Baby name consultation: First baby boy — Edward or …?

Mary and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Mary writes,

My Mr. thinks the priority should be names with meaning. I agree this is important, but I tend to think, if a particular name sounds good to us, maybe it’s because an obscure saint associated with that name is “picking” our baby through us. Or maybe our baby is meant to be the first saint with that name!  Also, when I’m considering a name,  I weigh the likely nicknames. My Mr. thinks this is not very important and it drives him crazy.

Case in my point: My husband REALLY likes the name Edward. Edward the Confessor is his confirmation saint.  But “Edward” doesn’t have positive associations for me [including]:

  • A tragic boy with scissors for hands
  • A glittery Twilight vampire
  • A King of England who abdicated to marry a divorcee

Aside from that, the go-to nicknames are no-go: Teddy (already taken in my fam), Ned (my Mr. thinks of the Simpsons character), Eddie (calls to mind gangsters and slick tough guys.)  I DO really like the nickname “Fred” but not sure if it is too much of a stretch with Edward. Maybe if the middle name was Francis?

Our last name is English/Anglo-Saxon.

Other names he likes:

  • George 
  • Louis
  • John
  • Nicholas

He highly favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics … Martyrs, not so much.

I like traditional Britishy names but I’m maybe a bit more adventurous:

  • Albert “Bertie”
  • Henry “Harry”
  • Ambrose “Bo”
  • Ferdinand “Andy”
  • Peter (love love love. But unfortunately when I married my husband he had just adopted a dog named “Pete”)
  • Leopold “Leo”
  • Nathaniel “Neil”
  • Thomas (but his brother has a puppy named Tom)
  • Cyrus “Cy”
  • Frederick “Fred”

My husband considers these too “weird” (Albert, Ambrose, Ferdinand, Leopold) or not Catholic-meaningful enough (Henry, Nathaniel, Cyrus)  

I’m hoping you can either

  • help me learn to like Edward (any good book characters you know of? Heroic movie edwards? Modern real life good guys?)
  • ID a nickname for Edward that I can live with
  • Come up with a different name altogether that my husband will go for

Or

  • if it has to be Edward, maybe more of a creative or unexpected middle name?

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents! The disagreements Mary and her husband are having about names for their little boy are not uncommon, and I think might get better with future children as they fall into what the style of their kids’ names will be, as started by their firstborn, if that makes any sense.

Regarding the fact that Mary said her hubby prefers to choose a name that already has meaning for him, while Mary’s open to picking a name that she simply likes, and let the saintliness follow: I wrote an article about this very thing! You can find it here: Finding your patron saint (or being found). Another that directly relates to this is Name definitions vs. name meanings. I definitely think that God works that way (He uses our taste/style/preferences — which He gave us — to lead us to Him)!

Fortunately, the names Mary and her husband like are not that far away from each other — they’re all good, solid names that have good usage in England. I think this is likely simply a matter of finding a way to work with each other and find a compromise they can both live with. I think it’s important that neither one of them think that their opinion is the only one that matters, but there are different ways of finding the right balance. For example:

  • If it’s very important to Mary’s husband that Edward be part of their baby’s name, but Mary absolutely can’t stand it for a first name, the middle name spot seems to be the perfect place for it. Then Hubby’s beloved patron saint has his place, but the first name spot is open for a name that Mary doesn’t have as many negative associations with.
  • Perhaps they as a couple would prefer the kind of set up where one of them picks this baby’s first name, while the other one gets to pick the next baby’s. Or Dad gets to pick the boys’ names and Mom gets to pick the girls’ names. These kind of ideas don’t have to be all or nothing — you could decide that one of you picks this baby’s first name, but the other one gets veto power for a name you really can’t stand. Or you could decide that Dad picks the full name but Mom picks the nickname. Maybe whoever picks the first name concedes the middle name to the other parent.
  • Some couples find name conversations to be so contentious that the best way to a peaceful resolution for them is to cross off any name that either parent really can’t stand, even if that name is the other parent’s favorite.

Mary and her hubby might come up with yet a fourth strategy that works better for them as a couple! And a really good reminder is that it might not be possible to agree on one name that they both think is 100% perfect — rather, success might mean finding a name that they both can simply live with — a name that neither one of them hates. I think they can be really hopeful that whatever name they end up giving their little guy will eventually become so intertwined with himself — his personality and how much they love him — that the name will really sparkle for Mary and her hubby.

That said, I want to talk about nicknames for a minute, because I’ve often thought that nicknames are a great tool in baby name compromising. My very first article for CatholicMom.com five years ago included this topic! You can find it here: Patrick vs. Polycarp. Not only do I think it’s important to consider the likely nicknames, like Mary said (even though these days non-family members are far less likely to nickname someone than in the past, it still does happen), but a great nickname can make an un-liked given name much less problematic. Mary’s already thinking the way I would be — thinking of unusual nicknames for more normal first names, or more familiar-feeling nicknames for more unusual first names. I think it’s a great strategy!

