St. Instagram?

Or, “Can an Instagram-inspired baby name be a baptismal name?”

Yep, the new trend is for Instagram users to look at their photo filters and think, “Hey, that’d be a great name for my baby!”

Well, I don’t know that I’d say that’s the best inspiration, but if you gotta do it, let’s see what you can do about doing it right.

So let’s look at the names mentioned in the article.

First: Ludwig. That’s a perfectly normal Christian name. Chlodovech (or Latin Clovis) was the first Frankish king to be baptized. So many French and German kings, nobles, and ordinary men continued to bear the name, or those derived from the same roots: Hlodovig, Louis, Lewis, and Ludwig. Among them was St. Louis, aka King Louis IX, a man of great chivalry and humility.

Frankish names, like most Germanic names, were composed by putting together two name-roots. Often the prefix root would run in the family. (Other guys in Chlodovech’s family were named Chlothar and Chlodomer, and he had a famous ancestor named Chlodio.) Chlodo-/Hlod-/Lud- means “renowned, famous” and “-wig” means “war.” So Ludwig means “renowned for war.”

Second: Juno. This was the Roman name for Jupiter’s wife, generally held to be the same as Hera, but much more stable in Roman legend than in Greek. The name simply means “young” (with the connotation of “fertile”) and was originally spelled “Uni” by the Etruscans. There was a Roman family named “Junius” (“young” or “belonging to Juno”), and since Roman female names were usually derived from their family’s name, there ended up being martyrs named “Junilla” and “Junula” (“little Junia”). The Junia who is mentioned by St. Paul was traditionally said by some to be a lady married to the also-mentioned Andronicus, and in the East she bears the title of “Equal to the Apostles;” her feast day is May 17.

Of course, the name is best known today for its use as a name for the protagonist of the pro-life film Juno.

Third: Valencia. This is the name of a beautiful region of Spain best known for its oranges, and for its big city. The city of Valencia was founded by ancient Rome as part of its land grants for retired soldiers. So the city was named “Valentia,” meaning “vigorous, strong.” (More common names from the same stem are “Valens” (a Roman emperor) and “Valentine.” There’s also a French city named “Valence” and a region of Brittany called “La Valentia” for similar reasons.) But this name has been used in the US before, under the old spelling “Valency” or “Valancy,” though mostly as a surname.

There are a lot of martyrs and saints named Valentina, and the old lady whose feastday was October 26, and who was martyred with Marcus and Soterichus, is particularly called “Valentia” at times. One of the ancient catacombs of Rome along the Flaminian Way was once called “St. Valentia” by some, but it was really St. Valentine’s. (There was a town in Quebec named “St. Valentia,” too.) But the official St. Valentia de Bretagne was a Carmelite nun (from Brittany) who died in 1728. Her feast is on September 26.

Fourth: Reyes. This means “kings,” and as a given name it refers to the Magi. El Dia de los Reyes is one of the Spanish names for Epiphany, so it’s a great name for kids born on January 6th.

Fifth: Amaro. This means “bitter.” There are two saints associated with this name. One is St. Amarus or Amaro, a Galician saint who legendarily sailed across the Atlantic and found the earthly paradise. He has a namesake who was known for his pilgrimage to Compostela. There’s also St. Amarinus of Clermont, aka St. Amarian or St. Amaro, who chose this as his monastic name. It was probably meant as a masculine Latinization of “Miriam,” which Naomi said in the Book of Ruth meant “bitter” or “salty.”

Sixth: Willow. There is a Cornish St. Wyllow, Vylloc, or Willow, who gave his name to a bridge. He was a hermit born in Ireland who was beheaded by the pagan Melyn’s kinfolk (ys kynrede), in Lanteglos (near Fowey). The parish commemmorated him and his two martyred companions, Mybbard aka Calrogus, and Mancus; their feastday was June 3. (But of course, “willows” show up in the Bible, too.)

Seventh: Lux. That means “light” in Latin. It’s a feminine noun, but not a traditional name. (“Lucia” or “Lucy” would be the usual feminine name, and it would be “Lucius” for a boy.) But it is a Biblical name, because Jesus is the Light of the World (“Lux mundi”) in John 8:12 and John 9:5, and He tells the disciples, “You are the light of the world” in Mt. 5:14. So I suppose you could use it for a boy as well as for a girl.

(Bad side – It will remind your older relatives of brands of soap and vacuum cleaners.)


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