How to Name Catholic Twins

I do a lot of Googling. Sometimes it’s just because I randomly and passionately want to know everything about rumspringa. Other times, it’s because somebody asked a question that I didn’t know the answer to and my know-it-all heart couldn’t handle it. So I search and search and search and send an email and then nobody else gets to reap the fruit of all my hard work.

But I have a blog. Which means I can share my research with the whole world!

Elizabeth Anna on the Left and Mary Claire on the right.

Elizabeth Anna on the Left and Mary Claire on the right.

So I know this is super random, but if you’ve talked to me in the last year and a half, you are abundantly aware that my sister has twins. And when she found out she was having twins, I had to find all the possible Saint pairings to name the babies after. My nephew, 3 at the time, was adamant that they would be named Ezra and Nehemiah.1 When he finally accepted that they were girls, he suggested Mary Salome and Mary The Mother of God. His parents weren’t too keen on “The Mother of God” as a middle name, so we turned to the internet.

Turns out not a lot of people have compiled lists of Catholic twin names (Although this post gave me some inspiration), so I figured I’d share my research for those among you who are having twins. First of all, congratulations! Twins are awesome! And eventually you’ll sleep again. Before you’re totally sleep-deprived, let’s get to know some Saint pairings so you can name your little ones after holy besties.

Two Boys.

  • Cosmas and Damian. Think they were identical?

    Cosmas and Damian. Think they were identical?

    Cosmas and Damian were actually twins, but I don’t know about naming a baby Cosmas.2 Cyril and Methodius might give you the same problem.

  • Ignatius and Francis Xavier were two of the first Jesuits and two of the most amazing men in the history of ever. Peter Faber was one of their companions, too, in case you’re having triplets.
  • David and Jonathan had one of the most selfless friendships of all time.3
  • For our Eastern friends, Gregory Nazianzen and Basil were such great friends–like two bodies with a single spirit, Gregory tells us–that they share a feast day despite having died fifteen years apart.
  • Ambrose was the teacher of the inimitable Augustine. It might be hard not to feel that you’re playing favorites when the student so far surpassed the teacher, but Ambrose himself was no slouch.
  • Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas might leave you in a similar bind, but Albert was an esteemed scholar in all disciplines, which might balance out Thomas being the greatest mind the world has ever known.4
Historians differ as to whether or not Francis and Dominic met in person, but Fra Angelico thinks they did and his testimony is good enough for me.

Historians differ as to whether or not Francis and Dominic met in person, but Fra Angelico thinks they did and his testimony is good enough for me.

  • Francis of Assisi and Dominic5 founded the two great mendicant orders.
  • If you’ve got British ancestry, you might like the sound of Edmund and Henry. Henry Walpole was converted when Edmund Campion’s blood spattered on him and went on to be ordained and martyred in England, just like Edmund.
  • John Bosco was Dominic Savio’s teacher and the author of his biography. As with so many in this list, they clearly made each other saints.
  • Miguel Pro and Jose Luis were both killed during the Cristero Wars, both crying out “Viva Cristo Rey!” as their last words.
  • Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brebeuf are my favorite of the North American martyrs, but you could choose any combination of them or of the martyrs of England.
  • Thomas More and John Fisher were both martyred for clinging to their faith during the reign of Henry VIII.
  • If you’re a hardcore Chestertonian, Gilbert and Keith would be a great duo in anticipation of his canonization.6
  • Obviously, any pair of Apostles or Prophets will work here. James and John were sons of Zebedee and Simon Peter and Andrew were brothers as well. Thomas even means twin! Then you could do Moses and Aaron, Isaac and Jacob, or Samuel and Elijah. Timothy and Titus were both converted by St. Paul, who would himself be a great brother to a little Peter.

A Boy and a Girl

  • teresa y juan

    John and Teresa–something to aspire to.

    Benedict and Scholastica are the obvious ones here–our other set of canonized twins.

  • Francis and Claire of Assisi worked together to found the women’s branch of the Franciscans, now called the Poor Clares.
  • Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross reformed the Carmelites together and inspired one another as only mystics can. A power couple if ever there was one.
  • Jordan and Diana (both Blessed) were early Dominicans whose correspondence is a true example of holy friendship.
  • Francis de Sales founded the Visitation Sisters with Jane de Chantal and served as her spiritual director, a role Vincent de Paul later took over.
  • Vincent de Paul founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac, whose previous spiritual director was also Francis de Sales. So if you somehow end up with quadruplets, how about Vincent, Francis, Louise, and Jane?
  • Motherr Marianne beside the corpse of Fr. Damien.