Up to this point I’ve been talking about naming (especially a first baby) more generally, but I want to get into Mary’s particular specifics as well. I admit I love St. Edward the Confessor, and while Edward isn’t my favorite name, my love for the saint could sway me if my husband really wanted to use it. But I don’t have the issues with it that Mary does, so let’s talk about those for a second: I would encourage her to not worry too much about Edward Scissorhands or Edward Cullen, as those references are becoming less and less familiar as time goes on, and the abdicating king is more on people’s minds currently, I would think, because of The Crown, but otherwise I don’t think people in general think too much of him — Edward is the kind of name that doesn’t really have one or two particular associations that stick, because it’s such a traditional name with such a long history of usage by lots of different men (real and not real) with lots of different reputations. That said, calling a baby by the full Edward would reinforce those connections for anyone who had them in mind — using a nickname really dispels any of those associations.

Since Mary listed the nicknames that don’t work, I’m assuming that Edward is not a complete impossibility. Teddy, Ned, and Eddie either don’t work or aren’t their style, but I wonder what they might think of Ward? That’s a pretty cool nickname that is so different from Edward (despite having the same last four letters) that it feels like a different name altogether, which might be perfect here. I scoured my favorite naming sites for ideas on other Edward nicknames, and didn’t find a whole lot; one idea that I thought might have a possibility is to switch from Edward to Eduardus (I know this is a bold move, but since Mary described her taste as more adventurous, I thought I’d throw it out there) — St. Edward the Confessor is known in Latin as Eduardus Confessor, and a funny tidbit is that actor Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria had their fifth baby about two months ago, and they named him Eduardo and she often refers to him as Edu. Edu! So cute! Eduardus nicknamed Edu would be really interesting and adventurous! And specific to St. Edward the Confessor! I saw that Edek is a Polish nickname for it, which is interesting, and they could also do initials (i.e., E.J. for Edward Joseph). Another idea would be to pick a nickname that’s unrelated: for example, I know a John who goes by Gus, a Gerard who goes by Sam, and an Xavior who goes by Sam, so why not just pick a nickname they like?

From that perspective, Mary’s idea of Fred is totally fine for Edward just as is! But I particularly like her idea of incorporating Francis for the “Fr” part, added onto to the “Ed” of Edward, but instead of putting Francis in the middle, I think Francis Edward would be a fantastic combo that makes perfect sense of Fred. While Francis is particularly perfect because of its “Fr,” I think any F name with Edward as a middle would make sense of Fred as the nickname. Felix Edward or Finnian Edward, for example. Or Frank Edward instead of the full Francis. Or even Philip Edward or Phineas Edward (you can still use the “F” spelling of Fred, even with a “Ph” given name). I really like this idea, nice job with it!

I was interested to read that Mary said her husband “favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics” — I did a post a while ago on what I called Warrior Saints, in which I included saints who were soldiers. Her Mister’s names of Edward, George, Louis, and Nicholas are all in there, as well as Leo (like Leopold/Leo on Mary’s list). I looked up saints who were kings, and loved seeing Hubby’s St. Louis IX in addition to his St. Edward the Confessor, but also names from Mary’s list! Like St. Ferdinand III of Castille, St. Henry II, and St. Leopold III. These would probably be where I would look to find compromise names or “overlap” names — Hubby might think that Leopold is too weird, but it fits his preference for a saint who was a king, and has a great nickname in Leo, which also happens to be the name of a soldier saint, so he gets things he wants and Mary gets things she wants (the name she likes, and a great nickname). Or maybe, if Leopold is just too bold for him, maybe the given name should be Leo, and they could take both St. Leopold and St. Leo as patrons? Or maybe Edward Leopold, called Leo, where the “crazy” name is tucked away in the middle spot and Mary’s hubby’s preferred name is in the first name spot, but they could agree to call him Leo. But I know that for some people, that would be too much Name Fuss — Mary and her hubby will have to decide how much name fuss they’re willing to put up with.

Speaking of Name Fuss, I just have to suggest this one idea that could be really really cool: Edward Andettere. In Old English, St. Edward the Confessor is known as Ēadƿeard Andettere, which is the Old English for Edward plus “Andettere,” which I was fascinated by, as I’d never seen that word before. After a bit of googling, it turns out Andettere means “Confessor” in Old English, how cool! I’m not sure how it’s pronounced (I emailed someone who might know and will update this when I hear back!), but I love that Mary already has Ferdinand with the nickname Andy on her list … what about Edward Andettere nicknamed Andy?! Ahh! I love it! What a really cool and specific convergence of her hubby’s love for St. Edward the Confessor and Mary’s more adventurous taste!

