their pattern of having pairs of names with the same initial! One St. Amelia, also known as St. Amalburga of Mauberge, has her feast day on July 10, which is really close to Christine’s due date! Then I thought about Emmelia, which I think is said basically the same but I believe is Greek, so that could be nice for Anastasia — some of my readers with Eastern leanings (including this mama who’s actually Eastern Orthodox, and shared some more info about St. Emmelia in that post) often mention her as a Saint they love, and her feast day is May 30 — even closer to Christine’s due date! Or the spelling Emilia, which is the spelling of St. John Paul’s mom, whose cause for canonization is open. So many great options! (Though do know they apparently all have different etymologies: “rival” for Aemilia vs. “melodius” for Emmelia [according to the Eastern Orthodox mom, though Behind the Name didn’t offer a meaning] vs. “work” for Emilia.) But for all of them, the thing that excited me the most about including them for this baby is that they can all take Millie as a nickname! I couldn’t think of a little symbol for these names though — maybe it can come from the middle name?

(4) Helena

Speaking of holy mothers, I like Helena for this baby! I like that it, like Cora, is a Latinized form of a Greek name, which is a nice connection between Stella/Flora and Anastasia. I admit I was caught up in Christine’sa little symbols and so I love that Helena is thought to mean “torch” or related to the Greek for “moon,” both of which lend themselves nicely to little symbols!

(5) Perpetua, Pia

Perpetua’s probably pushing it in terms of length, but when I saw it in one of the Latin lists, my heart leapt. Perpetua! Such a great, Catholicky Catholic name that can nod to both Our Lady under title Our Lady of Perpetual Help and also the wonderful St. Perpetua! I’ve thought of Pep/Peppie, Pippa/Pippi, and Poppy as nicknames for Perpetua (probably not Peppa though, right? Because of Peppa the Pig? I’ve never seen it though, maybe that’s a fun association for a little girl?), and I also have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua and calls her Tua. AND Perpetua’s symbol could be the sign for infinity (sideways 8)! So easy and fun!

I’ve also thought Pia could work as a nickname for Perpetua, which is great, but it made me think that maybe they’d like to consider Pia as a given name! It seems like perfect balance to Anastasia’s length, being only three letters, but at the same time it’s two syllables like Stella and Flora, and it’s Marian as well — Our Lady is referred to as pia in the Salve Regina. I’m starting to see Pia here and there on parents’ lists of names, and the actor David Henrie and his wife, who are devout Catholics, named their daughter Pia! (Pia Philomena Francesca, to be exact. What a name! I love it!) (I’m assuming Christine’s not interested in Philomena, right? Too long, right? But if she could be swayed … Millie could work as a nickname for Philomena!)

(6) Lucia

This is another of those names that I feel like Christine and her hubby must have discussed and moved on from, since I feel like it’s a sort of obvious addition to a list of feminine Latin names, but not only do I love the name and its meaning (a Lucia’s symbol could be a light bulb or a flame or a torch like Helena), and also that it can be Marian via the title Our Lady of Light, and also that you could really go Latin and use Lux as a nickname, but also that Lucia starts with L like Linus! Continuing their pairs-of-same-initials pattern!

(7) Maria, Mariae

My last suggestion is another that I’m sure they’ve discussed, but hear me out. Maria is, I believe, both the Latin and Greek form of Mary, which is awesome, and it’s classic, straightforward, and ends in A like the other girls. Because of its familiarity, it can balance a more adventurous middle name nicely — maybe Maria Eucharistica? OR! Ooh! Maria Laetitia nicknamed Millie!!

If they’d like a Mary name but Maria’s a little too tame, a name that *feels* even more Latin is Mariae, which is the genitive form of Maria — it literally means “of/belonging to Mary,” which is such an incredible meaning! In fact, Mariae was a frontrunner for us for a middle name if we ever had a girl (seven boys and no girls!). I admit that, as much as I love Mariae, I don’t love that it doesn’t end in A like their other girls, but maybe that’s okay with them? For both Maria and Mariae, maybe Christine could do the Auspice Maria (AM intertwined) or another of the Marian monograms (this is the one on my book’s cover) for her symbol?

Those are my “official” suggestions, but there were some other names that were in the Roman/Latin lists of names that intrigued me, so I thought I’d include them here just in case:

  • Benedicta
  • Clara
  • Dominica
  • Donata
  • Justina
  • Katerina
  • Margarita
  • Matrona
  • Maura
  • Petronilla
  • Silvia
  • Veronica
  • Viviana

And I also thought about Zoe, too — a super-short-feeling name like Pia that’s Greek like Anastasia.

