Baby name consultation: Baby no. four needs Marian name that’s consistent with big sibs’ styles

A prayer today, and always, for an end to racism, and a prayer of thanks for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his courage and good work. 🙏🙏🙏

Today’s consultation is another of the five I opened up for January; if you’d like a consultation of your own, Theresa is available to help!

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

Cooper James (“We thought about naming him John Phillip after both of our dads. This choice is so handsome and I still love it! But it’s just not our style. After talking about it for a while we finally narrowed our list down to 3 names: Cooper, Colton, and Duke. I was all for Colton but [my husband’s] eyes lit up when he said Cooper and it made me fall for it as well. Cooper suits him so perfectly! James is my husband’s middle name and my husbands grandpa’s name so it was an obvious choice. Plus we love the flow of Cooper James together! It was shortly after Cooper was born that I had my re-conversion. I scoured the internet for faith connections and was so happy to come across your blog and the connection of the name Cooper to St. Joseph of Cupertino. We call him Coop, Coopy, and Cupertino for fun.”)

Reagan Elyse Mary (“her due date was in May and I immediately knew I wanted a name to honor Mary. The name Reagan stood out to me on every baby name list, but I kept ignoring it because I needed something Marian! But when my husband suggested it I just blurted out yes. After that I searched hard for some sort of connection. I stumbled upon a probably unreliable source that said for little girls the name could be taken to mean “little queen.”* I was sold! (It didn’t take much haha) I then found some amazing history about Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II that further solidified our choice. Elyse is my middle name which I love — it has a sort of cool elegance to it. I didn’t know it at the time but Reagan’s due date was on the Feast of the Visitation so it really was the perfect middle name! Mary wasn’t added until later. About 5 months after Reagan was born I had this crazy urge to add the actual name of Mary to her name. I looked into it and saw that it wouldn’t be too difficult to do. After I got my husband’s permission, I sent the paper work in on October 22 [Reagan’s 5 month birthday and the feast of Pope John Paul II!!] We call her Reags, Reagy Roo, or just Roo.”)

Fulton John (“When I was pregnant with Reagan I remember giving my husband a long list of saints names I liked. He turned down literally all of them. Jokingly, I mentioned Fulton thinking he would think it was an absurd name. I wasn’t super fond of it myself, but I did like the idea of it. To my surprise he told me he liked it, and I realized I would probably have a son named Fulton. It may have taken me 2 years to warm up to it, but I love it now! When I found out I was pregnant I started seeing Fulton Sheen quotes all over Social Media. When I suggested Fulton John [John for hubby’s dad] he said yes immediately. We call him Fults or Fultsie.”)

* [I just have to note that, though Behind the Name disagrees, Baby Names of Ireland says that Regan (Behind the Name says Regan and Reagan are variants of the same) may come from a diminutive of the Irish word for “sovereign, king,” which to me means “little king” or — if used for a girl — “little queen” (not “king’s child” as Baby Names of Ireland suggests. So says this non-liguist! Haha!). So I think the meaning that Madison is using for Reagan is entirely defensible, and even if not, I’ve always felt that intention trumps meaning in almost all cases.]

I LOVE this family’s style! In Madison’s email she noted that she feels like their “taste in names is pretty secular,” but I think they’ve done a fantastic job of working within that, and I think that’s so thrilling! It’s like a stealthy sneak attack, Catholic-style! Such a fantastic way of blending in with the culture and thus bringing the possibility of evangelization in a way that’s easier for the average American to swallow. Nice job! I really love that they were able to connect Cooper to Cupertino, that has always been one of the coolest things I discovered through the blog, I love that! Reagan is one of my FAVORITE ideas for a girl as an unusual Marian idea — I’ve seen it before and always thought it was awesome … in fact, I just looked in my book of Marian names, because I was sure I included it, but I didn’t — why didn’t I?? I love it! And Fulton! Such a perfect fit style-wise with Cooper and Reagan, and so faithy! All so great!!

Madison writes,

I am so early on in my pregnancy that it might seem crazy to do a consultation already, but my husband shot down almost every name on my list so I need some fresh ideas! The due date of our baby is somewhere between September 6 – 14 which is AMAZING because there are so many Marian celebrations within that time as well as the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I would love to give this baby a Marian name.”

Sounds perfect to me!

Some girl names they’ve considered include:

  • Callie (“love that it means ‘Most beautiful.’ I was researching about Our Lady of La Salette and learned the shepherd kids called Mary “Beautiful Lady” when they saw her. Could be a little connection?“)
  • Blair (“I’ve always loved this name and my husbands open to it, but I find it less appealing with no faith connection. It sounds really good as a sister to Reagan though!“)
  • Maren (“[rhymes with Karen] — worried about pronunciation, would majority pronounce it MA-rin? Our last name is already difficult to pronounce. Just not sure that I like it, but I like that it’s Marian, so I want to like it“)
  • Aurora nn Rory (“I love the idea of it and my husband said he was open to it, but it doesn’t seem like us“)
  • Reese (“seems a little masculine to both of us, though I like that I could connect it to the St. Teresa’s!“)
  • Emery (“same as Reese, a little masculine. Though I liked the idea of Emery Catherine called Emery Cate for Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich“)

Madison continues,

Hubby says he likes Emma and Ava but he’s not overly excited about them nor am I, but might help with his style? I prefer names not in the top 50 but am not strict about it if it’s the right name. I think he wants a name that is familiar, that’s why he turned down all my Catholicky Catholic suggestions.”

