Happy feast of St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross! The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist posted about her today on FB, and I thought this bit from their post was so beautiful:
“Teresa died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of fifty-one … Out of the unspeakable human suffering caused by the Nazis in western Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s, there blossomed the beautiful life of dedication, consecration, prayer, fasting, and penance of Saint Teresa. Even though her life was snuffed out by the satanic evil of genocide, her memory stands as a light undimmed in the midst of evil, darkness, and suffering.”
Evil will. not. win.
It’s also my second boy’s tenth birthday! He’s so excited about his birthday — he’s only been waiting for it for the last eleven months and three weeks — so we’re in full-on celebration mode here! 🎉🎈🎆 So it’s just the perfect day for this post, which I’m so excited about. First, an introduction:
Lindsay blogs at My Child I Love You about life with her husband and their beautiful children. Many many times my the-world-is-getting-me-down moments have been soothed by the sweetness and simplicity of her posts and photos, and I followed with desperate prayerfulness her youngest born baby’s pre-birth omphalocele diagnosis (here and here) and post-birth struggles (here and here), and Lindsay’s beloved mother’s battle with cancer (and her doctors-say-it’s-not-but-for-her-and-her-family-it-is miraculous healing!) and a recent (but not only) miscarriage.
Lindsay’s faith shines through every post and photo and word I’ve ever seen come from her, and it does so in another way as well: her children’s names. Oh her children’s names!! I admit they’re what caught my attention in the first place, when I first happened upon her blog when her No. 7 was a baby, and I eagerly awaited the revelation of the names of Nos. 8 and 9. I’ve learned from her so much more of what’s possible in bestowing names of our faith. I love how eclectic and outside-the-box her children’s names are while still being firmly and explicitly rooted in our faith, and I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I were to try to come up with ideas for her for her Baby No. 10 because, yes, she’s expecting a new little one this winter!! How wonderful!!
Despite the fact that I don’t know her in real life, I really craved a good name conversation with Lindsay, and so I was delighted when she agreed to do a guest post about “names” — just that! — I didn’t even want to narrow it down any further than that, because I wanted to hear everything! But of course a question-and-answer format is easier, so I asked all the questions I could think of, and she graciously and patiently answered each one. I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I did!
Kate: Where do you look for name inspiration? (I don’t want to confuse the question and I’d love your gut-reaction answer, but this also might help: Do you draw exclusively from saints to whom you already have a devotion, or do you sometimes happen upon a name you like and then seek to cultivate a devotion to that saint?)
Lindsay: I look everywhere for name inspiration. Of course, saints are my surest go-to, but I also enjoy researching countries that have Catholic beginnings, Catholic places of worship, towns that the great and maybe hidden saints came from as to honor that wonderful place this saintly person walked in. It is wonderful to explain the origins of the name Clairvaux or Lourdes. I love how our faith infiltrates every piece of God’s wonderful land. California couldn’t scream CATHOLIC loud enough. San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino. We could go on an on. San Antonio, Texas. St. Augustine, Florida. St. Louis, Missouri. I love that God leaves His handprint everywhere.
Europe is separate story all by itself. The vastness of Catholicism is overwhelming to me when I think of Europe and its historical beauty. There are so many stories to be told. I love dissecting the French towns to discover their origins and what wonderful person once lived there.
I also love the “little” spiritual guys. I love their massive stories that God has not yet revealed in their fullness to the world quite yet because his timing is ALWAYS perfect and each story is destined for a specific point in history. I think of St. Thomas More. The grandness of his story didn’t surface until 500 years after his death. His virtue was actually forgotten for centuries. God wasn’t ready for him yet!
I love the stories of Titus Brandsma, Emil Kapaun, Frank Quinn, Marthe Robin, Luisa Piccaretta, Bl. Matt Talbot, Fr. Gereon Goldmann and Bl. Andre Bessette. The stories of these holy and brave men and women who lived their lives for Christ motivate me to constantly focus on why we were even created.
I take their names and take them apart like a scientist. I look up French versions of their names. I look up different nationalities and check to see how they pronounce certain names. I read about the towns they come from and how those towns or cities were established. This is where Catholicism is often discovered in the deepest crevices of our lives.
