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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pondering the P's

 In the Catholic Church the month of November is dedicated to the poor souls in Purgatory.  While we pray for the souls of our loved ones, we are also called to ponder on the Four Last Things as we approach Advent.  All of this pondering and praying just so happened to coincide with the week that my 4 year old daughter has been learning her P's.  And since we Americans are anticipating our annual Thanksgiving Day celebrations--you know with Pilgrims and Puritans---, it just seemed natural to talk about P names.  Okay, I know, it's a stretch, but hey, a homeschool mother finds inspiration in unexpected ways! 
      Interestingly enough, P names have lost a lot of their luster for contemporary parents.  In the 1950s and 1960s, the top 100 names included 10 or 11 names beginning with P.  And almost all of them were Biblical or otherwise Catholic.  Last year, only 3 of the top 100 names in the U.S. began with P and not one of those was a "traditional" name, let alone Catholic. You are more likely to know a 60 year old Peter than a 6 year old one.  Maybe it's time to take a second look at some of the classics, but I think modern parents might be drawn to some of the more daring choices that can be gleaned from a closer look at the Calendar of Saints.  So if you are looking for a way to honor a grandparent or if you are just looking for a name that would set your prodigy apart from the other pre-schoolers, then perhaps one of these P names might give you a head start.  

Paul:  This Biblical name was one the most popular names for boys for many, many decades probably because St. Paul is loved by both Protestants and Catholics alike. The feminine form, Paula, was ubiquitous in American culture.   I know it's fallen out of fashion, but if you happen to have a Paul or Paula in your family tree to honor, perhaps it's worth reconsidering.  If you just can't convince your husband or wife to honor Grandpa this way, perhaps another form of the name might perk you up.  Paolo and Paola pack a punch Italian style.  But the Spanish Pablo is also worth considering.  I also like the Russian form Pasha.  It's a bit exotic, yes, but inviting.  As for the girls, I think it's probably best to leave Paula in her slumber.  Instead, try Paulina.  I love this name, and Paulina could be an interesting choice considering the popularity of Seraphina and Angelina.

Patrick:  This is truly a classic and I don't think parents could ever go wrong with this choice.  Everyone is familiar with St. Patrick and you don't  have to be Irish to bear this name.  Some cutting edge parents might want to use the original Irish though and use Padraig or Padraic, especially if they don't mind the initial confusion.  Patricia might be ready for a comeback, but I'd avoid using any of her hopelessly dated nicknames like Patty or Trish.

Peter:  This Biblical name was a favorite of Catholic parents for many years, and though the name is still a classic, it's fallen out of favor.  Perhaps Peter just needs a international flair to interest contemporary parents.  While Pietro might be hard to pull off, I think Piero sounds racy and fun.  Parents who envision a son less fiery, might go for the milder Pelle or Pello.  For those who like the Surname Game, Pierce might be and appealing option.  

Philip/Phillip:  This is actually the name that started this blog---the name of my Catholic grandfather.  Whether one l or two, Philip seems to have fallen very much by the wayside in recent years, in spite of being the name of a fairy tale prince, a few real life kings and princes, a holy saint, and an Apostle.  Phillip is definitely a classic, though, and worth consideration for modern parents.  You don't have to call your little prince Phil, though.  For literary parents, Pip is a natural, but if you're especially daring or you tot is adventurous, you could call him Flip.  The feminine form, Philippa, is absolutely stunning and long overdue to arrive in the United States.  She's regal, yet sweet and carries that precious pet name, Pippa.  

Many people, Catholic parents included, think this is about the limit of the usable P names.  That's too bad, because there are some other names worth considering that might be appealing to modern Catholic parents.

Pio:  Padre Pio is perhaps one of the best loved Saints of modern times.  He appeals to both traditional Catholics and modern Catholics as well.  His name means Pius, so it might also be a way to honor any one of the 12 Popes who used this Papal name.  Don't be afraid to use the feminine Pia for your daughter.  With all the Mia's and Leah's, this just seems and easy fit.  

Pascal and Pascale:  Traditionally this is name that is usually given to Catholic children who are born at Easter time.  It's a beautiful tradition and these French names are fresh and beautiful.  The Cornish Pascoe is also and interesting option.

