“In Baptism, the Lord’s name sanctifies man, and the Christian received his name in the Church.” (CCC 2156)
BOOK PICK: Catholic Baby Names for Boys and Girls:
Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady
By Katherine Morna Towne
Marian Press, 2018
255 pages; $19.95
It turns out that my husband and I, having just had our third baby a few days after Easter this year, were missing a critical resource before her arrival: the book Catholic Baby Names for Boys and Girls.
I’m not kidding when I say that I would have been giddy if this book had arrived on my doorstep a few months ago, when my husband and I were in the midst of our great debate over our daughter’s name, perhaps because it was the first time we had to drum up a mutually-agreed-upon name since we started having children.
(Our son’s name was decided several generations ago by my husband’s family – his long, regal-sounding name is followed by the Roman numeral IV. Our other daughter’s name was also chosen long before she was conceived, this time because of a promise I had made in my college years to name her after a baby whom I had prayed for who had been aborted. At the time I was notified of this sweet baby’s death, I was reading 1 Samuel, and decided to spiritually adopt the baby, naming her Hannah and hoping to give life to a Hannah someday, since that little Hannah was never given that gift.)
So after finding out we had a girl on the way and no pre-determined names assigned to her, we realized it was no small task for two rather stubborn adults with unique tastes to come to agreement on a name. A few things, however, were easy for us to agree upon – we knew we wanted her name to have Catholic roots and we knew we wanted her name to be rich in meaning. This fun and beautiful book is the perfect tool to help accomplish both of these goals, and even more specifically, help parents choose a name for their baby that honors the Blessed Mother (which we ended up doing with our little gal’s name)!
In the introduction, Towne notes the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s preference for bestowing Christian names on Catholic children: “In Baptism, the Lord’s name sanctifies man, and the Christian received his name in the Church. This can be the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord…The ‘baptismal name’ can also express a Christian mystery or a Christian virtue” (CCC 2156). She further elaborates that every one of the Marian names compiled in her volume would be excellent names in which to honor God, by honoring “the only person God hand-picked to be the mother of His Son. For in so honoring her, you honor Him” (15).
The rest of the book is divided between names for girls and names for boys, all listed alphabetically. Each name is accompanied by pronunciation, an explanation of the name meaning and its relation to Our Lady, nicknames, variants of the name, and feast day(s). The book also contains a great index of names in the back to make referencing names throughout the book even easier.
Well, our own naming saga ended when we settled happily on Lily, mostly due to the beautiful Marian associations, which this book describes in lovely detail, including the fact that “St. Bede likened the petals of the white lily to Our Lady’s purity and its golden anthers to the glorious nature of her soul, and lilies are often used in art to symbolize her purity (e.g., St. Gabriel the Archangel is traditionally depicted holding a lily in his hand during the Annunciation)” (89). In a perfect twist of irony, which I prefer to call a “Holy-Spirit-thing,” I actually went into labor with our Lily on the day the Church celebrated the Annunciation this year. (The date was transferred to April 9, since March 25 fell on Palm Sunday.) We supposed this was confirmation that her name was divinely meant-to-be.
I highly recommend this book to any Christian parent looking to name their child in a way that venerates Mary, because there are over 250 ways to do so, aside from the actual name of Mary! I also recommend it to any person who just loves name meanings and loves Our Lady, because you’ll have a lot of fun with this book.
Mother Mary, pray for our Catholic baby boys and girls!
Katie writes from California. Her website is KatieWarner.com.