Boy names on their list include:

  • Phillip (“[after my dad] Paired with a cool middle like Kolbe? Or Phillip Pierce for the pierced heart of Mary? Worried about the nickname Phil since we shorten our kids names a lot! Husband didn’t like the idea of Phillip Neri nn Finn“) 
  • Watson (“my mom’s maiden name. Could be a good way to honor her? We talked about Watson Phillip or Phillip Watson. I don’t think I love Watson though. I want to because it’s a family name and my hubby thinks its cool“)
  • Declan (“I love this name!! Hubby is only ‘open to it’“)
  • Bennett (“I like it but not overly excited about it“)
  • Owen (“My Godfather’s middle name and a name we like. Owen Phillip or Phillip Owen is handsome!“)
  • Duke (“this has been on our list since Cooper but it always gets pushed to the side. One of the English Martyrs was Edmund Duke! Still considering it“)
  • Gannon/Cannon (“We like the sound of these. But I don’t think we’d use either“)
  • Kolbe (“I love the name Kolbe and even though my husband has vetoed me on it a few times now, he does say he likes the name C/Kole. I still see a glimmer of hope with that name so I’m going to keep it on my list“)

Some other family considerations include:

  • Lourdes (“my dad was born on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. My Nana and Great Nana have St. Bernadette as their confirmation saint. I love this as a middle name option for a more girly sounding first name — like Caroline Lourdes or Felicity Lourdes. Hubby is actually open to using this as a middle! But he didn’t like the two combos I just mentioned.”)
  • I’d love to honor my mom but there are names I prefer to hers, which is Sally Michele. Naming a daughter Callie could be fun since it rhymes with her name? She loves the names Felicity and Rosemary, so maybe using one of those as a middle? My husband doesn’t like those ones though :/

Names that they considered but can’t or won’t use for various reasons include:

  • Avila
  • Magdalen/Magdalyn
  • Caroline nn Callie (“for Pope John Paul II“) 
  • Emmeline
  • Isla
  • Ivy
  • Mary Grace
  • Marian
  • Felicity
  • Zelie
  • Rosary (“love it but probably too bold for me any way“)
  • Rowan/Rowen (“I really like this name but can’t decide for boy or girl. Husband doesn’t like it“)
  • Quinn
  • Finley
  • Morgan (“like it but too similar to Reagan“)
  • Greer
  • Perrin
  • Sienna
  • Stella
  • Cana
  • Riley
  • Or any Saint last name that’s a bit unusual like Clairvaux, Vianney, Cabrini etc.
  • Becket 
  • Kolbe 
  • Campion
  • Pierce
  • Cruz
  • August
  • Luke
  • Shepherd
  • Cassian
  • Crispin
  • Bastian
  • Xavier

Finally, Madison notes,

Most importantly: I want a girl to have a Marian connection. I might add Mary or Marie as a third name like I did for Reagan!

I have your book of Marian names and have been scouring it! I think boys will be easier for us to agree on a Marian name — Leo and Maximilian are names my hubby has expressed he was open too as well, though he doesn’t care for nickname Max because that’s his parents’ dogs name. But we are open to moving away from surnames as long as it still feels like it fits. Leo feels like it might not fit and I can’t find a longer version I like. Maximilian nn Leo?? Maybe too much of a stretch ha.

The middle name for a boy will be Phillip unless we use it as the first!

I am sort of inclined to avoid “n” ending names just to help the flow of all the sibling names, but I’m not committing to that because I tend to love names that end in ‘n.’

Okay, first off — I’m sure you all know that I was DYING over the names Madison said they/won’t use! I even said to my husband, “Oh man! Alllll the names I would have suggested for this family are on their can’t/won’t use list!” Quinn and Greer would have been right at the top for me, as well as Finley (I agree about Morgan being too similar to Reagan). But that’s totally fine, because it just makes the challenge extra challenging, which I always love!