Peregrine:  Here's a name that might appeal to Lord of the Rings fans, nature lovers, and risk takers.  St. Peregrine is Italian saint of the Middle Ages who suffered from cancer in his leg.  He was miraculously cured by Our Lord and lived a holy life into his 80s.  He's the patron of those suffering from cancer.  Peregrine is a strong name with lots of imagery associated.  It's pleasant and fun and has built in the terrific pet name, Perry.

Prosper/Prospero:  Okay, I admit this is a huge guilty pleasure  name.  But there might be some Catholic parents out there looking for something different and bold.  This certainly could be it.  St. Prosper was a disciple of St. Augustine and a very prolific and powerful writer.  He put down heresies and clarified dogma.  He was bold and unafraid, just as his name suggests.  What incredible attributes to wish for a son in these modern times.

Pilar:  This Spanish name is one of my favorites.  This is a popular name in Spanish-speaking countries, but I can see no reason for American parents not to use it.  This name is in reference to the Blessed Virgin's appearance to St. James the Apostle while he was in Spain.  She appeared on a beautiful pillar, hence the name Our Lady of Pillar.  

Pearl:  Pearl is precious, really.  It's a jewel name that was popular a generation or so ago, that I think has a lot of appeal in modern times.  Unfortunately, there is no St. Pearl, but never fret!  St. Margaret of Clitherow, who was tortured and martyred during the Protestant Revolt, was called the Pearl of York.  

Priscilla:  Oh, don't say it.  Priscilla is not pretentious at all.  Perhaps she's gotten bad attention because of the tendency to focus on all things "prissy," but Priscilla is actually quite a traditional name with Biblical roots.  St. Priscilla and her husband were tent-makers and friends of St. Paul.  Perhaps Priscilla's Biblical roots is what made her a popular choice for our Puritan American ancestors.  Priscilla is one of those Colonial names that conjures up sweetness and poetry.  And if a contemporary parent can get past the silliness, Priscilla would make a lovely choice for a rosy cheeked tot.

The last two names I want to mention aren't saint names at all, but they are virtue names which were popular among our Puritan Pilgrim ancestors.  Most of the virtue  names are either overused or not usable at all, but these P virtues are fresh and fun.

Prudence:  Prudence is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues and, up until the 1940s, was a not unusual choice for a daughter.  Prudence was valued as a virtue and parents weren't afraid to reflect this onto their children.  Perhaps Prudence doesn't bring to mind roses and velvet, but she's a strong, sensible name and the pet name Pru is totally adorable.

Patience:  Patience is a virtue all Catholics could use more of.  It is one of the Fruits of Holy Ghost and brings to mind  a gentle and comforting spirit.  Our Puritan ancestors were very familiar with Patience and I think she's overdue for a revival.   

Friday, August 9, 2013

Au, It's August.

This summer, the secular world is on fire with the baby name August.  I've been hearing it all over the place, even in my little neck of Nowheresville.  Just last week, I heard a Mama tell her little August to stop pulling all the Barbie Dolls off the shelf in Walmart.  And since it is actually August,  I thought I would sort through a few Simply Saintly names to heat up the hearts of Catholic parents who might be expecting this month or are just in search of something new.  So in honor of the last month of summer, here are a few Au names to get you warmed up.

Augustine:  If you are set to deliver this month and really long to name your wee one the fun summer month, why not just make the leap to Augustine?  While August is nice, really, it's only a month on the calendar!  Augustine is not only warm, he strong, manly, and brave.

St. Augustine of Hippo was as fiery as the sun, and after his conversion, his heart burned with the love of God.  He became one of the Doctor's of the Church.  Much of what he wrote about Christianity became the foundation of our Christian faith and his works are still read today.  His feast day is August 28th.

If you imagine your little sunshine to be more warm sunbeams than a firestarter, you might consider St. Augustine of Canterbury as his guide.  His zeal for Christ, and his kindness led to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons in the 6th Century and laid the foundation for the rise of Christianity across the pond.  His feast day is May 28.

If Augustine seems to much of a name for your little sport, then consider Austin.  It's been popular for many years, probably because of it's Cowboy appeal and simplicity.  Most people think of Texas, but it's actually the short form of Augustine.

(Pronounced either uh-GUS-tin or AW-ges-teen)

The feminine Augustina would be absolutely stunning!  It's modern, fresh, and, well, warm.