Okay, let that stew for a minute while I offer some thoughts on the names that Hubby thinks are too weird:

  • Albert/Bertie: Albert, both with and without the nickname Bertie, is one of those quintessentially British-feeling names. I’m not sure what’s weird about it — does her husband mean old-fashioned/out of date? It’s currently at a low point in popularity in the U.S. — it’s been declining slowly but surely since its peak of popularity in the early 1900s — but it’s still a top 500 name, being ranked no. 474 in 2019. That means it’s more popular than Frederick (no. 475), for example, as well as Francis (482), Pierce (490), Corey (492), Maximilian (503), Lawrence (536), Fletcher (622), and Brendan (639) (I chose those names because I thought it was surprising that Albert was more popular than them).
  • Henry/Harry: Henry is definitely Catholic enough! I did a name spotlight post on Henry a while ago because, unfortunately, there are others who think it’s not Catholic enough. I had to show them that it is! Also, St. Henry II was a king! In fact, he was the Holy Roman Emperor and the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors.
  • Ambrose/Bo: Ambrose isn’t weird among Sancta Nomina readers! This family has a son named Ambrose; this family has a son with Ambrose as a middle name; and my husband and I considered it as well. I love Bo as a nickname for it! I’d thought of Sam and Bram as good possibilities as well.
  • Ferdinand/Andy: I would consider this name to be the boldest on Mary’s list, as I’ve never met anyone in real life with the name Ferdinand and it was only given to twenty baby boys last year. But St. Ferdinand III of Castille is amazing! He was a king and soldier — her husband should love him! And the nickname Andy is so easy and friendly for everyday usage.
  • Peter: Argh, so frustrating when names are off the table because they belong to pets!! I’m glad Mary included it in the list here though, as it was helpful to me in my research.
  • Leopold/Leo: I’m a huge fan of the name Leo, and lengthening it to Leopold is so fun (but I’m also a huge fan of adventurous naming, haha!). St. Leopold III was a great king! Leopold was given to 103 baby boys last year, and Leo alone is currently pretty popular at no. 40 (7454 boys so named last year).
  • Nathaniel/Neil: I love Neil for Nathaniel! Nathaniel is a New Testament apostle name, so while the biblical names don’t always come across as “Catholicky Catholic” as other saints’ names, they certainly are Catholic-meaningful. I wonder if Mary and her husband would be interested in the name Bartholomew? It’s generally thought that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person, and Bartholomew has a really British feel to me and a lot of cool traditional nicknames, like Bart, Batt, Bates, and Bartlett (surnames like Bates and Bartlett are derived from Bartholomew!). There are a bunch of Blesseds and Saints with this name as well.
  • Thomas: Double argh re: the pets’ names!!
  • Cyrus/Cy: St. Cyrus of Constantinople and St. Cyrus the Physician both have great stories, and there are two other Sts. Cyrus as well. Cy’s a cool nickname — perhaps they might also like to consider Simon with the nickname Si?
  • Frederick/Fred: I love the idea of Fred as a nickname for F___ Edward or Ph___ Edward so much that I just can’t love Frederick as much! Haha! But otherwise Frederick’s a great name, and there are a few holy Fredericks.

Hopefully my comments are helpful! Before moving on to my additional suggestions for this family, Mary had specifically asked me for any good book/movie characters or modern real-life good guys named Edward — my favorite is probably Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (played by Hugh Grant in the Emma Thompson version, fantastic). Another really positive association I have with the name is Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!). The Wikipedia entry for Edward lists a lot of famous Edwards, which is fun to peruse.

Okay! On to my new ideas! Between Mary’s husband’s list of names and hers, they already have a lot of really great ideas, so I hope that adding more here is helpful and doesn’t just muddy the waters! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As mentioned, I also looked up saints who were kings and soldiers, and I also took a look through the recent birth announcements on British Baby Names, which is always a good resource for parents who love English names. I also took a look through the book of Marian names I wrote (not an affiliate link), as I love a good Marian name for both boys and girls. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s baby boy:

(1) Charles

Charles was a big style match for them, being similar in style to Edward, Louis, and Henry. It’s kingly (Bl. Charlemagne and Bl. Charles [aka Karl], Emperor of Austria), and soldier-y (a bunch of holy soldier Charles-es!), and English, with a bunch of fun nickname options.

(2) Alexander/Alistair

One of the things I love about Alexander is that it’s a style match for one of Mary’s husband’s names (Nicholas) and one of hers (Nathaniel), which could make it a perfect compromise name! There are seven Sts. Alexander who were soldiers, and some great nickname options, like Ace, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sacha/Sasha, and Xander. Or maybe they’d like to consider the super-British variant Alistair?

