Awesome name article by Simcha Fisher

Oooooh check out what’s on Aleteia today!

From Ambrose to Zelie: For Catholic Babies, Old Is the New New: Fulton and Vianney, Felicity and Avila, Giorgio and Elias are all showing up in 21st century baptismal books by Simcha Fisher (whose consultation I posted in January 2015 introduced me little blog to so many of you).

Simcha may or may not have interviewed a certain Catholic name blogger when she was writing the article … and said name blogger may or may not be quote more than once (!) in the article. 😊😍😁😎

!!!!!!!!!!! 🎉🎉🎉

I really really loved how Simcha finished the piece:

“… when St. Gemma herself was baptized, her mother reportedly feared that the child would never get into heaven without a saint’s name. The priest reassured her, saying, ‘Let us hope that she may become a gem of Paradise.’

So if mom and dad adore a name, but there’s no saint attached to it, maybe it’s just a matter of time.”

What a hopeful notion! I hadn’t known this about St. Gemma until one of you recently shared it (grace? I just took a quick look through the comments and couldn’t find it …).

(Interesting to note that St. Gemma was baptized even though she apparently didn’t have a saint’s name … I’ve been seeing mentions here and there recently about priests refusing to baptize babies without saints’ names, which I find really worrisome, especially since the Church doesn’t say they have to have them.)

Anyway! Be sure to check out the article — I’d love to hear what you think!


Hobnobbing with some cool (Catholic) cats

I spent today at the Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference and it was ahhhhmazing! Not only did I get to wear this fun distressed-type textured shirt that I can’t wear in my daily mom life because the baby likes to pick at the seams, but I got to hear the amazing Simcha Fisher speak (and see her beautiful baby Corrie!), as well as Sr. Miriam James Heidland, who is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever heard, and Fr. Andrew Apostoli, who spoke about Fatima, which, as you may remember, was a big turning point in my faith life. Extra great was that I got to go to the conference with my childhood best friend, the one who I went to Fatima with. Great great day. I posted some pictures on Instagram, which don’t nearly do justice to how very cool the whole thing was.

I also prayed for all of you during the beautiful Mass. ❤

And guess what? I have a really really fun consultation lined up for Monday! A tiny hint: it may or may not have to do with an unseen house and an unscripted life … 😉

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the weekend!!

Spotlight on: Cornelia and Roxan(n)e

I don’t know about you, but I was eager to find out more about these two names, especially Roxan(n)e, in light of Simcha’s baby announcement. (I write “Roxan(n)e” because the first post I saw with the baby’s name had two n’s, and the second had only one. Not sure yet which is the typo, or if they haven’t totally decided yet on the spelling.)

I spotlighted Cornelius here, in which I discussed Cornelia; further, says, “In the 2nd century BC it was borne by Cornelia Scipionis Africana (the daughter of the military hero Scipio Africanus), the mother of the two reformers known as the Gracchi. After her death she was regarded as an example of the ideal Roman woman.” According to the Name Voyager, it peaked in popularity in the 1880s, and fell below 1000 on the charts — and thus off the charts altogether — in the 1970s. So if Simcha’s hope was that it would be a name not many of her classmates would have, she was certainly spot on. Cordelia, maybe, what with all the Anne of Green Gables fans (so many of us!), but not Cornelia. In addition to the Corrie, Lia, and Nell I’d listed as nicknames, others offered between the entry and the comments are Nele (which is German, so I think it’s said like Nella), Neely, Nelly, Cora, and Cokkie (which the comments tell me is said like coke-y), and seeing Corrie again made me dig a little deeper and … yes! Cornelia was Corrie ten Boom‘s given name! Now that is cool. Maybe Corrie just bumped up a bunch of notches on my list of favorite Cornelia nicknames. It’s certainly a pretty great namesake (as are the Sts. Cornelius).

Now for Roxan(n)e. The variant that had the most info on was Roxana, which is the “Latin form of Ρωξανη (Roxane), the Greek form of the Persian or Bactrian name روشنک (Roshanak) which meant “bright” or “dawn”. This was the name of Alexander the Great’s first wife, a daughter of the Bactrian nobleman Oxyartes. In the modern era it came into use during the 17th century. In the English-speaking world it was popularized by Daniel Defoe, who used it in his novel ‘Roxana’ (1724).” Roxane was also the name of Cyrano de Bergerac’s love, which is sweet. Of the various versions given, I’m really digging the Polish Roksana and the Italian Rossana.