So here are my thoughts on the girl names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Callie: As a variant/diminutive of Cal(l)ista, Madison’s right that Callie can mean “most beautiful,” which is such a fantastic meaning for a girl! I didn’t know about the shepherd children calling Our Lady “Beautiful Lady” when they saw her at La Salette, but I love that and yes, I totally agree that Callie can work as a nod to her because of that! In fact, I think Reagan’s and Callie’s connections to Our Lady are at a similar level, which I always find pleasing in a symmetry sense. A couple thoughts I had about Callie are that Calla (like the Calla lily) might feel a bit less nickname-y, if Callie’s nicknaminess was bothersome to Madison or her hubby, and so could work as a given name with Callie as the nickname if they’d like. Calla also comes from the Greek kallistos “most beautiful,” so the meaning is still there. Another is that I’ve seen Salette considered as a given name in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and with Madison’s mom’s name being Sally, I wondered if Salette could work as a nod to her and Our Lady at once? I love the idea of Callie Salette or Calla Salette as a double whammy Marian-wise and also with that possible connection to Madison’s mom. (Also, back to her mom, Sally is a variant of Sarah, which means “princess,” so Madison could possibly think of Reagan as having a connection to her mom that way if she wanted.) (Also, the fact that Madison wondered if Callie, rhyming with Sally, could nod to her mom makes me extra love Callie Salette because of that double-whammy idea.) I also love Callie as a nickname for Caroline, as Madison noted they’d considered in honor of JP2, but I don’t love Caroline with the other kids’ names (you’ll see that this is a theme with me during this consultation — I love that Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton all fit together style-wise really nicely in my opinion, and while I don’t want Madison and her hubby to feel boxed in by that, I would very much love to help them find a name that they love that also fit with their style!)
  • Blair: I’m so interested that Madison has “always loved” this name — that definitely counts for something! The first thing I did was try to find a faith connection for it — it apparently means “plain, field, battlefield,” which is why I suggested it recently as a possible way to honor St. Hildegard of Bingen, because Hildegard means hild “battle” plus gard “enclosure,” so that’s a possibility. Also, pairing a less faithy name with a more faithy middle name often helps a less faithy name to feel more acceptable to parents who are worried about such things, you know? So like Blair Immaculata hits you right in the face with the faith, even though Blair itself doesn’t — anyone who knows the full name and knows anything about Catholicism will *know.* A couple ideas that came to me regarding Blair were that the rhyming Clare, spelled that way, is both St. Clare’s name and also Co. Clare in Ireland — I thought Clare being a place name as well as a Saint’s name might make a good bridge going forward between the names they’ve already chosen (Cooper, Reagan, Fulton) and some of those Madison likes (Emma, Caroline, Mary Grace). And then Clare being a place name made me think of the Irish place name Adare, which is cool on its own; if you spell it Adair, it’s a form of Edgar, which is a Saint’s name. (I did a whole post on Irish place names — definitely read the comments too if you like this idea!)
  • Maren: This is a lovely option! Regarding pronunciation, it is one of those names that people aren’t always sure how to pronounce, but that’s the case with lots of names, so unless it’s one of those things that will drive them crazy forever, I’d encourage them not to worry too much about it — they should just be firm and consistent when correcting people who get it wrong. Saying “rhymes with Karen” is really helpful for them when explaining it to others, and will be helpful for their daughter as she grows up. I’m not surprised Madison’s hubby doesn’t love the double middle name idea — in my experience with my own husband and husbands I learn about through consultations, dads tend to prefer “less fuss” over “more fuss.”
  • Aurora nn Rory: I totally get loving “the idea” of a name, but having a hard time getting totally on board with the name itself. I think what Madison said about it not seeming like “them” is the key — there are a bunch of names on their list that I feel this way about — names that I know Madison likes or her husband likes but that don’t seem to fit the naming style they’ve agreed upon up until now. That said, I think Rory as a given name feels definitely like their style! I wonder if they would consider Rory on its own, for either a boy or a girl? (I actually did a whole post on faith connections for Rory!)
  • Reese: Like Rory, I actually feel like Reese fits their style really well! Though Madison and her hubby think it feels more masculine, Reese Witherspoon makes it very feminine in my opinion — I think Reese is great for a girl, and I agree that it can be a nod to any of the Sts. Therese/Teresa! I remember reading years ago about twin girls named Aurora and Therese and called Rory and Reese, I thought that was just so brilliant.
  • Emery: As with Reese, my impression of Emery is just flipped from Madison’s — though it certainly started as a masculine name (and in fact, it’s a form of Emmerich!), even Behind the Name says it’s “now typically feminine”; the one Emery I know is a little girl. I wonder if using the Emerie spelling would help make it feel a bit girlier for them? I love the idea of Emery/Emerie Catherine for Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich — a double-call-name with Kate/Cate as the second element has always appealed to me, I think it’s so pretty.

I’m also interested that Madison said her husband likes Emma and Ava, because there seems to be huge potential for compromise with Emery and Emmeline from her list with the nickname Emma or Emmy, and also with Avila with the nickname Ava. From what I know from Madison’s email, it seems exactly right how she articulated that she thinks her husband “wants a name that is familiar” and it makes sense that “he turned down all [her] Catholicky Catholic suggestions.” I really think sticking to the kinds of names they’ve already chosen for their older kids will help her hubby feel comfortable with the choice, and Madison has done a terrific job of finding those kinds of names with faith connections, or finding faith connections for those kinds of names.

Just quickly about a name on the list of those Madison likes: Rosary is exactly the kind of middle name that could balance out a more secular-sounding first name! It doesn’t flow so well with Callie, Blair, Rory, Reese, or Emery, but I love Calla Rosary, for example.

For family names, I addressed ideas for Madison’s mom in the Callie point above, and I love the Lourdes connection! I also love the idea of adding Marie like how Madison added Mary to Reagan’s name — that could be a really nice connection between all their girls! And Lourdes-Marie and Marie-Lourdes are common constructions I see, to make the Our Lady of Lourdes connection even stronger. “FirstName Lourdes Marie” is really nice.

Okay, on to the boys!