    Mother Marianne beside the corpse of Fr. Damien.

    Damien of Molokai and Mother Marianne worked together to serve the lepers of Hawaii.

  • St. Dominic’s mother, Bl. Jane of Aza, played an enormous role in his sanctity.
  • Then there’s Monica who is said to have (metaphorically) baptized her son Augustine with her tears.
  • Louis and Zelie Martin were married (And the parents of St. Therese.) Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi were also married. Is it too creepy to name siblings after Saints who were married to each other? Other than Mary and Joseph, of course.7
  • Rose of Lima and Martin de Porres were Peruvian Dominicans and close friends.
  • Raymond of Capua was Catherine of Siena’s spiritual director and biographer.
  • John Bosco and Maria Mazzarello founded the Salesians together.
  • Francisco and Jacinta of Fatima were siblings and visionaries at one of the world’s greatest apparitions.
  • I published this post at 3 and saw this window at 5. Perfect.

    I published this post at 3 and saw this window at 5. Perfect.

    Maximilian Kolbe and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) were both killed by the Nazis.

  • John Paul and Mother Teresa fought for the Gospel of Life.
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego–great names if you’ve got some Hispanic blood (or just wish you did).
  • St. Patrick reportedly baptized St. Brigid’s parents and became her good friend. Between the two of them, they seem to have converted most of Ireland.
  • Then of course there’s John and Mary (at the foot of the Cross), Elizabeth and John (the Baptist), and various Old Testament couples.

Two Girls

  • Perpetua FelicityPerpetua and Felicity were martyred together at the very beginning of the third century. The account of their martyrdom is profoundly inspiring.
  • Claire and Agnes of Assisi were biological sisters as well as sisters in religion.
  • Bridget of Sweden was the mother of Catherine of Sweden, who also entered the order her mother founded (the Brigittines).
  • Nunilo and Alodia were daughters of a Muslim father and a Christian mother who were martyred for following Christ. Maybe for middle names?
  • Mary and Martha, but be prepared for Mary to taunt Martha with having chosen the better part. I certainly would have.
  • Mary and Elizabeth, like my nieces! And then their feast day can be the Visitation. Or Mary and Anne after the Blessed mother and her mom. Mary and Madeleine after Mary Magdalene–basically pair anyone in the New Testament with Mary and you’re good.
  • Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena were for years the only two female doctors of the Church.8 (Therese and Hildegard have since joined them, but Therese and Teresa might be a bit much and Hildegard….)
  • Joan of Arc had locutions from Catherine of Alexandria and Margaret. Mary appeared to Bernadette–and Catherine and Jacinta.
  • Judith, Ruth, and Esther all have books of the Bible written about them. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi.
  • Any of them virgin martyrs–Cecilia, Agnes, Agatha, Lucy, Anastasia, Catherine (of Alexandria), Philomena….
  • Or you could nae them both after Mary in some way–Maria and Sophia, ((Our Lady Seat of Wisdom–Sophia) or Stella and Marissa. More on Marian names later.

Of course, you could just pick two who weren’t contemporaries but belonged to the same religious order. Or two doctors of the Church or perhaps two people who had the same mission or similar martyrdoms. Then there’s the meaning of the names to consider–what about Cora (meaning heart) and her sister Arianna (which apparently means sacred)? I’ll leave you to research all that on your own.

If you still aren’t satisfied, check out this book on Saints who were connected to each other. I haven’t read it, but it certainly sounds promising!

What other combinations would you add? What did you name your twins? Share in the comments!

And a more recent picture with big brother John Paul.

And a more recent picture with big brother John Paul.

