New article on pilgrimages at CatholicMom

You all know I’ve gone on a pilgrimage to a St. Anne shrine every year for the past five years, as a way of saying thank you to St. Anne for her intercession. When my family and I first started doing so, we were still in the time of our parenthood where going on trips was one of the worst things I could think of doing! Remembering those first couple trips, and seeing how much better it’s gotten, inspired my July article for CatholicMom.com: Pilgrimages for Parents of Young Children. I’d love to hear what other tips you would add!

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

Ireland part 3: Anne

Part 1: Edel

Part 2: Radek

I posted about this on Instagram already (part 1, part 2, part 3), but blogging allows me to be chattier. 😉

You know that St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, and I’ve leaned on her intercession for these past few years for Sancta Nomina — that I do God’s will through it, that marriages and families are blessed by the beautiful names of our faith that we discuss here, and for the completion and acceptance of my book for publication (when I was writing it) and that it will reach those who need it (now that it’s here!) — and also for all of you! I’m always asking her to intercede for you all, and myself as well, and I’ve felt her grandmotherly love many many times.

I started the blog on June 27, 2014, and each year since then at the end of June or beginning of July, my husband and boys and I have taken a mini pilgrimage to a St. Anne Shrine within driving (and my own sanity’s) distance to thank her for her intercession and pray for you all. Year 1 was Isle la Motte, year 2 was Sturbridge, MA, year 3 was Scranton, PA, and last year was Waterbury, CT.

(As a side thought, looking through these old posts, it’s amazing to me to see our progression as a family from one for whom traveling was the worst thing imaginable (year 1) to one for whom it’s getting to be a not-terrible thing to do (currently). Young families, take note! It gets easier!)

Next week marks five years since I started Sancta Nomina (!!!!!), so I’d already had a vague idea of trying to do something a bit bigger pilgrimage-wise this year — the St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine in Canada was one of my ideas, which would have been quite a thing for us (probably too much, really) — when my sister got engaged and she and her fiance were delighted to fulfill my sister’s lifelong dream of getting married in Ireland, in the town where my grandfather was born and raised, in the cathedral where he’d been baptized and had been an altar boy. I initially looked into whether or not we could swing all of us going — me, hubby, and all the boys — and quickly decided this was pretty far past impossible. But I could go (and really should, if possible, as I was a bridesmaid), and where I go the baby goes, and I brought my oldest to help (and he got to be the altar boy at the wedding!), and when making our plans I had the idea of checking to see if there could possibly be a St. Anne church anywhere near where we were staying.

Guys. There are two (TWO) (2!) St. Anne churches near where we were staying!

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. That St. Anne. ❤ ❤ ❤

The Cathedral in Cork City, which is locally known as North Cathedral and is just a little over 3km from our hotel, has as its official name (prepared to be blown away): The Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne.

!!!!!

But wait! Turns out, there’s a SECOND church in Cork dedicated to St. Anne! The Church of Ireland’s (Anglican) Church of St. Anne, Shandon (with its famous bells) is right down the road and within sight of St. Mary and St. Anne’s!

I mean. Could St. Anne (and her holy baby girl) be talking any more directly to me??

St. Mary and St. Anne’s Cathedral is, as it says on its web site, “‘the Mother Church of the Dioceses of Cork and Ross’ and was dedicated in 1808, (building had begun in 1799). It is the fourth church of this parish since, at least, 1306. The construction of the Cathedral was planned and overseen by Bishop Francis Moylan (Bishop of Cork 1787-1815).”

My boys and I were only going to be in Ireland for three full days (half of one of those days was traveling from the airport to the hotel, and we were there for half of a fourth day, that was traveling from the hotel to the airport), and most of our time there was booked with wedding business, but until 3:00 on the day before the wedding we were free to do as we liked, so I planned our pilgrimage to the Cathedral for that day.