(3) Theodore

Theodore is a match for Henry, Leopold, and Frederick, but isn’t as “out there” as Leopold and Frederick, which might make it perfect. It has a great meaning (“gift of God”), and there are some soldier saints named Theodore as well. (There was even a Theodore Edward listed in the birth announcements on British Baby Names recently!) Mary already said Teddy doesn’t work, but they could use Theo as a nickname.

(4) William

William is a match for Hubby’s John and Edward and Mary’s Henry and Thomas, and there’s an awesome St. William of Gellone who was a soldier, as well as some Blesseds who were soldiers as well. Will, Billy, and Liam are great options for familiar nicknames, and some more unusual ones include Wilkie and Wilkins. William even has a Marian character, as the flowers Sweet William and Wild Sweet William used to be known as Mary’s Rose and Our Lady’s Wedding, respectively.

(5) Robert/Bo

When I saw Bo on Mary’s list as a possible nickname for Ambrose I immediately thought of this consultation I did for my brother and sister-in-law — my sister-in-law loves the name Beau/Bo, so I spent a bit of time discussing different ways to get to it (including Ambrose!). Also check out this birth announcement for a little girl who would have been named Robert nicknamed Bo if she’d been a boy (because of the middle name, but I definitely think it can work for Robert!). And then Robert is a style match for Edward and John, so maybe Hubby will like it and Mary can use Bo as the nickname! I don’t believe there are any Sts. Robert who are kings or soldiers, but there are quite a few holy Roberts nonetheless.

(6) Philip

I’m so sorry that Mary loves Peter but can’t use it, so I was hopeful I would find something similar, and I think Philip might be it. It’s a style match for Peter, and as I mentioned earlier, I think they could use Fred as a nickname for Philip Edward. However, they might also want to consider Pip, which is so fantastic for a little guy and so British (like the main character in Great Expectations).

(7) Walsingham

This probably falls more in the category of a “creative or unexpected middle name” for Edward. Our Lady of Walsingham refers to an apparition in England, and I actually tried to convince my husband to consider Walsingham with the nickname Walt as a first name for our youngest! Edward Walsingham would be pretty cool.

(8) Adrian

St. Adrian of Nicomedia was a soldier, and is also a patron of soldiers! Adrian has a really British feel, and its variant Hadrian calls to mind Hadrian’s Wall in England.

(9) Caspian

I know this is a tricky suggestion, but if Mary and/or her husband don’t care for it as a first name, it could be another great option for a middle. Prince Caspian is a fictional character — a prince and a soldier — in the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, which gives it a particularly British flavor. Edward Caspian would be really cool! (In case it helps, read about the son of one of my readers, named Caspian!)

(10) Hugh

Finally, I saw Hugh in the list of birth announcements on British Baby Names and thought it would be a great addition to Mary’s list. I checked the list of soldier saints, and there is a Bl. Hugh Canefro!

Those are all my ideas for Mary and her hubby, and she also asked if you all could weigh in on how likely Edward is to turn to Eddie, and if Edward suits a little boy. I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences about that, and also what other name(s) you would suggest for Mary’s baby boy!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs a “beautifully feminine” or “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name

Katie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This wee one joins big siblings:

Julianna (Julie) Marie (“named after my confirmation saint, Juliana Falconieri, who I may or may not have chosen partly because I LOVED her name. I have felt her intercession throughout my adult life. Her nickname, Julie, also honors a dear family friend, and the spelling of two n’s honors my sister, and paternal grandmother (both named Anne), and Marie honors both the BVM and myself“)

Matthew Aurelius (“named after his dad (Matthew Andrew), and shares the same initials, MAB, as his dad and paternal grandfather (Mark Anthony). Aurelius honors both St. Aurelius and St. Ambrose (whose full name was Aurelius Ambrosius). We also thought about naming him Matthew Ambrose“)

I love these names! Julianna is lovely, and Julie is unexpected these days, but familiar, which is a great combo. Aurelius as Matthew’s middle name is amazing! I’m a huge fan of a more traditional name paired with a more adventurous or unconventional name, such a fun strategy. It’s also very cool that Katie’s son shares initials with his dad and grandfather, while having his own (amazing) name. Nice job!

Katie writes,

While we have one girl name we are leaning towards, we are completely stumped for boy names. I would love suggestions for both though! Without further ado, I’ve shared as much as I can below to help you help us out!

My husband and I are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names, almost to the point of comical I suppose, ha! In the words of my husband, we want “a badass Catholic warrior name!” If it sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight, we would probably love it 🙂 .

