Spotlight on: Stanley and Stanislaus

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!! Today’s the last day of a novena to St. Anne I’ve been praying, in which I included all of your intentions; your children both living and deceased; those of you who are hoping for babies and those of you struggling with your motherhood; and in thanks for all of you. ❤ Be sure to check in again on Friday — I’ll have a special Black Friday gift for you all!!

Meghan asked for a spotlight on Stanley in light of the recent beatification of Bl. Stanley Rother, and Natalie had previously mentioned considering Stanley because of that same Blessed, and Annie said she *couldn’t wait* for this spotlight, and I heard Bl. Stanley mentioned quite a bit in the press for Bl. Solanus’ beatification this past weekend including in this article (in which my sister is also mentioned! Nbd), so! I think we need a Stanley spotlight!

I’m coupling it with Stanislaus because of their shared first four letters and nickname; because Stanislaus is another name and holy man I’ve had on my mind for a while because of the JP2 story included in this post; and because Stanley has been used as an anglicization of Stanislaus/Stanislaw (but they’re actually two totally separate names).

First, Stanley: from an Old English surname meaning “stone clearing” (according to behindthename). According to the SSA it was a top 100 name from 1900 until 1960, peaking at no. 34 in 1915, 1916, and 1917. I did some brief research into what might have inspired that peak, and found this comment on this post:

Stanley was extremely popular among Polish-Americans at the turn of the century. It was used as an Anglicization for Stanislaw. In fact, it was so common among them, that some areas refered to any Polish guy as Stan or Stanley.”

I looked for events in 1914 that might have contributed to the first year of the Stanley peak of popularity and found the 1914 naval Battle of the Falkland Islands that involved its capital, Stanley, and the 1914 Stanley Cup Finals, which is described as “the first officially sanctioned series for the Stanley Cup between” the champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Association. I don’t know enough about either historical battles or hockey to know if either/both of these events might have really inspired the peak, though. Do any of you?

One of the interesting things about Stanley is that, until Bl. Stanley, it wasn’t a holy name — not the kind of name Catholic parents might have considered (unless it was a family name, or a nod to Stanislaus, etc.). It reminds me of this sentence from this post by a Canon Lawyer on whether today’s Catholic children need to be given saints’ names:

Perhaps if we all raise our children as committed Catholics, names like ‘Ashley’and ‘Jennifer,’ ‘Curtis’ and ‘Todd’ may some day in the future indeed be the names of saints.”

And now Stanley! (It’s important to note that his middle name was Francis, which satisfied the then-requirement for a Christian name; this article about him noted, “When he arrived at the mission, the Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the village took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.” So if Stanley isn’t your style but you love Bl. Stanley, Francis is a good alternative. Or Rother, if you prefer more unusual names? I’ve heard RO-ther, is that how you say it? Or RAW-ther?)

Now for Stanislaus: “Slavic stan ‘to stand, to hold, to become’ + Slavic sława, slava ‘glory, fame'” (according to the DMNES), and also known in variants Stanislav, Stanislaw, and Stanislas. Besides the St. Stanislaus of the JP2 story I linked to above (St. Stanislaus of Cracow, patron saint of Poland), another one that I love is St. Stanislaw of Jesus and Mary, also known as Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA (they call him Father Founder) who was canonized in 2016. I’ve also seen Kostka used as a name in honor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. There are a few other holy men with this name, and I even included Stanislaus in my CatholicMom article Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names.

Whether Stanley or Stanislaus, Stan is an easy, natural nickname. It’s funny too, because before I’d ever heard of Bl. Stanley or had Stanley/Stanislaus on my radar anywhere, my husband told me he kind of likes the nickname Stan! At first I was like Stan?? But I’ve been thinking about it, and I can totally see it! Stan is a familiar, friendly nickname — easy to say and spell and with that old-man feel that’s currently so appealing. In fact, when I was researching this name, I saw a couple different places online where people likened Stan to Max and Gus, so clearly it’s the next Big Thing. Like Max and Gus, it also has usage as a given name on its own — Stan was a top 1000 name from 1933 to 1973. If Stan isn’t your thing, there are other nicknames that are traditional to Stanislaus that are kind of cool, like  Stas and Stane (I’m assuming it’s not actually said to rhyme with rain — Forvo has the Czech pronunciation more like “stah-NEH” — but rhymes-with-rain is do-able here in America I think). (I might advise American parents to stay away from the traditional Stanko though).

