You can tell that I’m in a baby-centric phase of my life because when I look at the Liturgical calendar for the month of August, one of my first thoughts is that there are so many great potential baby names whose Saint feast days are celebrated this month.
John, Dominic, Clare, Maximilian, Augustine, Monica (and Alphonsus and Pius, too, if you are really bold) — take your pick!
Pondering and eventually choosing names for our children is, in my opinion, one of the most fun aspects of pregnancy and parenting, but it can be daunting. Something that can be helpful in the process is narrowing down names based on particular areas of priority for you and your spouse. For instance, if you know you want a family name, or a name that starts with a specific letter, or a name with a certain number of syllables, whole reams of options are ruled out and making a choice is that much easier.
For many couples — my husband and myself included — having a faith connection for our children’s names was a top priority. We eventually chose a Biblical name and the names of two favorite saints (Esther, Frances and Jude, respectively), but there are many other great options that we could have easily landed on.
If you are looking for a Catholic baby name, here are some ideas:
- Esther: Obviously I’m biased, but there are so many special aspects of the Biblical figure Esther. First, the book of Esther is one of only two books (along with Ruth, another great name option) in the Bible named after a woman. Secondly, the story of Esther is an invigorating and inspiring one, illustrating virtues of courage, love and wisdom. Finally, Esther is, literally, a Queen. My daughter cannot be the only little girl who loves having a royal namesake!
- Salome: Salome is a New Testament figure, appearing in the Gospel of Mark as a disciple of Jesus who followed him from Galilee to Jerusalem where she stood by his side at the crucifixion and eventually witnessed the resurrection at the tomb on Easter. She was a loyal, attentive follower whose example we would all do well to follow, and on top of that, her name is unique and beautiful.
- Ethan: There are so many strong and beautiful boy names throughout the Hebrew Bible, but I was for some reason surprised to see Ethan on the list. The name succeeds in being both classic and popular, but I wasn’t aware of its Biblical roots until writing this post. It turns out credit is given to Ethan the Ezrahite for writing Psalm 89, a jubilant song of praise.
- Asher: Besides being one of the twelve sons of Jacob and therefore the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the name Asher comes from a Hebrew word meaning “happy.”
- Cecilia: Because Saint Cecilia lived in the early years of Christianity (approximately 180-230 AD), most of what we known about her is legend. But whether or not the story of her converting the Roman man to whom she was engaged to Christianity is technically true or not, it has lessons to teach us about courage and conviction. St. Cecilia is the patroness of music, so if you have a hunch that your child might be musically inclined (or that you are at least willing to invest in piano lessons!), perhaps Cecilia (or a twist on the name, like Cecily) might be the name for you.
- Zelie: Saint Zelie, along with St. Louis, was one of the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, and for both her holy life and the fact that she raised remarkable children along with her spouse, she has been named the patron saint of parenting and marriage.
- Louis: I love the idea of having twins and naming them Louis and Zelie (see above), but I also like how these names stand alone!
- Pio: Pio as a name is short, sweet and unique. And Saint Padre Pio, a 20th century Franciscan friar, priest and mystic, is an excellent role model and guide for living the holy life. He is known for his deep wisdom about prayer and spirituality, and has offered the world gems like this one: “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”
- Benedict: I recently met a baby called Ben, short for Benedict. I had only ever heard of Ben being short for Benjamin, and I love this twist and the nod it gives to St. Benedict of Nursia (among others), the Italian monk, writer, and theologian known for founding the Benedictines (and for his excellent hospitality).
Other Meaningful Names
- Sophia: Sophia appears in many passages of the Bible, particularly the Book of Proverbs, as the female personification of wisdom.
- Eden: I suppose that Eden could technically be considered a Biblical name, as the Garden of Eden is the first setting in the Book of Genesis, but since Eden doesn’t appear as the name of a person in Scripture, I’m including it here in the “other” category. I love that Eden is a more gender neutral name that can be used for any baby, and also that it represents God’s lovingly formed creation.
- Christian: This name hardly needs a description! It’s strong, it’s too the point, and it rolls off the tongue.