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Saint Names

What's in a Name

Saints have been canonized since the tenth century. Before then, they were chosen by public acclaim, a more democratic process but one that led to the naming of some saints who really didn't deserve the honor. To ensure that the people named as saints should be designated as such, the Vatican gradually took over the process and developed a specific set of criteria for it, including evidence of two miracles directly related to the influence of the candidate saint. They must take place after the death of the proposed saint and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate.

Name Dropping

Some parents choose a saint name based on the day their child was born. However, it's not necessary to do this if you are selecting a name for its protective purposes. Choose a name with meaning to you. As your child grows up, he or she can celebrate the saint's feast day as a special event related to, but not the same as, a birthday.

The list of names that appears here is primarily taken from the Roman Catholic calendar. On the few occasions where this calendar didn't yield good examples, names were taken from the Byzantine calendar. Although the list is lengthy, it is just a representation of the many men and women who comprise the list of saints. Rather than cite every name possible, names were chosen to give an idea of the wide variety of monikers from which you can choose.

Included are names of saints who are celebrated universally by the church, as well as some who are celebrated only in certain areas. They include martyrs, popes, priests, evangelists, bishops, and others who dedicated their lives to their faith in some form or another.

You won't be breaking any canonical laws if you decide to use one of the following names in a more up-to-date form. Feminine versions of male saint names also are acceptable.

Saints for the New Year

If you're looking for a sainted name for your new year baby, these January saints might do the trick:

1.The Virgin Mary 17. Anthony
2. Basil the Great 18. Prisca
3. Genevieve 19. Canute or Knute
4. Gregory of Langres 20. Fabian
5. Simeon Stylites 21. Agnes
6. John of Ribera 22. Vincent
7. Raymond of Penafort 23. Bernard or Barnard
8. Lucian of Beauvais 24. Francis de Sales
9. Marciana 25. Paul
10. Agatho 26. Alberic
11. Salvius or Sauve 27. Angela Merici
12. Benedict or Benet Biscop 28. Amadeus
13. Hilary 29. Gildas the Wise
14. Felix Nola 30. Martina
15. Bonet or Bonitus 31. Aidan
16. Marcellus I


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More on: Choosing a Name

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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