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Saints alive! The unusual Christian names we should use more often

Top 10 suggestions for the Catholic who wants to observe Pope Benedict’s call to give Christian names to children but wants something other than John or Concepta…

Hold still, Kogantianus: The Church is urging a return to truly Christian baby names
Hold still, Kogantianus: The Church is urging a return to truly Christian baby names
Image: PA/Osservatore Romano

THOU SHALT NOT give thy baby a pagan celebrity-inspired name. So spake Pope Benedict XVI as he baptised 21 infants, all children of Vatican employees, in the Sistine Chapel last Sunday.

As Catholic Culture reported, the Pope said parents should give their children a distinctively Christian name as “an unmistakeable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be ‘born again’ in the bosom of the Church”.

That’s all well and good but what of the faithful who want to do right by Il Papa but are bored with the ‘Peter/Paul/Mary/Margaret’ quartet of popular saints names?

Here are some suggestions for less-than-usual saints names that will make heads turn in the playground. Polycarp, come in, your dinner’s ready.

1. SCHOLASTICA - It sounds vaguely academic so could suit if you hope for your child to be good at school. However, bear in mind that its original namesake was a sister of St Benedict. When he founded his favourite monastery in Monte Casino, she set up a monastery of nuns just five miles down the road. She died in 543 and he died shortly afterwards. Sibling rivalry alert.

2. MAXIMUS - There are plenty of babies called Max out there but why not go the whole hog and give your baby boy the title he deserves: Maximus. And despite all the Gladiator inferences, Maximus has a soft side too: he’s the patron saint of babies. Awww.

3. APOLLONIA – We like this just because it’s pretty. Perhaps best to gloss over the origin of the name though. The original Apollonia had all her teeth knocked out for refusing to denounce her faith. She is now patron saint of dentists.

4. POLYCARP - He was a pal of St John the Apostle and also of St Ignatius of Antioch. He was bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey) but at the age of 86 was to be burned alive in a stadium in Smyrna. However, the flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. Tough name, tough guy.

5. ABAIDAS - If you don’t want to make your child feel too left out among the Willows and Princess Tiamiis, you could call them after this ancient African Catholic saint. They can pretend it’s a corruption of Adidas. You know how tweens love their labels.

6. BOND - He was a 7th century hermit who became venerated in France for his ascetic ways. Imagine the fun of saying, ‘The name’s Bond. Saint Bond.’

7. WISDOM - We have Faith, Charity, Hope – why not Wisdom? Again, a bit of a bloodied history to this martyred saint – Wisdom was a Roman widow who refused to denounce her faith under the Emperor Hadrian. As punishment, her three little girls were each killed in terrible ways that don’t bear describing here. Their names? Faith, Hope and Charity.

8. VULPHY - A miracle worker who was married but received his wife’s permission to become a priest sometime in 643AD. He sounds endearingly like an Irish Star Trek character, a cross between Vulcan and Murphy.

9. TROJAN – Okay, this Bishop of Saintes in France, later made a saint with a feast day on November 30, is a bit unfair to saddle a child with. But it did make us giggle.

10. QUIRIACUS - This saint lived in the 6th century and was a Greek hermit who lived in Palestine. He was revered for his holiness. Your child Quiriacus will be revered for making it difficult for teachers to pronounce his name and call him out in class.

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