Do you know anyone with the names Cornelia or Roxan(n)e? Do they like their names? What nicknames do they go by, if any?

Birth announcement: Simcha’s baby!!

Baby Fisher is here!! And her beautiful name is:

Cornelia Roxanne

Cornelia Roxanne!!!

Neither Cornelia nor Roxanne were part of my suggestions for the Fishers,* and even after knowing that Simcha said the name they chose might lead one to think of “a vegan stripper, or possibly a British lady-in-waiting for Persian nobility,” I still didn’t come up with either name.** But I love it! Cornelia totally sounds like one of their kids to me, and — just picturing her and big sis Benny buddying around like my two youngest sisters — I’m just loving Benedicta and Cornelia as sisters … and, not saying they *should*, but if they go for a nickname … and if that nickname happens to be Nell … ohmygoodness. Benny and Nell???? It’s like a storybook, with fields of sunshine and little girls in pretty dresses with crowns of flowers in their hair.

Even though Simcha and Damien didn’t choose one of my suggestions, I do feel pretty good about the fact that I spotlighted Cornelius a while ago, in which I discussed Cornelia.  So even though it was totally not on my radar for them, and I’m not sure I’ve ever really considered Cornelia much at all for anyone, I suppose there’s the tiniest chance they saw my little Cornelius post and were inspired by it.  🙂

But probably not. In all likelihood not. They are pretty fab namers, those Fishers. Welcome to the world Cornelia Roxanne!!


* My suggestions for a girl were Stella, Esther or Miriam, and Hannah

** On Rebecca Frech’s Virtual Baby Shower for Simcha post, before I knew about the “vegan stripper/British lady-in-waiting” thing, after my initial suggestions of Stella, Esther or Miriam, and Hannah, I suggested Pearl Emmanuelle and Martha Frances. After discovering that new bit of info (vegan stripper/Brit LIW), I decided Edith Esther and Althea Kyrie were my top two predictions.

Baby name consultant: Penny Family name analysis, and guess the new baby’s name!

This is different from my usual naming dilemma/consultation type of post in that the baby’s already here and named, but I had such fun analyzing the parents’ name style (at the mom’s request) that I wanted to post it here for you, and ask you: After reading it all, do you have any guesses on what the name of the new little one might be?

Shaunda and Chris Penny, who I actually know in real life, recently (last month) welcomed their ninth born baby. Their other kids’ names are:

Rita Isabel

Austin Christopher

Emma Karol

April Grace

Christian Matthew

Leah Francine

Veronica Clare

Gianna Doreen

Shaunda said, “I’d love to see your analysis of our kids names someday, I feel like they’re all over the place, we choose for meaning not the name itself so it’s a weird grouping of names.”

I do love a good name challenge. 😉

When I put together the post offering suggestions for Simcha’s baby, I felt like I had to first figure out her style, which wasn’t easy to see at first look. But as I thought about it more, and looked up more names in the Baby Name Wizard book (it has this amazing feature of listing boy names and girl names that match the entry in terms of style and feel and popularity … I think I’ve mentioned it a time or two? :)), which led me to look up more names, I started seeing the connections emerge, like invisible ink over a heater.

Such was the case with the Penny kids’ names for me — upon thought and research, styles emerged, and I feel like their names boil down into seven (!) different styles, with a lot of overlap:

Saints/religious names (overt): Rita, Austin, Christian, Leah, Veronica, Gianna

Biblical(ish): Christian (the “ish”), Leah, Veronica

Short and punchy: Rita, Emma, Leah, Gianna

Ends in the -en sound: Austin, Christian

Not easily nicknamed: Rita, Austin, Emma, April, Leah

Ends in -a: Rita, Emma, Leah, Veronica, Gianna

Latinate (Italian/Latina): Rita, Veronica, Gianna

I don’t usually include middle names when I’m trying to figure out a style or suggestions because so many people use the middle name spot as their wild card spot — family first names, family last names, crazy names like that saint’s name you were too embarrassed to put in the first name spot … but the Penny kids’ middle names were revealing of stylistic things as well, especially when considered with some of the first names. Namely:

That vintage-y throwback Hollywood starlet feel I got from some of Simcha’s names: Francine, Doreen (especially with Rita)

Saints/religious (overt): Karol, Grace, Clare (along with allllll the other ones above!)