  • Some other points to consider: The girl name we are heavily leaning towards is Rosalie Ruth, and would call her Rose/ Rosie (I’ve always wanted a Rose/Rosie, but wanted that to be her nickname), with the first name honoring the BVM, and the second honoring both my mother, Nancy Ruth, and Ruth of the OT. We also love the name Vivian, but maybe it’s a little close to Julianna? I also seem to like most feminine names that are flowers…

  • I would like to honor Mary’s name in every girl name (with an added bonus if our boy names honor her), even if not immediately obvious — I feel particularly drawn to her apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes (my bday is feast day of Lourdes)

  • I love nicknames, and also like pairing first and middle names so that one is more traditional, the other more adventurous/ unconventional.

  • We would like something that is not too terribly common, even if that means the legal name is more common, but the nickname is unconventional

  • While we like strong masculine names for boys and beautifully feminine names for girls, I love the idea of mixing genders for possibly the middle name (ex: if we had a girl on the feast day of St. Joseph, I would totally consider naming her Rosalie Joseph and call her Rosie Jo. So cute, plus we like a little spunk in the nicknames!).

  • It’s a long story, but we believe St. Raphael brought my husband and I together, and I would love a way to honor him somehow. While I LOVE the name Raphael (I like it pronounced RAY-fee-el) it’s a bit of a mouthful and I’m not fond of Ralph or Raffy for nicknames. I like Rafe, but my husband needs convincing and it’s awfully close to rape… We might have to settle on Raphael for a middle name…

  • My husband and I got married on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so if there is any interesting tie in with that/ Carmelites that would be cool

  • Other names we like for boys (either for first or middle): Xavier, Campion (what are some nicknames for this one, because we really like it), Ambrose, Joachim (curious about variations of this name). While I like Maximilian we had a dog named Maxx when were first married, so that could only be a middle name.

  • We like the following names, but cannot use them as they are already used (or claimed) by close cousins: Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, Jackson

  • Saints that we love: St. Therese of Liseux, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila (but we don’t like the name Therese/ Teresa as first name), St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edmund Campion, St. Augustine, St. Felicity and Perpetua

I love love how Katie said that she and her hubby “are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names” and that they want “a badass Catholic warrior name” that “sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” — amazing descriptions! It immediately made me think of this post I did a while ago on warrior saints, which has a bunch of cool ideas, some of which I included in my official suggestions below. It doesn’t have a whole lot of unusual or unexpected names though, so I tried to channel that angle in my suggestions moreso.

Some other thoughts on Katie’s bullet points:

  • Rosalie Ruth is such a beautiful combo! I also love the idea of Rosalie Joseph nicked Rosie Jo, that is so very much the kind of thing I love to see!
  • I keep trying to figure out if I agree that Vivian is too similar to Julianna, and I’m leaning toward no, I don’t agree. I think it’s a great option! But I totally get that sometimes a thought gets in your head and it’s hard to get rid of it.
  • Most feminine names that are flowers have a Marian connection, so that could be a great way to work Our Lady in. There are the more familiar ones like Rose (on their list already), Lily, and Violet, and the more offbeat or unexpected ones like Daisy (which is also a traditional nickname for Margaret), Marigold, and Edelweiss. Lots of fun options! This book is a great resource.
  • I, too, have always intended to honor Our Lady in my daughters’ names (but no daughters yet!). I love the idea of it, and there are so many cool ways to do so. For Fatima, besides Fatima itself, or Maria Fatima (not uncommon among Spanish-speaking families), Katie and her hubs could also consider Lucy or Lucia and Jacinta for girls (bonus: Jacinta is a variant of Hyacinth, which is a flower!), and Francisco/Francis for a boy. Or Francesca for a girl and Lucian for a boy. Even the name John Paul connects very closely to Our Lady of Fatima in my opinion, since he credited her with saving his life when he was shot. For Lourdes, I love Lourdes itself! The posts on Lindsay Boever’s children’s names could be helpful here — she has a Lourdes (and same other amazingly named kiddos as well), I love seeing it. A woman in my parish is Mary Lourdes and goes by Mary Lou. Bernadette is certainly an option, which I believe was her nickname — I’ve read that her given name was Marie-Bernarde, so that — or any Marie- combo — could nod to OL of Lourdes if they wanted it to. Their Rose names (Rosalie, Rosie) can also, as Our Lady appeared with golden roses on her feet.
  • I love the name Raphael, and I prefer the pronunciation they like as well! It would be awesome as a middle name, but also, I wonder if they’ve considered the feminine variant Raphaela/Rafaela? They could do Ella as a nickname and avoid the possible “rape” connection. (Though, here’s a good example of a Raphael/Rafe who seems to be doing okay.)
  • I have a suggestion for a Carmelite name for a boy below; for girls, Carmel, Carmen, Carmella are all variants of the same name, and Katie said they love St. Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite as well. Since they don’t love the Therese/Teresa names, what about Avila as a first or middle? They’d get one of their favorite saints in there AND OL of Mount Carmel! St. Therese was also a Carmelite, and the Rose names can easily honor her as well as Our Lady under any of her titles.
  • I’m glad Katie included Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, and Jackson as names they like but can’t use — they helped in my research.
  • As for their favorite saints, Tess and Tessa could work to honor the Sts. Therese/Teresas … I’ve often loved the idea of Maria Kolbe for a girl, in honor of St. Maximilian (and his middle name was Maria, which is extra cool) … Campion is my favorite way to honor the awesome St. Edmund … Gus is one of my favorite nicknames ever, and Augustin(e) was a strong contender for our last three boys — August or Augustus could work too. I too love Sts. Felicity and Perpetua … I love Felicity as a first name, and it’s actually a style match for Juliana per the Baby Name Wizard (I explain more about my research in the BNW below; I used Juliana in place of Julianna, as Julianna didn’t have its own entry) … Perpetua’s a fun and unexpected name — would make a cool middle if they weren’t comfortable with it as a first! And it can also honor Our Lady, via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua (full name Perpetua Mercy, how cool!). I’ve been asked about nicknames for both Felicity and Perpetua, and I did a spotlight on Felicity, which includes nickname ideas; and I included nickname ideas for Perpetua here.

