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In light of the Year of St. Joseph, Kate Towne shares ways to honor St. Joseph in the names of your babies.

Pope Francis recently declared this coming year (Dec. 8, 2020-Dec. 9, 2021) the Year of St. Joseph for three reasons:

  • To commemorate the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being proclaimed patron of the Universal Church
  • In response to his observation that “so many people during the pandemic have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as St. Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus”
  • As a way of emphasizing “St. Joseph’s role as a father who served his family with charity and humility” 

Not only do all the faithful have the opportunity to gain a special plenary indulgence during this year, but Catholic parents have the opportunity to mark their 2021 babies’ birth years by bestowing a name in honor of our good St. Joseph!

naming your baby after st joseph-ktowne 0120 

There are many ways to do so, including, of course, Joseph and its variants in other languages (e.g., Josef, Jozef, Giuseppe, José, Joosep) and English and non-English diminutives and short forms (e.g., Joe, Joey, Seppel, Zef) for boys, and the same for girls (Josephine, Josefina, Josepha, Josée, Giuseppa; Josie, Posy, Josette, Josiane, Pina, Fifi). The Behind the Name entries for Joseph and Josephine provide a more complete list of possibilities from many different languages. 

Variants of Joseph aren’t the only ways to name a baby in honor of St. Joseph

In Matthew 1:19, we’re told that Joseph was a “just man,” so Justin, Justus, Justine, and Justina are possibilities. Other names inspired by his titles and attributes as listed in the lovely Litany of St. Joseph include:

  • Lucy, Lucia, Luz, Lux for his title “Light of the Patriarchs”
  • Chastity, for his chastity and his title “Chaste Guardian of the Virgin”
  • Prudence, as he’s prudent
  • Valiant, as he’s valiant
  • Faith, because he’s faithful
  • Patience, for his title “Mirror of Patience”
  • Glory, Gloria for his title “Glory of Family Life”
  • Pilar, for his title “Pillar of Families”
  • Consolata, for his title “Consolation of the Afflicted”
  • Hope, for his title “Hope of the Sick” 

Name ideas could also come from the various objects that are taken as his symbols or that he’s often depicted with:

  • The Lily names, since St. Joseph is often portrayed with a lily because of his chastity
  • Branch, as one of his symbols is a branch (see my post on Longmire for an example of Branch as a given name)
  • Carpenter, as he was a carpenter and is represented by a carpenter’s square specifically and carpenter’s tools in general. I’ve never heard of Carpenter as a first name, but it’s not really different from other occupation names like Mason, Taylor, and Carter, right? Maybe with Cap as a nickname?
  • Callixtus, which is a Callistus variant that may have been influenced by calix, which is Latin for “wine cup” and is where our “chalice” comes from — one of St. Joseph’s symbols is a chalice (My spotlight on Callixtus here)
  • Cruz or Croix or other “cross” names, as the cross is one of his symbols.
  • Agnes, as a lamb is one of his symbols and agnus — Latin for “lamb” — is visually similar to Agnes
  • Rod (Roderick, Rodney, or any name that could nickname to Rod, or maybe ROD initials), as a rod is one of St. Joseph’s symbols 

Aside from his symbols, perhaps also:

  • Stone, as CatholicSaints.info noted that he was a “Builder by trade; traditionally a carpenter, but may have been a stone worker”
  • David, since he’s a descendant of the house of David
  • Foster, since we refer to him as Jesus’ foster father

I also discovered in A Dictionary of English Surnames that the surnames Jessop, Jessopp, Jessope, Jessup, and Jessep represent an old pronunciation of Joseph. This actually ties in nicely with the fact that he is also, of course, a descendant of King David’s father Jesse — perhaps Jesse, Jessie, and Jess could be considered as well, as given names or nicknames. 

In light of the Year of St. Joseph, Kate Towne shares ways to honor St. Joseph in the names of your babies.

I saw a lot of babies given thematic names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy (Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016) and would love to see the same during the Year of St. Joseph! What ideas can you add to this list of names that can honor the foster father of Jesus and powerful patron of our Church?

Copyright 2021 Kate Towne
Image: Wikimedia Commons (2016), CC BY SA 4.0
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