Kind of cool and hip: Isabel (especially with Austin)

But even with all this overlap, the outlier to all these styles, the woman who stands alone, is … April. Her name is the only one that doesn’t have overlap in more than one of the styles the other kids’ names fall into. She’s Not easily nicknamed, and nothing else. Until, that is, you look at her name by itself, not as part of her sibling set. In the Baby Name Wizard her name is categorized as part of Charms and Graces, which is described thusly:

“The traditional feminine ideals of grace, beauty, and propriety have found natural reflections in girls’ names. Propriety was the focus for the Puritans, who favored virtue names like Patience and Chastity. In the late Victorian era, the fasion was to celebrate tender beauty with names like Lily, Grace, and May.”

How lovely! How lucky for April to have such a great name! As I told Shaunda, I’d never really given any thought to the name April, but dissecting it for her made it sparkle for me! A look at the other names listed for that category reveals further evidence of Shaunda and Chris’ taste in names, as already shown by their other kids’ names, especially Faith, Felicity, Grace (April’s middle name! How appropriate!), Hope, Lily, Mercy, Rose and Rosemary, and Verity — all of which could easily fit into some of the categories the other kids’ names fir into. And April Grace is an amazing combination of sounds and feelings to me, a sweet and sunny spring breeze. To me, it really fits this description:

“The names that surged after World War II tend to be a modest, friendly bunch. They don’t try to sound fancy or exotic … So what were the parents of the ’50s aiming for with their name choices? … the most common theme is that these names sound happy. Not breezy and carefree, like the surfer names that followed in the ’60s, but happy and relaxed … [names that represent] dreams of contentment. A comfortable home, good friends, and kids playing in the yard.”

But that description was not of any category April’s name falls into; rather, it’s for a category of names called Mid-Century America, into which Leah and Gianna’s middle names, Francine and Doreen, fall. And those two names have a similar feel to me as Rita. Wheeeeee! I just love finding things like that — connections abound everywhere!

So though Shaunda and Chris didn’t need any suggestions for their baby, who they knew was a girl, I thought I’d put together what my predictions might have been, for both a boy and a girl, if I didn’t already know the gender and name.

As you know, I usually shoot for three ideas for each gender (both to stretch myself and to limit myself), but here I had four ideas for girls and three for boys. My predictions:


(1) A Marian name (Stella)

While Grace (April’s middle name) can be considered a Marian name, it was notable to me that there weren’t any other Marian names in the other girls’ names. Like with Simcha (hmm. There’s a lot of similarity between the Pennys and the Fishers! Maybe because they both have nine born children, only two of which are boys?), Stella immediately rose to the top for me, especially because of Rita, Francine, and Doreen — as I wrote in Simcha’s post, it has “that same starlet feel.” Also, Doreen always makes me think of Tori Spelling’s daughter, whose name is Stella Doreen (I have a weird ability to remember most celebrities’ kids names. Judge away), which impressed me to no end when I first read the birth announcement. (As an aside, I actually think they did an amazing job naming their four.)

(2) Biblical(ish) (Magdalena)

I know, this is kind of vague, but they already have Christian, Leah, and Veronica (I know, Christian and Veronica don’t show up in the Bible in that way — hence the –ish), and I was just really feeling it for this baby. If I had to choose, I might think Magdalena, Lydia (but maybe too close to Leah?), Hannah, Bethany. I think Magdalena is my #1 here, it feels especially similar to Veronica to me, which I love.

(3) Charms and Graces (Hope or Faith)

This may be me letting my personal preferences leak in, which I try to avoid as much as possible when coming up with names that I think would be perfect for a family, but if I had named my children the names Shaunda and Chris had chosen, I think I’d be inclined to choose a name for #9 that balanced out the styles already used, i.e., a name that was similar in style and feel to April. As I noted above, some of the Charms and Graces names seemed really spot-on to me in terms of ones I think you would like, and in particular I could see a name like Hope or Faith being a really good fit. I like both of those with the other kids’ names, lovely.