Biographies have always been my favorite genre of literature. I read about their devotions and try to fit that into the name. For example, Matt Talbot had a huge devotion to Our Lady. I was trying to work that into Lourdes’ name. He also loved St. Louis de Montfort. At one point, her name was going to be Talbotts Marie-Monfort. We went a different direction due to a small stirring of events, but I still love it. It fit everyone in the name we wanted to honor. St. Louis de Montfort’s 30-day consecration played a very pivotal role in John and I’s relationship. At one point, we were discerning if God was calling us not to the married vocation, but to the religious life. We prayed the consecration with open hearts and on one of the final days, a priest friend, Fr. John Heisler, visited unexpectedly and pointed us to marriage after much discussion. We promised to pray a Hail Mary for him everyday the rest of my life.
Kate: I’d love to hear your name story for each of your children, if you don’t mind sharing!
Lindsay: Here is the name story of each of our children:
Each of our children have some version of the name Mary in their name.
1. Dominic Savio Joseph Mary George Boever
Topping the charts of my favorite saints is St. John Bosco. He is the patron of our homeschool. As I child, I was so touched by his love of children and his desire that each child know they were wanted. I read anything I could find on him. One of his holiest students was St. Dominic Savio. We didn’t even hesitate to name our first son after this saintly little boy. He had such God-given wisdom at such a young age. Ironically, our Dominic is so much like his patron. St. Dominic Savio’s story has made an impression upon our Dominic’s soul. My mother described our Dominic so perfectly, “It is as if God has taken a hold of his soul.” Our sons have a a version of Mary and the name Joseph in their middle name. Dominic chose George as his Confirmation name.
2. Lillie Maria Goretti John Paul Boever
It is always funny to me how names come and go. Our girl name when I was pregnant with Dominic was Vianney. We had offered our marriage for an increase in priestly vocations and being that St. John Vianney is the patron of priests, we wanted to honor him in this way. PLUS, St. John Vianney is also one of my very favorite stories. He modeled the motto “Do small things well” so perfectly in the little town of Ars. He is a model for all those who think that their little hidden lives are not enough. During my pregnancy with Lillie, John mentioned the name of Lillie. I had carried 14 white lilies in my wedding bouquet to honor St. Maria Goretti and her willingness to die for the virtue of purity and chastity. For those not familiar with St. Maria Goretti’s story, she was stabbed 14 times by young Alessandro Serenelli who wanted her to do impure acts. What a wonderful patron for a young woman. She chose St. John Paul II for her Confirmation name.
*We lost our 3rd child Benedict Joseph Labre Mary Boever to miscarriage at 8 weeks.
4. Rose Marie-Therese Boever
John loved the name Rose. St. Therese is known for her love of roses. So going along with the theme of lilies corresponding with St. Maria Goretti, we gave Rose her name with the same intention. Rose was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen and with the sweetest temperament to match. As she has gotten older, Rose has developed such fondness for St. Rose of Lima. She is going to pick Ven. Solanus Casey for her Confirmation name.
*We lost our 5th child Margaret Mary Alacoque Boever to miscarriage at 6 weeks.
6. Zellie Marie-Guerin Boever
(pronounced Zellie like jelly with a Z)
We were slowly leaning into a French naming trend. We joked that the girls would love being known as their father’s beautiful bouquet as we had a Lillie, Rose, and now Zellie.
(St. Zelie Guerin’s real name is Azelie or Azalia after the flower azalea.) I read a few books about then Bl. Zelie Martin and admired her tender mothering ways. It is really cute as our Zellie LOVES her name.
*We lost our 7th child Francis Mary Xavier to miscarriage at 6 weeks.
8. Vianney Jean-Marie Boever
Vianney has such an amazing story name to me. Like I mentioned above, we loved the name Vianney with our first pregnancy and then it faded to the background. During my pregnancy with her, God had not shown us a girl name. We had actually forgotten all about the name Vianney. I was driving home from bible study and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I called John, “If we have a girl, her name should be Vianney.” He couldn’t have agreed more. We didn’t know she was a girl until delivery, but I knew she was going to be a girl because her name was written on my heart. At her baptism, Monsignor Nemec asked us if we knew that Pope Benedict had just declared this coming year “The Year of Priests and St. John Vianney.” NO! We had no idea. He was a bit confused and asked again if we had any idea. We had no idea and it was so interesting to us that her name was revealed to us at that specific time for that year. I love her story so much.
9. Clairvaux Marie-Frances Boever
(pronounced Clare-vough: like hairbow)
We have mutual friends who have a daughter named Clairvaux. Keeping with my love of French sounding names, I knew we would have a Clairvaux. My uncle is a monk at the Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma. We lived in Oklahoma for four years while John was in medical school. We visited the monastery often and one monk stood out to me. His name was Fr. Francis Defeydo. Before entering the monastery in France, he was an accomplished and decorated French navy pilot. His parents were very upset with his decision to give his life to Christ. He was so handsome and given so many worldly gifts, yet he gave it all up for Christ. He had such a humble way about him that really intrigued us.