  1. What can I say? Kid’s precocious. []
  2. Unless you’ve already done that, in which case, cool! Props to you. []
  3. In the Bible. Now you remember. []
  4. Or name kids Aquinas and Augustine–call them Quinn and Gus–and watch your theologian friends pick a favorite and fight over which kid is better! []
  5. de Guzman, but when you say St. Dominic you don’t really have to differentiate. []
  6. Of course, first people in the Vatican have to read everything he ever wrote, which might take till your little boys are old and gray. []
  7. For obvious reasons. []
  8. Come to think of it, you could totally get away with naming one Siena and one Catherine or even one Avila and one Teresa. []

You might also enjoy:

About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
This entry was posted in Random and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to How to Name Catholic Twins

  1. Emily says:

    I told Justin that if we ever have boy-girl twins I want to name them Simon and Veronica (after hearing a really moving Lighthouse Media CD reflecting on the Stations of the Cross and specifically the role of these two everyday people whose association with Christ made them great.)
    Emily recently posted…On moving, materialism, and minimalismMy Profile

  2. Lindsay says:

    Stella and Marissa sounds so adorable! I love sneaking spirituality into things. I sign everything “with joy,” as in the fruit of the Spirit, but to secular eyes, it’s not intrusive. Win-win!
    Lindsay recently posted…Booking Through Thursday: AnticipationMy Profile

  3. Becca says:

    My mother was Catherine Therese. I know that Catherine was after Cathrine of Sienna, but I don’t know if Theresa of Avila was her other namesake.

    I once met a social worker whose first name was Maria and middle name was de la Cruz. I thought that was very cool.

    What about Sergius and Bacchus? The theory that they were gay partners (popularized by Yale historian John Boswell) has been mostly rejected by other scholars, but they certainly were great friends. Both were Roman Army officers and secret Christians who refused to sacrifice to Jupiter, and they were martyred for their faith. The idea that they might be gay might have derived from 1) the closeness of their friendship, 2) that, as punishment for their beliefs, they were chained and paraded in the streets wearing women’s clothing, and 3) that, after Bacchus was beaten to death, he appeared to Sergius in a dream, urging him to be steadfast and telling him that his martyrdom would result in them being together forever in heaven. (I haven’t read Boswell’s book.) This all seems like rather loose justification for the claim, but it does underline how connected the two were in life, in death, and in Christian tradition.

    Thanks for the post, Meg. It’s a good addition to web resources for naming children!

    ~Becca

  4. Dina says:

    Malia & Moira
    Maggie & Molly
    Our youngest has twin friends named Mary & Joseph.

  5. Amanda says:

    My “twins” are Stephen and Felicity. (They are a year and a half apart but since Felicity has Down Syndrome they are about the same size and intellect.). The kids love hearing their names at Mass! If I ever have actual twins I will re-read this :-)

  6. My parents named my twin brothers John Martin and Thomas Joseph. John and Tom were 32 week preemie surprises in 1966. Only thing was is that my maiden name was Collins. Tom was mercilessly teased as a teenager that his Irish parents named him after a drink. He learned to correct people by saying: “I was named for the apostle St. Thomas!” We were all named after Saints!
    My youngest brother: Michael Patrick. Neither the astronaut nor the Irish rebel…;)

  7. Brian says:

    Pardon the later response; I came upon this post while Googling on theological issues regarding twins!

    I don’t have any twins of my own (being a chaste single man, I don’t have any kids at all), but I am a Catholic twin myself. My parents didn’t end up naming us as a pair, for which I’m glad — twins throughout life go through a lot of questioning and accusations about independent identity, so having names with the same initials or that run close together really serves to cause a lot of pain for that child as he/se grows — serving to distance him/her form the other twin, the parents, and the figure being named after (which should be a patron throughout life, after all).

    I don’t mean to disparage parents by saying this, but I think that many parents have to stop and consider that the name they given their children as infants will stick with them them and be used by them throughout life, especially adult life, so some compromises have to be made (I wince at hearing beautiful biblical names that will be torn to shreds in the DMV in twenty years). My advice to my friends have always been to use a more conventional first name with a more personal/meaningful/beautiful middle-cum-baptismal name. Similarly, I think that parents who want twins to have names that work together — whether in Catholic/Christian/biblical names or just naming in general — should focus on choosing middle/baptismal names that forms a pair while choosing first names that may share a history but stand alone (the twins likewise sharing a history but standing alone as unique individuals). Many of these suggestions make for GREAT baptismal saint ideas and would be a lovely addition to their being baptized together, given how two close (or even twin) saints are being interceded upon for the child! But be careful on the very-public choice of first names: it’s easy to forget that babies grow up into people, and extra hard that twins are a set of individuals who spend a lifetime fighting that stigma and the myths of twinness.

    P.S. Congrats and God Bless on the tinies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge