I’m super excited to post this consultation today for Blythe Fike from the blog The Fike Life!! (Her Instagram‘s pretty great too!) I know a lot of you are not only fans of hers, but friends in real life — such a small, wonderful world, this online Catholic mom world!
Blythe and her hubby (I first accidentally typed “hunny” and almost left it, too cute!) are expecting their eighth baby — another boy! This little guy joins big sibs:
Hero Victoria (“Hero comes from Much Ado About Nothing which I love, love, loved. I found out later it also is the name of a 3rd c. Roman Martyr, which is cool. Victoria [is] my middle name and my mother’s middle name. No brainer for the first daughter.”)
Mary Josephine (“The most Catholic of Catholic names. We just went for it! Joseph is also my brother’s middle name.”)
John Campion (“I had originally been pushing for Campion as a first name but St John is my husband’s patron saint so we went with it. Ironically, he ended up being born AND baptized (unplanned!!!) on two separate feats days relating to St John the Baptist, so I always felt like both Johns had a claim on him 😉 “)
Clementine Lee (“A pretty good bridge name. Lee is to honor my MIL.”)
Peter Raphael (“Petey is such classic nickname and I love it for him. Raphael means “God has healed” so I always thought that our Peter means “the rock God uses to heal…” (in some respect) which was very consoling for me as his birth was very difficult. He also ended up bring born on one of the 5 Peterine feast days and we found out weeks after he was born. Can’t argue with that.”)
Joseph Leon (“Towards the end of my pregnancy I heard a meditation on St Joseph and was just overcome with emotion at the enormity of his holiness. I knew in that moment he needed to be Joseph (as much as I was kicking myself for another classic name. hahah!!). Leon is for my maternal grandfather.”)
Francis Paul (“Another name that sort of came right at me at the tail end of my pregnancy. I didn’t know what drew me to Francis exactly but I was drawn. Paul was to honor my spiritual director, Fr Paul Donlan. A year later, I went to see the Padre Pio relics and realized that Padre Pio’s birth name is Francisco! Padre Pio is my patron and I just welled up with tears. I really think it was his cheeky doing that we were inspired to name him Francis. Suddenly his name made sense all along and I never even knew it!“)
Aren’t these amazing names?? From the more offbeat (Hero!) to the more traditional, I love each one, and I totally got excited to suggest names for their new little boy. I also thought this family is a good example of how perfect a name can be for a particular baby, even if it doesn’t fit the preferred style.
“I lean heavily towards more unique names, my husband loves traditional names. We have always pushed and pulled on this and somehow, the trad names keep winning! Mostly because I draw some deep personal or spiritual significance from a name and I just can’t fight it anymore. We also have tried to honor our extended family in our names, so not ever name is one we LOVED but for people we loved (I will note that when it comes up.)
Our biggest challenge has been to draw a bridge between our more unique names and the classic ones, which I have failed to do with our last few babies. I’m really, really hoping to do that with this baby, although admittedly, I am more attracted to unique girls names than unique boys names. Boy names are just hard for me! If it helps at all, if this baby were a girl, my top 3 names were Guadalupe, Pia, and Paloma.
Anyway, now number 8… another boy! I am really at a loss. Clearly I am sentimental and that can often overshadow how much I love a name but I would still really, really love a name that bridges our Hero….”
I loved loved loved reading all about Bythe’s kiddos’ names, and I totally feel we’re of the same mind — my taste in names is more offbeat and my husband’s is more traditional and that was something we grappled with every single time I was pregnant. And whatever style we chose for the new baby, I was determined to do the opposite the next time, to just keep building those bridges. So I really appreciate what the Fikes have already done and what Blythe hopes to do for this new baby.
When coming up with ideas, I focused exclusively on names that seem more like Hero’s style, or possibly a decent middle-ground name between Hero and Mary/John/Peter/Joseph/Francis (I think Clementine serves that purpose well … I might even say that the *perfect* name would be somewhere between Hero and Clementine), and in trying to narrow down what Hero’s style is (i.e., what do most people think when they hear that her name is Hero), I came up with three things:
- A literary name, specifically Shakespearian—I think another Shakespearian name would be too much, but a literary name might fit the bill nicely.
- A “virtue” name, or a name with “meaning”—not everyone’s familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, and even if they are I still think “virtue name” might be the predominant thought for many. I thought of several names that sort of swirl around this style—some that seem too close (“Valor,” for example, like the middle name of one of the children in this family, would be a cool name but probably too much with sister Hero [unless all their kids had names like that]), and some that are different than Hero while still being able to be categorized as a “virtue name” (Pia on Blythe’s girl list would fit this). I also think names that have *meaning* — not in the sense of “family name,” but more in the sense of a noun that has significance for them, for example—would be a good idea.
