Fun Friday Question: Catholic names for pets

Happy feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe!! He will always be one of my very favorites, and I know so many of you feel the same way.

I’ve been charmed recently by the names I’ve heard on two new dogs: a friend of mine and her family recently got a dog they named Ignacio, because they loved the idea of calling it Nacho but wanted a faith connection (Nacho is a diminutive of Ignacio!), and Simcha Fisher and her family recently got a dog they named Santino, called Sonny (of course there’s The Godfather reference, but I also just love Santino [“little saint”], and Sonny is such a great nickname).

We don’t have any pets, but I’ve often thought that if we were to ever find ourselves the owners of a German shepherd, how could we not name it Benedict?? (Because Pope Emeritus Benedict is German! And the former shepherd of a worldwide flock!) And wouldn’t Ratzinger be great for a cat? (Gotta zing them rats!) Maybe Patrick as an ironic name for a pet snake? (Because of how St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.) Then there’s the whole Dominican “hounds of heaven” line of thinking — St. Dominic’s mother had a dream “that a dog jumped from her womb holding a torch and set everything around them on fire,” and then St. Dominic was conceived. I love that the Dominicans have been known as the “hounds of heaven,” and how cool is it that Domini canes means “dogs/hounds of the Lord” in Latin, which sounds just like the Latin for the Dominican Order, Dominicanus?! Obviously, it’s completely necessary to get two dogs: a German shepherd named Benedict, and another dog named Dominic. Makes perfect sense to me!

I asked about pet names several years ago, in the wake of the death of my brother’s dog, and one of you commented that Gertrude would be great for a cat, since she (St. Gertrude of Nivelles) is the patron of cats. I’d never heard that before, but indeed it’s true!

What names-with-faith-connections have you used for or heard on pets that you think are particularly clever? Or what ideas do you have for future pets?

Have a great Friday!! Happy name day to all the little Maximilians and Kolbes!!

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



Baby name consultant: Unusual Marian name for Baby Girl #2

(I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!)

Tara and her husband are expecting baby #2, a little girl! Big sister is:

Kateri Cynthia

Which I just die over, how beautiful!! Tara writes,

Naming our daughter took a while, but once we heard the name we agreed immediately. Her name is Kateri Cynthia. We picked Kateri for a few reasons. 1. We found out we were pregnant when we were chaperoning a service trip to a Native American reservation and 2. My husband’s mother’s name is Catherine (Cathy) and his sister’s name is Kathryn (Kate). We wanted to name her after her grandmother, but adding another Catherine to the family seemed a bit much. We loved that Kateri was a lovely saint and gave a nod to my mother in law. Kateri’s middle name is Cynthia after my mom.”

I love love all this! A fun fact is that Kateri is the Mohawk form of Catherine — St. Kateri was named for St. Catherine of Siena at her baptism.

Tara continues,

Where we’re struggling is if our second child is a girl. We know we want a Marian name, and we think we’ve landed on Stella Maris. My husband, however, prefers Stella as a first name, with Maris as a middle name. I’m sort of liking Stella Maris as a double first name, but I can’t come up with a middle name that sounds good with this combination. Any suggestions for a middle name with this combo? I’m also open to hearing other Marian suggestions that are a little on the unusual side (we like traditional boy names and not-so-traditional girl names, and we’d prefer to keep the middle name as a saint’s name as well.)

As you all know, I loooooove Marian names, so I felt like rubbing my hands together with glee over this dilemma!

Okay, first off, I love Stella Maris — what a gorgeous Marian title, and a really stunning combo for a little girl. But Tara’s right — it’s hard to pair middle names with! I said it over and over, trying to figure out a rhythm for the middle name that worked with the unusual rhythm of “Stella Maris” as a double-barrel first name. My favorite suggestion for Tara and her husband is: Anne. Stella Maris Anne has a great flow with their last name (which I won’t mention for privacy reasons — you’ll just have to believe me!); Anne doesn’t make the full name too long; and how lovely to have Mother Mary and her own mother in the same name!

Otherwise, I thought a two-syllable middle name with the stress on the second syllable sounded the best to my ear. The ones I came up with are mostly a little offbeat for these days, but maybe they’ll hit the right notes:

  • Annette
  • Annique
  • Janine
  • Jeanette
  • Mairead
  • Elise
  • Elaine

Another way to work with the title Stella Maris but solve the middle name issue is to use the variant Maristella. It’s a totally legit variant of the Stella Maris title — you can see a beautiful holy card with that version here  — and Tara and her hubs could still use Stella as the everyday call name. It takes a middle name a bit easier than Stella Maris as well — something short like Jane or Clare would be lovely with it, but long can work too — this mama named her baby Maristella Katherine!

