Once, all people being baptized into the Catholic or Christian faith were required to have a “Christian” name, i.e. a saint or virtue name. This led to a lot of Johns, Marys, Katherines, and Josephs. Nowadays, parents are broadening the scope of their search for the “perfect baby name” and that, coupled with the loss of the requirement to include a definitively Christian name, has led modern parents in general to come up with some pretty creative monikers for their little munchkins. But there’s something so rich and deep about the Catholic faith that many parents still want to honor their faith…just perhaps in a less mainstream way. So here are seven ways for the modern parent to honor the Catholic tradition while giving their babies plenty of uniqueness.
1. Lesser Known Saints
Gemma, Germaine, and Gertrude all make intriguing, yet wearable choices, for the modern baby girl, and Magnus, Rocco, and Bruno will feel right at home on the playground.
2. Change the Language
Another popular trend, across the board, is taking a common name and translating it to a foreign language. Clare becomes Chiara, Francis becomes Francesco, Theresa becomes Therese, Magdalene becomes Madeleine, Patrick becomes Padraig (hence St. PaDDy’s Day, not St. PaTTy’s Day)…it’s a cool way to honor a saint and possibly your heritage (or just a culture you love).
3. Last Names
There are a lot of St. Josephs so if you want people to really know who your little mini me is named for, consider using a saint’s last name for your child’s first name. Cupertino can be nicknamed Coop or Cooper and Wojtyla is a cool way to honor beloved St. John Paul II. Kolbe is already catching on, so this is a definite trend that will stick around.
4. Place Names
Siena and Avila are great ways to honor the saints of those places while avoiding the more name first names of those saints- Catherine and Teresa.
5. Marian Apparitions and Titles
Just because Madonna named her daughter Lourdes doesn’t mean it’s unusable to the modern Catholic parent! There’s a ton of great apparition sight names to choose from here and even more titles of Mary. Snow is a bold choice for a modern parent that also falls into the trend of nature names. Lola is a cute way to shorten Delores, a way to honor Our Lady of Sorrows. Go wild with this category! There’s no saint who ever lived who didn’t have a great devotion to Our Mother.
6. Virtues and Gifts of the Spirit
Let’s go beyond Grace, Faith, and Hope for this one. Try Verity for Truth, Sophia for wisdom, or Zoe for Life (not just the physical bios life either, but spiritual, GOD’S life!), or Mercy for girls or Pax for Peace, Clement for Mercy, or Felix for Happiness/Joy for boys. Justice makes a bold choice for either gender (though I prefer the Justus spelling for a boy).
7. Names from Catholic Literary Works
Flannery for a girl is a conspicuous choice and way to honor a great Catholic writer (even if she’s not a saint) as is Dante for a boy. Love Tolkien? Arwen and Luthien are beautiful choices for girls and Samwise is a neat spin on Samuel. There are lots of Catholic authors and novels to choose from!