Being that I was trying to keep the baby on our home schedule timezone-wise, we slept in until 10:30am or so on that Friday, and set off from the hotel around 11. I figured we had to be back at the hotel by 3 to get ready for the rehearsal, and we were walking to the Cathedral and back (with a stop for lunch with my brothers, sister-in-law, and priest friend, as well as to find Turkish Delight, at the request of one of my boys at home), so we had to be purposeful in our walking to stay on track. I used Google maps on my phone and looked such the tourist, constantly checking my phone to see where to go next.

My goals for my St. Anne pilgrimages are always modest, given that traveling is already such an opportunity to offer up suffering. 😀 Usually I hope to go to Mass at the Shrine, take pictures to show all of you, and get to the gift shop. But for this trip, I scaled back my expectations even more. I would have loved to have gotten to Mass, but it was too early for us, and I saw something about a gift shop on its web site, but didn’t see signs for it while we were there, so I didn’t worry about it. I was just so thrilled when we finally arrived at the Cathedral — I felt like, “We did it! We’re here!” The photos I posted on Instagram two weeks ago were the major ones, but I’m going to post some more tonight.

My boys and I (the baby was sleeping for a good deal of our four-hour walk!) tried to take our time inside the Cathedral, but it wasn’t easy — I was antsy about getting back to the hotel in time, and there were professional cleaners doing something loud on the altar while we were there. I was sorry to see that the interior was quite modern (their web site says, “The Neo- Gothic originals and the later extensions lacked harmony until the 1996 reordering and renovation. The vision of architect Richard Hurley drew the Sanctuary into the body of the Cathedral and brings congregation around three sides of the altar”), as I love a good old European cathedral; I was even sorrier to see that the tabernacle had been removed to a side chapel. Also, the only statue of St. Anne that I could find was the one in the front parking lot, and the one picture I was able to get of it was partially obscured by cars.

But no matter! I made a donation to the restoration fund in honor of all of you (with a prayer that it would be well used), and fairly clicked my heels as we left — I was so pleased to have visited a St. Anne shrine in Ireland in commemoration of Sancta Nomina’s fifth year!

St. Anne’s, Shandon was just down the road, so we walked quickly there on our way back, though I was eyeing our time and took only a minute to take a photo from the road. I love that Anglicans love St. Anne too. ❤

All in all, a memorable St. Anne’s pilgrimage to celebrate five years in this little corner of the internet, and to celebrate five years with you all!

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Screenshot from Google Maps of the route from our hotel to the Cathedral, and where St. Anne’s, Shandon is in relation to the Cathedral

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

It’s May! (Baby name consultations are now open!)

Happy May! Month of Our Lady! Feast of St. Joseph the Worker! (Which was instituted as a counter to the Communists’ “May Day,” as my historian friend shared with me today. Did you know that? I didn’t! How cool!)

Being that this is the month of Our Lady, I have a few goodies for you all! First up: I’m reopening baby name consultations! Details, including cost info, are here.

I’m also dedicating my site and its associated social media to Our Lady. We’ve been under the patroness of good St. Anne for so long, which is so wonderful and isn’t changing, but Mother Mary needs an official shout-out! (I mean, beyond alllll the Marian posts and of course my book of Marian names!) I’m adding wording to this effect under my roses (under my menu, to the right).

Be sure to check in frequently during the month for other fun things I have planned! (I’ll also be posting a birth announcement later this evening!)


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

Honoring St. Anne in a boy’s name

Happy feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim!! As you all know, St. Anne is the patroness of my blog and I’ve asked for her intercession many many times over the past few years, for all of your intentions and for my own. In fact, I just finished another novena to her, in which I included all of you. ❤ Such a great saint, and such a great day!

You guys had so many good ideas when I asked in last month’s giveaway for possible ways of honoring St. Anne in a boy’s name! Several of you asked for the results, which I’d planned to compile into one post anyway, and her feast day seemed the best day to do it! Here they are, culled from the comments left on the blog post and those left in the entries on Rafflecopter — you guys had so many great ideas!

Names starting with An-

This is generally where my mind goes as well, when trying to think of boy names that could honor St. Anne. These are the ones you all suggested (the quotes in parentheses are comments left by the commenter):

Ananias

Andrew, Andre, Anselm, Anthony, Antonio, Antonin, Anton

Anders and Anderson (“from Anne-dear’s and Anne-dear’s-son“)

Anne (Dutch boy’s name)

Anno (“It’s got a hip feel with the “-o” at the end (like Milo or Hugo). And easy to spell“)

Anson (“Our son is named in her honor. Anson means son of Anne. We credit him to her direct intercession“)

Antioch

 

Names containing “Stan” (St. An-) or that mean St. Anne

Santana (“(used for both boys or girls) but is in the top 1000 for boys. Literally St. Ann meaning name“)

Stanislaus, Stanley

 

Names containing “an” or “han” (from Hannah, which is a cognate of Anne)

Amantius (“Latin for loving“)

Ambrose (not technically An-, but sounds like it!)

Athanasius

Daniel, Danny

Ferdinand

Francis

Grant (“another one with “an” in it, and as a word could reference all the graces and blessings one would hope to be granted through such a wonderful patron’s intercession!“)

Hanan (“masc. form of Hannah*“) (*my note: Hanan means “gracious” and is the name of some minor Old Testament characters)

Giovanni, Hans, Ian, Johannes (“Etymologically related,* plus contains “Anne” right in there“) (*my note: the John names ARE etymologically related! Anne means “favor, grace” and the John names mean “Yahweh is gracious.” I would add in Evan here as well.)

Julian

Manuel, Manny

Marian

Nathan

Roman

Rowan

Santiago

Sebastian

Stefan

Xander

 

Names whose meanings (etymological and otherwise) are connected to St. Anne

Armo (“It shares some sounds with Anne (the initial a, the nasal n/m), fits in with the popular ‘two-syllable, ends in ‘o” trend for boys and, while rare, it’s easy to spell and pronounce … According to behindthename.com (and Google Translate), Armo means ‘grace’ (or perhaps ‘mercy’) in Finnish, which links it through meaning to the name Anne … For an added St Anne connection, Armo is also the name of a commune in Italy. The parish church of Armo is dedicated to the Natività di Maria – the birth of Mary … One possible drawback – a google search of ‘Armo’ seems to indicate that it is sometimes used as slang referring to Armenian people. I’ve never heard of that term where I live, but it would be something to consider and research to ensure it’s not an offensive term where the parents live“)

Augustine (“great, venerable”)

Chariton (“grace, kindness”)

Esmond (“grace” + “protection”)

Gracen/Grayson/Greyson, Gratian (“because of the first syllable being “grace” – the name meaning of Ann/Anne“) (my note: I have Gratian in my book as it’s basically the male version of grace — works perfectly for St. Anne!)

Graham (“I’m taking this as a name-ization of “Gram” short for grandmother names, since St Anne was Jesus’s grandma. My sisters and I call our grandma Grammy and often shorten it to Gram, and graham crackers have been referenced jokingly over the years too. (: “)

Porter, Durward (“Porter means “gatekeeper,” and I first learned of this name from the porter character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I think it is perfect for honoring St. Anne, St. Joachim, and Mary. A famous wood etching called Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate depicts St. Joachim and pregnant St. Anne meeting at the Golden Gate of Israel upon both learning that St. Anne has finally conceived. (This account is not in the Gospel but is in the Protoevangelium of James.) Thus, tying in the “gate” theme and honoring St. Anne. I think it has cute nickname potential of Port or Ports“) (“drawing on Anne’s iconography, perhaps Porter or Durward (‘door guard’) would work as a reference to Anne’s association with doors“)

Sulo (“apparently means ‘grace’ (in the sense of charm) in Finnish“)

Valentine (“as a nod to her role as ‘health of the sick’“)

 

Names of people important to St. Anne

Joachim (husband)

Mary and all Marian variants (daughter)

 

Can you believe this amazing bunch of names?? You guys did great! I’d love to know which of these is your favorite way to honor St. Anne, and if you’d ever consider any of them for a son in her honor. Have a wonderful feast day!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Annual St. Anne pilgrimage!

