So you’re preparing for Confirmation, and in addition to wrapping your mind around all that the Sacrament entails—which is the most important part and what you should give most of your attention to—you also likely have to give some thought to your Confirmation name.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking, This is a great, exciting thing! I have always loved names, and for me, having grown up in the pre-internet days without online handles and email addresses, my Confirmation was the first time I was able to choose a name for myself. For weeks I pored over the book of saints’ names for babies I had, looking for the name that reached out to me. (Yes, I had a baby name book when I was a teenager—it was one of my favorite things to read.)
For you, who have likely already had ample opportunity to come up with names that feel like the most *you* version of yourself (sftbll4eva; 2kool4skool; student53, etc.), it can still be a great, exciting thing! to now spend time choosing a name related to our faith, a name that will call to mind the heavenly help you’re given no matter what life throws at you.
Names have always been an important part of our faith. God Himself said, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). A new name has often signified a drawing closer to God, as with Abram becoming Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Jacob becoming Israel (Genesis 35:10), and Simon becoming Peter (John 1:42). It has never been uncommon for priests and religious to take a new name upon entering the religious life, and Popes take a new name as well—the choice of Francis by our current Holy Father sent a clear message as to the kind of Pope he would be.
Choosing a Confirmation name is an opportunity to choose a name that has special meaning to you, a name that will help you in your journey of faith. By choosing a saint’s name, you’re asking him or her to pray for you in a special way. Having a special connection to someone in Heaven is a big deal!
Despite the popularity of Confirmation names, there aren’t any Official Vatican Rules about them, so it’s important to look to your local Church authority for guidance. I asked the bishop of my diocese (the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, NY), and he offered this bit of wisdom:
“Do NOT choose a name just because the person is popular or famous or because the name sounds good. The name you choose is for life! So it should be after a person whom you really admire for their Christian life of goodness, charity and holiness, preferably a saint or a blessed. It’s not just about a name you like but a person whose whole life shows how a true friend of Jesus really lives.”
~ Bishop Edward Scharfenberger
I’m sure your priest and bishop would agree with him! In addition, different dioceses may have different customs, such as:
- Not allowing a Confirmation name if one’s baptismal name is already a saint’s name, thus reinforcing the connection between Baptism and Confirmation
- Requiring girls to take a female saint’s name and boys to take a male’s
- Allowing any name to be chosen—that of a beloved relative or a other respected person, for example, mirroring the Church’s baptismal name requirements that, simply, “Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given” (Canon 855 in the Code of Canon Law)
It’s important to follow the rules of your diocese, so make sure you’re clear on what they are by asking your priest, teacher, or Director of Religious Education. It’s also important to note that Confirmation names aren’t a requirement—it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be confirmed under your own name, the name you were baptized with.
All of that said, if you’re able to choose a Confirmation name and would like to, here are some helpful resources:Finding your patron saint (or being found) (God works in many ways)
Creative Catholic Names (for those with more adventurous taste)
The Holy Name of Mary (so many beautiful ways to honor Our Lady)
Let’s Talk About Pronunciation (Kateri, Therese, Zelie, Xavier, Gianna)
CatholicSaints.Info (search by name or patronage)
Saint’s Name Generator (sometimes the saint picks you!)
Finally, the most important part of choosing a Confirmation name is to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to guide your choice. Whether you choose to stick with your given name, or to choose a new name, I hope you enjoy discovering the ways in which the name helps bring you closer to God. (For the curious, my Confirmation name is Jacinta, for Bl. Jacinta Marto.)
Did you choose a Confirmation name? If so, how did you make your choice? How has your Confirmation name helped you in your journey toward heaven?
Copyright 2016 Katherine Morna Towne