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Name Days and Patron Saints - Stalwart - 10-02-2019

Dear friends,

Having read the article on the Fisheaters website concerning the tradition of observing Name Days, I have a few questions:

- I gather that the devotion is directed towards the saint concerned as thanks for their protection over a child, and falls on the saint's feast day. However, does 'name day' refer to the name of the child, or to the name of the saint concerned/the child's patron saint, regardless of whether or not the child bears that saint's name? In other words: If one does not carry the name of their patron saint, can they still observe the name day tradition with regards to that saint?

- Does the name apply to the child's saintly baptismal name (whether a first-name or middle-name), or to their confirmation name? If observing the baptismal name, does this then change if the confirmation saint is someone different?

- If the child has more than one saintly name, does the name-day devotion apply to the saintly name of choice, or only to the child's first, Christian name?
-- For example, our child's name is
Therese, given as a first name in honour of my wife's patron saint (Thérèse of Lisieux). Her following middle name is Marie, after Our Lady, in the French tradition. And her third name is Elizabeth, after Elizabeth of Hungary, who we chose to be her dedicated patron saint. Would the child's name day be on the feast of St. Thérèse after her first given name, or on the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the feast of her patron saint, and whose name she carries as a middle-name?

- Can a child have more than one patron, and do you think this is unwise? Or is there any established tradition you know of where a child's baptismal/confirmation/patron's name is their middle name, and not their first name? We (my wife and I) wish to continue observing the [Given name] - [Marie] - [Patron name] convention for our daughters, but the first/given name will most often be a saintly name anyway!

My apologies if this is convoluted at all, and thank you in advance for your responses.

Pax Christi.


RE: Name Days and Patron Saints - jovan66102 - 10-02-2019

It usually applies to the first Baptismal name. Since, traditionally, a different Saint's name was taken at Confirmation, one would have already been observing a Name Day for several years before that occurred. And, of course, except for the nobility, until recently, most people only had one Baptismal name. In fact, on my Father's side, I'm the first to have more than one.

Of course, if there are multiple Saints of the name, there is some flexibility. My Name Saint is Јован Златоуст (Jovan Zlatoust=John Chrysostomos). My son, John, is named for St John Damascene.

And it is not only Catholics that keep the custom. With the exception of the Serbs (who keep their family 'Slava', the Saint's Day on which their first Christian ancestor was baptised), the Orthodox do as well. And Scandinavian Lutherans have never lost the custom. In fact, Sweden's list of 'official names' (yes, it's a thing!) has the Saint's Feast Day by the name.

As an aside I have two daughters, one is Eugenie Therese (for the Little Flower) Marie and the other is Dominique Maureen (a form of Mary in Irish) Ann Elizabeth, for St Elizabeth of Hungary. And, as long time Fishies know, my sons are Zachary Joseph Mary, Charles Albert Mary, and John Matthias Mary. ;)