Naming Your Child After a Catholic Saint

Every parent, Catholic or not, is faced with the decision of what to name their child.  Naming your child after a Catholic saint has been a tradition for hundreds of years but is it Canon Law or just a tradition that parents have upheld.  Raising your child within the church and making sure they are baptized, have first communion and get confirmed is your goal but does that mean they have to be name Matthew or Mary?

Your Child is a Unique Person

One of the reasons that many new Catholic parents don’t want to choose a saint’s name is because they want their child to have a unique name and not just be another Michael or John.  Choosing your child’s name can be intimidating, you want a name that suits, that is unique and is something they can live up to.  You scour baby naming books and finding a name you like that is also a Saint can be hard.  You may also have family pressuring you in regards to your child’s name, the expectation that they should be named after a relative.  Your child is a unique person and their name should reflect that.

Canon Law

If you research Canon Law you will find that it is more traditional to name your children after saints than it is a requirement.  Canon Law states that “parents, sponsors and the priest are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given.”  That can be interpreted pretty loosely in terms of choosing your child’s name.  Are the more modern names like Jayden or Brandon foreign to Christian sensibility?  One could argue that because they are so common in modern use that they are not foreign at all.  This gives you far more freedom in choosing a name for your children.

Choosing a Name

Before you dismiss naming your child after a Catholic Saint altogether you must first remember that there are quite literally thousands of Catholic Saints and you have no shortage of names to choose from.  You may even consider picking up a Catholic Book of Saints and exploring before you choose a name.  Many of today’s popular names still have their origins from a saint’s name.  You can feel comfortable giving your child a name that suits them and that you are comfortable with, there are a couple of exceptions.  You’re priest may have an issue with a child named Beelzebub but not so much with one named Brandon.  You can always give them a saint’s name for a middle name.

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