- An unusual name—there are going to be a good many for whom “they must like really unusual names” will be their first reaction to hearing Hero, and the category of “unusual names” opens up a whole lot more options.
Blythe said that she’s “more attracted to unique girl names than unique boys names,” which I think is not unusual for parents. Often I think that might be the result of wanting boys’ names to be unequivocally male, and the more creative or unique a name becomes, the more feminine it feels. Sometimes. I think I was able to come up with a bunch that retain a masculine feel, however.
Okay, I think I’ve given all the preliminary explanations and qualifications, so without further Ado (ha!), here are my (many, many!) ideas for Blythe and her hubs, in no particular order except the first one:
I think this might be my no. 1 choice for this baby. They could do the full Tiberius, which channels saints and Star Trek, but I really love just Tiber for them. You all might know that “crossing the Tiber” is an expression meaning “converting to Catholicism,” so it makes it extra meaningful for a convert like Blythe. An added layer of faith meaning is that the Tiber is a river in Rome, and anything that points to/refers to/references Rome makes me think of the Holy Father and the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, but sort of in a subtle not-obvious way (except to those who are in the know). The fact that Tiber can have meaning for Blythe as a convert gives it a similar explanation to why they chose Hero — it has important personal significance, and that puts Hero and Tiber on the same playing feel right there.
One worry with Tiber is that, since so many of you readers are friends with Blythe irl, there’s a chance that Blythe might also know the only family I’ve heard of with a little Tiber (his birth announcement is here). So if that’s the case, it’ll probably feel too “owned” by that other family? I hope that’s not the case! And actually, that family’s a great one for Blythe and her hubs to look at because their taste is just flipped from the Fikes’ — they’ve given their girls more traditional names (Elizabeth, Anne, Mary Margaret), and their boys are the ones with more unexpected names (Cole, Blaise, Urban, and Tiber). (I toyed with putting Urban on this list as well and ultimately decided not to, but I like adding this little note here saying I thought about it, so maybe Blythe and her hubs want to think about it too. It’s papal!)
Speaking of Blaise, it seems that — unlike Tiber, which really goes “out there” style-wise — Blaise might be more of the outside-the-box-they’re-in name that Blythe and her hubs could be most comfortable going with. It’s more adventurous than John, Peter, Joseph, and Francis, but just as saintly and Catholicky Catholic. Additionally, it sounds like a “meaning name” — like blaze, like fast and fiery, like St. Catherine’s “if you are what you should be you’ll set the world on fire.” It’s certainly not as far out as Hero, but I think it fits very comfortably right where Clementine is.
I was drawn to some unusual Nic- names that I thought might appeal to Blythe and her hubs. Nicanor is one — it’s biblical (one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles), so in theory should fit in with John, Peter, and Joseph, and the nickname Nic(k) for everyday use can reinforce that. Nicodemus is another, one of my longtime favorites — a biblical name like Nicanor (and Nicholas for that matter), and such a wonderful character. I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this consultation, looking for any inspiration as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and Nico was actually a style match for Pia, so I liked that too (I love Nico on its own or as a nickname for any of the Nic- names as well as Dominic). And another bit of research I did was looking up Hero in the SSA stats going back to 2007 to see how many baby girls were so named, and then looking up boy names of similar usage, and one was Nicandro, which is a form of the Greek Nikandros, anglicized as Nicander, and there are a bunch of Sts. Nicander.
This is another that was inspired by that SSA research. A lot of the names that are borne by the fewest number of babies are alternate spellings of other names, so they’re not necessarily as rare as they seem, and I think the Zac- names I saw on there are a good example. That said, I felt like they were great ideas: Zaccariah and Zekariah were both on there, and I love the story of Zechariah and how John the Baptist got his name, so I thought that was a nice one to include. It reminds me of what I said about Blaise — it’s not totally unusual and the fact that it’s less common than the other Fike boys’ names means it’s headed in the right direction. They both made me think of Zaccaria — the last name of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, which is an Italian form of Zechariah. I loved that our Pope Emeritus BXVI as Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria “deserves to be rediscovered,” and since I love Papa Benny, that means a lot to me. And there’s the biblical Zacchaeus as well, which I never see anyone using. As with the Nic- names, Zac or even Zeke (for Zechariah) are friendly, boyish everyday nicknames.
(5) Jasper or Casper
I wonder what they’d think of Jasper or Casper? One of the Three Wise Men has traditionally been known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (all variants of the same name), and I’ve always thought they were the most usable of the Three Kings’ names (Melchior and Balthazar not so much, although … I could get on board with Balthazar. Do you remember actor Balthazar Getty? His name is pretty amazing in an outrageous way. But it’s a Much Ado name — that wouldn’t be good!).
