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Most popular saints' names for babies

  • Most popular saints' names for babies

    Religion-based names have long been a tradition across the different faiths. Not only do they offer a chance to honor a family’s values and beliefs in a particularly personal way, but they also keep religious histories alive from one generation to the next.

    In the case of Christianity, the Bible has long been a rich source of theologically guided names. However, there are also over 10,000 saints throughout Roman Catholicism and other Christian denominations that have influenced Christian naming practices significantly. Saints are individuals––either from scripture or historical accounts––who lived a life of virtue, such that they may be considered “servants of God.” Through a papal canonization process, those who meet these high standards are given sainthood status. It is this level of holy sanctity that has made saints such popular sources of name inspiration in Christian families.

    That said, as Christianity evolved over the years, there have been fluctuations in the popularity of saintly names. The Protestant Reformation, for example, saw a divergence from certain Catholic traditions––e.g., recognition of papal authority––and the birth of new Christian denominations that placed the teachings of the Bible above all else. With this shift came a concurrent shift in Christian nomenclature. Those in areas where Protestantism took over became less interested in naming their children after saints and more interested in selecting monikers that were pulled directly from the Bible.

    Despite these changes, saint-inspired naming practices have remained a strong tradition. These names offer more than just a perfunctory nod to key biblical or religious figures; they offer a chance to celebrate the rich history of the Christian faith and those who have shaped, protected, and––in many cases––suffered for it throughout history.

    In order to identify the most popular baby names of today that are inspired by Christian saints, Stacker cross-referenced data from the Social Security Administration and the name database Behind the Name. We compiled a list of notable saints from Behind the Name and then ranked their names according to the number of babies given those names in 2018.

    Read on to discover the top 100 names––39 girls’ names and 61 boys’ names––in the U.S. shared by Christian saints throughout history.

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  • #100. Matteo (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #196 (2,084 babies born)

    The Italian version of the name Matthew, Matteo is a moniker shared with Saint Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament and the author of the Gospel of Matthew. Despite the name’s growing popularity since the 1990s, its namesake saint was seemingly less popular during his time. When chosen by Jesus to be an apostle, St. Matthew was also a tax collector, a profession that was not held in particularly favorable regard. Nevertheless, the Gospel of Matthew remains one of the most quoted books of the Bible and St. Matthew’s name––along with variations of it––remains popular. Matteo is a name shared by many celebrity sons, including those of actor Colin Firth and singer Ricky Martin.

  • #99. Nicolas (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #192 (2,094 babies born)

    Nicolas is a French variation of the name Nicholas, which was popularized by St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, and the wrongly imprisoned (among several others). The saint, who was a bishop during the fourth century in a town located in what is present-day Turkey, was the inspiration for the figure we recognize today as Santa Claus (hence Santa’s alternative moniker, St. Nick). Among the most famous namesakes today is actor Nicolas Cage.

  • #98. Patrick (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #189 (2,111 babies born)

    Those who don the name Patrick are named for St. Patrick, a fifth-century British missionary who is best known for his role in spreading Christianity across Ireland. Born Maewyn Succat, it wasn’t until St. Patrick completed his studies in the priesthood that he changed his name and headed to Ireland, where he spent 40 years preaching and evangelizing the Irish. St. Patrick was also responsible for building the first Irish church. Today, this patron saint of Ireland is remembered (rambunctiously, and often with a drink in hand) each year on his namesake holiday: St. Patrick’s Day.

  • #97. Richard (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #187 (2,119 babies born)

    The name Richard is shared with St. Richard of Chichester, the patron saint of coachmen. The bishop––who was educated at Oxford––was known for his role in defending the Catholic church and his empathy for and generosity toward the poor. One of St. Richard’s most notable legacies, however, was the shrine in Chichester that was erected following his death––a shrine that had become a popular site of worship and a place of miracles, until it was destroyed by Henry VIII. While this name is still hanging on to some of its favor, the moniker’s popularity has been steadily dwindling in the U.S. since the 1970s.

  • #96. Andrea (girls)

    - 2018 rank: #134 (2,154 babies born)

    Andrea is the female version of the name Andrew, which is given after St. Andrew. A fisherman by trade, St. Andrew—along with his younger brother, Simon Peter—was selected by Jesus to be a disciple and, as it goes in the Gospel of Matthew, to join Jesus as a “fisher of men.” It is believed that St. Andrew was one of the closest disciples to Jesus, which could explain why the religiously significant name has managed to remain consistently popular throughout the decades. It was only recently, in 2013, that the name fell out of the top 100 girl’s names in the U.S. for the first time since the 1960s. Its usage has since continued dipping slightly with each subsequent year.

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  • #95. Miguel (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #179 (2,171 babies born)

    Miguel is the Spanish and Portuguese version of the name Michael, which may be given after St. Michael the Archangel. An angel rather than an actual saint, St. Michael led the good angels in the battle against Lucifer, according to scripture. In addition to acting as the leader of God’s angels and army, St. Michael serves as the protector of the Christian faith and the Catholic church. Though Miguel ranks 179th in the U.S., the cognate of Michael is considerably more popular in its nations of origin, ranking 26th and ninth in Spain and Portugal, respectively.

  • #94. Victor (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #177 (2,213 babies born)

    Victor was the name of many early saints, including St. Victor of Marseilles, the patron saint of the tortured. The popularity of the Christian name, though, may be as much based on its namesake saints as it is on the name’s deeper meaning: Victor derives from the term meaning “to win” and, in medieval times, the name was often used in reference to Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin.

  • #93. Lorenzo (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #173 (2,241 babies born)

    The Italian version of the boy’s name Lawrence, Lorenzo is a moniker that might be given with St. Lawrence in mind. St. Lawrence is the patron saint of the poor and of cooks. During his life, the deacon––and later, martyr––was tasked with protecting the church and its goods, as well as sharing the church’s alms among the poor. The name Lorenzo may also be given in reference to another religious namesake: St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who was the first Filipino saint and the first figure to be beatified in a ceremony outside of the Vatican.

  • #92. August (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #170 (2,264 babies born)

    Though August is most traditionally used as a shorter form of Augustus, the name––which has been used by many celebrities for their sons, including Mariska Hargitay and Dave Matthews––may also be given in reference to St. Augustine, the patron saint of brewers. The tale of St. Augustine is one of redemption, as the saint spent a long portion of his younger years veering away from his faith and living waywardly. It was not until later in his life that he came back to Christianity, was baptized, and became a priest. St. Augustine was also proclaimed one of the first four doctors of the Church thanks to his prolific theological and philosophical writings.

  • #91. Edward (boys)

    - 2018 rank: #169 (2,268 babies born)

    Edward is a name given as much in honor of a saint as a king. One of its most prominent Christian namesakes, St. Edward the Confessor, ruled over England between 1042–1066 as one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings the country would see. The ruler earned himself the title of “confessor”—which is considered one step short of martyr, but still a symbol of suffering for one’s faith—through his devotion to prayer, Christianity, and resisting the world’s unholy temptations. St. Edward is widely remembered for his healing powers—he was the first to begin the tradition of healing the ill with a simple touch of his hand—and for the building of St. Peter's Abbey at Westminster (better known today as Westminster Abbey).

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