Why don’t we kick off the weekend with a baby name consultation?! Hooray! 😄🎉
Arenda and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 He or she joins big sibs:
James Elias (“we both just loved the name James, and we thought it was neat it was the name of one of the apostles. We’re drawn to classic names paired with more adventurous middle names, and we both liked the way the names James and Elias flowed together“)
June Adelle (“while we were on our honeymoon road-tripping across the USA, Jeremy and I read Johnny Cash’s autobiography aloud to each other. We both loved the name of Johnny Cash’s wife, June. She was known as a woman of great hospitality – so we agreed then that if we ever had a baby girl we’d name her June after June Carter. Plus, my birthday happens to be in June, so that’s a nice little connection, too. We both liked the way June + Adelle flowed together“)
Alice Genevieve (“we both really like simple, classic names. Alice is a sweet and feminine name — and our daughter totally fits her name that way! We both liked the flair/heft that Genevieve adds to Alice, and it turns out there’s a Saint Genevieve, which is lovely. Both Adelle and Genevieve sound French, which is funny seeing as my husband and I are both Dutch [though our heritage doesn’t factor heavily in our naming]“)
Gorgeous names, right?? I love each one!
“My name is Arenda, and my husband Jeremy and I are expecting a baby in March. We’d love your input on naming this little one! A little bit about us: we’ve been married for nine years, have three kids, and are both major book nerds. 🙂 Jeremy and I grew up Protestant and just joined the Catholic Church this past April. He was attending seminary to become a Protestant pastor when we both felt the call to the Church. (Super lengthy blog post detailing our conversion here [by Arenda; this one‘s by Jeremy)].)
(I just want to jump in and say how much I love reading conversion stories, and how much regard I have for those who have to leave behind a whole network of friends and sometimes family members in order to enter the Church.)
When we were naming our children, we mostly chose names that appealed to us on an aesthetic level. But I do love that our kids ended up with names that have saintly connections, even if we didn’t intend it that way at the time!
With this little one, we’d love to name him/her in a meaningful way after a saint or two, or to choose a name based on its meaning. My husband is really drawn to older names like Charles, Henry and George … I like classic names, too, but I find those a little much! He also loves the name Mary, while I find it rather plain. I love the idea of having a Marian name of some sort, though … and more specifically, a name associated with Our Lady of the Rosary.
Some names we’ve considered or are considering:
– Joseph ([my hubs] found a job after praying a novena to Saint Joseph)
– Matthias (maybe)
– Ambrose (too much?)
– Andrew (kinda plain)
– Xavier (I like the Zavier pronunciation better, but don’t want to have an unusual spelling)
– John Paul
– Pierce (I really like your suggestion of naming a boy Pierce because of Mary’s heart being pierce with a sword; also, Peter Kreeft’s books were integral in our conversion, and it seems like a neat way to honour that without actually using the name Peter. Could also use the name Simon …)
– Rosa (simple and sweet; quite love this!)
– Rosemary (I like this name, but don’t really like the herb, lol)
– Marigold (I really like this name, and it also reminds me of my grandma who always had lots of marigolds planted around her home – but it sort of seems like a name for a blonde baby? and we’re both brunettes)
– Rosetta (this was on our list when I was pregnant with Alice and I still really like it)
– Roma (to honour our joining the Church … except it always makes me think of Roma tomatoes)
– Gemma (but also has the J sound — too much having a James, June and Gemma?)
– I also quite like the name Francesca, but more as a middle name
– Catherine (I’m reading Sigrid Undset’s biography of Catherine of Siena and her life was one of such devotion to Christ! But, I tend to prefer softer names for girls)
– Dorothea (means ‘gift of God’, which is lovely)
– Josephine (love this name, but June has a doll named Josefina — maybe as a middle name?)
– my husband also really likes Gianna, and I find her story very compelling, but find the name a bit of a mouthful. And it’s a bit rhymey with our last name.
We haven’t had much time yet to get acquainted with the saints, but here are a handful who are meaningful to us…
– St. Thomas Aquinas (Jeremy’s a theology teacher and loves the writing of St. Thomas)
– St. Augustine (ditto)
– St. Catherine of Siena (so devoted to Christ)
– St. John Paul II (holy man)
– St. Joseph
– St. Anne
We have quite a long list of names to avoid because we both come from bigger families and would like to avoid duplicates. For girls: Amber, Charlotte, Eden, Emerson, Everly, Georgia, Heidi, Ivy, Kelsey, Kim, Kristi, Leighton, Leila, London, Mackenzie, Michelle, Renae, Sadie, Skye, Tanya, Zara. And for boys: Aaron, Anthony, Austin, Brian, Calvin, Colin, Edward, Gabriel, Jake, Jonathon, Duane, Jaxon, Lucas, Matthew, Peter, Ron, Sawyer, Stan, Terry, Thomas, Timothy.
And we have a couple name requirements, too! One is that it be a name that’s recognizable and not going to be mispronounced. My name is Arenda (a Dutch name that rhymes with agenda) and people are often confused when I introduce myself. We also prefer classic spelling of names, names without awkward nicknames, names that aren’t super trendy, and names that are clearly boy/girl names. Also, [no names that rhyme with Anne, as they would also rhyme with their last name] (I quite adore the name Anne, for St. Anne and for Anne of Green Gables, but I just can’t do it!). I do quite like repeating initials in names — like Ruby Rosetta. So cute! And we don’t care for names that are rather a mouthful (Thaddeus, for example).”
Alrighty! So I laughed out loud when I read that names like Charles, Henry, and George are “a little much” for Arenda — according to the Baby Name Wizard (which, as you all know, I always use in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) they’re exactly this couple’s style! Henry especially is one I would have suggested to them if Arenda hadn’t said she doesn’t care for it.
Many Catholics find Mary too plain, but there are a million ways to honor her using different names! My first thought was, maybe a Mary double would be a nice compromise between Arenda’s hubs liking it and Arenda thinking it’s too plain? Mary doubles are a very Catholic naming tradition! If the second name was more adventurous, maybe that would appeal to her? Something like Mary Aquinas, for example. Or Mary Corinne, Mary Seraphina, Mary Sabine, Mary Paloma, Mary Esther, or Mary Fiona (I’m pulling all these ideas from style matches from some of the more unusual names on their list, like Adelle, Rosa, Matthias, Ambrose, Xavier, and Pierce). Or, because Arenda said she likes alliteration, Mary Margaret, which might be one of the quintessential Catholic combos! Or perhaps she’d prefer them to be first+middle combos, rather than double first names? Either way, they could do nicknames that come from the first and second names together, like Marin for Mary Corinne, Maisie for Mary Seraphina or Mary Sabine, Maple (to get really interesting!) from Mary Paloma, Missy from Mary Esther, or Mina from Mary Fiona. Mary Margaret could be Mimi. Or they could use the second name as the call name, which is also a very Catholic tradition! St. Therese and all her sisters and her mom had Marie as their first name, but they all went by their second names. My dad has four first cousins named Mary ___ and they go by their middle names; his mom was Mary Loretta and she went by Loretta. So lots of ways to work with Mary, if they wanted to try to figure something out that would appeal to both of them!
I was also interested to see that, according to the BNW, Mariana is a style match for Elias, Marian for June, and Marion for Adelle, so maybe they’d like to consider one of those as a nod to Our Lady?
In terms of Our Lady of the Rosary, any of the Rose names on their list can honor her, as Rosary arose as a term for a figurative “crown of roses” for Mary. Arenda also said she loves Rosa, which would totally do the trick, as would Rosemary and Rosetta. I also wondered what they’d think of Rosary itself? I did a consultation and birth announcement a while ago for a mama who wondered if it would be weird to name her baby Rosary as a first name; she ended up doing so, and I just love it. I subsequently discovered that Rosary is not uncommon as a given name in Louisiana!
Another possibility in regard to honoring OL of the Rosary is that she was formerly called Our Lady of Victory, since devotion to her in this way is due to her intercession in the battle of Lepanto, so Victoria (or Victor for a boy) could be a nod to her. (I think this wiki entry is pretty accurate.)