Some thoughts on the boy names they like:

  • Xavier: love, one of my favorites
  • Campion: An awesome saintly surname. I love Cam as a nickname for it — Cam is one of my favorite short boy nicknames anyway, so I think Campion nn Cam is perfect! I could see Camp and Cap working as well, or something like Cal if they used a middle name with a prominent L.
  • Ambrose: We’ve had Ambrose on our list for several of our boys, so I’ve thought a lot about this one! Especially nicknames: my favorite ideas are Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially if paired with a middle with a prominent D sound). (The Raphael in the link I provided above also has a brother Ambrose!)
  • Joachim: So basically their list of boy names is exactly mine! I’ve tried to convince my hubs of Joachim for YEARS! He’s just really reluctant to give such an unusual name with pronunciation issues to one of his boys, but in my mind that’s all easily remedied by a great nickname! My favorite is Jake, but Joe/Joey is more obvious — both Jake and Joe(y) are so easy for everyday use! Variants of Joachim are the Spanish Joaquín, which is probably the most familiar of this name family due to actor Joaquín Phoenix; Kelly Ripa also has a son named Joaquín. A Scandinavian version is Joakim, like NBA player Joakim Noah, which unfortunately seems to be a fairly negative and overriding association to most guys I mention the name to. I spotlighted the name a while ago, which provides more info on pronunciations and variants. I also wrote about it in my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!
  • Maximilian: Maximilian seems right up their “sanctified gladiator” alley, AND I consider it a Marian name, since St. Maximilian was so devoted to Our Lady, so I wonder if a different nickname than Max would make it work as a first name? You all probably know I’ve suggested Miles and Milo several times as nicknames for Maximilian, which would also up the Marian angle, since Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish male name Maolmhuire, which translates as “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

Okay! Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the names already on their list, on to my list of suggestions. As you all know, these are the result of my research, which includes looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. I generally look for overlap, or other inspiration based on their style matches, especially faith connections. I also search through my own mental files for ideas that I think will fit their taste. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Katie and her husband:

Girl

(1) Clairvaux
I scribbled this idea down for them before I even cracked open the BNW! It’s a cross-gender namesake (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it’s a feminine-feeling yet unconventional given name with a familiar and feminine nickname (Claire). I mentioned Lindsay Boever above, mom of Lourdes — she also has a Clairvaux! I also posted a consultation recently for another mom who also has a Clairvaux. Such a pretty, unexpected pick! Also, Claire is a style match for both Pierce and Jackson from their list of names they like but can’t use.

(2) Candace
This is a rare name for me to suggest! I’ve only done so once before! When I saw it listed as a style match for Julianne (I looked up both Juliana and Julianne, as Julianna doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), I thought it was worth a mention because it has Marian ties! It’s a biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27; it was the title of the queens of Ethiopia and is said to mean “queen mother” in Cushitic. Queen Mother is the perfect description for Our Lady! Candace has some really fun nickname options too, beyond the obvious Candy/Candi (which may or may not be their taste), like Caddy, Cadie, Cana, Casey, Dacey, and Daisy (the latter two stemming from its fairly traditional pronunciation variant kan-DAY-see) (and how cool that Katie like flower names, and Daisy can be a Candace nickname!). So interesting, right?

(3) Adrienne
Adriana is a style match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna), as is Adrian for a boy (which is also one of the male warrior names included in the post I linked to above), and Adrienne is a match for Julianne. I thought Adriana was too close to Julianna, and I didn’t really think Adrian for a boy is their style (maybe I’m wrong?), but Adrienne seemed like a great idea for them! Such a pretty name with loads of saintly connections!