Stan- has some pop culture references that may or may not be interesting to parents, like Stan Lee (stealth way to name for a Blessed AND your comic book obsession!) and Stannis on Game of Thrones (which is a [nick]/name I would find SO COOL if it wasn’t for GoT), and the Stanley Cup mentioned above (holy+hockey!). I’ve always been interested in the fact that Obama’s mom’s given name is Stanley, and by her name story as presented on Wikipedia: “According to [her], she was named after her father because he wanted a son, though her relatives doubt this story and her maternal uncle recalled that her mother named Dunham after her favorite actress Bette Davis’ character in the film In This Our Life because she thought Stanley, as a girl’s name, sounded sophisticated” (in that movie, Bette Davis’ character was Stanley and the character of her sister, played by Olivia de Havilland, was named Roy!).

You all know about my devotion to St. Anne, and because I have all boys, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to honor St. Anne with a boy’s name — I’ve known a couple of parents who have also wanted to do so, and the ideas they and I have had have revolved mostly around the “Ann” sound — Anselm, Anthony, Anton, Anson, Ansel. But more recently I’d thought that the Stan- names could do it — you know, ST ANne! So Stanley/Stanislaus could nod to her as well. (I love getting lots of saints into one name!)

What do you all think of Stanley and Stanislaus? Would you consider either one for your son, or have you? Do any Stanleys or Stanislauses that you know like their name? Do they go by a nickname other than Stan? Do you think Stanley is the next Big Thing, both secularly and Catholicly?

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The importance of names in this particular beatification case

Have any of you seen this article? On the road to sainthood: Family of 9 murdered for hiding Jews in Poland by Dominika Cicha, posted yesterday at Aleteia.

It was more horrifying than I anticipated: The Ulma family — the 44-year-old dad, his 32-year-old pregnant wife, and their seven children (ages 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and unborn) — were shot and killed for hiding eight Jews (father, mother, and four sons of the Szall family, and two daughters of the Goldman family), who were also killed. The Jews were murdered first, in front of the family; then the parents, in front of the children; then the children.

And some people don’t believe the devil exists. SMH.

This holy family consisted of:

Józef (dad)
Wiktoria (mom)
Stanisława “Stasia” (age 8)
Barbara “Basia” (age 6)
Władysław “Władzio” (age 5)
Franciszek “Franuś” (age 4)
Antoni “Antoś” (age 3)
Maria “Marysia” (age 1.5)
Unnamed baby, who was due not long after the killings, and was discovered partially born when a few men from the village secretly recovered the bodies for a proper burial

All I can think of when reading something like this is Jesus on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The particular detail of this story that caused me to want to post it here is this bit:

At the diocesan stage of the process a decision was made to add the Ulmas’ six children, because of their parents’ faith. There is dilemma concerning the child who died in mother’s womb. Provisions applying to canonizations and beatifications clearly stipulate that a candidate to be declared saint or blessed in the Catholic Church should be known by first and second name. The Vatican congregation will ultimately decide whether the youngest member of Józef and Wiktoria’s family will be considered a martyr, too.”

I did some research and couldn’t find that information anywhere — that a candidate needs to be known by first and and second name. Certainly the baby’s credentials are not based on disagreements about personhood, as the Church holds we are persons from the moment of conception. And of course not being beatified or canonized doesn’t mean the baby isn’t in heaven, just that the Church doesn’t have enough information to declare him or her to be so.

The fact that this comes down to his or her name is also really interesting from the perspective of choosing names for our babies before they’re born, and not just a boy name and a girl name, but the baby’s actual name, which would require finding out the sex during pregnancy. Are there some among us who might decide to find out our baby’s sex, in order to name him or her, so that if the worst happens our babies will be known by name and be able to be included among the list of Venerables/Blesseds/Saints? Given the wide range of personalities in the Church, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some who would do so!

I wonder, too, if “be known by first and second name” means more than just having a name, but also means that others must know it? That is, not just that there’s a name the parents have given or intend to give to the baby, but that it’s one that’s been shared with others, so much so that others would know and refer to the baby by that name?

I wonder, too, if the Church can name the baby. Though that right and privilege is given to parents, this is certainly an unusual situation that might require an unusual solution.