Regarding the names they’re considering:
- They can’t go wrong with Joseph! (But too many J’s?)
- I love Matthias
- Ambrose is a heavy name from the sense that it’s not popular and might also be totally unfamiliar to some people. My husband and I have considered it for a few of our boys, and really like the ideas of Sam and Bram as nicknames for it. One caution is that one of my readers has an Ambrose, and she said doctors’ offices and such are constantly mistaking him for a girl (Amber Rose) (but her son loves his name)
- Regarding Andrew, something that might help is that Fr. Andrew Apostoli was a great priest who recently passed away, and I remember when I heard him speak once he referred to Andrew the Apostle as his patron, which is such a no-brainer but it really struck a chord with me — I’ve never known anyone named Andrew who’d really connected with any of the Sts. Andrew. So I thought that was pretty cool
- They can totally do the Zavier pronunciation with the Xavier spelling! Both ZAY-vyer and ek-SAY-vyer are acceptable and traditional pronunciations! I wrote about the pronunciations of Xavier here (and got a little uppity!)
- Patrick and John Paul are great, solid, saintly names
- I love Pierce for them! And Simon too!
- Rosa is lovely
- Regarding Rosemary, since the herb association is problematic, I wonder if the variant Rosemarie would strike Arenda as a better fit? Roma could be a nickname for either Rosemary or Rosemarie, which would allow them to use two of the names on their list!
- I don’t think Marigold is only for blondies! My friend recently named her baby Marigold, and all of her kids have darker hair
- Rosetta’s such an unexpected Rose name, really pretty
- Roma I love … maybe also Roman for a boy?
- I can see what Arenda means about James, June, and Gemma. Another consideration is that Gemma is sometimes used as a feminine form of James
- I think I agree with Arenda about Francesca being better as a middle name
- St. Catherine of Siena is great! If not Catherine, maybe Siena as an unusual middle? She was also called Euphrosyne as a child — Greek for “joy” — so maybe Joy as a middle name? (Or Euphrosyne!)
- I do love the meaning of Dorothea
- Being the mom of boys, I’ve never had to worry about baby doll names interfering with naming my babies! Josephine would be lovely in the middle
- St. Gianna is pretty awesome … her name is the Italian form of Joanna/Joan/Jean/Jane, so any of those could work in her honor, though Jane is too close to James and Joanna has the “Ann” problem with their last name, bummer
Regarding their list of saints, I had two thoughts I’d like to add: One is that the Charles family of names is often used to honor JP2, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish form of Charles. I know Arenda said her husband likes Charles and she doesn’t; maybe she’d like to consider Carl/Karl? I also know several boys with Karol as a first or middle — one is Joseph Karol, which would be nice since they have Joseph on their list (though, that’s a lot of J’s!). I’ve even seen a Lolek or two! Lolek was his childhood nickname, which is a Polish diminutive of Karol. For girls, I know little Charlottes (which I know they can’t use), Carolines, Karolines, and Karolinas named in his honor.
The second idea I had, re: St. Anne, is that I’ve thought that Stanislaus could work because of the first four letters being the same first four letters of “St. Anne.” Arenda said she’s drawn to classic names paired with more adventurous middles, so maybe Stanislaus could qualify? Another neat thing about Stanislaus is that I think it could honor JP2 too, because he had a devotion to him. I relate an awesome story about the connection between JP2 and St. Stanislaus here, and I did a spotlight of the name here.
Alrighty, so I’ve already offered a bunch of ideas based off of the names Arenda and her hubs are considering, but I have a few more. These are based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard, as well as ideas I had that just felt like good suggestions (very scientific, I know! Haha!). I tried to make sure I didn’t list any names that were on the list of names they can’t duplicate, and also that the names are recognizable and not likely to be mispronounced, and that don’t sound weird with their last name. These are my ideas:
I scribbled this down on my list for them before I even cracked open the BNW! I was initially inspired by St. Gianna — I’ve seen people use Molly in her honor, since her name is Gianna Beretta Molla. Additionally, Molly is a Mary variant — in fact, its origin is as a nickname for Mary, though it’s come to be a name in its own right. They could still use it as a nickname — maybe even for Mary Gianna, where Molly works as both a nickname for Mary and a nod to St. Gianna? I like it both ways for them: as a nickname, or as a given name.