Aubin:  If you fancy French names, here's one that is new, yet familiar and easy on the eyes and tongue.  It's just different enough that your little sailor will make a splash!  St. Aubin, also known as St. Albinus in English, is the patron against pirate attacks. How cool is that?!  What a great model for your little captain fighting his imaginary battles on the open seas!

Aurelius:  If you are one of those parents who's not afraid to be daring, then maybe Aurelius is worth a look.  He has history, class, and charm.  St. Aurelius was Bishop and a friend to St. Augustine.  Augustine and Aurelius would make a totally cool and totally Catholic twin set!  If you find Aurelius too ancient, then maybe you'd like the Italian version, Aurelio.  

Having a daughter?  Then why not use the feminine version, Aurelia?  It's fresh and smart and there are plenty of St. Aurelia's for your sweetheart to have as her guide.  

Aulay:  Considering the popularity of Irish and Scottish names, I thought I would add this one to my list.  If you like Aidan but he seems to popular or you like Finlay but he seems to unisex for your taste, then maybe this one is worth considering.  Aulay is the Scottish form of Olaf.  Saint Olaf of Norway is attributed to the conversion of that entire country in the 11th Century.  

Audax:  This is my favorite name on this list!  It is cool and hot, fresh and exciting!   Hurry!  Use it before Angelina and Brad discover it!  The name means "bold and daring," which is exactly what this choice would be.  St. Audax was martyred in the 3rd Century along with two other Saints, Victoria and Anatolia.

Augusta:  Okay, I know it's a bit old-fashioned.  But Grandma names seem all the rage now.  Your little Augusta will not seem out of place among all the Eleanors, Alices, and Charlottes.  St. Augusta was martyred in the 2nd century and her relics were discovered on August 22.

Since this is technically the feminine of Augustus, I'll mention this one here.  Augustus is strong and handsome, for sure, but if he seems too stuffy and literary for you, maybe you could try the Spanish, Augusto.  There's that awesome "o" at the end. 

Aurea:  Okay, so you are in love with Aurora.  Try Aurea instead.  She's just as soft and gentle as the Fairy tale name, and she has Catholic credentials!  This lovely name  means "golden," perfect for little August sunshine!  Aurea is warm, inviting, and sweet.  There are at least two St. Aurea's; one in Italy and the other in Spain.

Audrey:  I have a soft spot for Audrey.  She brings to mind Hollywood from that era of glamorous leading ladies and their debonair leading guys.  She's beautifully feminine, yet sophisticated.  Rather than use this name to honor the glitz and glamour of today's Hollywood, think about St. Audrey.  She was a 6th Century saint of the ancient Anglo-Saxons who committed herself to Christ.  How's that for taking back a name???

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Magnificent Elizabeth

     Today is all about Elizabeth.  On this day we celebrate the day that Our Blessed Mother journeyed, early in Her pregnancy, to help take care of her cousin, Elizabeth who was about to give birth.  The story of St. Elizabeth in the Bible is one of the most enduring and beautiful stories of all time.  It calls to mind Our Lady's Perfect Charity as a virtue for all to aspire.  Perhaps that is why the name Elizabeth has been one of the most popular girl's names in the world.  She crosses all Christian denominations, crosses all countries and continents, and crosses all cultures and classes. Elizabeth has appeal for traditional parents, modern parents, and creative parents.  And just in case you think Elizabeth is not for you, maybe it's worth checking out why I think Elizabeth is truly magnificent.

Elizabeth and Elisabeth:  These are the most popular spellings of this timeless, classic Biblical Christian name.  St. Elizabeth was, of course, the mother of St. John the Baptist, and aunt to Our Lord.  In modern times, Elizabeth immediately brings to mind royalty and celebrity.  Yet, she has just as much literary cred.  Traditional parents might be drawn to the original, especially if there is a long line of Elizabeths in the family tree.  

Don't want to call her Elizabeth?  Never fear.  There are so many sweet pet names to choose from that your little Elizabeth can stand out and make a new name for herself.  If you want that, though, it's probably best to consider something beyond Liz, Lizzie, or Beth.  Is your little Elizabeth spunky and full of energy?  Call her Bess.  Maybe she's got cute dimples and a sweet disposition.  Try Betsy.  Looking for something retro and glamorous?  Use Betty, as in Betty Grable.  Or maybe you little Elizabeth is truly one-of-a-kind.  If so, she might be just the one to make Libby unforgettable.  My favorite pet name of the bunch--Zibby--is totally creative and decidedly outside the box.