The year our Clairvaux was born, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died a very holy death. My mother and I visited his grave a couple months before Clairvaux was born so we knew we wanted to honor his heroic life in our new baby’s name. Hence, the Frances in her name.
10. Damaris Catherine-Mary Boever
We were stumped with naming Damaris. She was nameless until the last few hours of our stay in the hospital. She was such a beautiful baby and we couldn’t find a name to match the face we were staring into. My mother’s name is Damaris which means “of Mary” and John’s mother’s name is Catherine. The name Damaris is mentioned by St. Paul in Acts and there is also a St. Damaris of Athens. After debating several names, her name came to us to honor all three of our mothers.
11. Kapaun Joseph Mary Boever
We are still getting over the thrill of having another little boy. We love our girls so much and after six in a row, we pretty much knew we were going to have girls from here on out! When I heard the words, “It’s a BOY”, they might have well said, “It’s a unicorn!” What??? Let me see this mythical creature I heard of named “boys” yet have not seen for many years. It was so fun. I had read about Fr. Emil Kapaun during his pregnancy. His heroism and devotion to others had me at hello. I admired how he spent his hidden days in the camp scurrying from tent to tent tending to the wounded while HE HIMSELF was wounded. The prisoners were given one rice patty a day. They were starving. One day, four men were fighting over a rice patty and Fr. Kapaun stepped in and said, “Here! Have mine! I don’t want it.” Then, proceeded to cut his small rice patty into fourths. The men were taken aback by his humbleness. Although he is well-known for his selfless ways, he was fearless in his defense of the faith. He was such a meek and mild fellow, but if the guards mocked Our Lord, he called them out every time often taking terrible punishments for doing so. We loved him. I mentioned to John that if we would ever have another boy, we should name him Kapaun. Also, Fr. Emil Kapaun’s confirmation name is Joseph so that fit perfectly with putting Mary and Joseph in our son’s name. There is a shrine in Pilsen, Kansas to Fr. Emil Kapaun. We have not been, but someday we will take our Kapaun there to show him that wonderful man who loved Christ so much.
12. Lourdes Marie-Talbot Boever
(pronounced Loo-ahrds, not Loor-dees like the Spanish pronunciation)
Lourdes has a very long story. You can read about her story HERE. To sum up her name, she was going to be named many things during her pregnancy. About a month before delivery, the doctors decided to induce on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes due to her health concerns. My mom texted me later that week and said, “Lindsay, I know her name. Lourdes Marie-Talbot Boever. She is supposed to tell the world about Our Lady of Lourdes.” I called John and he, too, was convinced of her name.
Fast forward a few weeks, I was visiting my grandmother and she was casually telling me about her visit to Ireland several years back. We were discussing back and forth about Matt Talbot and his Irish ways and devotions. She loves Matt Talbot and I mentioned he was my confirmation name. My grandmother told me about finding his shrine in Ireland by mistake and it was at this one church, “Ummm, let me see. Our Lady of Lourdes. Matt had a huge devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes.” NO WAY!!! I had no idea. I screeched, “That is what we are naming this baby!! ” How did God do that? He tied everything together so perfectly.
The date she was being induced. The saint we had been praying to and HIS favorite devotion. All into one name! Crazy to us!
13. We lost our 13th child to miscarriage in early 2016. We have not named this baby yet. We are still waiting to discover the name.
14. I am due December 5th with our 14th child. We have a smashing boy’s name that we love. We have narrowed the girl’s name down to three possibilities.
Kate: What role does John play in naming our children? Do you each come up with ideas, or is it more like you suggest names and he says yes or no?
Lindsay: John and I share the exact same naming desires. He loves the deep meanings as much as I do. He loves the heroism of the saints like Fr. Emil Kapaun. I am probably the Sherlock Holmes and he is the Watson. I am constantly looking, reading, investigating, and telling him about someone new I read about. I would be lost without his Captain Obvious skills in pointing out the nicknames that might arise if certain names are given to our children. (i.e. Ben Boever [bend over] — probably shouldn’t name a child Ben. Although, we did name the baby we miscarried Benedict)
Kate: Do you take nicknames into account when you’re choosing first names? Like, maybe you like a nickname and back-fit into a first name from there (you like Beth so you choose Elizabeth)? Or you hate the nickname Sam so you cross off Samuel/Samson/Samantha from your list of considerations? Or do you just choose names you love and don’t mind the nicknames that arise naturally?
