Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Where is Apollinarius and Hillaritas?

Of course all the children I baptise have proper Christian names (if only) but priest friends have had girls named Sky, "Skyblue", Baby, Kylie, Amber, Jade, even a "Love Child", as well as a whole lot of cities, or London boroughs, Chelsea is preferred to Whapping and Richmond to Clapham. I did have parents ages ago who had named there son Thor, I felt if I refused to baptise him with that name and they complained to the bishop he would cite Apollinarius or Apollos, in 1 Corinthians, but I suppose I would draw the line at Blood Axe or Raging Bull, which might be less cruel than Hillaritas, calling your son Hyacinth could cause him to be taken into care of course, he would certainly grow to hate you, wouldn't he?
"Christian names" I suppose is yet another thing I should add to the vast list, several volumes in fact, of things I should catechise about.
CMR An Italian bishop has called on parents to stop giving their children "ridiculous" names and revert to traditional Christian names instead.

Monsignor Bassano Staffieri, retired bishop of La Spezia in Liguria, said that of the 500 girls born in the city this year, "not one was registered or baptised with the name Maria". He added."A name is not just a sound, it has a profound meaning."

Mothers and fathers "should return to using a name like Maria, which is inspired by the Virgin Mary", instead of opting for "exotic or strange names of which their children will later be ashamed", the bishop said. There were signs that parents were reverting to traditional names for boys, "but this is still not the case with baby girls, alas". (underlining mine)

He said the reason was not so much that Italian families were abandoning the Catholic faith but rather that they did not give enough thought to baptismal names. "The problem is they do not think about what they are doing".


Anonymous said...

In German, the name Raymond means wise and mighty protection.

gemoftheocean said...

I know a woman who used to teach 1st grade. She told me a few years back: "It has LITERALLY been a decade since I had a "Tom" "Dick" or "Harry." I was holding out hope for one youngster whose parents attempted to name him after the Lion-Hearted King, but his illiterate parents had spelled it "RichUrd." DUH. Tell me that kid won't grow up to be either a saint or a cop killer....after he takes it out on his parents. Imagine your whole life: "No, it's not a typo, it really is with a "U" - my parents were illiterate."

I think the "rule" is now that the child as least has to have a name not anti-thetical to the faith.

My own 1st name is a variant of Catherine. But on the plus side if I ever do something really cool and heroic for the faith and get killed defending the Eucharist, for instance, "St. Karen" is MINE, all mine. :-D I don't have to "share" with any "official proclaimed on earth" saint.

The Eastern Rite priest was not pleased with my aunt's choice of name for her 2nd son. "Jeffrey?" What kind of a name is Jeffrey?" He was told the middle name and it met his approval. He still grunted though when he said "Jeffrey." This was in the early 50s. I suspect he wasn't thrilled with his elder brother's first name either: Adrian. [Who was always called "Ace" in his youth.]

Anonymous said...

In wexford there's a town called bastardtown and moneyhore. Given our materialism and lack of commitment to marriage...

In all seriousness, I think the children are mortified by the crazy names, poor things so I'm with the cardinal on this one.

George said...

'calling your son Hyacinth could cause him to be taken into care of course, he would certainly grow to hate you, wouldn't he?', this reminds me of that famous Johnny Cash hit song 'a boy named Sue'. I love the line where father and son square up to each other and end up brawling, spittin' and cussin' in the mud, 'and he bit like a crocodile....', after which they make their peace with each other!

But I agree Fr Ray, the world has gone nuts on this issue and parents who want to give their children ridiculous names should be viewed with suspicion as to whether they are in fact fit for parenting.

By the way that should be the title for Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue's next work of wisdom - 'Catholic Parents, Fit for Mission'.

PS - my youngest daughter is named Maria - 1 Brownie point scored by George.

Anonymous said...

How I agree - I do feel sorry for children with daft names or mis spelt names. A common one these days seems to be Chantelle instead of Chantal after St Jeanne Francoise de Chantal.

In France some years ago children had by law to be named after either Saints or real people. They could be called Napoleon if their parent wished but made up names, or those from TV soaps were forbidden. The law was changed and yes there too now are children with 'different' names often of English origin in order to be with it. The pronunciation needless to say is often unrecognisable to an English ear! In many a French children's playground you can hear mums calling for Weel-yamme or Bri-anne!

I was amused by the comment on Hyacinth for a boy's name. It appears to have been common once in France and there was even a celebrated bishop bearing that name - Mgr Hyacinthe Jalabert. In January 1920 Mgr Jalabert drowned along with 16 other Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers who were among some 600 people who perished when their ship 'L'Afrique' sunk off Bordeaux on the way to Senegal.
Mgr Jalabert had originally been alotted another boat but he changed ships in order to be with the other Spiritains. Ironically all the Priests and Brothers had survived the First World War only to perish in this way.

The Bishop's body was never found but his Breviary was washed up and rescued by a fisherman and given back to the Order. I have seen it - it was dried out and the pages are intact even containing some prayer cards - a moving experience indeed.

Anonymous said...

PS Father why are you not allowed to explain to parents that Christian names are just that - Christian?

.The Cellarer said...

Our three weans

Catherine Mary, John Michael & Patrick Aidan

Anonymous said...