Eliza:  The shorter form of Elizabeth is sweet, proper, and sophisticated.  

Bettina:  If your looking for something different, maybe Bettina is worth considering.  It's sweet, soft, and frilly without be frou-frou.  It also rhymes with ballerina.

Really like Elizabeth but not sure if you want to give your sweetheart such a popular name?  Then try one of her international versions.  One of these would be an excellent way to honor an Elizabeth and honor your family heritage at the same time.  These are some of my favorites.

Elsa/Ilsa--Whenever I hear this I always think of Ingrid Bergman and Casablanca.  It's another soft name, similar in sound to Ella.

Elsbeth or Lisbeth--Both of these German names are contractions for Elizabeth and worth considering.  Elsbeth seems gentle; while Lisbeth has a feisty spark.

Elspeth--Although this sounds like Elsbeth, it's actually the Scottish version.  Both are lovely and gentle and the come with the absolutely adorable and underused nickname, Elsie.

Eilish--Given the fascination with Ireland, this form of Elizabeth might just work if you are looking for something different.  As typical with the Irish names, you might find yourself having to repeat it very slowly.  It's still a lovely name, though, and worth the hassle.  (Pronounced E-leesh)

Eliska--This one is my favorite on the list.  This Slavic form of Elizabeth is interesting and crisp, yet familiar. 

Lisette--Yea, I know it sounds pretty 1950s Mickey Mouse Club.  But young children don't have any recollection of that old show and they will think little Lisette is as warm as the French sun in Saint-Tropez.

Elise--This French version has always been a personal favorite.  It's simple to pronounce, easy to spell, and rolls sweetly off the tongue.  It's cute for a baby, and sophisticated enough for a young woman.

Elisa--If you like the sound of Elise but are looking for those 3 syllables, try the Spanish Elisa.  Just don't call her Alyssa.  

Elisabetta--I saved the best Elizabeth for last.  She has it all.  She's Italian.  She is undeniably feminine.  And she has those 4 syllables that lots of modern parents go ga-ga over.  

Let's talk about Isabel---

Isabel is the Spanish variation of Elizabeth.  Every St. Isabel is also known as St. Elizabeth.  They are the same name.  And there are as many variations and nicknames of Isabel as there are for Elizabeth.  Isabel, Isabelle, Isabella, Isobel, and Sabella are just a few.

Normally, I would end this blog post about right here.  But since this is the Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth, I have one more name to mention, Charity.  On this day we reflect on the Christian virtue of Charity--love towards our neighbor.  Considering the popularity of Hope and Faith, why not name your daughter Charity, the greatest of the cardinal virtues.  The Spanish form, Caridad, is also quiet beautiful.  This would be a most beautiful way to honor Our Blessed Mother and St. Elizabeth both.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Surnames Have It

     A few days ago, my son was busy playing around with his friend Bailey.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't have thought much about it, but when Bailey's little brother Oakley joined in, I recognized that the boys mother had gotten in pretty early on in what has become a popular naming style---the Surname-as-firstname Trend.  Being a Southerner by birth, I don't mind the practice at all.  In fact, using family surnames has been a long Southern (and Protestant) practice.  But I don't see why today's Catholic parents couldn't adopt the practice themselves.  Generally speaking, though, there aren't a whole lot of saints who actually had surnames, but if you were so inclined, it might be kind of fun and very interesting for modern Catholic parents to scour the Breviary or Butler's Lives of the Saints for consideration.  To get you started, here are a few that I have heard recently.

Kolbe  I know a precious little girl (not Catholic) who has this name, so she was part of my inspiration.  It's worthy of either a boy or girl and obviously honors St. Maximillian Kolbe who lost his life in a concentration camp during WWII.  Kolbi could be an alternate spelling.

Story/Storey  When I heard this name on the playground last week, I wasn't quite convinced it was such a good idea.  But since, I've rolled it over in my head a few times and I think it could work for the right kind of parents, maybe writers or English professors.  While it could work for either a boy or girl, I'm leaning a little towards the feminine.  Blessed John Story was an English martyr during the Protestant Revolt.