  • Phillip: I have always loved Philip! Madison’s original idea of John Phillip is one of those names that makes me swoon, even though my taste in names also runs a bit spicier than that — it’s just so handsome. I love that she suggested Phillip Neri nn Finn to her husband — that’s one of my favorite ideas! And of course, pairing it with a fiery middle name like Kolbe or Pierce is absolutely the way I would go if they decided to go with Phillip. That said, I do find it jarring with their other kids’ names — but that never has to be a dealbreaker! They should definitely go with the name they love! But if they wanted to be more consistent style-wise, I would definitely put Phillip in the middle. BUT, I might also like to see them consider using it as the call name! A Kolbe Phillip, for example, would fit right in with their kids on paper, but they can use whatever nickname they want, even if the “nickname” is the actual middle name, or a nickname of the middle name. I’m a big nicknamer, too, and I agree that Phil doesn’t feel right, and Finn is out, but I love Pip and even Flip (I worked with a Philip nn Flip). Maybe they could do a combo nickname from the first+middle, like Kip for Kolbe Phillip or Billy for Bennett Phillip. Or, I just discovered that the surname Phelps means “son of Philip” — I wouldn’t worry about the “son of” part, and what a cool connection to Madison’s dad’s name! Phelps could be a nickname for Phillip, or a given name in his honor. Or, I wonder what they would think of, ahem, *flipping* (haha!) the name from the boy side to the girl? I love Pippa, and I think Pippa could work well with their kids! It’s a diminutive of Philippa, so it’s an obvious way to honor a Phillip in a girl’s name. Pippa Salette would be a really interesting way to name after both Madison’s parents! Or Pippa Felicity or Pippa Rosemary, if she could get hubby on board. And Madison also asked about Fulton and Phillip being too much … I mean, the fact that they have the same beginning sound and they both have an L in the middle and the same number of syllables does make them feel overly similar, but if they went with Phillip as a first name, a one-syllable nickname can help, or a non-F nickname, that kind of thing. The family connection is so great that if they just really wanted to use it, I wouldn’t argue with them!
  • Watson: Oh MAN, I LOVE this! I think it’s a fanTAStic way to honor Madison’s mom! And I love that her husband thinks it’s cool! This is definitely one of my favorites for this family. Maybe learning more about the name will help Madison like it more? It means “son of Wat,” where Wat is a medieval diminutive of Walter. Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek is a favorite of a lot of my readers — he’s got an amazing story. I think Watson is a great middle name for lots of first name options, and as a first name, Wats and Watts are traditional nicknames. Watkins is another variant of Watson, and I could see that being a fun nickname for a Watson. Even Wally is cute and unexpected in a super-old-man way, which I always think is adorable on little boys, and totally do-able I think because of the connection to Walter. Even better, a Watson Phillip would have that double L in Phillip that could make sense of Wally as a nickname. I feel like there’s a good chance that, even if Madison can’t really bring herself to love it, eventually she will grow to love the fact that her son has such a great family name. And Watson is smashing with Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton!
  • Declan: Declan is a great name! I love that it has that Irish feel of Reagan and Fulton, which Cooper isn’t far off from because I think Cooper feels British (and is, in fact, an English occupational surname), so even though my preference is for them to stick to names that either are or feel surnamey, I wouldn’t be disappointed with Declan.
  • Bennett: I like Bennett a lot, especially that it’s a form of Benedict but also fits in with their surname style, but since it doesn’t have a family connection, I’m not loving that Madison is “not overly excited about it” — I think we can do better!
  • Owen: I agree that Owen Phillip and Phillip Owen are handsome! And being the sucker for family names that I am, I like having Madison’s dad and her godfather together in the same name. And it even counts as a surname — one of my favorite Saints is St. Nicholas Owen! (Incidentally, Cole can be a diminutive of Nicholas, so something like Cole Owen could be very explicit for St. Nicholas Owen.) I was musing about Madison’s idea of Leo being a nickname for Maximilian (which I don’t think is too much of a stretch, by the way), and wondered what they would think of Leo as a nickname for Philip Owen? There’s the “Li” of Phillip and the O of Owen … maybe? Is that way too crazy? Madison’s hubby probably thinks so, haha! Another thought I had was to switch from Owen to Bowen — that makes it obviously more surnamey, opens up the awesome nickname Bo, and can still be for Madison’s godfather, since Bowen means “son of Owen”!
  • Duke: Like with Blair, the fact that Duke has been on their list from the beginning is so meaningful! I love Duke, and I love that Madison found that Saint connection! In fact, Edmund Duke is making me think of Eamon, which is the Irish form of Edmund … I wonder what they would think of Eamon Duke? It would be the martyr’s actual name, just in Irish, and Eamon is a style match for Declan … He could even go by Duke as his everyday call name!
  • Gannon/Cannon: I think Gannon’s very cool, and I’ve often thought Canon could be a cool Catholicky Catholic name (with that spelling). I’m not sure I love Cannon (and even Canon by sound-association) — “weapon” names are certainly controversial, which any parent who is considering one should be ready to deal with. I loved discovering that Gannon is related to Finn, how cool is that??
  • Kolbe: I’m excited that Madison thinks she might be able to bring her husband around to Kolbe because he likes C/Kole! Kolbe would be very cool for this family, I think.

So when I was trying to come up with new name ideas, I found myself really going far afield from what I would usually suggest, mostly because my suggestions are all on their “no” list! In my suggestions below, I included some results from the research I did in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link), where I looked up names they’ve used and those they like, as the BNW lists boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, but at least as many are based on nothing more than my own gut reaction! I definitely kept in mind that avoiding ends-in-n names is preferable, and that Madison wants a Marian connection (or at the very least, a faith connection), and that she’s open to moving away from the surnamey names if it feels right. I really hope I hit the mark here with at least some of my ideas below!

Girl

(1) Scarlett

I’m going to start with one that I *don’t* think they’ll love … but maybe they will? Scarlett is a style match for both Cooper and Duke, and also Ivy from the list of names they can’t use, which I thought was pretty amazing. I never would have thought of Scarlett! I’ve actually seen Carly used as a nickname for Scarlett, which is so similar to Callie — maybe Madison would like that? I did a spotlight on the name Ruby, and I feel like a lot of the faith associations for Ruby can also be used for Scarlett, plus also the Feast of the Most Precious Blood on July 1 AND the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross during Madison’s due-date week!

(2) Tierney, Kearney

I’m putting Tierney here on the girl’s side because I knew a girl growing up named Tierney, but it’s actually derived from the Old Irish word meaning “lord” — such a great meaning, and can totally work for a boy if they prefer! With that meaning, it reminds me of Dominic/Dominique (“of the Lord”) or Emmanuel/Emmanuela or Christopher/Christina — a great “Jesus” name! But hidden in plain sight, like their other kids!

