Birth announcement: Damien Edmund!

I posted a consultation for Kara and her husband at the end of September, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s let me know her little one has arrived — a little boy who’s been given the amazing name … Damien Edmund!

Kara writes,

After your consult I realised how much I really love St Damien of Molokai and it seemed like the right name. My husband was hesitant because of THAT movie, but right after he was born my husband said a little prayer and felt it was the right name. And we added Edmund for Edmund Campion and Edmund Arrowsmith. So far, all our Catholic friends love the name Damien, and non Catholics haven’t said anything negative. Reclaim the name!

You guys! I’m SO excited that Kara and her husband went ahead with Damien — such a great saint, such a great name, and I love that Dad went along with it after praying about it. And also! “Reclaim the name!” 😍💕💕💕 I guarantee it won’t take long until the people in Kara’s circle associate Damien primarily with her beautiful little boy!

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and big sibs Rosamond, Matthias, and Simeon, and happy birthday Baby Damien!!


Damien Edmund


New article up at CatholicMom!

My October column posted today! Check it out: Reclaim the Name.


I drew heavily from my Reclaim the name post of a while ago in putting together the ten names I listed in the article that I’d like to see be reclaimed, and though there were quite a lot to choose from, I focused on the most Catholicky Catholic ones. A couple of the names actually *are* well used — just that I hear some people have a hard time getting past particular associations that I would love to see overridden. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the ten I chose, and any others you would add!

Reclaim the name

I’ve long wanted to start a running list of names that need to be reclaimed from unfortunate or undesirable associations. These are the ones I’ve already blogged about:

And I want to add Lydia, because there are some people (my husband included, but I’ve seen it mentioned with some frequency on name boards) who won’t consider it because of the unlikable Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. (In fact, I added that to the Lydia entry in the Baby Name Wizard’s Namipedia, and the response was pretty funny:

My husband won’t consider Lydia, because of the unlikable Lydia Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice.”

Your husband read Pride and Prejudice? Kudos on snagging a literate one.

Gosh — have to agree — very impressive! I’d be willing to concede just for the fact he’d read it and made the connection! Well done, you! 🙂


We do, however, love Lidia Bastianich, so maybe the spelling change would be enough? I’ll have to ask him and get back to you. (I wrote good things about Lydia here.)

Do any of you have names to add? I’m thinking more like traditional, established names (not Nevaeh-type names) that regularly receive a negative reaction, whether on name boards or in real life, rather than names you have a particular personal aversion to, but I’d actually love to hear those too! Actually — wait on that, I’ll do a different post about that. For now — what names would you add to a “Reclaim the name” list?

Spotlight on: Henry

We had some great conversations recently regarding Henry, between Dwija’s consultation post and little Henry Edward’s birth announcement post, and I kind of wanted to combine everything into one place.

So: Henry. Some Catholics have a hard time shaking the Henry VIII association. I get it, I do! But you give something power when you give too much mental energy and worry to it, you know? I’m not blaming anyone! I’m certainly not saying you’re wrong. I do believe Henry VIII would cause problems for us here if I lobbied for the name Henry, especially because my husband came from Protestantism. (And yes, I guess if the baby is #8 in a family, mayyybe Henry’s not the best name if you’re already feeling weird about the name!) But this is totally a case of needing to Reclaim the Name, because, as I said, there are so many holy Henrys. Priests and saints, men who gave their lives for the faith. I’m feeling a little weepy about their courage and their faith and how their name still has the taint of the VIII for many. They deserve better than that!

I’m loving the story of St. Henry Morse, and this gorgeous icon of him with Our Lady and Baby Jesus. Laura also referred to a documentary about his life called St. Henry Morse, Priest of the Plague, and an out-of-print book by the same name. He was one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales; another was St. Henry Walpole — both men killed for the crime of priesthood. St. Henry of Uppsala is another I have a personal connection with — a friend of mine specifically named her son for him, as a result of her Finnish heritage (he’s also known as Henry of FInland, and is Finland’s patron saint). He’d be a great patron for any Scandinavian boy, since he was sent to evangelize Scandinavia.

Moving a little away from Henry, which may be helpful, is John Henry, as in Bl. John Henry Newman, an Anglican priest who became Catholic, and was later named a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. John Henry is a sweet combo that can not only soften the Protestant connection if it’s proving problematic for a couple that might otherwise like Henry, but it also pulls together a biblical name (John) with a non-biblical saint’s name (Henry) for families who want to stick with a biblical theme but might also really like Henry. (You know who you are. 😉 ) (Yes, there’s the song and story of the hammer-wielding John Henry, but that’s not a bad association as far as I can tell.)

Basically, Henry is “totes Catholic,” according to cajuntexasmom. 😀

There’s also this scene in the movie Ever After, when Danielle (Cinderella, played by Drew Barrymore) says the prince’s name (Henry, played by Dougray Scott), and it’s just the most loving thing you’ve ever heard. Every time I hear or see the name Henry, all I think is Drew Barrymore saying, “Henry” in this scene (it’s at the 2:03 mark; do be warned there’s lots of smooching before and aft).

I do think that all of this worry is a Catholicky Catholic Problem. I know loads of little Henrys whose parents likely didn’t give two thoughts to the VIII because religion isn’t on their radar as much (even Catholics), and I love hearing it and I never think of the king, only of the sweet little guy in front of me. So if those who don’t constantly think about the names of our faith can freely and happily use Henry without any problem, so much more can we, who know of the Holy Henrys!

It’s got some great nickname potential too — Hank is just to die for. Ohmygosh, a little Hank would just make me melt! There’s Harry of course, and Hal is listed as a traditional Henry nickname on, and I recently heard of a little Henry that goes by Huck! Huck also makes me think of Hutch, which is also awesome — neither Huck nor Hutch are traditional for Henry, but they’re totally the kinds of nicknames I would love. (Especially if paired with a middle name that would make sense of something like Hutch — like Henry Charles. Ohhhh. ❤ )

I also thought maybe Ricky — Henrik/Henryk, Hendrick, and Enric are all forms of Henry in other languages, so I feel like Ricky is a natural (if not very obvious to those who don’t know the other forms). Some of the other forms of Henry could easily be nicknamey for a little Henry too — I particularly like the Scandinavian Henning and the Scottish Hendry (though I guess it’s not really that much different from Henry).

I did a quick search for “nicknames for henry” and “Ry” was mentioned a few times (like “ree”), even morphing into Rio, which is kind of hipster (and Rio’s been calling Pope Francis to mind for me recently, because of his visit to Brazil), so that could be cool. Also Hen and Henny … I could see both being very natural and sweet on a little Henry, especially if it’s likely to just be a family nickname.

I don’t want to talk Henry to death, but I’d love to know if all this info sways you over to the Heavenly Henry side! Also, do you know any Henrys who go by a nickname different from the ones I mentioned here?