One of the easiest ways we can celebrate the life of a loved one, or those we admire, is to pass on their name to future generations. So with the recent death of the former pontiff, we can honor his life and all that he did for the Catholic Church by naming our children after him in some form or other.
Here are just a few names associated with Benedict XVI, and you’ll find that they are rich in meaning, too.
An obvious choice would be the name that the pontiff chose for himself, which incidentally means “blessed.” However, the reason for his choice of name is particularly inspiring, and perhaps best explained in his own words that he used in his first general audience on April 27, 2005:
Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps, I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions!”
Of course, the late-pope emeritus’ baptismal name would make a fine choice for any baby. As it also belonged to his father, it is particularly meaningful. Add the fact that the earthly father of Jesus Christ was also named Joseph, and this particular moniker is a fabulous option for any baby boy.
This is a more unusual name to give a boy, but it was the middle name of Benedict. It belonged to St. Aloysius de Gonzaga the, an Italian aristocrat who joined the Society of Jesus. At the young age of 23 he died having cared for patients suffering of an epidemic.
While Benedict was elevated to cardinal by the late-pope, Paul VI, it was also the name that belonged to his predecessor, and friend, John Paul II. However, the name also reflects another great writer in the Church’s history, the Apostle Paul, who is well-known for his writings, too.
The former pope was very open about his love for the works of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In fact, he shared that that Mozart’s music inspired him as a young man and “thoroughly penetrated” his soul.
The name, which can also be George, belonged to his older brother, and it was the name of his grand-uncle, who was a German priest-politician. Benedict and Georg were very close, and the former pontiff left his retreat to go to Bavaria and pay a final visit to his ailing brother in 2020.
Both Joseph and his brother Georg were ordained as priests by Cardinal Michael von Falhaber in 1951. It would seem only fitting to acknowledge the prelate who helped start Benedict off on his papal path.
Benedict was a prolific writer in his lifetime, and one of his first writings was his dissertation that he wrote at university on the once-wayward saint Augustine of Hippo. It was titled The People and the House of God in Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church.
Perhaps this is not the easiest name to bear, but Benedict’s work on the Italian cardinal and theologian St. Bonaventure gave him his professorship in 1957.