(4) Super saintly (Cecilia or Felicity)

Felicity would by my very first choice here if it weren’t for the family last name (Penny) and even still I don’t think it’s unworkable — but I suspected Shaunda and Chris might think it is, since Shaunda told me once that girl names ending in -ie/-y are difficult with their last name. So then, Cecilia is my strong second choice. Not only do I think they fit in well with the other kids’ names, but they remind me of the Penny family and all they hold dear and stand for — faith, love of God, love of the Church.


(1) Nicholas Owen

Unlike with the girls’ names, in which categories seemed easier to pinpoint than specific names, I found picking boys’ names a bit easier. Probably because they only have two boys and their names are similar in style and feel. Nicholas Owen inspired me in three ways: first, Nicholas totally feels like Austin and Christian to me. Kind of a cool, friendly, masculine dude (in all the best ways). It also showed up in lists connected with Veronica, Emma, and Leah. Owen was another one that showed up over and over when I considered the names that had similar styles and feels to the other kids, including Emma, Grace, Isabel, Christian, Leah, and Austin. But I wasn’t feeling Owen as a first name for the Pennys, which led me to my third inspiration: St. Nicholas Owen. He was a Jesuit brother who built hidey holes for priests in England during the post-Reformation persecutions, and he was martyred for it. Such a cool saint, such a cool name (we’ve considered it ourselves).

(2) Gabriel or Michael

As with Nicholas, Gabriel and Michael just have the same feel as Austin and Christian to me: cool, strong, manly. I’ve seen Gabriel be somewhat polarizing though, so Michael I think is a slam dunk here. This is more of a gut feeling on my part than backed up by any of the BNW lists, but I like them both for a Penny boy.

(3) Benjamin or Nathan

Finally, Benjamin and Nathan both showed up all over the place as having similar styles to ones Shaunda and Chris had already chosen, like Emma, Leah, Christian, and Veronica. In addition, they’re both biblical, and both end in the -en sound.

So those would have been my predictions, based on my analysis of Shaunda and Chris’ naming tastes. Just for fun, some of the other names that showed up over and over as similar to the names they chose are: Shelby, Shane, Lily, Sydney, Lucy, Abigail, Casey, Amber, Jared, Rebecca, Rachel, Mercy, Victoria, Natalie, Joel, and Chloe. A lot of names! But I had a lot of names to work with. 🙂

What do you all think? What would you guess Shaunda and Chris named their new baby girl? If it’s okay with them, I’ll tell you all on Friday … in the meantime, let’s hear your thoughts!

Reading round-up

Some fun namey articles from around the webz:

First off, despite allllll the suggestions, Simcha and her husband have still not decided on a name for their baby girl! Lots of good ideas to read on all the places: her blog, the baby shower post, and right here on Sancta Nomina (the comments are where it’s at; I’m still getting suggestions in the comments on my post, so great!). You’ll see that I added two new suggestions: Pearl Emmanuelle and Martha Frances.

Did you know actress Julianne Moore’s name isn’t really Julianne Moore? I enjoyed reading about why and how she chose a new professional name: Julianne Moore’s real name isn’t Julianne Moore (I was pleasantly surprised by the reason behind her choice.)

And these three unvouched-for tidbits (I haven’t read them yet, but I’ve seen them referred to a couple places):

The Secrets of Street Names and Home Values

Parents banned from naming their kid ‘Nutella’ and the related French parents attempt to name their baby Nutella. Judge rules “Non.”

Happy reading!

Many many thanks, and an update

You guys! I’m totally blown away by all your amazing comments and suggestions and enthusiasm, but most of all for popping over here to begin with! What fun this has been for me over the last day and a half, I’m totally thrilled that we’ve all been able to pitch in and help Simcha. I canNOT wait to see what name she and Damien end up choosing!

Which brings me to a new bit of info, which I didn’t have when I wrote the post (but I guess I should have — apparently some of her readers already knew it): Baby Fisher is a girl! So my Isaac/Solomon/Asa suggestions and all of your great ideas for a boy will have to be shelved for now.

I’m still pulling for Stella, or Esther/Miriam, or Hannah, in that order, and you’ve all contributed a lot more ideas as well, so now we just … wait. I’ll post the birth announcement here as soon as Simcha does.  🙂

In the meantime, I hope you stick around! I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or via email, with name stories or name dilemmas or suggestions for posts. Happy weekend!