Category: Catholic baby names
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.
Catherine—Catherine 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.
While the roots of Linda‘s name nerdism are different from mine — you can read her story here– and I’m sure you all have your own stories to tell, which we’d love to hear! — I trace a large part of my fascination with names to my Catholic girlhood.
Most kids back at Immaculate Conception School were dying to know whether the nuns had hair under those veils or what they wore to bed at night, but to me those mysteries paled in comparison to the nuns’ names.
Nuns got to pick new names for themselves when they entered the convent. That itself was appealing enough, but what was really amazing was that their choices were not confined by ethnic background, historical period, or even gender.
The principal of Immaculate Conception, for instance, was named Sister Miriam Gervase, an appellation that had it all going on. Miriam may have been a Mary relative, but it was one used mostly by Jews. unfamiliar in our Irish and Italian Catholic enclave. And Gervase! That may have been a hot name in 6th century Gaul….for guys. But in mid-20th century New Jersey, it really stood out in the world of Gerrys and Jeans.
How would you like a little extra special protection added to the other assets of your baby’s name? Patron saints are guardians over particular aspects of life—they can defend against an illness, or look out for people practicing a certain occupation or other interest. Sometimes these assignments were set centuries ago, others have been made more recently, as in the cases of ecology, advertising, computer technicians and television. Here are some of the most usable and interesting patron saint names, with their special areas of protection.
Adelaide—can be invoked against in-law problems; protects parents of large families, stepparents, widows, abuse victims
Agnes—is a protector of young girls, Girl Scouts
Apollonia—protects against toothaches, and is the patron saint of dentists