Kearney rhymes with Tierney, and like Tierney can be masculine or feminine; I’m putting it here on the girl list because when I was looking for Saints whose feast days fall during Sept. 6-14, I found Bl. Elizabeth Kearney, whose feast is Sept. 13 (there’s also a Bl. John Kearney, if they like this idea for a boy). Kearney seemed like a perfect fit for this family!

(3) Gemma

This is a gut-reaction name, brought about because, in thinking about their style being surname-y (but not into unusual surnames like Clairvaux etc.), I thought maybe faith-y *thing* names might be a good direction to go that would feel consistent but open up more ideas. With their British/Irish feel, I thought of Gemma — it means “gem” in Italian and is the name of the Italian St. Gemma, but has amazing usage in England/Ireland/Australia, which gives it that English/Irish feel.

(4) Eliette

Elliott’s a match for Bennett on the boy side, and maybe they’d prefer to consider it for a boy (I do love it for a boy!), but it made me think of Eliette right away — one of the families I worked with has a daughter named Eliette, which was the mom’s grandmother’s name, and is derived from Elijah, just like Elliott. As you know from my book, the Elijah names can be considered Marian because of the awesome connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so I thought that was cool; I also thought this very feminine spelling of an otherwise masculine-sounding name could be one of those “bridge name” ideas between what they’ve already done with their older kids’ names and how Madison might like to branch out going forward. I was thinking particularly of Eliette Catherine nn Ellie Cate — I thought maybe her husband would like that?

(5) Maeve

Madison had mentioned in another email that she kind of likes the nickname Mav, so Maeve was mostly inspired by that. Of course it’s an Irish name, and I also put it in my book of Marian names, so it checks that box as well. I really like the repeating sounds in Reagan and Maeve — beautiful, Marian (in an unexpected way), Irish sister names!

(6) Maisie

Josie, Molly, and Maggie are style matches for Callie; Lacey for Blair; Daisy for Duke; Lucy for Emma and Leo; and Maisie for Rory — they all have a similar sound and feel, and of them, I like Maisie the best for this family. It’s a Celtic (Irish/Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, which provides a fantastic patron.

(7) Talbot

Lindsay from My Child I love You introduced me to this name — she considered it for a first name for one of her girls, but ended up using it in the middle for her daughter Lourdes Marie Talbot. It’s for Bl. Matt Talbot, who was Irish (!) and had a devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes (!!) — how cool is that?! Read about it in this post. The nickname Tally/Tallie is awesome, and so similar to Madison’s beloved Callie; if they spell it Tally it mirrors her mom’s name really nicely. Another really cool thing, in addition to it being a nice nod to Bl. Matt Talbot, is that there’s a Bl. John Talbot whose feast day is Sept. 8!

Boy

(1) Miles

Since Madison said she has my book and has been scouring it, and she’s clearly familiar with the blog, then she must have come across Miles and decided against it. But let me make an argument for it! First off, it’s a style match for Bennett, Owen, and Ivy; secondly, it (as well as the spelling Myles) has a history of usage as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — a totally, legitimately Marian name for a boy! Thirdly, I’ve suggested it as a possible nickname idea for Maximilian, which would get away from Madison’s in-laws’ dog’s name Max and/or could claim St. Maximilian as a patron even if they go with the given name Miles instead of the given name Maximilian with Miles as a nickname; fourthly, I’ve suggested it as a nickname idea for Michael, being that it can be thought of as sort of a contraction of the name Michael, and also since Miles means “soldier” in Latin, which ties in nicely with St. Michael. And with Madison’s mom’s middle name being Michele, Michael or a name related to it could be a nod to her! There are so many reasons to love the name Miles! I think it goes amazingly well with Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton, and I love that it has a different ending than all of them.

(2) Garrett

Garrett is a gut-reaction idea — I was inspired by both Gannon and Bennett on their list, and also the fact that it’s an English surname that’s also categorized as “Celtic” in the BNW, and it derives from Gerard, which gives it a great saintly connection. I’m loving Garrett for this family!

(3) Kells

Kells is so much like Madison’s Callie, but is actually a surname like their older kids, and also the name of that beautifully illuminated manuscript containing the gospels at Trinity College in Dublin: The Book of Kells. I think Kells is so cool, and like Tierney and Kearney is really a unisex idea, so if they like it better for a girl, that could totally work, too.

(4) Finnian

I admit I had a hard time coming up with ideas for a boy for this family, so I do feel like I included ideas here that probably wouldn’t have passed muster if I had more ideas. Finnian is one — I love it, and I think it would be great in their family, and I was specifically inspired to include it here because St. Finnian of Moville’s feast day is Sept. 10. I do, however, realize that it’s maybe overly similar to Finley, which Madison said they can’t use, and it ends in -n, which isn’t ideal. But maybe they’ll like it anyway? Or, maybe this St. Finnian will provide them with the perfect patron for a little Gannon, since they’re related?

(5) Lolek

My last idea is a departure in that it’s not a surname, and it’s not English or Irish/Celtic. But it does have a different ending than their other kids’ names, and it is specifically Catholic and Marian, since it’s the nickname that St. John Paul II went by during his growing up (it’s a diminutive of Karol, which is the Polish for Charles/Carl/Karl). I just love the idea of Lolek! Because it was JP2’s childhood nickname, it feels sweet and affectionate. It’s sort of similar in sound and/or rhythm to Leo, Luke, Colton, Cole, and Kolbe, so I can see Madison and her hubby liking it from that perspective. Here’s a little guy named Lolek, if you want to see it in real life (his mom said it feels like an “underground code name,” which I thought was so fun!).

I’m sorry my boy ideas are so sparse! I feel like Madison might have good luck going through the names of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales as well as the Irish Martyrs to check out their surnames — I’m sure there’s a lot of good inspiration there! (I don’t think those lists are totally comprehensive, but definitely provide a lot of possibilities.)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Benedict Jozef!