Vianney  St. John Vianney is one of my favorite saints and is also the patron of priests.  Pronounced with a soft "ah" and not the nasal "aa", I think it could make an interesting choice for girl.  

Garnet  This is my favorite name of all on this list.  I think the jewel names are long overdue for a comeback. And Garnet would fit right in with Opal, Pearl, and Ruby, yet she would be sparkling different.  St. Thomas Garnet was a Jesuit priest martyred in England, also around the time of the Protestant Revolt.

Fisher  I thought of this one primarily because June 22 was the Feast Day of St. John Fisher who was executed by order of King Henry VIII.  Considering the popularity of many of the occupational names, I think Fisher would stand out.  It also brings to mind the Apostles, whom Our Lord called "Fishers of Men."

Forest  To non-Catholic ears, this manly name might bring to mind the deep woodlands or remind some of the endearing and dutiful Forrest Gump.  But it would be a great opportunity to talk about the martyrdom of Blessed John Forest in England when he opposed King Henry VIII.  

Becket  The most known English martyr under King Henry VIII was St. Thomas Becket.  This is one of the favorites in celebrity circles, but not so out there that modern Catholics couldn't consider it for themselves.  It's handsome, strong, and traditional.  You could also spell it Beckett.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Three Or More

     A friend of mine is soon to give birth to her fourth daughter.  This little sweetie, much to my delight and honor, is to be my one and only God-daughter!  (Did I mention how honored I am?)  While I was reflecting on what that means and what an amazing responsibility that is,  I found some inspiration.  My friend likes 3 syllable names, probably because they roll off the tongue rather sweetly and they often have pet names that are simple and just as sweet.  But while my friend is sifting through all the female saints, I thought to go through the list of male names as well.  Below are my favorites from each letter of the alphabet.   I think any of these fabulous three-or-more syllable names could give any modern Catholic some great inspiration!


Atticus--A literary inspiration and Hollywood favorite. A 4th Century Bishop.
Bartholomew--Quirky, cool, and cutting-edge.  One of Our Lord's Apostles.  
Cornelius--Irish without all the vowels.  A 3rd Century Pope.
Damian--Long past it's horror movie days.  Manly, yet gentle.  St. Damien of Molokai.
Ezekiel--A cool Biblical name.  Call him Zeke, but you could get Ezee, too!
Finnian--Fun, whimsical, and Irish.  St. Finnian was the father of Irish monasticism.
Gideon--Another fresh choice for Biblical name leaning parents.
Ignatius--Bold, brave, and decidely Catholic.  Even Iggy is fab!  St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Jeremiah--A Biblical name to replace Jeremy.  Plus, he's on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Leonidas--The loudest "lion" in the pack.  Many saints bear this bold, brave name.
Malachy--Traditional and Irish, with long-e on the end.  St. Malachy's Papal Prophecy.
Nikolai--International flair makes the old seem new.  Russian form of St. Nicholas.
Obadiah--Another Biblical choice with a sci-fi flair.  You know, Obi Wan....
Peregrine--Cutting-edge with literary cred.  St. Peregrine is patron of cancer patients.
Raphael--Exotic and cool, with a fab nickname.  The Archangel that gets overlooked.
Sebastian--Perfect for your little sport.  He's the patron saint of atheletes.  Call him Sebbi!
Tobias--A definitely Catholic Biblical name with the cowboy/country nickname, Toby.
Vittorio--Italian version with fab "v" and cool "o."  Fresh spin for St. Victor.
Xavier--No matter how you say it, this is way cool.  St. Francis of Xavier.
Zacharias--Biblical name in place of old fashioned Zachary.  St. John the Baptist's father.