Every year since my first blogiversary, I’ve gone on a pilgrimage to a St. Anne Shrine as a way of thanking her for her patronage of my blog and her intercession in the many many prayers I’ve prayed for all of you and my own special intentions. It’s been fun to find St. Anne shrines that are close enough to me to either do a day trip or an overnight at most — there are more than I ever realized! The first year my husband and kids and I went to the shrine in Isle la Motte, VT; the second year was Sturbridge, MA; the third year was Scranton, PA; and this year we went to Waterbury, CT.

Look at the name of this beautiful shrine:

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Shrine of St. Anne for Mothers. So so perfect for this enormously pregnant woman praying for so many of you who are mothers, or who want to be and are struggling with infertility.

It was a huge, gorgeous church:

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(I know you all know my photog skills are lacking … I tried to capture how beautiful it was and failed, as always!)

I was determined that we would attend the 9:00 Mass, and the whole morning of trying to do something good was like a comedy routine, Catholic-style. First, I made sure we were all up and downstairs for the hotel’s complimentary breakfast by 7:30, so we’d have plenty of time to eat before needing to begin our pre-Communion fast as well as get to the church in plenty of time.

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They had several kinds of coffee; both Hubs and I went for Robust.

Apparently we were being way too leisurely, because I glanced at the time whilst finishing my coffee and it said 8:29. I almost had a heart attack! My hubs was still drinking his coffee and a couple of the boys were still picking at their breakfast! And Mass — a daily Mass, likely only a half hour — was at 9! So surely Communion would be before 9:29! “We need to stop eating!” I yelled, and said a quick prayer that something would happen that would delay Communion just enough. I was trying not to be upset — traveling with everyone is so hard, and getting anywhere on time is so hard, and we were trying so hard to do this nice thing, and breaking our Communion fast was definitely not part of the plan!

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This was on the car parked next to us in the hotel parking lot — I should have known it would all work out.

Once we got to the church, we tried the front doors and they were locked, but then we saw someone arrive for what we assumed was Mass, so we creepily followed him down these back stairs at the back of the parking lot and into a back, unmarked door, which led right into the sacristy … being the center of attention is not my favorite thing, which walking into the sacristy with our circus of a crew definitely makes happen, but indeed we were in the right place — Mass was held in a small chapel behind the main church, and we were there just in time.

Oh, and there was the heat. Oh the heat! This heatwave is killing me! I’m a total baby about being too hot anyway, and I’m a total sweat-er, so these past few days, being so very very hugely pregnant (much bigger than a normal 9 mos size, despite only being 28 weeks today) and so very very hot have been interesting. Not to make it all about me, but the idea did cross my mind that this heatwave came at just the right time to make our pilgrimage very pilgrimage-y. Sorry everyone.

Anyway, the chapel was sweltering — like, sweat pouring down my neck, chest, and back the whole Mass — but it was just beautiful and so perfect for our St. Anne pilgrimage:

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The meeting of Sts. Anne and Joachim (left) and the Annunciation to St. Anne (right)
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Education of Mary (left) and St. Anne de Beaupre (right)
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On the wall: “Good St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus and mother of Mary, pray for us”
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St. Anne with Our Lady on the right; Mother Mary down below; and that framed rosary said the most amazing thing on that little plaque: “Every Rosary Bead is a Cannonball launched at the Devil’s Head.” Amen!

Father gave a fantastic homily, which tied today’s feast day (St. Thomas the Apostle) in with the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and he talked a bit about Indian Catholics and how they have such a strong devotion to St. Thomas. It was so reverent and so informative! (I’m not sure if the Syro-Malabar church is the same as what he was talking about — I’m guessing yes? But anyway here‘s a post I did on Syro-Malabar naming traditions.) And he mentioned St. Anne a bunch of times during the Mass. I really felt like I was doing what I wanted to do — I was at a beautiful St. Anne Shrine, and I offered the Mass for all of you.

