After never really having had any familiarity with St. Rita growing up, I’ve become a huge fan of hers in recent years. Like St. Jude, she’s a patroness of desperate and impossible causes (among other things), and I’ve seen her intercession bring about some pretty amazing, nearly miraculous things, both for myself and for others.
I did a name consultation recently for a mama who said she had a special devotion to St. Rita, to whom she attributed the conception of her baby. If the baby had been a girl, she intended to give her the middle name Pearl, as a nod to St. Rita, whose given name was actually Margherita — the Italian form of Margaret, which means “pearl.” I had another conversation more recently over email with a reader who was looking for ways to honor St. Rita for both girls and boys, and I know of others who have sought to honor St. Rita in their babies’ names. “Rita” itself isn’t always to everyone’s taste, and for boys it doesn’t work anyway, so I came up with a few other ways to honor St. Rita by name for both girls and boys:
Rita would be the most obvious way of honoring St. Rita — if you gave your daughter the name Rita for either a first or a middle, people who know about saints would think, “She must be named for St. Rita!”
Since St. Rita’s given name was Margherita, and Rita a nickname for it, then any of the Margaret names can honor her. And after her husband and sons died, St. Rita joined the Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery, so Magdalene could work too.
Like the mama in the July consultation I mentioned above planned, you could certainly use the name Pearl, since that’s what Margherita means.
In addition to meaning “pearl,” the Italian Margaret variant Margherita is the name for the daisy flower in Italian, and the French Margaret variant Marguerite is the name for the daisy flower in French.
St. Rita’s known as St. Rita of Cascia, and I think Cascia would be a pretty cool way to name a little girl after her. I say it KA-shuh, which is similar to established first names Kasia and Cassia.
St. Rita’s full given name was Margherita Lotti, so Lotti could make a cute nod to her, especially since Lottie is a traditional nickname for Charlotte …
… which makes me think that even Charlotte itself could be an unexpected honor name for St. Rita. (Or is that a stretch?)
A reader suggested that “Rose is a possibility. There are rose miracle stories associated with her and she is often depicted with a rose.”
I have loved and shared many times the story one of my readers told of the family she knew who named their son Garrett after St. Margaret, and that would work for St. Rita as well.
John, James, Jacob
One of St. Rita’s sons was named Giangiacomo, which is a combination of two names—Gian (a short form of Giovanni=John) and Giacomo (James/Jacob). St. John the Baptist was one of her three patron saints, and when her cause for canonization was being pursued, her story was compiled by an Augustinian priest named Fr. Jacob Carelicci, so John and James/Jacob (variants of each other) would make sense.
St. Rita’s other son was Paolo, which makes Paul a good option.
When I’m looking to honor a woman in a boy’s name, I often look to her dad’s name for inspiration. St. Rita’s dad was Antonio, so Anthony and its variants could work.
For those looking for something unusual, Pope Urban VIII beatified Rita.
Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita, so a great idea there as well!
Not only did St. Rita join the Augustinian nuns, but St. Augustine was one of her three patron saints, so Augustine would be a great possibility. St. Nicholas of Tolentino joined St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine as her third patron saint, so Nicholas works as well.
Would you name a baby (boy or girl) after St. Rita, or have you? I’d love to hear any additional ideas you have, as well as any ways St. Rita has interceded for you.
Copyright 2017 Katherine Morna Towne