Adelaide--A personal favorite.  Sweet and strong.  St. Adelaide was filled with many graces.
Beatrice--Classic but fresh.  Try Beatrix for spunk.  St. Beatrice de Silva.
Cecilia--Sweet and melodious.  Patron saint of musicians.  Mary Cecilia is heavenly!
Dorothea--Modern, sleek, romantic, and quaint.  St. Dorothy was meek and humble.
Eulalia--Soft and sing-songy with a nautical connection.  St. Eulalia is patron of sailors.
Felicity--Means happiness.  Seems perfect.  St. Felicity was martyred in the 3rd century.
Genevieve--Strong and French with great nicknaming potential.  The patron saint of Paris.
Helena--No matter how you say it, she is fab.  St. Helena found the True Cross of Our Lord.
Isadora--Perfect replacement for the overused Isabelle/a.  St. Isidore the Farmer.
Josephine--Traditional and sweet.  Spunky JoJo; sweet Josie.  A way to honor St. Joseph.
Lucilla--More complete than Lucy, but still as sweet.  Several saints bear this name.
Marguerite--Delicate and French, not frilly.  Call her Daisy.  Plenty of St. Margarets.
Naomi--A Biblical girl's name for out-side the box parents.  Sweet, with the long-e.
Octavia--Romantic and exotic "o" name.  St. Octavianus was a North African martyr.
Philomena--Feminine, hip, and definitely Catholic.  She's the patron of youth.
Rosalie--Another soft, sweet name.  St. Rosalia is patron of Palermo.
Seraphina--Perfect for your little angel.  Also a celebrity favorite.  
Theodora--Dorothea backwards!  This version gets a slight edge.  Cute nicknames, too.
Virginia--What's not to love about naming your daughter after the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Zenobia--Exotic with a literary twist.  St. Zenobius was Bishop of Florence.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Good Name is the Best of All Treasures.

     Today is the Feast Day of St. Boniface, patron of Germany.  In honor of my German immigrant ancestors, I thought today would be a great day to talk about German names.  Our country has a rich German history which I think, unfortunately, gets overlooked.  While the overwhelming majority of German immigrants were Lutherans, many German natives were Catholic, just as my ancestors were.  Not only did they bring with them Catholic traditions, especially the Christmas tree, but also a host of beautiful names to remind them of their home country and their saints.  If you claim German ancestry, perhaps some of these names might be worth considering.  While there are many, many German saint names to choose from, these are a few of my favorites that would feel right at home in the 21st Century.

Adelaide  St. Adelaide was not only the model of grace and beauty, she was extraordinarily brave and cunning.  She was also a Queen with a quit wit and incredible political finesse.  The story of her life is quite fascinating and remarkable.  And although she rose to highest position a woman could hold in those days, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, she was also the model of humility.  Her Feast Day is December 16.  While Adelaide is beautiful in her own right, parents might consider Adele, Adela, Adeline, or the lovely Adelia.

Marcellina  St. Marcellina, who was born in Germany, was the only sister of St. Ambrose.  She elected to live her life as a consecrated virgin.  St. Ambrose loved her greatly and she spent her years devoted to acts of piety.  Another similar name is Marcella.  Both of these names were pretty popular many years ago, and seem just about ready for a revival.

Matilda  St. Matilda was also a Queen, yet in a different spirit than her daughter-in-law, Adelaide.  Matilda had a gentle and generous spirit, spending her life in acts of piety and great charity.  St. Matilda's Feast Day is March 14.  Interestingly enough, St. Matilda is the patron of large families.  Matilda has such a sweet ring to it, don't you think?  She also comes with the perfectly charming nickname Tillie.

Odilia  St. Odilia was not a queen, but a nun.  She was born blind to noble French parents.  Upon her baptism, her sight was miraculously restored and the young girl dedicated her life to Christ and His Church.  A convent in Germany bears her name.  While Odilia rolls off the tongue rather nicely, Ottilia is also another alternative.  

Benno  Oh, Benno.  This is such a cool name really worth considering.  It has that playful "o" at the end and it sounds masculine and strong.  At the same time, it carries a long history connected to one of Germany's important saints during the Middle Ages.  St. Benno was Bishop of Meissen who reformed his diocese and defended the Pope against King Henry.  He lived to the ripe old age of 95.

Leo  Here's another "o" to think about as well.  Pope St. Leo IX was an extraordinary man.  He excelled in everything from science to music.  He was an aristocrat, with incredible stature and intelligence and above all he had extraordinary sanctity.  He would make and incredibly namesake for any young boy.

Magnus  This is one powerful name that would rest well on any modern Catholic boy.  Magnus, which of course means "great", was the title given to at least two of Germany's saints.  St. Albert the Great and Magnus of Fussen.  Little Magnus on the playground would certainly make a statement!

Rupert  There isn't much known about St. Rupert.  However, I wanted to include this name for those parents who might be looking for something a bit different, yet traditional.  Rupert is the German form of Robert and might make an interesting choice for modern parents.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Boys For Girls?