Lindsay: Nothing is off limits. Like I mentioned above, I feel like a scientist to the degree that I take apart names and dissect them like no other. I love discovering the deeper meaning and origins to each particular name all the way back to Greek and Latin roots. I love discovering who which saints had devotions to. I love knowing the saints’ confirmation name, their parents’ names, where they were born, which parish they attended, which convent or monastery they were apart of, which symbols are associated with them. I love discovering what they loved and honoring them in that way.
We have a terrible case of the nicknames. Our poor children. I don’t know how to break the habit. Everyone has so many nicknames that it really should bring into question why we spend so much time giving them their legal name. I love it though!
Kate: What are some of your ideas that you never got to use? Or that you’d love to see others use that might not be quite right for you?
Lindsay: My sister, Kristin, is married to man that immigrated from the Ukraine when he was 8-years-old. There are 16 children in his family. Their culture, families, and food are so fascinating. I LOVE all their names, but they certainly have a Russian tone. We aren’t Russian so they just don’t quite work. A few that stick out are Reuvum, Edict, Slavic, and Milana. I love so many Russian names, but they just don’t fit our Irish/German/French heritage.
I also love the idea of Irish names with their unique spellings and pronunciations.
Kate: I think I remember that you’re from a big family, is that right? And your husband as well? So you probably have a bunch of nieces and nephews—what do you think about cousins sharing names? Or even the children of a close circle of friends?
Lindsay: Yes! I am the second of ten children. John is the second of eight children. God has given our children many cousins on both sides which is so very wonderful. John’s parents have 40 grandchildren so far and my parents have 31 grandchildren so far. We both have siblings that are newly married and several unmarried. We look forward to each new birth like it is the first. There is no greater joy than baby days in our families. It truly is wonderful and celebrated each time.
Amongst our families, everybody is so wonderful about sharing names and actually, I think most would deem it an honor if someone used the name that you have already used. Ironically, we don’t have any doubles yet. I love the names everyone has chosen and some that stick out are Scholastica, Athanasius, Magnus, Avila, Abraham, Rome, Edith, and Marian. Although, I love all the names our siblings have picked out. Everyone is so thoughtful and intentional with their names.
Now amongst our friends, it is a different story in regards to repeating names. We live in Lincoln, Nebraska and Catholicism is certainly alive and well in this wonderful place. There are many repeats and it certainly seems that everyone just knows that LIFE is certainly in abundance in our parishes so names are going to be repeated. It truly is a wonderful problem to have. I love gatherings especially when there are 7 Georges present, 5 Peters and 3 Marias.
Kate: You told me you’ve helped some of your friends with their baby naming—would you mind sharing some of your favorite final results?
Lindsay: Oh Yes! I think my close friends know my love for beautiful names. I had a few friends ask what names I had discovered during their pregnancies.
1. My friend Kristi has five children. She loves traditional and family rooted names. With their 4th child (baby girl), they were stuck on what to name her. I woke up one morning, called her and said, “Her name should be Evelyn.” Kristi immediately went, “YES! That’s it!” Come to find out, it was a family name and worked out so perfect.
2. My friend Leah was pregnant with their 4th child. They had three boys and asked what baby girl names I had been cooking up. They specifically wanted a biblical name. They liked unique, yet shorter names. I suggested, “Lael.” She immediately said, “YES! That’s it.” ‘Lael’ means ‘one who belongs to God.’
3. My friend Emily and I were sitting one afternoon watching our girls during ballet practice. We were both due about the same time with our 8th babies. I was due a few weeks before her. We were talking names and mentioned they were stuck on what to name their baby boy. I said, “Here! Name him this! I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote ‘Campion’ for St. Edmund Campion.” I told her if we had a boy, which we probably won’t, but if we do, we will name him either Kapaun or Campion. She loved it and said her husband was just reading about St. Edmund Campion. Well, I DID have a boy and we named him Kapaun. When Kapaun was born, she texted me and asked if she could really use the name Campion. OF COURSE!!! Do it! So now we have Kapaun Boever and Campion Villa a few weeks apart. She told me she kept that piece of paper I wrote his name on and put it in his baby box. I love that story!
Wasn’t that just the most wonderful interview?! Aren’t you just as a-swoon with Lindsay’s naming sensibilities as I am? So very many thanks to Lindsay for giving us a peek inside the Boever Family Naming Process, and please all remember to pray for her and her baby and family!