I did a private consultation for Taryn and her husband last summer, and she sent me a beautiful birth announcement email during the months that I was on hiatus — I’m happy to post it now, better late than never! They happily welcomed their second baby boy, to whom they gave the fantastic name … Benedict Jozef!

Taryn writes,

Kate!! Our precious blessing is here!!! Introducing Benedict Jozef! 

You’ll have to tell me if I’m interpreting the meanings correctly!! Our two sons

1. Dominic: “belonging to God”; Giovanni: “God is gracious.” Interpretation: “belonging to our gracious God” Verse: ““Consecrate every firstborn male to me” Exodus 13:2 (I didn’t think of this verse at the time of his naming, but it totally fits the meaning I think!)

2. Benedict: “blessed”; Jozef: “God shall add (another son).” Interpretation: “God shall add another blessed son” Verse: too many blessing verses to choose from! But I do remember this one jumping out to me at mass on July 11th as we waited for baby: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” Ephesians 1:3

One of the last images that I saw in labor before leaving our house was the image of JP2 and I felt something STRONG, like a powerful intercession and a lifting of hope that I could do it (this labor was very scary and intense; 2 hours of active work). I continued to pray for his help during our fast and furious labor along with the intercession of St. Joseph. Then, once gazing upon baby, we decided that he looked much more Polish/Czech than our first son (who had a full head of black hair!), so “Jozef“ stood out to us! Both in honor of Karol Jozef a.k.a. Pope Saint John Paul II and the year of St. Joseph! 

Benedict still won us over for his first name although I’m really struggling to settle on his nickname because it still feels a big too big of a name for such a tiny guy!! Again, for family ties on both sides: “Bennett” for Grandma Bette and “Benson” for Grandma Jean

And of course, awesome Marian connections abound in both Benedict and Jozef! 

God bless you and yours! We feel so “blessed” to welcome “another son”!!! Eternally grateful for your help in naming our babies. 🙂 “

Isn’t that all just so beautiful?? Dominic Giovanni and Benedict Jozef are amazing brother names!! I love the layers of meaning — so much faith significance! I love that Benedict is a nod to both grandmothers, that is just fantastic. And of course, I love the Marian connections!

Congratulations to Taryn and her husband and big brother Dominic, and happy birthday Baby Benedict!!

Benedict Jozef with his big brother and one of his namesakes

(The “Karol Jozef” image of St. John Paul II is from the January Jane Shop — she’s got cool things!)


The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Eloise, Penelope, or … ?

This is the first of the five consultations I opened up for January — this baby is coming any day! Rebecca and her hubby are expecting their first girl after four boys! Big brothers are:

Henry Blake 

Theodore Jude (“we call him Theo“)

Everett Scott

Oliver Ambrose

I love these! Such a fantastic bunch of names — all so handsome!

Rebecca writes,

With each of our boys we tried to have a way to honor our family either in the first name or the middle name. We also tried to have either the first name or the middle name be Catholic/biblical/a saint name. The only name that didn’t fit it was our third son Everett Scott, which is my cousin’s name and my husband’s middle name.

We have had a girl name picked out with each of our boys just in case. However, now that we are pregnant with our first girl I don’t seem to want to use any of those names. Some of the names that we had picked before are: Amelia Eloise, Lucia Eloise, Vivienne Simone, Violet Eloise

The day I took a pregnancy test and found out it was positive I immediately looked up the due date which turned out to be January 21. I looked up the Saints feast days and it turned out to be the feast day of Saint Agnes who is the patron saint of girls

Prior to finding out and that I was pregnant … I swore if I would have a girl I would name her Eloise. So this whole pregnancy I’ve pretty much been trying to find a middle name that I like with Eloise but I can’t seem to find ‘the one’ … I feel a lot of pressure to find the exact perfect name because I am 41 years old and this is probably going to be my only daughter so I want to find the most perfect name haha!

I totally get that!!

Rebecca continues,

Names that we have considered: Eloise Agnes, Eloise Marie, Eloise Lucia, Eloise Bernadette. My husband isn’t a big fan of Agnes but he said he would be fine if the name was Eloise Agnes Marie. But that feels like quite a mouthful

Names that I would love to use but cannot would be Eloise Therese, Eloise Beatrix, Zelie. My husband doesn’t like Beatrix or Zelie

Names other than Eloise that we like: we have seriously considered Penelope Eloise. My problem is is there doesn’t seem to be a Catholic connection in any way. Other names that we have considered: Opal, Lucy, Marigold, Josephine. My husband does not like Marigold. I adore floral type names and would love to call her Posie, Blossom, little flower as a special ‘between us’ nicknameOne other name that we can’t use is Claire!

There aren’t many family names left that haven’t been used by other people and I’ve been trying to avoid using the same names as other people in my family. Some family names that I have considered is Lorraine but only as a middle name, Anne or Anne Marie (This is my mothers name and she would really like me to use it in some way but ok if I don’t). I’m not set on having a family name this time.

I just feel like if I don’t use Eloise I’m going be sad but at the same time I can’t seem to find the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows. I would love some suggestions that go well with my boys names!