     When we had youngest daughter 2 years ago, we got a lot of criticism for her name.  We thought it beautiful, unique, and decidedly feminine.  But not everyone agreed.  Some suggested it was a boys name, others that it was made up, and some suggested it fell in the category of modern-feminist-gender-bending.  After letting it all settle in, it occurred to me why all the criticism about her name.  We had taken a fairly traditional approach to naming our daughter--we used a feminization of a male name.

     Lots of modern parents choose this option for naming their daughters.  There are plenty of Gabrielles, Danielles, Justines, and Alexandras to support that.  But there are tons of other beautiful choices that Catholic parents might consider that would fit in perfectly on the playground.

Here's a good list to help Catholic parents get started:

Antonia:  St. Anthony of Padua, contrary to modern images, was a giant of a man.  He was formidable, yet gentle.  He is known as the "Hammer of Heretics" because he was so well versed in Scripture that he could dispute any argument the heretics could give him.  He was a lover of Truth and a Defender of the Church.  He is also the Patron Saint of the Army because of his fortitude and steadfastness.  The feminine version of his name, Antonia, reflects this same fighting spirit and fortitude.

Brenna:  St. Brendan the Navigator is one of the more interesting Irish saints.  As Ireland rose out of the pagan darkness, she became one of the most influential Catholic nations.  As Christianity died after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Irish sent forth many saints in search of new nations to convert.  St. Brendan made long voyages to bring Christ to these new nations.  While Brenda has lost her luster, Brenna is a lovely choice for parents, especially for sea-lovers and those of Irish descent.

Callista:  There are several saints who bore the name Callistus.  Three of them were Popes and many were soldiers.  Most of the soldiers suffered martyrdom at the hands of the pagans.  The feminine form is a lovely name, with several options for nick-names.

Francesca:  Almost everyone, Catholic and non, know about St. Francis.  St. Francis of Assisi was totally devoted to Our Blessed Mother.  His Order of monks were indispensable in encouraging devotion to Our Lady under the Immaculate Conception.  He was an ardent lover of souls and could speak to the animals.  For parents with a love of nature or Our Lady, the Italian feminine version might be a good choice.  Francesca also has that exotic feel that many contemporary parents have grown fond of.

Henrietta or Harriet:  Parents who are looking for something classic, fresh, and bold might consider these two versions of Henry.  St. Henry II was the Holy Roman Emperor in the early Middle Ages.  His life includes many memorable and important events in the life of the Church.  It would be a great honor for any young girl to bear his name.

Isidora:  St. Isidore is another Doctor of the Church.  He was a believer that a man's moral behavior and character were closely linked.  He was gentle, yet committed and filled with zeal.  Considering the over popularity of Isabel, parents might consider this lovely alternative.

Josephine:  This beautiful and classic girls name would be a perfect choice to honor St. Joseph, the Spouse of Our Blessed Mother and the Guardian of Our Lord.  It's such a lovely choice for today and comes along with a host of sweet nick-names.

Merryn:  This is the name that started this blog.  It fits in nicely with modern parenting and yet has a long history.  St. Mirren was an Irish monk, a contemporary of St. Columba.  He left his home in Ireland for Scotland to introduce the pagans to the Catholic faith.  Believe it or not, he's the Patron saint of football, which might be a consideration for football loving parents.

Ottilie, Ottilia, Ottoline, and Odelia:  This bunch of lovely O names would make a splash at the playground.  They all roll off the tongue are and decidedly feminine.  St. Otto was a Bishop in Germany during the Middle Ages.  Although he was quite wealthy, he lived a modest life and was responsible for reforming the school system.  He built several churches, schools, and monasteries.

Philippa:  St. Philip was one of Our Lord's Apostles.  Many other saints have born this name as well.  The name itself means "lover of horses."  The feminine form has become a name worth considering for modern U.S. parents since the British Royal wedding of Prince William and Princess Katherine.  Her sister is Philippa, fondly called Pippa.

Theodora:  There are many saints bearing the name of Theodore.  The feminine version has a lot of elements that modern parents are looking for: she's classic, exotic, old-fashioned, sweet, unique, and familiar.  She also has plenty of nick-name potential.

Willa:  This simplistic, sweet beauty is just as usable and friendly as her male counterpart, William.  There were numerous saints to carry this name, apprentices, kings, soldiers, and martyrs.