Those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Sylvester, Stella, Linus, Flora, Felix, and Anastasia?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Lots of rules for Baby no. 4’s name!

Ashley and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their fourth girl! Baby Sister joins:

Emma Grace

Kennedy Faith

Lillian Hope

Which I would love anyway — I love the femininity of Emma and Lillian and the spunkiness of Kennedy, and I love that their middle names tie them together so nicely — but then Ashley pointed out that they all have a double letter in the middle, which I hadn’t seen before she said it — how cool! And not only would she ideally like to continue that, but she’s got some other preferences as well — I LOVE a good name challenge! The more rules the merrier!

Ashley writes,

We know the middle name will be Joy. For the first name, I’m a little weird where right now our names go in alphabetical order (E, K, L) so the name would need to be after L. We also want to continue the tradition of having two letters in the middle of the name preferably, but if need be, it could be at the end of the name. I’m also not opposed to starting at the beginning of the alphabet, but would love for it to be from M to Z

Names we cannot do:

  • Noelle
  • Zellie (even though I like it, I don’t want it to rhyme with Jelly)

Names we have thought of, but don’t really like:

  • Molly
  • Nellie 
  • Maree
  • Savannah 
  • Poppy

A name we like:

  • Rosalee (although in this case, I would rather it be Rosalie)

Especially in the year of St. Joseph, my husband would love a name that is in honor of him, but all I could think of was Josaphina or Lilly (which couldn’t do that).”

I’m glad Ashley included the names they can’t use or don’t care for — I likely would have suggested a bunch of them! Before I get to my new suggestions for her little girl, I wanted to comment on a couple things she mentioned, in case they’re helpful:

  • Rosalee: I tried to think of different ways this could work in a way Ashley and her hubs might like better, and the only names I could think of were the similar Rosaleen and Rosheen.
  • Names for St. Joseph: I also really wanted to think of a St. Joseph name for them!! None of the Josephine names have a double letter that I could find except for Josée, which is said like jo-SAY (or zho-ZAY, to be more authentically French) and isn’t in the second half of the alphabet. But then there’s the Italian variants Giuseppa and Giuseppina, which made me think maybe Seppa? As a short form of Giuseppa? I know Seppel is a German diminutive of Joseph, so even though I’ve never seen Seppa used in this way (Seppä is an unrelated Finnish surname that means “smith”), I think an argument could be made for it. If Ashley and her hubby like it, that would be awesome because it would check all their boxes! Seppa Joy could be pretty cool for a little girl born during the Year of St. Joseph!
  • Another way to honor St. Joseph: I looked up Saints who had a special devotion to St. Joseph, in case there was anything there, and found that St. Teresa of Avila took him for a particular patron — Tessa is a diminutive of Teresa that fits with their rules! AND her feast day is October 15, which is close to Ashley’s due date! Wow! Ven. Margaret of the Most Holy Sacrament is another who is known to have had a special devotion to St. Joseph — Mette (pronounced like Meta) is a Danish and Norwegian diminutive of Margaret … Maggie and Peggy are nicknames for Margaret too, but neither seems this family’s style to me … Maybe Reeta, which is a Finnish diminutive?
  • Alternative to Poppy: I know they have Poppy on their list of names they don’t really like — I wonder if that extends to the similar-but-different Pippa? I love Pippa! It can certainly be used on its own, but if they want something longer, it arose as a diminutive of Philippa (like Kate Middleton’s sister), which also fits their rules.

Okay, so Seppa, Tessa, and Pippa are my favorites for this family of the names I mentioned above, but of course I can always come up with more ideas! Haha! It was SO FUN to try to find more names with double letters in the middle — I used the NameFinder tool on babynamewizard.com and just went through the alphabet (bb, cc, etc.) and made a list of those names that I thought had promise. I looked them up on CatholicSaints.info to see if there were any saintly connections, and I also did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard book (affiliate link), looking up Emma, Kennedy, Lillian, and Rosalie to see if any of their style matches sparked anything. I will say that I was heavily skewed toward Kennedy’s style, since Emma, Lillian, and Rosalie are all of the same basic universe and I thought it would be nice to loop Kennedy in more, so I paid attention to the names that are “surname-y names,” which in my mind includes place names. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for Ashley’s baby girl:

(1) Merryn, Perrin

There are actually two Saints known as Merryn! Both male, but I think Merryn totally works for a girl. Merryn Joy is pretty!

The rhyming Perrin is a diminutive of Peter, and one of my readers named her daughter Perrin! If I were to get nitpicky, I guess my ideal preference would be to have a name that sounds different from Ashley’s other girls — I like that Emma, Kennedy, and Lillian have their own initials, own endings, and own double letters — and Merryn and Perrin have the same ending sound as Lillian. But otherwise, I think they’re both great choices.

(2) Quinn

I’ve had a couple readers who have included Quinn in their daughters’ names in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. It’s a great match for Kennedy because it’s an Irish surname that has unisex first name usage!

(3) Reilly

Reilly is another Irish surname with unisex first name usage, like Kennedy, and there’s an Irish Dominican martyr named James O’Reilly that could be patron. One of my readers has a daughter named Reilly (her sister was almost Quinn!).

(4) Salette

I think this is my favorite of my suggestions here. It’s in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and I never would have thought of it but that one of my readers had it on her list of names she was considering. I like that it’s from a place name, so I’d include it in the “surname-y style,” like Kennedy, and of course I always love a good Marian name.

(5) Sienna

St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernardine of Siena inspired this idea — I’ve seen many people spell it Sienna (even those who know it’s spelled Siena), which would fit perfectly with Ashley’s rules.

Those are my “official suggestions, but there were also a bunch of other names that I considered including but they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another — I wanted to list them here, just in case:

  • Carrigan
  • Corinne
  • Maddalena
  • Mallory
  • Merrigan
  • Prentiss
  • Reece/Reese
  • Rooney
  • Sutton
  • Vivienne
  • Wells/Welles
  • Wynne

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Emma, Kennedy, and Lillian?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Birth announcement: Isla Frances!

I posted a consultation for Melissa and her husband back in September, and I’m so happy to share that Melissa’s let me know her little girl has been born and been given the gorrrgeous name … Isla Frances!

Melissa writes,

Wanted to share the birth of our little girl, Isla Frances! Thank you for your help and I look forward to working with you again in the future!

I absolutely love the name Isla, and I love love it paired with Frances — what a stunning combo!!

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and big sibs Graham, Joseph, Lucy, and Zelie, and happy birthday Baby Isla!!

Isla Frances

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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Will Giving My Child a “Sorrowful” Name Mean She’ll Grow Up in Sorrow?

I’m excited to share Sancta Nomina’s first ever Guest Post! Please welcome Theresa Zoe Williams, a longtime member of the Sancta Nomina community and mother to three amazingly named children (read about her older two here, and the birth announcement for her youngest here). Theresa is a freelance writer whose work can be found online at EpicPew, CatholicSingles, and Where Peter Is, as well as at her Patheos blog Contemplatio Culture and her personal blog Principessa Meets World. Theresa has also contributed to the books The Catholic Hipster Handbook: The Next Level and Epic Saints: Wild, Wonderful, and Weird Stories of God’s Heroes. Follow her on Twitter @TheresaZoe 

My oldest child’s name is Ruby Mae Anastasia. Even though there is a saint Anastasia, since Ruby’s name doesn’t easily evoke a particular saint or patronage, my husband and I decided to choose someone for her, independent of her name. When I said I wanted Our Lady of Sorrows to be her patroness, my husband’s response was, “But I don’t want our daughter to grow up sad and emo.” I insisted that Our Lady of Sorrows really had nothing to do with being sad or depressed, and, also, there were so many signs and connections to this title of Mary for us including my own devotion to her, Ruby’s initial due date being her feast day, and my beloved Gram’s death date on her feast day (there is more and it’s detailed in the name story Kate posted of my kids’ names). Through these things and a lot of prayer, I convinced my husband Our Lady of Sorrows was to be Ruby’s patroness and then consecrated my unborn daughter to her.

While there are many words that describe my now eight year old Ruby (feisty, determined, and compassionate come to mind), sad, depressed, and emo are not among them. Was my husband’s fear unfounded, though? Probably. While there are plenty of people without this patronage that live lives of great sorrow, there are certainly also people under this patronage who have lived sad lives. My great-grandmother, Mary Dolores (whose name means “bitterness and sorrow” and is a common way to honor Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows), certainly had a life punctuated by great sorrow.

Mary’s life took a sad turn almost from the get-go. Her mother, Annunziata, died when Mary was about ten years old. Mary and her two surviving younger siblings, Minnie and William, were then sent to an orphanage to be taken care of while their father, Pasquale, an immigrant, worked. Sadly, William and Minnie died in the orphanage. Mary was sent back to her father and they were then inseparable until his death. But that time in the orphanage and of losing most of her family affected her for the rest of her life. Family –– and the sacrifices you make for them –– were always her first priority.

Once married, Mary and her husband Lewis (Luigi) had six living children but they also lost two daughters, Eleanor and Beatrice, before their first birthdays (and possibly a third child was stillborn). Later in life, when Lewis was out of work, Mary took a job unloading railroad freight trains. It was hard physical labor and it kept Mary from Lewis several days each week, but she never complained. She always thanked God for being good to her and leading her to a job that could support her family.

Interestingly, as an adult, Mary’s parish happened to be Seven Dolors and she, Lewis, most of their children, and many of their grandchildren are all buried there (my mom, though part of this family by marriage, is also buried there and my dad will someday be buried there, too).

This, I think, perfectly illustrates who Our Lady of Sorrows is and a Catholic view of sorrow. It is hope, instead of despair, in the face of tragedy. It is fortitude in the face of upset and chaos. It is trust in the midst of darkness. And it is gratitude in the midst of hardship. When you look at it this way, naming a child for this title of Mary or in connection to the Paschal Mystery (like my great-great-grandfather Pasquale) is a fantastic way to set your child up for a solid, and even joyful, Catholic life. There is something strengthening in having such a connection to the deepest mysteries and wonders of our Catholic faith, the darkest parts and the most life-giving parts, that undergirds a person’s life in a powerful and invigorating way.

So, will naming your child something connected to sorrow doom her or him to a life of sorrow? Not at all! Just as the name Mary may mean “bitterness” yet we have no problem naming our daughters Mary and do not fear that they will be bitter, so we shouldn’t fear names connected to sorrow. While the meaning of a name can give depth to a person’s life, it is not the only source of identity for the person. Why you choose a name is even more important than the meaning of the name! There are even more reasons why we choose names and these are what give our children breadth and depth of connection and meaning, not only the literal meaning of his or her name.

Here are a few of my favorite names with meanings connected to sorrow: Tristan, Brennan, Lola, and Deirdre.

What do you think? Would you give your child a name connected to sorrow? Why or why not?

Copyright 2021 Theresa Zoe Williams

The naming of Jesus, SN in Croatia, and Irish naming trends

Happy Wednesday! Less than ten days until Christmas, as my boys keep on (and keep on) reminding me!

When I was going through the posts and articles about Advent and Christmas names that I posted the other day, I realized that one I did about the naming of Jesus for CatholicMom a couple of years ago didn’t survive their site redesign, so I’m posting it below.

I also have the fun news that the article I wrote for CatholicMom in October — “Praying the Rosary with Children” — was reprinted (with permission) on a Croatian web site. How cool! Check it out!

Finally, Sara at the DMNES shared this article with me, it’s such a fun read!: Name that Child! at The Irish Times (Dec. 28, 1999).


Glory to the Newborn King

by Kate Towne for CatholicMom.com (December, 2017)

Our newly beatified Bl. Solanus Casey was known to have a great love for The Mystical City of God (affiliate link), a history of the life of Our Lady said to have been revealed by her to Ven. Mary of Agreda in the seventeenth century. Because of my mom’s great love for Bl. Solanus, she decided to read the book that was so dear to him, and she fell in love with it as well, and has talked about it ever since — well over thirty years. In fact, her tattered copy of it is a fixture in my memories of my childhood home.

(It’s important to note that the contents of The Mystical City of God consist of private revelation, and are therefore not required to be believed by the faithful. (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 67) . )

I was looking through the book recently for the first time, and discovered a section regarding the naming of Jesus. Thanks to the St. Andrew Novena, I’d already been meditating frequently this Advent on “the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold,” and because my own experiences with giving birth have included the naming of the baby as soon as he’s born, I’d forgotten (or perhaps hadn’t fully realized) that Jesus wouldn’t have been named until His circumcision eight days later. But also, I’d never thought about His actual naming, beyond simply the acknowledgment that He would be known as Jesus per God’s instruction, and I loved reading this bit:

Then most holy Mary and Joseph took counsel concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in the Circumcision [in which they both shared that the name Jesus had been revealed to them both, separately] … While the great Mistress of Heaven and St. Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed in shining white garments, on which were woven red embroideries of wonderful beauty … The holy angels divided into two choirs in the cave, keeping their gaze fixed upon the King and Lord in the arms of His virginal Mother. The chiefs of these heavenly cohorts were the two princes, St. Michael and St. Gabriel, shining in greater splendor than the rest and bearing in their hands, as a special distinction, the most holy name JESUS, written in larger letters on something like cards of incomparable beauty and splendor.

The two princes presented themselves apart from the rest before their Queen and said: “Lady, this is the name of thy Son (Matt. 1:21), which was written in the mind of God from all eternity and which the Blessed Trinity has given to thy Only-begotten Son and Our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human race …” (pp. 243–244)

I’ve written before about the power of names, and specifically the power of the Name of Jesus, at which mention every “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10), and in which “whatever you do, in word or in deed” should be done, “giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17), so I don’t have a hard time at all believing that the revelation of His Name would be accompanied by such heavenly fanfare and celebration!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Tristan Raphael!

I posted a consultation for Nicole and her husband Brenden back in August for their tie-breaking fifth baby — a boy! — and Nicole has let me know her little guy has arrived! They gave him the tremendous name … Tristan Raphael!

Nicole writes,

He’s here, he’s here!

We kept his name Tristan but went with Raphael as his middle because our family has experienced amazing healing by taking the leap of faith we took by relocating last fall.

Tristan Raphael Flynn arrived on 10/12/20 @ 1:22 pm weighing 7 lb 1.6 oz.”

Nicole had commented on the consultation post, sharing that Tristan was a name she loved, and she’d separately told me of some combos she was thinking of with Tristan, so I’m so thrilled that she and her hubby went with it! And I love Raphael as the middle name: Tristan Raphael is such a handsome combination!

Congratulations to Nicole and Brenden and big sibs Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran, and happy birthday Baby Tristan!!


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 (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Name data: U.S. and U.K.

I can’t believe I haven’t yet posted here on the blog about the 2019 name data that was (finally!) released by the Social Security Administration a couple of weeks ago! (The first few weeks of school always have me in a dither — it always takes me until Thanksgiving every year to finally feel like I have my bearings.)

You’ve probably already seen, but here are the new top ten names:

Screenshot from the SSA baby name site

Of note, Emma dropped down a spot from no. 1 (after 5 years in the top spot), and Ethan replaced Logan. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a few good posts that you’ll want to read (here, here, here for starters — and more! Scroll through her most recent posts to find them all!).

I did post on Instagram a quick thought after taking a first look through the new data, since I was delighted to see that 55 of the girl names that rose the most and 23 of the boy names that rose the most are in my book of Marian names! Here are a few that jumped out at me:

I keep meaning to spend more time with our own data — and I still plan to! — but I had cause to peruse the new data from the U.K. for a consultation I’m working on — you’ll definitely want to check that out too! Elea at British Baby Names discussed the top 100 names in England and Wales and the most popular names by mother’s age; she also shared the top 1000 names in England and Wales and the top 1000 names in Scotland. Such fun info! Here are the top ten for England and Wales:

Girl

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Sophia
  8. Grace
  9. Lily
  10. Freya

Boy

  1. Oliver
  2. George
  3. Noah
  4. Arthur
  5. Harry
  6. Leo
  7. Muhammad
  8. Jack
  9. Charlie
  10. Oscar

Similar to ours, and different, too! The two outliers — Freya and Muhammad (the most popular spellings of both names; Freyja, Mohammad, and Mohammed all made the top 1000 as well) — came in at no. 200 and 336, respectively, in our own data. There’s a little Freya in one of my boys’ classes this year, which is the first time I’ve ever encountered the name in real life.

I’m curious, though, about your perception of “British” names — what names would you say come across as the “most British”? On the above lists, Harry and Arthur are the only ones that I might put in that category, and only depending on what their siblings’ names are. Some others that fit that category for me (again, often dependent on siblings’ names) are Lewis, Alistair, Imogen, and Gillian. Do you agree? 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!

Odds and ends: Marian edition

School started for my boys yesterday, and we’ve been praying the Litany of School Saints I compiled for CatholicMom last month — it’s been a source of peace for me, and I wanted to share it again in case it’s helpful to you!

Happy feast of Our Lady of Sorrows! I know several of you have a devotion to Mary under this title, and I included a few names connected to Our Lady of Sorrows in my book of Marian names. You can read more about this beautiful title and feast day here.

This past Saturday was the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, which you know is a special one for me! You may have seen over on Instagram, but I wanted to share here as well that I made a donation in honor of Our Lady’s name on behalf of the Sancta Nomina community to the Sisters of Life. Thank you all for joining me in my love for these beautiful names!

Finally, I’ve been meaning and meaning to write about kind of a big deal: Pope Francis added three titles to the Litany of Loreto! For those unfamiliar with the Litany of Loreto, here is a good explanation:

This litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was composed during the Middle Ages. The place of honor it now holds in the life of the Church is due to its faithful use at the shrine of the Holy House at Loreto. It was definitely approved by Sixtus V in 1587, and all other Marian litanies were suppressed, at least for public use. Its titles and invocations set before us Mary’s exalted privileges, her holiness of life, her amiability and power, her motherly spirit and queenly majesty.” (source)

Additionally,

The Litany owes many of its praises to the Greek Akathist Hymn, which was first translated into Latin in Venice around the year 800. The other titles and praises addressed to Mary are found extensively in the writings of the early Church Fathers of the first six centuries.

Over time a number of titles for our Lady were removed and added to the Litany. Originally the Litany had fifteen additional titles, such as Our Lady of Humility, Mother of Mercy, Temple of the Spirit, Gate of Redemption, and Queen of Disciples. Recent history has seen the addition of five titles. The last four titles of the Litany which refer to the the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Rosary and Mary as the Queen of Peace are of recent origin … The Litany is used especially during May services, the month traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also used at Benediction and some congregations use it in the Divine Office. The Litany is approved for public use and carries a partial indulgence.” (source)

Many of the names in my book of Marian names came from or were inspired by the Litany of Loreto, and when I heard that Pope Francis had added new titles, I was thrilled! (You can find the Litany in English and Latin here.)

The announcement was timed to coincide with the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 20), and was explained thusly:

According to directions, the invocation, ‘Mother of mercy’ is to be inserted after ‘Mother of the Church’, ‘Mother of hope’ after ‘Mother of Divine Grace’ and ‘Solace of migrants’ after ‘Refuge of sinners’

In an interview, Archbishop Roche explained that these invocations ‘respond to the realities of the time that we are living’.  Speaking to Vatican News, he said that many people across the world who are afflicted in many ways, not only by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also forced from their homes because of poverty, conflict and other reasons, are invoking Our Lady.” (source)

Archbishop Roche also made a point to say that these titles are not new — they’ve long been used by the faithful. I also discovered that St. John Paul II had added two himself! He added Mother of the Church in 1980 and Queen of families in 1995.

The new titles in Latin are:

Mater misericordiae (Mother of mercy)

Mater spei (Mother of hope)

Solacium migrantium (Solace of migrants)

Mercy, Mercedes, and Misericordia are already in my book for Our Lady of Mercy/Mercies, as is Hope and its variants for Our Lady of Hope, but I quite like the idea of adding Solace if I were to ever have the opportunity to do a second edition! Are there any other name possibilities that jump out to you?

Happy Tuesday!


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: Aurelia-Rose Celeste!

I had the pleasure of posting a consultation for Josh and Mari back in March (the fourth I’ve done for them!) for their baby girl, and I’m delighted to share that she’s arrived and been given the stunning name … Aurelia-Rose Celeste!

Josh writes,

Well, she’s finally here! We had quite a time settling on a name for this little one. Your consultation in the comments were very helpful! We thought for sure she was going to be born yesterday, she held on until 1:20 a.m. this morning and so we decided to name her Aurelia-Rose Celeste. We loved the name and associations with Aurelia but wanted to add Rose for St. Rose of Lima, whose feast is today, as well as for its Marian associations. Thanks for giving us some good ideas!

How lovely is this name?! Aurelia-Rose is so beautiful and feminine, and I love it paired with Celeste. The names altogether have the meaning of “Golden Rose of Heaven” — so Marian! So amazing! I love that Rose also nods to the saint on whose feast the baby was born — so perfect!

Congratulations to Josh and Mari and big siblings Ariana, Audrey, Caleb, Amelia, Anne-Catherine, Charles, Anessa, and Christian, and happy birthday Baby Aurelia-Rose!!

IMG_8956

Aurelia-Rose Celeste


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!