Such a fun “dilemma” to have — naming a girl after so many boys!! I love the names Becca and her hubby have considered for girls in the past, and of course I immediately picked up on the fact that Eloise was part of almost every combo, so my first thought was, “Why not Eloise as a first name?” And then of course the very next thing Becca wrote is that she swore to herself she’d name a girl Eloise! So I definitely think that Eloise as a first name should be at the top of their list. I’m not surprised, though, that they’re having a hard time finding “the one” in terms of a middle name for Eloise — while working on this, I spent a lot of time trying to think of some, and I find Eloise to be an unusual rhythm to work with, so not a lot of names seem to flow quite right. Not that that has to matter at all — they’ll likely find they’re happy with a middle name that has significance, whether it flows exactly right or not.

So I want to start with the idea of Agnes. I love that Becca’s due on St. Agnes’ feast day! She’s a great patron for a little girl! I would encourage Becca and her husband to lean into that, whether their daughter ends up being born on her feast day or not! I wonder if using an Agnes variant might appeal to them? Agnes itself still has an “old lady” feel for a lot of people, but Ines/Inès, Inez, Inessa (like this family’s second little girl), Annis, Agnesa, and Agneta are all variants that have a very different feel than Agnes while still being 100% Agnes.

Back to Agnes itself, I actually quite like how Eloise Agnes sounds — it’s a nice-flowing combo! I’m surprised that Becca’s hubby doesn’t care for Eloise Agnes, but wouldn’t mind Eloise Agnes Marie — in my experience, husbands tend to like “less fussy” rather than “more fussy.” But I love Eloise Agnes Marie as well! And I really like that it loops in Becca’s mom.

Let’s talk about Marie for a minute, and also the fact that another thing that jumped out to me right away is that Becca loves French girl names!! Vivienne, Simone, Bernadette, Therese, Zelie, Josephine, Marie itself, and even Lorraine (the name of a region in France!) and can’t-use Claire are all beautiful French names, so I let my mind wander a bit down the French path and wondered what they’d think of switching Agnes Marie to Marie-Agnes? That is SUCH a French construction, and I think the French girl names come across as so girly and feminine! Marie-Agnes as a first name can take the nickname Maggie, which makes everyday life so easy. If they were open to considering the French spelling/pronunciation of Agnes — Agnès, pronounced like ahn-YES — then Marie-Agnès become even more gorgeous, and I would still use Maggie as a nickname. If Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès feels too much for a first name, and/or they like the Agnès idea but don’t want their daughter to have to deal with it in the first name spot, I think Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès would be an amazing middle for Eloise! It also absolutely without a doubt fits the “Catholic, girly name” theme Becca was hoping for. As for a double middle name being a mouthful, I encourage them not to worry about that — the middle name spot is the place to put all the names, and when one has a girl after so many boys who is likely to be the only girl in the family, it’s very likely one has All The Names to work into her name! I spotlighted writer Rachel Balducci on the blog once, and she did that with her daughter, too — the only girl and youngest baby after five boys; she named her Isabel Anne-marie and noted “her middle name is Anne-marie, which is from each of the grandmothers. It’s a lot of name but I had to cram a lot into this one girl!

I’m actually also loving the idea right now of Annis Marie — Annis is a form of Agnes, and has Ann in it, so Annis Marie could be a double nod to Becca’s mom while still getting St. Agnes in there! And I’m also thinking of the French diminutive of Marie: Manon. I’ve always loved that! Maybe it could work here? Marie Eloise nicknamed Manon? Marie Agnes nicknamed Manon?

One last thought about Marie — it’s a very traditional thing for a Catholic girl to have Mary as her official/legal first name but go by her middle name. The Marie Eloise idea above made me think that Becca might like to do that too — Marie Eloise called Eloise? I think Marie Eloise is very girly and any name that includes a form of Mary sounds very Catholic to me, especially when it’s in the first name spot like that.

Don’t you love how my mind jumps all over the place?? Haha! Let me back up a minute and share some thoughts I had about names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Amelia: I wonder if the French Amelie (said like AH-muh-lee) would appeal to them? Or maybe the spelling Emilia, which is the way St. John Paul’s mom’s name was spelled?
  • Lucia, Lucy: The fact that Becca mentioned both Lucia and Lucy as names they’ve considered, and the fact that they share a lot of sounds with Eloise, makes me wonder if they might like the idea of Louisa with the nickname Lucy?
  • Vivienne, Violet: Because of their obvious love of V’s with Vivienne, Violet, and of course Everett and Oliver, I wanted to suggest Evangeline or Genevieve … but then I thought, that’s a lot of V’s! And Evangeline is probably too similar to Everett anyway, but I wanted to mention them just in case.
  • Opal, Marigold: Both of these make me think of Margaret — Opal, because it’s a jewel and Margaret means “pearl,” and Marigold because of the similarity between Marigold and Margaret in terms of appearance, sound, rhythm, and the nickname Maggie. There are a lot of Margaret names that Becca might like! Marguerite is the French form, and not only does it mean “pearl,” as the French form of Margaret, but it’s also the French word for the daisy flower! Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret, and with a Margaret name Becca would have her built-in flower connection for using Daisy or even Posie/Blossom/Little Flower as nicknames for her girl. Another form of Margaret that I thought she might like is Margot — it’s also French (am I killing you all yet with all the French ideas?? They just seem so perfect!) and can take all the Margaret associations, since it’s a French short form of Margaret (and can be a nickname for Margaret, if they prefer). One last thing about “pearl” — not only would Becca have a flower connection if they used a form of Margaret, but her girl would also have her very own gem! Pearls could be one of her things!
  • Josephine: I love Josephine anyway, and Posie is one of my favorite nicknames for it, so that was fun to see on the list.

I wanted to discuss Penelope on its own and not as a bullet point in the previous list. Penelope is a great name! I’ve heard from many parents who love it but don’t love that they can’t find a faith connection, but you don’t need to worry about that, because indeed there is! Venerable Ersilia Penelope Frey was declared Venerable in 2015! So Penelope Eloise would work just fine!