(4) Beatrice/Beatrix
Raphael was an outlier of sorts on their list style-wise (not a bad thing!), so I was interested to see what names were style matches for both boys and girls. Beatrice was included, and when I saw Beatrix also listed as a match for Maximilian, I really wanted to include both! Bea is the cutest nickname, as is Trixie. And they’re Marian! Beatrix is the root name, and it’s Latin for “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is a pretty obvious nod to Our Lady anyway, but her title Cause of Our Joy also ties in pretty well.

(5) Genevieve, Evangeline, Evelyn, Veronica
These were mostly inspired by their love of — and hesitation about — Vivian. I often seen Genevieve and Evangeline included in lists of names that also have Vivian/Vivienne — I think of them as three facets of the same idea (strong V sound; long and elegant). Additionally, Genevieve was listed as a style match for both Raphael and Vivian, and Evangeline is a match for Maximilian. I was also interested to see Evelyn and Veronica listed as matches for Vivian, which also felt similar to this “strong V, very feminine” feel. I thought it was not unlikely that one of these might hit all the same notes for Katie and her hubs that Vivian does, without the possible over-similarity to Julianna. They can all take the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, and all but Veronica can also have Evie as a nickname. (And maybe even Veronica too, if they wanted!)

Boy

(1) George
I have more ideas for boys than for girls for Katie and her hubs, which seemed appropriate since Katie said they’re having a harder time with boy names. George wasn’t a match for them in any of my research, but when I saw it in that post I linked to above of warrior saints, I thought it might be a great option. Anyone who knows about St. George would immediately get a “badass Catholic warrior” and “medieval knight” vibe I think.

(2) Gideon
I mentioned above that I was really interested in the style matches for Raphael, and when I saw Gideon listed as one, I was excited to include it here! Gideon was pretty badass in the bible — here is a lengthy discussion of him in a Catholic resource, but I love the more succinct entry from behindthename.com (a non-religious source): “Gideon is a hero and judge of the Old Testament. He led the vastly outnumbered Israelites against the Midianites, defeated them, and killed their two kings.” Definitely a warrior! I know Gideon might come across as a Protestant name due to the Gideon Bibles, which is why I included the Catholic link; I also know a Catholic boy named Gideon. But what’s a good nickname for Gideon? My favorite idea is Gil, which I think is just perfect! It would need a middle name with a strong L to make it work I think — something like Gideon Louis would be a great combo I think. I wrote more about Gil as a nickname here.

(3) Roman
Roman was another style match for Raphael, and also Maximilian, and I love it for what I think of as explicitly Catholic connections (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope, etc. as well as the very Latin Aurelius), but it can also have a very soldier-y feel. This family has a Roman, as does Cate Blanchett.

(4) Tobias
Yet another Raphael match that I love for this family, and a very cool way to nod to St. Raphael without using his actual name! Raphael plays a key role in the book of Tobit, and Tobias (or Tobiah — Tobias is the Greek variant of Tobiah) is Tobit’s son; Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah’s marriage not end in death, among other amazing things, which you all probably already knew. And Toby is an adorable nickname!

(5) Elias, Elijah, Elliott
Speaking of Greek variants of biblical names, Elias — which is the Greek form of Elijah — is a match for Xavier, and it jumped out at me right away because Elijah is considered by the Carmelites to be their founder, so I consider Elijah and Elias to be legit nods to Our Lady of Mount Carmel! I like both variants, as well as Elliott, which is a medieval diminutive of Elias. Eli is a great nickname for all of those.

(6) Sebastian
Not only is Sebastian a style match for Maximilian and Xavier, but since St. Sebastian is always depicted with arrows sticking out of him, he totally has a warrior feel to me. (I actually only just learned that the arrows didn’t kill him! He recovered, only to be killed for good a different way.) It’s got some great nicknames too — Bash is my recent favorite, but I’ve long loved Seb and Sebby; I’ve also seen Baz and even Ian! Also Bastian, which is very Neverending Story.

(7) Nathaniel, Bartholomew
My last idea for Katie and her hubs is Nathaniel or Bartholomew. Nathaniel is a match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna) and Olivia, which I thought was pretty cool. I love its length and biblical-ness, and Nat and Nate are great nicknames. But Bartholomew — another name for Nathaniel in the bible — has, I think, more of the “medieval knight” feel than Nathaniel, so I thought I should include it too. I read A Dictionary of English Surnames last winter, and was so struck by how many English surnames were derived from Bartholomew! Some of the surnames would make and/or are already used as pretty cool first names or, in this case, nicknames for Bartholomew, like Bates, Batten, and Bartlett. Or maybe they’d like the more common Bart? St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel was a martyr, which doesn’t get much more badass.