I wonder if either Blythe or her husband find the Irish vibe appealing? The Rock of Cashel is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster … it’s less obviously faithy than some of the other names here, which might make it even more perfect, as Hero is less obviously faithy than the others as well (though I keep thinking “hero of the faith,” which I love!).
Ages ago I read about a family who had three sons named Jack, Finn, and Bram —
the set was memorable to me because it was long enough ago that Finn wasn’t even on anyone’s radars yet, and Bram was so far past Finn popularity-wise that I was just really impressed with that family’s taste. I also loved that they were all four letters, and when I was considering that Hero has four letters I immediately thought of Bram. I say it to rhyme with bran, like bran muffin, though I think Bram Stoker is said brom, rhymes with bomb, which I don’t like nearly as much. Bram’s a variant of Abraham, so there’s a faith connection, but it’s *not* Abraham, so they don’t have to worry about using the same name as Grace! (She’s another BFF!)
Speaking of four-letter names, Remy’s another one that I thought of. It might be too unisex for Blythe (648 boys were named Remy in 2016 and 394 girls), but in that sense it’s very similar to Hero (49 boys and 20 girls in 2016 — for every year I checked [2007 to 2016], boy Heros outnumbered girl Heros more than 2:1, similar to Remy), and its saintliness is tied to male saints (mostly known as Remigius). I really really like the name Remy (and Remy the rat in Ratatouille is a fun reference for a little guy!), and this family rocks it.
(9) Saintly surname-ish names
This is 100% inspired by the fact that Blythe had been pushing for Campion as their John’s first name. There are a lot of good saintly surname-type names, which might be a really good way to go in terms of trying to bridge their more traditional names with Hero’s name. There are what I would call “safer” surnames, like Bennett, Becket, Kolbe, Casey, and Fulton (Fulton was his mom’s maiden name), and “heavier” surname-type names, like Cajetan, Chrysostom, Capistran, and Neri. I think any of these would bring their naming pattern out of the norm and more toward Hero’s style.
As I was going through my wall calendar that I get from church every year, looking for saintly surnames (the major feast days are listed), I was noticing all the “Greats,” and immediately thought of Magnus. I think Magnus can hold up well as Hero’s brother — as a pair, they make the virtue-feel prominent, which isn’t a bad thing — and it’s a traditional first name, so it’s not too out of place with the other boys. And there are so many, ahem, great (!) saints to choose from: St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great, even St. John Paul the Great, and others.
Tristan might be too matchy with Hero, because I feel like it *feels* Shakespearian, even though it isn’t, but I love that it’s a more offbeat literary name, like Hero, and I’ve been loving it recently as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s got a more unisex feel, like Hero and Remy, though much more male (3607 boys to 71 girls in 2016).
I love Tobit as an underused Toby name — 1508 boys were named Tobias in 2016 (which I also love), 314 were named Toby, 118 were named Tobin, 39 were named Tobiah, but less than 5 were named Tobit — so few that they aren’t even listed in the SSA, if there were any at all. So it’s super rare — rarer even than Hero — even while being the name of a book in the Catholic bible (and of course the book where Raphael helps Tobit and his son Tobias). I think that’s pretty great!
(13) Gideon or Gilead or Gilbert
I was surprised to see in my research in the BNW that Gideon was a style match for both Raphael and Paloma, and as I felt that both of those names were indicative of Blythe’s taste, I thought Gideon should get a spot on the list. Or is that too “Gideon bibles”? Gilead was one that was similar to Hero in popularity in the 2016 SSA stats, and I thought it might be even more wearable than Gideon because it has the awesome nickname Gil (Gilbert Blythe anyone?? And if I were Blythe, I’d consider a Gil to be a secret nod to me because of the Blythe connection! Is that weird that I think that??). And then of course I thought that I needed to suggest Gilbert. It has a fustier feel than any of the other names on my list of suggestions, but the more I think about it the more I like it for this family. I think most people would automatically think “Gilbert Blythe,” which makes the literary connection immediate obvious, which ties it to Hero. There are a bunch of holy Gilberts AND — this family has a Gilbert and a Clementine!! Gilbert might just have climbed to the top tier in my opinion.
My last idea is Pace. It taps into the virtue-feel of Hero by the fact that it means “peace.” It’s said PACE in English and PAH-chay in Italian, and isn’t uncommon as a last name (like actor Lee Pace), and there’s even a Blessed Mark Fantucci who’s also known as Pace! There’s also Bl. Melchiorre della Pace and Bl. John Cini della Pace, pretty cool!
Those are all my official suggestions, but there were a bunch I considered adding that I ultimately kept off the list, but I thought I’d mention them just in case: Cosmas or Cosmo, Tycho, Erasmus, Inigo, Tavish, Canon, Lincoln, Basil, Creed, Evander, Leander, and Roman.
And those are all my ideas for Blythe’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Hero, Mary, John, Clementine, Peter, Joseph, and Francis?