Have you ever heard a saint’s name in a different language but you didn’t recognize it? Perhaps you asked a little more about the saint, only to discover that you actually do know that saint? Most of the time you can guess a saint’s name because it’s so similar in various languages. Examples include St. Joseph – San Jose or St. Therese – Santa Teresa. This isn’t always the case.
Here are 15 saint names that may stump you the first time you hear them.
A lot of people have heard of San Santiago due to the famous Camino in Spain. Non-native Spanish speakers are often surprised to learn that Santiago is Spanish for James. Yes, really. That makes that pilgrimage route the Way of St. James.
Okay, so we have all heard of San Juan Diego, the humble saint whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to. But did you know there is a San Diego (de Alcala)? And, no, I’m not talking about the city in Southern California. The English equivalent of his name? St. Didacus! So if you’ve ever heard of St. Didacus, they’re talking about San Diego.
No, Im not saying St. Sunday. Yes, Domingo is Spanish for Sunday but it’s also Spanish for Dominic. In fact, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was named after this saint.
This may not seem like a hard name to translate but you’d be surprised by how many people are surprised to find out this is the Spanish name for St. Benedict. The Italian “Benedetto” looks closer to the English name of this great saint.
Being of Hispanic origin, I heard this name plenty of times growing up. I sort of knew what she was the patron saint of which is how I found out that it was the same St. Hedwig I’d heard of after my reversion. Same patronage (obviously) but the name is different in Spanish.
If you ever make it out to France or any other French-speaking country and find yourself at a church name Sainte Etienne, you’re at St. Stephen’s parish. Yep. Etienne is French for Stephen. Mind blown yet?
I personally had never heard this saint’s name in Spanish so I was surprised to learn that this virgin martyr is none other than St. Agatha. The first two letters are the same but the rest will trip those of us who are bilingual and not familiar with the Spanish name.
Have you ever heard of the 1950s song “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” by The Four Preps? If so, you might know that the subject of the song is the island off the California coast, near Long Beach. Before it was renamed Avalon, the island was called Santa Catalina after St. Catherine of Alexandria. Yes, Catalina is Spanish for Catherine.
Pop culture junkies may know that Ryan Reynolds and Blake lively named their child Inez but did you know that this name is also the name of a virgin martyr? This name is the Spanish version of St. Agnes.
Devotees of St. Pío of Pietrelcina (aka Padre Pío) May be familiar with the name of this Italian town and community but did you know this name is Italian for John? True story! It looks further away from the English name than the Spanish “Juan”.
Some people may guess that this name might be St. Roger in Spanish but it’s actually St. Roderick. Though the names look similar, I can assure you that it is indeed St. Roderick.
St. Roger’s name is Ruggero in Italian. The Spanish version — Rogelio — is closer to the English version, isn’t it?
This is the Italian name for St. Louis. But wait, that’s not all! In German it’s “Ludwig” and “Luis” in Spanish. The Italian “Luigi” and Latin “Aloysius” are two other names for Louis.
Odds are you won’t hear this name spoken too often in Spanish but if you do know that they’re talking about a St. William. Yes, that means you can also call Prince William “Principe Guillermo” and it would be accurate.
No, i didn’t just slam my fingers on the keyboard for that first word. Naomh is Irish Gaelic for “saint” and Eamon is Irish for Edmund. Therefore, you’re looking at the Irish Gaelic version of St. Edmund.
Are there any other names that can be added to this list?
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