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Whatever Happened to Babies Named After Saints?


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/17/16

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In my parish, they are few and far between.

I do the paperwork for all the babies being registered for baptism. In recent months, we’ve had names like Clarisse, Connor, Olivia, Jaidyn and Landon. We also had Adonnis, Lena, Evita, Achilles and Trey.

The names of our parents and grandparents—John, Joseph, Anne and Mary—are scarce. In fact, I can’t remember the last time a Mary popped up at the font. Maybe it’s a New York thing.

It’s worth noting—contrary to popular myth—that a baby doesn’t have to be named for a saint. Canon law merely stipulates:

Can.  855 Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given.

So: No Muhammads or Buddhas. Riley or Heather are fine.

But all is not lost. On the Aleteia home page, Simcha Fisher today takes note of an encouraging trend she’s noticed:

American parents are returning to names that were popular when our grandparents were in diapers. Emma, Olivia, Sophia and Ava top the chart for girls, and Jacob, William, Michael and Alexander are holding strong for boys. Catholics take names and their implications seriously, so they’ve always been ahead of this nostalgic curve, borrowing names from scripture, from Church history, and even from virtues. It’s only icing on the cake if a beloved patron saint brings some hipster cred along for the ride. Edie/Edith is all the rage, and it sounds even edgier if you’ve encountered that edgiest of Carmelite nuns, philosopher, martyr, and Jewish convert Edith Stein. Likewise, Leo and Sebastian have that sought-after retro sound, with the bonus of some spectacular saintly backstories. Jude and Blaise sound bold and fierce, but their hagiographies are even more thrilling. What other old-fashioned names are back in style with Catholics and non-Catholics alike? Ask the question on Facebook, and Lucys abound. Veronicas and Josephines are blooming everywhere. Gaggles of Dominics, Georges, Henrys, and Theodores fill public and parochial kindergartens. But some retro names are enjoying a heyday mainly around the baptismal font, and are less likely to catch on in the secular world. Ambrose and Augustine, Pia and Pio, Kateri, Philomena and Felicity are very hot right now, and Caeli is inching up the Catholic charts.

Read the rest. There are tiny saints among us!

Photo: Wikipedia

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