Once upon a time a couple liberals got really mad at me when I suggested that a Christian saint’s name might be a good thing for their little stupor mundi, rather than the trendy abstraction with an incomprehensible spelling.
My advice to parents has always been pick a saints name and spell it normally.
This is from The Telegraph:
Pope rails against rise of un-Christian names [Not so sure about that… but read on.]
The Pope has warned parents against giving children celebrity-inspired names and urged them to turn to the Bible for inspiration instead.
While names such as Sienna and Scarlett have become fashionable in recent years, Pope Benedict XVI called for a return to tradition.
During Mass at the Sistine Chapel, he said: “Every baptised child acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church.” He added that a name was an “indelible seal” that set children off on a lifelong “journey of religious faith”. [I didn’t see that quote in the text of the sermon. And the text of his Angelus address afterward didn’t say that either… but… that doesn’t change the point: give kids real, Christian names.]
According to the Office for National Statistics, celebrity names such as Ashton – after the actor Ashton Kutcher – and Lily – after the singer Lily Allen – are among the most popular in England and Wales. The names celebrities give their own children can be even more exotic.
Sir Bob Geldof has daughters named Pixie and Peaches, while Victoria and David Beckham called their first son Brooklyn, after the district of New York. Katie Price, the glamour model, named her daughter Princess Tiaamii.
In Italy, the name of a child has particular significance. Children are often named after saints, who are considered a guiding force in their life.
The tradition, however, is increasingly under threat. Francesco Totti, the footballer, recently decided to call his daughter Chanel, while Flavio Briatore, the Formula One boss, named his newborn son Falso Nathan.
Cristina Odone, a former editor of The Catholic Herald who grew up in Italy, said: “There are so many of the church’s traditions which we have come to ignore and which are actually meaningful and have a big spiritual significance. To deprive our children of that sense of having a protecting saint is to rob them of something very significant. Many of today’s names are not just un-Christian but they are also crass and consumerist.” [Parents who do this are selfish.]
According to official statistics, the most popular name for newborns in Britain is Mohammed, after the Islamic prophet. A total of 7,549 newborns were given variations of the name last year. It overtook Jack, which topped the list for 14 years.
Monsignor Andrew Faley, the assistant general secretary to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said: “The name is not just a label but it moves us into a deeper significance of what it means to be human as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
“Naming children after perfumes, bicycles and countries is putting a limit on their potential. They are not merchandise or commodities.
“When I was a parish priest, if I didn’t agree with the name I’d suggest they should give the second name of a saint.” [Yah… I’ve done that too. It doesn’t always go very well.]
In 2008, Italy’s highest court banned a couple from naming their son Venerdi – Friday – saying it was “ridiculous” and would expose him to mockery from his classmates.
Judges from the Cassation Court in Rome ordered that the boy instead be christened Gregorio, after the saint’s day on which he was born. [And another thing! When the calendar was changed around after the Second Vatican Council, people’s name days were changed!] The parents, from Genoa, had drawn inspiration from Robinson Crusoe’s manservant.
I don’t think the Pope said what is claimed in this article. That doesn’t make a difference to the point of this, however.
That said, I looked in the Italian text of the sermon. I didn’t find what the article said the Pope said. In the English translation you read:
“It is not by chance, in fact, that every baptized person acquires the
character of son from the name Christian, indisputable sign that the
Holy Spirit brings man to be born “again” from the womb of the
This is about being called a by the name “Christian” rather than being named with a Christian name.
MY point, however, is still that parents should give saints’ names to their children and, for the love of God, spell them normally.
UPDATE 12 Jan 1428GMT:
Does the Church’s canon law have anything to contribute?
The esteemed canonist Ed Peters has a note about names. Check it out!