Also, what is this “second name” business? Perhaps a new requirement? I’m just thinking of when people didn’t even necessarily have surnames, but we certainly have saints from back then. (Not that the second name matters here — the baby’s second name IS known:  Ulma.)

I’m not being argumentative, I’m just interested. I trust the Church’s process, and I know there is so often more to a story than what we know.

In trying to find out more, I was googling variations on “can children and babies be canonized” and I was getting pages and pages of results having to do with Jacinta and Francisco — I couldn’t get past them! I did find a couple things that I thought were helpful and/or interesting, though:

Divinis Perfectionis Magister is the 1983 Apostolic Constitution by Pope John Paul II that outlines the canonization process (no mention of names though)

Child saints have much to teach the Church on suffering, sacrifice by Charles Collins at Crux 

5 Child Saints Who Totally Put All of Us Adults to Shame at ChurchPOP

It’s important to note that with the Ulma children, there isn’t any controversy about whether they were old enough to have led lives of “heroic virtue” (as is sometimes argued in regards to children), as they’re being considered martyrs (though even then, it’s an unusual case I think, because they’re being considered martyrs “because of their parents’ faith” rather than because of their own).

If any of you can point me to any sources that explain or demonstrate that candidates for the canonization process need to be known by first and second name, please do! And also, the idea of children being considered by virtue of their parents’ faith (I’ll be musing on that for a while — it certainly adds an extra something to parents’ responsibilities in regards to their children!).

 

On my bookshelf: Polish First Names

Well okay, I don’t technically own this one — it’s on loan from a friend — but I’ve been loving it: Polish First Names by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab.

Its claim to fame so far has been its bolstering of my argument that there are two acceptable pronunciations of Xavier, as it lists the Polish version as Ksawery. To quote that entry a bit more, because I love it: “A well-liked name in Poland, often given as Francis Xavier. Franciszek Ksawery Malinowski (1808-1881) was a notable priest and linguist from the Pozan region.”

That’s the thing I love about the ethnic name books — the ones that have a bit of commentary for each entry — I learn other things about the country, the culture, the language, the faith. I learned from the intro that,

Polish names are derived from two major time periods: from ancient times until the acceptance of Christianity in 966 A.D., and from 966 A.D. to the present. The former includes native names categorized as Old Polish or Slavic in origin … The second group of names dates from Poland’s acceptance of Christianity in 966 A.D. until the present. During this time, the Church required individuals to receive baptismal names with Christian significance. At baptism, when they were “born again,” early Christians assumed new personal names — invariably the names of exemplary people and saints who had gone before them. Popular Polish names such as Krzysztof and Magdalena can be traced back to the Old and New Testaments … the name was always a Catholic one, derived from the Old or New Testament or from the lives of the saints.”

I thought the bit about the Old Testament names being included in the general group of “Catholic names” was interesting, considering our conversation from the other day.

And, surprise surprise!, I love all the nicknames. The intro states that, “Christian name diminutives often became the ‘pet names’ or ‘nicknames’ used within the family and by close friends as terms of endearment. Some of the ancient Polish spellings would make for unique names themselves.” Some of my favorites from the book include Krysia from Krystyna (Christina), Gosia for Malgorzata (Margaret) (the L has the diagonal line through it), and Klimko for Klemens (Clement).

I found several of the other entries fascinating, like the one for Petronela: “Feminine form of Petroniusz (Petronius) … An old-fashioned name, commonly found among older generation women and nuns.” Isn’t that fascinating? I had to look it up on Behind the Name, to find out why nuns would be interested in this name. I suspected it might be a form of Peter, but what I found was much more interesting: “This was the name of an obscure 1st-century Roman saint, later believed to be a daughter of Saint Peter.” Had any of you ever heard of St. Peter’s possible daughter St. Petronilla? Isn’t it interesting that Poland grabbed onto it? It would take some more digging to find out why — and my hubs is making dinner for me for Mother’s Day Eve right now ❤ so I can’t look it up right now — but, again, it’s one of the things I love about name books. A little tidbit like that can take me on a research trail that I thoroughly enjoy, and I find out such interesting things along the way. All because of the names.

So! If you’re interested in Polish given names and/or Polish nicknames and/or the history and origin behind the traditional names, I think you’ll like this book.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas in your lives!


Find out what other books and web sites I recommend on my Resources and recommendations page.