So back to the Communion-fast bit … wouldn’t you know, but Mass started a few minutes late. And then, despite the heat and poor Father in his vestments (he requested a towel at one point, which one of the church ladies immediately jumped up to get, and I assumed it was something he’d forgotten for the altar, but no — he just needed to mop his face), his homily was so long — much longer, I thought, than I’d expect at a daily Mass. Just after the Lamb of God I snuck a peek at my phone to see the time and wouldn’t you know: it was 9:29. Exactly one hour since I’d realized at the hotel that we needed to stop eating. Communion was a couple minutes later, and I felt like clicking my heels as we went up to receive. God is so good. ❤

After Mass, Father stopped us to chat for a minute, and several of the ladies too, who were kind of swoony over my boys (I don’t blame them 🙂 ) and amazed that I have three months left before this baby comes (them and me both!) — anyway, Father said we were welcome to take a look inside the main church. Oh! It was so beautiful!

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St. Anne and Our Lady ❤
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I’ve never seen a statue of Our Lady and Jesus like this!
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Sacred Heart of Jesus
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Immaculate Heart of Mary

All in all, it was such a wonderful trip. I’m so grateful for St. Anne’s intercession for these past several years, and I’m so happy to make these small trips as a way of thanking her and praying for all of you. St. Anne, pray for us!

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St. Anne, pray for us

(I’m going to add some of these on Instagram, including one of me and the baby taken in the fingerprint-y hotel mirror!)


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

We have some winners!

Rafflecopter has randomly chosen the five winners of the blogiversary giveaway: congratulations Alyssa, Julie, Sarah, Allie, and Emily! I’ve emailed you each!

Thank you all for your ideas about naming a boy after St. Anne! You have to know I’ve given this quite a bit of thought, and you still came up with some ideas I’d never thought of! I love that, and I love all of you!

I’m still in the midst of saying the St. Anne novena for all of you! ❤ Have a wonderful Saturday (day of Our Lady!)!

It’s my blogiversary! I have some goodies for you!

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Even WordPress is excited for me! 😀

You guys! Four years ago yesterday I posted my very first post! (I actually started writing this post yesterday on the actual day, but then had to make an unexpected run to the dr for an unexpected diagnosis of strep in my 11yo, so here we are! A day late!)

Each year on the anniversary of the beginning of the blog, I’m newly blown away by how amazing this all has been, and especially how amazing you all have been! I’m forever grateful for you and our little community here, and all that God’s allowed through it. Thank you thank you!!

In celebration of my blogiversary and as a thank you to you all, I started a St. Anne novena last night for all of you, with a special mention of those of you who are mothers or who want to be, and those who are hoping for a baby or are suffering from the loss of a baby or from infertility, as well as for all of your children, both living and deceased. St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, and I’ve felt her close by so many times in the last four years. She’s a loving and holy mother and grandmother and a great intercessor!

I’m also doing a giveaway! Yippee!! 😀

I have a few things to give away, so I’m going to pick five (5) winners. The first two will receive:

— A copy of my book (signed or not as you like, and I absolutely won’t be offended if you don’t want them signed!)

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(Best name book you’ll ever own! Just sayin! 😉 )

— This beautiful book of prayers and novenas to St. Annestannebook

— One (1) sheet of these amazing temporary tattoos that have “Be not afraid!” in St. John Paul II’s own handwriting! Each sheet has two (2) tattoos, and they come courtesy of Lindsay at Just Love Prints (she has the coolest things!). Consider the possibilities! Labor and delivery would be a great time to wear one (that’s my plan!), or during finals or job interviews, or medical procedures … these babies could really give you some peace of mind just when you need it! You can put them somewhere discreet, or show them off, whatever you like!

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Image from Lindsay’s Etsy shop

Again, the first two winners will receive the three things listed above: my book, the St. Anne book, and a sheet of temporary tattoos.

I wish I could give you all a copy of my book! But since I only have two to give away, I’m going to choose three (3) additional winners, who will receive the St. Anne prayer book and a sheet of the temporary tattoos.

To enter the giveaway, click here! It’ll direct you to answer today’s burning question: what’s your favorite way to honor St. Anne in a boy’s name? It will be open through tomorrow (Friday) night at midnight eastern, and I’ll announce the winners on Saturday!

Thank you again for all the fun name talk over the last four years, and for how we pray for each other, such a blessing. Happy Thursday! ❤ ❤ ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!