And those are all my ideas for Katie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julianna Marie and Matthew Aurelius?

Baby name consultant: Warrior Saints

I hope you all got to see the three (three!) birth announcements I posted yesterday — three beautiful little ladies with three gorgeous names! Be sure to check them out if you haven’t yet seen them: one, two, three. (I have a couple more coming this week, wheeee!! 😀 )

Today’s consultation is a bit more private than usual, and a whole lotta awesome: Parents with a military background recently asked for ideas for names for the warrior saints theme they’ve already started with their kiddos and hope to continue for both boys and girls. I love that!! I mean really. How cool.

I came up with a bunch of ideas (there are a lot of saints who were soldiers!), and I’m really hoping you all can round out these lists with your own ideas!

Girls

First off, there’s St. Joan of Arc, the girl soldier who helped bring victory to France and died for her faith. Such a great patron for a little girl! I did a spotlight of her name not too long ago.

Then there are three biblical women who I see routinely referred to as “warriors”: Deborah, Jael, and Judith. In the intro to the book Women Warriors in Romantic Drama by Wendy C. Nielsen is this sentence (the link takes you right to it): “Women warriors such as Joan of Arc, and Judith, Deborah, and Jael in the Bible, fight openly with honor for justice and freedom,” which is pretty awesome. You can read more about Deborah and Jael here (their story is linked), and Judith here; I also spotlighted Judith recently here, including a Marian link to the name.

Then there’s St. Quiteria, who has a pretty amazing story. I actually posted a birth announcement recently for a little girl named after St. Quiteria (her parents decided to go with the spelling Kyteria).

Otherwise, there are loads and loads of Saints who were soldiers—all men as far as I can tell, except St. Joan, but some pretty great female variants include:

Adrianne or Adrienne, for St. Adrian of Nicomedia (you could even use Adrian for a girl)

Alexandra et al., for the Sts. Alexander

Andrea, for Bl. Andrea Bordino or Bl. Andrea Gallerani (a pretty great option, since you’d use the Saint’s exact name)

Caroline or Charlotte or Carla for any of the Sts. Charles that were soldiers (lots!)

Irene for St. Irenaeus

Hyacinth or Jacinta, for St. Hyacinth (Jacinta is the Spanish and Portuguese feminine version of Hyacinth, and Hyacinth on its own can be a girl’s name as well)

Lucy for St. Lucius

Marian, for Bl. Marian Górecki (this Bl. Marian was a man, but how great is it that you could use his exact name of Marian?!)

Kostka, for Bl. Stanislaw Kostka Starowieyski (Kostka struck me as really do-able for a girl; I’ve seen a priest take it as part of his religious name but in his case, and in the Bl. Stanislaw who was a soldier, it was in honor of St. Stanislaus Kostka, who’s a different guy and not a soldier)

Victoria, for the several Sts. Victor who were soldiers (I also love the tie-in to Our Lady of Victory and Jesus Himself as The Victor)

Boys

There are loads on that list I linked to above, but I just picked a few of my favorites to include here:

Adrian (Bl. Adrian Fortescue and St. Adrian of Nicomedia)

Alexander (there are a bunch of Sts. Alexander on the list of soldiers, and Alexander the Great is a common enough warrior reference)

Andrew (Bl. Andrew Dotti and St. Andrew the Tribune)

Bruno (Bl. Bruno of Rommersdorf and St. Bruno of Ebsdorf; doesn’t Bruno just seem like a warrior name?!)

Charles (several)

David (Bl. David Carlos-Marañon, St. David of Scotland, and King David himself)

Dominic (Bl. Dominic Collins and Bl. Dominic Dosso)

Edward (Bl. Edward Joannes Maria Poppe)

Gerard (Bl. Gerard of Clairvaux)

Ignatius (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Leo (several)

Marco (Bl. Marco of Jativa)

Peter (several)

Raymond (Bl. Raymond de Blanes and St. Raymond of Fitero)

Simon (Bl. Simon Ballachi)

William (Bl. William of Andleby, Bl. William of Maleval, St. William of Gellone)

There are several whose names are actually given as “St. So-and-So the Soldier,” which is really cool:

St. Andreas the Soldier (Andrew)
St. Lucius the Soldier (Luke could work for this one, or Lucas)
St. Mark the Soldier
St. Maximianus the Soldier (Max)
St. Peter the Soldier

(There are others but I thought these were the most user friendly.)

Finally, the patron saints of soldiers include:

St. Adrian of Nicomedia
St. Faith
St. George
St. Ignatius of Loyola
St. James the Greater
St. Louis IX
St. Martin of Tours
St. Nicholas

(Full list of patron saints of soldiers here.)

So there are a lot to choose from! What others can you all add?