St. Tiffany

There are a lot of folks out there from supposedly Christian families who, sadly, are not named after saints, virtues, or holy things. Not knowingly, anyway. (I’m pretty sure that anybody naming a child after a family member is trying to name him or her after a saint, however inchoately.) Instead of moaning and poning about this sad situation, we should make the best of it by looking into what their names really stand for.

For example, there are a lot of girls in this country named Tiffany because Tiffany is pretty, and because the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s was romantic. But surely Tiffany as a name has more roots than a jewelry store?

Of course. Tiffany is actually a very old name. Tiphaine is its French spelling (though it’s got occult associations in English, alas, since the medieval lord Bertrand du Guesclin’s canny wife Tiphaine was called by legend a fairy or witch). The name comes ultimately from the Greek “theophania”, theophany — an appearance or manifestation of God (as when God shows up at Abraham’s tent, or in the burning bush, etc.). As a name, however, it was traditionally given, in the Eastern Churches, to those born on the Feast of the Epiphany — which is called Theophania there, because Jesus showed Himself as God and Man to the Magi, and hence to all Gentiles; and also as a celebration of the Lord’s Baptism, when the Father and the Holy Spirit pointed out the Son.

On the Constantinople patriarchate’s site, you can see another example of this old name. In the Patriarch of Constantinople’s current home church, the relics of the ascetic Byzantine empress St. Theophano — St. Tiffany — are preserved. This is certainly a different image for the name Tiffany!

(There are also a couple of male martyrs who bore variants of the name: St. Theophanes the abbot and historian, martyred by the Iconoclasts; and St. Theophane Venard, martyred in Vietnam.)

So here’s to the Tiffanies of the world. They bear a truly majestic name of great depth and significance.

4 Comments

Filed under Church, History, Saint Names

4 responses to “St. Tiffany

  1. Tiffany

    I am newly Catholic and I was–and still am–picking a confirmation name (Anastasia) but it was so wonderful to read this article and it really made me feel good that my name has such meaning to it already and it wasn’t choosen for me just because my mom’s class (25 1st and 2nd graders) picked the name for her…Hey at least I wasn’t named Kelsey!

    Thank you and God Bless

    Tiffany Rae “Anastasia” M.

  2. Tiffany

    Hi Tiff. My name is also Tiffany, and surprisingly my middle name is also Rae. I thought it was a little bizarre to see this. It kinda gave me the chills. Thanks for stealing my name. Just kidding. Well, I was named in 1990 so I’m not sure if you stole it or I did. Haha. So do you happen to be from NY just asking because I’m not sure who I was named after, maybe it was you?

  3. Mutahi Anthony

    I picked this name for my daughter and I have been looking for its meaning.Am greatful that finally I have found it and I can confidently testify to its meaning,”MANIFESTATION OF GOD”Amen.

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