September 25th - St. Ceolfrith (Geoffrey) of Wearmouth and Jarrow, Abbot and Confessor.

There were six popes who took the name Hadrian (including one Englishman, as I recall); that ought to be good enough.


gemoftheocean said...

PS - I think "Hyacinth" better have a pretty good right hook or he'll get thrown into a lot of trash cans in middle school....

Adrienne said...

The priest refused to baptize my mother, who is also named Adrienne, because he said it wasn't a saints name (even though there is a St. Adrian). So my grandma tacked a Mary on the front and legally my Mom was Mary Adrienne.

I dislike the weird spellings these poor kids get saddled with like Nikole instead of Nicole). And it has been proven that giving a black kid a "black sounding" name can hurt their job prospects.

gemoftheocean said...

Adrienne. For DECADES I never had to spell my name for anyone. But oh, no. Some "cute" parents came up with "Caryn" "Karon" etc. and all manner of BS. Now I just answer: "*MY PARENTS* COULD SPELL."

Perhaps 1 Karen in 100 has some odd varient and the rest of us who went undistrubed now have to suffer.

And "watch it" the PC police may be out gunning for you. [I wish they'd get the spelling of "Shaniqua" or "She'niquooo" or "Chennikqua" or whatever the spelling du jour is codified and give the rest of us a break.


gemoftheocean said...

Anon: So true. But this was an Eastern Rite priest transplanted from "The old country." "William" would have taken him aback.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

If I was a priest I would insist, as a pre-condition for infant baptism, that parents wanting to give their child a "silly" name must give their child one additional name that is a saint's name or an Old Testament name. I'd also give some quick catechesis about the role of personal patron saints as intercessors and exemplars, and explain the spiritual benefits that a child misses out on who is just called Kylie or Dexter.

I'm also a great believer that God has names for our children that he wants them to be called -- if we open ourselves to his influence. Let me give an example. I know several Michael's (and Michelle's). It's interesting that nearly all are strong personalities who are independent-minded, stand their ground, aren't easily intimidated, and have leadership qualities -- just like their patron saint. Their parents, in my view, were receptive to the God-inspired name for their child.

Anonymous said...

In Germany right now the most popular girl's name is Marie and the second most popular name is Maria.

Anonymous said...

at work this year, the children born of colleagues (all men) have been called Elvis, Rigby, Zephyr, Kitt and Noah (all boys as well.._)

one out of five isn't bad I suppose.

fr paul harrison said...

I agree with most of the above sentiments.

However - there is always a chance that children with strange names may experience the grace of God and lives very holy lives and maybe becomes saints. You never know, in future times there may be a St Jordan or Kylie!!

Anonymous said...

Francis - our eldest son is Michael and yes he does have all those qualities!

Anonymous said...

In Spain the law used to restrict names for civil registration to saints names and biblical names and my son-in-law had to convince an official that Efraim was a permissible name. Now however in both Spain and Germany anything goes as far as names are concerned.

GOR said...

Well it is all of a piece. Many young 'Catholic' parents don't know what the role of Godparent is either!

I don't know what the practice is in England, but in some US parishes godparents need to provide 'proof' that they are practicing Catholics. They are given a form to be completed by their parish priest to that effect.

If they are not known to their parish priest as practicing, he will not complete the form. Then a 'sponsor' who is a practicing Catholic needs to be provided - in addition to the godfather and godmother....

A sort of "Quis custodit custodes?" sort of arrangement - which is unfortunate, but necessary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great blog Father, which I read daily. Adds some sanity to may day.

Here are the official (government registrations) top 10 boys and girls names in the Netherlands, which some of your readers may find interesting, especially given the Netherlands liberal reputation.

Many are biblical and saints names yet very popular. Some are just modern forms of old names or especially Scandinavian and French derivatives. This site (SVB) gives the lists and explanation of the names origins (in Dutch).

Out of the top 10 of the boys and the girls the only name which doesn't have an older origin is Jayden.


Jongensnamen (Boys)

01 Daan
02 Tim
03 Jayden
04 Sem
05 Thomas
06 Jesse
07 Thijs
08 Ruben
09 Lars
10 Milan

Meisjesnamen (Girls)

01 Sophie
02 Lieke
03 Julia
04 Sanne
05 Emma
06 Lotte
07 Anna
08 Eva
09 Anne
10 Lisa

Anonymous said...

My father didn't like the name Amy, which my mother wanted, after herself and her mother, so he decided to call me Amette - little Amy. [My parents weren't Catholic]. Of course, I loathed it as a child - was often called Omelette or Hamlet. As an adult I rather like it - especially as I have never met another one, though perhaps it would be nice if I wasn't alone - any more Amettes out there?

I also discovered as an adult that there was a French Cardinal Amette - though this would have been his surname, I suppose. I think he consecrated Sacre Coeur in Paris. This seems vaguely significant to me - I'm not sure how, but I do have a devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Physiocrat said...

I thought the picture looked familiar it is called "Tors strid med jättarna" (Thor's battle against the giants) (1872), by Mårten Eskil Winge and is in the Stockholm National Museum of Fine Arts. I think it is rather horrid.

Thor himself was occasionally "Christianised" and there is a St Thora, and a church dedicated to her, who according to legend was drowned by her stepmother, found on a beach, and buried by a blind man who then regained his sight.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...