“In observation of the commandment against misusing God's name, English and American Protestants have historically taken a more conservative view on religious names and reserved the name Jesus for the son of God … On the other hand, Jesus has been a common first and last name in Iberian countries since at least the 14th or 15th century. For many Catholics from Spanish and Portuguese cultures, naming a child is considered a way to honor God rather than a violation of a commandment.”Given that our country has such a strong Protestant history, it makes sense to me that the prevailing English-speaking American idea might be that Jesus is considered too holy for common usage. The name of Mary has a similar history of being considered too holy for common usage in Ireland, for example — it was a temporary and culture-specific consideration. Perhaps for today's American Catholics without Spanish-speaking ancestry, naming a baby Jesus is foreign to Christian sensibility, as the Code of Canon Law puts it?
What do you think? Do you have more information about why Jesus isn't used as a given name in English?
Copyright 2018 Katherine Morna Towne
About the Author
Kate is a writer, wife to a really good man, and mama to their seven boys ages 1 to 15. She shares her thoughts on Catholic baby naming at Sancta Nomina, and her first book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018) can be found at ShopMercy.org and Amazon.