On to new ideas! Becca specifically said she wants “the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows” and that goes well with her boys’ names. To that end, I looked up her boys’ names, as well as the names she and her hubby have considered for a girl, in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also consulted the article I wrote a few years ago called Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names (from that list, Becca and her hubs have already considered Bernadette and Marie). Finally, I tried to think of names with a floral connection that I thought they might like. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Fleur, Flora

The very first idea that came to mind was one of the names that actually means “flower”! Any of the sweet flower nicknames could work if they used a name that means flower! Fleur is the French version, and Flora is every other language; they’re both lovely (and Flora is a style match for Opal).

(2) Eleanor

Eleanor is the name that’s the biggest style match for Becca’s boys’ names and the names she and her hubby like overall! It’s a style match for Henry, Theodore, Oliver, Penelope, and Josephine, and the variant Leonora is a match for Ambrose. It also begins with El-, like Eloise, so I wondered if making a small switch from Eloise to Eleanor would preserve what they like about Eloise while giving them a name that flows easier with other names? Eleanor Amelia, Eleanor Lucia, Eleanor Simone, Eleanor Agnes, Eleanor Marie, Eleanor Agnes Marie … they all have a really lovely rhythm. Nicknames include Elle/Ellie/Ella, Nell, and Nora, which really go well with the big brothers (Nell can also be a nickname for Penelope, and Nora is specifically a style match for Theo). (I discuss Eleanor in depth in this consultation post, which also includes some great, heavy-hitting middle name ideas that Becca might find helpful as well!) (I also recently discovered Bl. Eleanora, in addition to the saintly connection I discussed in the blog post and also below [no. 7].)

(3) Elizabeth nn Lily

The El- of Eloise and Eleanor, as well as Becca’s love of “floral type names,” encouraged me to add Elizabeth to this list. It’s feminine and serious, solid and saintly, and I even included it in my book of Marian names because of how closely tied Elizabeth is to Our Lady via the Visitation. But what I really love about Elizabeth for this family is that Lily is a traditional nickname for it! Not only is Lily a floral name, and not only would using Lily as a nickname for Elizabeth be a little offbeat (despite its traditional usage), which is fun, but Lillian is a style match for Theodore and Lily is so for Oliver. (If they like the idea of Elizabeth but would prefer a different nicknames, there are a zillion and one!) They might also like to consider the French spelling Elisabeth, which is said the same as Elizabeth but I think that S really gives it something different. (Do you know about Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur? I love her!)

(4) Rosalie

Rosalie is a style match for Everett, Eloise, and Vivienne, and I’m also struck by how many sounds it shares with Eloise, making me think Becca might really like this one! It’s also got the nice Rose connection, and Rose, Rosa, and Rosie/Rosey are all great floral nicknames.

(5) Camille, Camellia

Camille is a match for Vivienne and Simone, and Camila for Lucia, so I thought there might be something there. I also love its similarity to the flower name Camellia. The Camille names aren’t obviously Catholic, but there is a Bl. Camila Díez Blanco, Bl. Camilla Gentili, and St. Camillus de Lellis. (There’s also a Bl. Angela Truszkowska, whose birth name was Zofia Kamila Truszkowska. Zofia Kamila! Wow!)

(6) Felicity

Felicity is a style match for Oliver, and it’s included in my article of Unmistakable Catholic Girl Names. I think it’s so feminine and pretty, so I had to include it! Sts. Perpetua and Felicity are such a well-known saintly pair and such great patrons for girls. I spotlighted Felicity, including nickname ideas (one of which is Lily!), here.

(7) Seraphina, Seraphine

This is totally inspired by Becca’s hope for a Catholic girly name. I think Seraphina is just so beautiful, and I included it in my book of Marian names because it “refers to the seraphim, the order of angels who ‘stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court,’ and gets its Marian character from two of Our Lady’s titles: ‘Our Lady of the Angels’ and ‘Queen of the Angels.’” I like how the French variant Seraphine flows with Eloise!

(7) Archangela

This was inspired both by Seraphina, in that it’s an obvious angel name — and specifically for the archangels, which means three patrons! — but also by Eleanor, because of Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor.

(8) Immaculata

Finally, Immaculata is one of my favorite of the super-obvious-Catholic feminine names, and I LOVE how it sounds with Eloise! Eloise Immaculata! Ohhh my! This is one of my very favorite ideas for Becca’s baby girl.

I also wanted to offer a list of names beyond the obvious (but also including some of the obvious ones) that have floral connections. I used the posts Daring Flower Names and Botanical Girl Names on Appellation Mountain to compile this list (I didn’t include all the ones listed in those articles, so definitely check them out!), and I’ve asterisked the ones that I included in my book of Marian names. I also want to share the quote I found in a book called Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations by Vincenzina Krymow: “It is thought that at one time all flowers and plants honored Mary, the ‘Flower of Flowers,’ in legend or in name,” which would give a Catholic connection to any floral name (Behind the Name is the site I use for all name meanings if you wanted to look up the less obvious ones below).

  • Anthea
  • Azalea
  • Briallen
  • Calla
  • Carmel*
  • Eden
  • Hazel
  • Iris*
  • Ivy*
  • Jacinta, Jacinthe, Hyacinth
  • Lily, Lillie, Lilia, Lillian, Liliana, Liliane*
  • Linnea
  • Magnolia
  • Primrose*
  • Rosanna*
  • Rosary*
  • Rosemary, Rosemarie*
  • Susanna*

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry, Theodore/Theo, Everett, and Oliver?


The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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!