As for other Marian names that are unusual, I came up with a bunch:

(1) Apparition sites
Some of the Marian apparition sites make great names — some of my favorites are Liesse, Salette (after La Salette), and Lourdes. The first two are not very used as names, but Lourdes does have some use — the mom who writes the blog My Child I Love You named her youngest Lourdes. Lola and Lulu are great nicknames for it!

(2) Variants of Mary
Miriam and Meike are my two thoughts for this category. Miriam is a bit more common, but it’s just lovely. Meike is a recent favorite of mine — it’s a German and Dutch diminutive of Maria, and it’s said like Micah. So cool!

(3) Names from Marian titles
There are lots here:

  • Amabel comes from the title Mater Amabilis, and Annabel is a variant of Amabel. Amabel, Annabel, and another variant Mabel could all work
  • Araceli is Spanish for “altar of the sky/heaven” and refers to Our Lady
  • Caeli or Coeli from the title Regina Caeli/Coeli—Queen of Heaven
  • Immaculata or Immaculee — from Immaculate Conception, of course — Immaculée Ilibagiza is a famous bearer, and I know a little one with Immaculata as her middle name, and another with Immaculata as her first
  • Mercedes is Spanish for “mercies,” from the title Our Lady of Mercies
  • Perpetua is a name on its own with its own saint, but it can also refer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

(4) Words associated with Mary
My ideas here included:

  • Fiat, from Our Lady’s “let it be done”
  • Pieta, from the sculpture of Our Lady holding the body of Jesus
  • Tilma, from Juan Diego’s tilma

(5) People associated with Our Lady
In general I don’t think of names like Bernadette or Lucia being “Marian,” although I do think a good argument can be made for them to be so considered, since they call to mind Our Lady. But I did feel I had to suggest Jacinta — Kateri and Jacinta have always seemed like sister names to me, and I love it for this family. Something like Jacinta Mary would have a real double Marian whammy, or even Mary Jacinta as a double. Thinking of that reminded me that Bernadette’s given name was actually Marie-Bernarde (I’ve also seen Bernarde-Marie, but I think Marie-Bernarde is what I’ve seen most often), and that also seemed like a double Marian whammy to me. And Marie-Bernarde made me think of Marie-Azelie, which is what our brand new St. Zelie Martin (mother of St. Therese) was named at birth. So Azelie doesn’t have any Marian connection that I know of, but if one was going to consider a French double starting with Marie, that’s a sweet one.

Those are all my suggestions for this little baby, but as an added fun challenge, Tara asked,

As a side note: any good saint names that are too weird for kids, but might be good for a dog? We’re also getting a puppy and struggling with names!

How fun! It’s true that it’s hard to find saintly names that might be better for pets than kids. But I was thinking that some last names might work, like:

  • Duchesne, from St. Rose-Philippine Duchesne
  • Hofbauer, from St. Clement Mary Hofbauer
  • Guzman, from St. Dominic (de) Guzman (extra cool is that he’s known as the “hound of heaven” and is often depicted with a dog)
  • Last names for living people too, like Bergoglio or Ratzinger (though maybe Ratzinger’s better for a cat? Haha!)

Place names related to saints could work too, like:

  • Assisi (St. Francis loved the animals!)
  • Padua (St. Anthony of)
  • Prouille (said PROO-ee; known as the “cradle of the Dominicans” because the first Dominican house is there) (I was having fun with the Dominican theme!)
  • Molokai (St. Damien of)

And faith-related words would work too, like:

  • Boon — a boon is a favor or a blessing, especially received in answer to a request
  • Rex or Fido — yes! Those classic dog names! Rex is “king” and could refer to Jesus; Fido means “I am faithful” in Latin

Those were all my ideas! In a fun twist, Tara let me know today that they’ve actually chosen their baby girl’s name and announced it to their family and friends (=chiseled in stone!), so instead of this being a traditional consultation in which I ask you all for suggestions, it’s more of a guessing game — based on all that’s here, what would you guess is the name Tara and her husband have chosen for Kateri Cynthia’s little sister? (I’ll let you all know with a bonus post on New Year’s Eve! I might even be able to scare up a little prize for anyone who comes up with the chosen first name. 🙂 )

(If anyone knows this family, please don’t spill the beans!)

(No word yet on the puppy’s name, so if you have any suggestions in that regard, please share!)

(This is the last parenthetical comment, I promise. 😉 )