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By Linda Rosenkrantz

In the pantheon of Catholic patron saints, we find protectors of counties and cities, of living things ranging from caterpillars to wolves, not to mention those who guard against conditions from compulsive gambling to gout. What I’ve always found especially interesting are those associated with various occupations—in particular the ones relating to the creative arts–and the stories behind those patronages. Like how did a thirteenth century nun get to be the patron saint of TV?

So, if you’re a poet or a potter or a photographer, you just might find some naming inspiration here.

GIRLS

Barbara According to Catholic beliefs, the martyred Saint Barbara offers special protection for architects and stone masons because her troubled life included imprisonment in a tower.

CatherineCatherine of Bologna is considered the principle patron saint of artists. An Italian cloistered nun, she was a painter herself, in fact one of her surviving works, a 1456 depiction of St. Ursula, now hands in the Galleria Academia in Venice. Catherine of Alexandria protects potters and spinners.

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Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel has found some intriguingly unusual baby names in this week’s name news.

It’s easy to belittle a parent’s search for a unique name.  Headlines call it self-centered and short-sighted.  But if you went through school as Jessica or Jennifer, one among many, is it so wrong to want your child to be one of one, at least in her kindergarten?

This week was all about the quest for a distinctive name.

There was nothing truly surprising in the baby name news – no Buddy Bear Maurice or Rainbow Aurora.  Instead, there’s been a treasure trove of very wearable names that all feel just a little bit different.

What makes them stand out choices?  For some, it’s a high value Scrabble letter, like V, X, or Z.  Others are super short, even brisk.  And giving a masculine name to a daughter is always a sure-fire way to grab attention, for better and for worse.

Not every parent would – or should – consider every trend, but it is exciting just how many choices manage to be both unusual and perfectly normal at once.

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