Here’s a selection of classic names that work beautifully in terms sound and length
We’ve probably all known a Mary Katherine or eight from our Catholic school years. While the traditional Mary double-name has been presented as a joke at times (who can forget the iconic Mary Katherine Gallagher from SNL in the late 90s?), in all seriousness we think it remains a classic, beautiful way to highlight your new daughter’s individuality and spirit.
Turning to the mother of Jesus, whether as the primary or secondary name, is always a winner, and Mary is just one of those names that seems even prettier followed with a complementary name. And I don’t know about you, but more names carry more gravitas in certain situations. “Mary Angelina, come and tidy up your room, right now!” is far more satisfying than just: “Mary, come and tidy your room!”
We’ve come up with a list of Mary pairings you might not have thought of to help in your baby-name research, based on how long you’d like your new daughter Mary’s full name to be:
Mary with a short name
If you want to keep it quite short and easy to roll off the tongue try these:
Linked to God’s grace, Grace is not actually a saint’s name but it is a wonderful virtue to have so we sneaked it in! It marries well with Mary, and let’s not forget Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco who was the epitome of elegance, beauty, and of course, grace.
A shortened version of Elizabeth (see below), there is a quaint tone to this duo.
Here you have a double whammy, not only do we have the mother of Jesus, but we get his grandmother, St. Anne, too!
A very feminine combination, what’s not to love about being named after such a beautiful flower, as well as a revered saint much admired by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Rose of Lima.
A shortened form of Joanne, or Josephine, Mary Jo flows so easily. Together they form a strong feminine name but with a slightly boyish charm.
Naming your child after Duchess Kate is very on-trend! But see Catherine below.
Mary with a longer name
Names with three syllables tend to work really nicely with Mary. See if some of these longer couplings don’t tempt you:
Calling your daughter Bernadette will mean she’s as “brave as a bear.” Although slightly old-fashioned, this name could certainly make a comeback. A perfect match with Mary as St. Bernadette of Lourdes was a French peasant girl who saw visions of the Virgin Mary.
Catherine is a great choice considering the remarkable St. Catherines in our history. Meaning “pure,” it has been associated with some very strong queens over time, including the first wife of Henry VIII, the devout Catherine of Aragon, who was lucky to keep her head. Her daughter happened to be called Mary, so here’s another mom and daughter duo.
Why not partner the female version of the bearer of Mary’s good news, the Angel Gabriel, with Mary herself? Gabrielle is growing in popularity and has some very sweet diminutive forms: Brie, Elle, Gabby.
There is something so elegant about this pairing. Sophia comes from the Greek meaning “wisdom” and was the name of the saint, from the Roman Empire, who lived a life of great piety, wisdom and devotion to God that she imparted to her three daughters.
Why not go Celtic and try this Welsh name meaning “fair, blessed”? It actually threads together nicely and has some great nicknames: Gwen, Lyn, Wendy, Gwennie. There is also apparently a 5th-century St. Gwen, although not much is known about her.
The feminine form of Joseph works beautifully with Mary, and of course bringing both of Jesus’ parents together in one name seems only natural.
Perfect for those with Irish roots. Patricia is the female version of Patrick (“noble”), one of the world’s most popular saints, and the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick bought Christianity to Ireland, and is pictured explaining the Holy Trinity using the shamrock.
This combination is a little more unusual but you are not only paying homage to the wonderful St. Francis of Assisi, among other St. Francises, but to the current pope himself!
As Geraldine means “capable with a spear,” you might want to keep sharp objects away from your little one! But St. Gerald, the male form of the name, was a wonderful choir master who did such a good job that he was chosen to become bishop of his home city, Braga, in Portugal.
This pretty Spanish version of the name Elizabeth, meaning “God is my oath,” is also the name of King Louis VIII of France’s daughter, St. Isabel. She refused many offers of marriage, choosing a life of virginity that she consecrated to God.
Another unusual combination, Agatha means “good, kind.” Well isn’t that what we all want of our kids?! St. Agatha from Sicily, in wanting to dedicate her life to God, suffered a terrible death in the 3rd century. A vision from St. Peter comforted her at the end of her life.
With Mother Teresa’s canonization in 2016, if ever there was a time to use this coupling, it is now. A wonderful pairing of two very blessed mothers. With Teresa meaning “gather in, harvester,” it is no surprise that St. Teresa of Calcutta spent her life dedicated to harvesting in her own way for the poor.
M & M?
A little alliteration works wonders with Mary. Try these out:
St. Margaret of Scotland was a very devout mother of eight married to Malcolm, the king of Scotland, in 1070. Renowned for her kindness and good heart, she was canonized for her extraordinary virtue and holiness. The name means ‘”pearl” so no doubt your own mini Margaret will prove as equally precious.
Another version of Mary Magdalene, the famous saint who was a devout follower of Jesus, witnessing his crucifixion and resurrection. Madeline comes from the Aramaic meaning “elevated, great, magnificent,” so there could be some great things ahead for own little one.
An interesting one this combo. Martha, in Aramaic means, “Lady” and Martha, sister to Lazarus and Mary of Bethany, was said to be obsessed with housework—could you end up with a teen daughter who actually tidies her room? She was also said to have served Jesus with such duty and care that it is no surprise she became the patron saint of servants and cooks.
St. Matilda, patron saint of large families, was known for her incredible charitable works, building three convents and a monastery. With a strong Germanic name meaning “strength in battle,” your fragile little newborn might prove able to combat anything in life. And if that’s not enough, just remember the wonderfully resourceful Matilda in the Roald Dahl book of the same name.
And sightly longer …
Coming from the Latin “victory,” this name grew in popularity after Queen Victoria came to the throne in the 19th century. However, before then, St. Victoria of Tivoli and St. Victoria of Albitina, both women of great faith and dedication to God, were both killed for refusing unworthy suitors
Olivia stems from the word olive, a symbol of peace. William Shakespeare made it popular in his comedy Twelfth Night and it is quickly becoming a big hit in the United States.
There are so many reasons to love this pairing. Elizabeth can be shortened to so many cute names: Liz, Beth, Eliza, Bess, Ella, or is perfect in full. In the Bible, St. Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin and mother to John the Baptist. And in modern days we have the 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth who continues to be a strong and dutiful monarch.
What did we miss? Are you a Mary? If you have some ideas for other pairings, please share with us in the comments below!
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