(2) Clare, Clara (Chiara?)
I think my favorite here for them is Clara, but Clare (or Claire) is certainly lovely. St. Clare of Assisi is a wonderful patron, and actually, her name was really Chiara, which is the Italian form of Clare, and I love the idea of Mary Chiara for this family! I also know several little Chiaras named for Bl. Chiara Luce Badano. But I wonder if this family of names is similar to Catherine for them in being not soft enough?
I know of a little Lucy June (she goes by both, SO CUTE!), so I actually already had Lucy in mind for this family when I saw they have a June, and then my research revealed that Lucy’s a match for their style. I love it! And the Ruby Rosetta that Arenda mentioned loving (as do I!) made me think of Lucy Loretta — Loretta’s a Marian name by virtue of the fact that it’s generally considered by Catholics to be a variant of Loreto, as in the Holy House of Loreto.
I’ve seen Nora used as a nickname for Eleanor, Honora, and Annora (which is technically an Honora variant but could be a cool way to name a baby after St. Anne), but it’s also a name on its own, and has that same classic, sweet feel of James, June, and Alice. There’s a Ven. Honora Nagle, and they could also connect it to St. Helena via Eleanor, and also (a closer fit, I think) to Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name is rendered as both Eleanor and Elanor. And actually, Elanor is fun for two “major book nerds” as it’s a Tolkien character name! I know a little girl named Elanor for that reason.
I felt really good about Molly, Clara, Lucy, and Nora for this family, but I’m less sure about Beatrice — if it hadn’t been listed as a style match for Alice, Genevieve, and Dorothea, I probably wouldn’t think to mention it. But Bea is a fantastic nickname, and Beatrice can actually be considered Marian, as its “mother” name, Beatrix, means “she who blesses, makes happy, delights” in Latin, which points to the Marian title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy).
I was far less confident in my ideas for boys than for girls! Leo’s the one that I think Arenda and her hubs might be most likely to like. Pope St. Leo the Great is a, ahem, great patron 😊; I have a nephew Leo — I love hearing it on him, such a great name!
(2) Owen, Oliver, Oscar
My favorite of these for this family is Oliver, after St. Oliver Plunkett — I love how James, June, Alice, and Oliver sound together! But I listed Owen first because my nephew Leo’s little brother is Owen! St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints, so courageous! And Oscar’s a style match for Alice, Josephine, and Rosa; Bl. Oscar Romero would be patron.
Not only is Dominic a style match for Elias, Genevieve, Matthias, and Gianna, and a great saint in my humble and unbiased opinion 😊, but I also think Dominic can honor Our Lady of the Rosary — tradition holds that Our Lady gave the rosary to St. Dominic and asked him to promulgate it. I have this lovely image of Our Lady, Baby Jesus, St. Dominic, and St. Catherine on a medal I wear always. Also, since they love OL of the Rosary, they’d probably love Fr. Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary (Marian Press, 2016) — it’s an amazing historical and faith-filled account of the history of the rosary, and the Dominicans are HUGE in it — in fact, in the beginning are pages and pages of endorsements from top Dominicans all around the world.
Speaking of Dominicans and Our Lady, St. Louise de Montfort is one of the most Marian saints, and his name is a style match for Adelle, Alice, Catherine, and Rosa, and Louie is the most darling nickname!
(5) Benedict, Bennett
I was going to end with Theodore, but since it’s the same name as Dorothea (but masculine, and with the elements reversed), I thought I’d end with Benedict and its variant Bennett. Benedict’s a style match for Genevieve, Matthias, and Dorothea, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is so so wonderful. St. Benedict of Nursia is also the father of western monasticism. And I think Benedict can also be considered Marian because of its meaning, “blessed.” But I wonder if Benedict is too much of a mouthful like it’s style match Thaddeus? In which case, maybe Bennett would suit their taste better? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict.
And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of James, June, and Alice?