How to Celebrate Your Nameday When Your Name Isn’t a Saint’s Name (yet)

by | Apr 10, 2015 | Liturgical Year, Mailbag, Month, Namedays | 23 comments

Between nearly twenty weeks of all-day morning sickness and my failed going to bed early for Lent experiment, I ended up with quite a backlog of mailbag questions. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing them . . .  

I received this one after linking to my post about how we celebrate three special days each year for each kid: their birthday, baptism day, and nameday. Here’s that post:

Every Kid is Special (three days per year)



I have a rather odd question for you, but figured after trying to find an answer on the Internet, with your gift of celebrations, seeking your advice might be a better alternative. Or at least, you might have a creative solution. I grew up Catholic, my husband is a convert. We are attempting to bring our faith more into our daily life. I really like the idea of celebrating feast days, etc. in the home and we have begun this practice. I have an actual saint’s name for a middle name (intentionally), and my husband actually has a saint’s name for his first name, just by coincidence. The problem is that we named our first child Eden. Obviously, after the Garden of Eden. Her middle name is significant to us, but isn’t a saint’s name either. Our problem is that, obviously, while we gave our daughter a biblical name, it is not a saint’s name. And not having a feast day to celebrate is upsetting her. Do you have any suggestions for what liturgical day we might celebrate as her “feast” day? I don’t know enough about the liturgical calendar to find any solution, as far as I can see.

Thanks, Ellen


Ellen, what a beautiful and rich name your daughter has. There’s no St. Kendra either. Yet. Tell your daughter that just means we have extra motivation to live a canonize-able life!

I have a saint’s middle name, so that’s what I use as my name day, but for people with no saint name at all there are plenty of perfectly legitimate options.

You can pick something that sounds close. After all, most people who do have a saint’s name have it in translation. For your daughter, Venerable Edel Quinn comes to mind. (She has an awesome story.)

Venerable Edel Quinn hasn’t been beatified or canonized yet, but we are
allowed to venerate her, because it has been established that she lived a
holy life. Her death date is May 12, which traditionally becomes the
feast day if the person is eventually canonized.

Or you could choose something related to the meaning of her name. Evie and Ashley and Elizabeth and Charlotte have pointed out in the comments that, of course, Catholics honor Adam and Eve as saints. Jesus visited the Limbo of the Fathers on Holy Saturday to bring the souls of the just to Heaven, who had been unable to enter until his sacrifice on the cross. The feast day of Sts. Adam and Eve is celebrated on December 24th, (also a well known Eve).

Also, Mary is the NEW Eve, so your daughter could choose one of the Marian feast days as her special one. There are lots of Marian feast days from which to choose. LOTS. Thirty-two of them, actually. And while a few of them might be a part of your family liturgical year celebrations, like the Annunciation or Our Lady of the Rosary, there are still plenty of days left that probably you’re not celebrating.

OR she could choose a patron saint, any saint at all, just one that is special to her, and celebrate that saint’s day as her name day. As long as it’s just ONE, that’s my rule for my kids who have names that are shared by many saints. You don’t get ALL the John or all the Elizabeth saint days. Just one.

Hope that helps!


p.s. Blessed Dina Belanger would also probably be quite pleased to become the patron of anyone without a saint’s name!

Also filed under Three Special Days, comes this mailbag question . . .


Dear Kendra,

I read your three special days post . . . we have been Catholic for going on 4 years now, and I still haven’t got the hang of celebrating feast days like I’d like to. For your children’s namedays, what would you recommend for a family where all the children were baptized together (since we converted) and we didn’t pick out specific saints at that time? Should we help them pick a saint, or use saints that happen to share their names (if there are any), or . . . ?

Thanks, Kristi



Congratulations and welcome! It sounds like you are currently about 26 years ahead of me in trying to celebrate the feasts, so good job. For namedays my kids use the feast day of a saint that shares their name (just one of them, not ALL the Johns or Elizabeths). If they didn’t have a saint name, I’d let them pick one that was close to their name, or that they had a particular devotion to. I think in your situation, I’d make baptism day a family party, like the real day was! Maybe everyone picks one part of the meal (maybe everyone PREPARES one part of the meal!) or maybe you go out to a restaurant together. It really can be anything, the point is just to commemorate it.


You might also enjoy . . .

Baby Steps to Living the Liturgical Year as a Family 


Mailbag Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You’re thinking of this guy.)
If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching,
please consider it my error (and let me know!). I’m not a doctor or an
expert on anything in particular. I’m just one person with a lot of
experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in
marriage, mothering, and my faith.

you’ve got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail .
com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use
your question on the blog.
p.s. Just a friendly reminder: Easter is an octave, which means eight days of solemnities, which means today is just as much Easter as last Sunday was, which means . . .

Canon 1250 All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities . . .

So, live it up people. No voluntary penance today. Unfortunately, however, I cannot guarantee a day free from involuntary penance. I’m just a blogger.


  1. Madeline

    Plus if you have them pick a Saint name now Confirmation will be so much easier! Everyone gets to add a name then if they'd like anyway.

    • Missy

      That's what I was just about to suggest: you beat me to it!!

      I was wondering for people who have, say a Christian name and middle name that are both of Saints and then get a confirmation name: which Saint should they celebrate?

  2. Evie

    Adam and Eve's feastday is on Christmas Eve. The traditon of both east and west is that Adam and Eve were among those rescued by Christ during the day between his death and resurrection, meaning they are in heaven. In the east, the resurrection icon show Christ pulling them up from the underworld.

    • Kendra

      Of course, Evie! I can't believe I left that out. I love all those paintings of Jesus helping Adam and Eve out of their tombs. I'll go find one and update the post to include it. :0) Thanks!

  3. Charlotte (WaltzingM)

    There is a great resource out there called "Dictionary of Patron Saints' Names by Thomas W. Sheehan, M. Div.. He has taken the time to thoroughly research all the much lesser known saints and find a patron saint for even some of the more unique (and sometimes completely new) modern names. For example…

    Eden: "In Paradise" (Latin) or "The Garden of Delight" (Hebrew) or "The Plain" (Babylonian). Patron Saints: Sts. Adam and Eve are primary candidates for patrons because they actually lived in Eden for a short time. To them can be added almost two dozen male Sts. Eden. However, they are usually listed according to their Irish spelling, Aedhan. One St. Eden (Aedhan) lived the life of a monk at the Iona monastery in about 650. He was a very holy, became a bishop, and worked miracles. There are also Sts. Edain and Edentius. St. Edentius is remembered for preaching the Gospel in Gascony. Feast Dates: August 31- St. Eden, also known as Aidan, Aedan or Aedhan; May6- St. Edentius.

    For Kendra…
    "The Knowledgable One" (Old English) or "The Handsome One" (feminine form of Kenneth)
    Patrons Saints: Many regard Kendra as a feminine form of Kenneth or as a variant of Kenda. This leads to St. Kennera, whose names is the female form of Kenneth. She served God by living a life of prayer and solitude in medieval Scotland. And there are a few saints with very similar names, including Kendelion, Kendeus, and Cendeus. Also recognizing that Kendra means "knowledgeable" leads to the patron of scholars, St. Bridget of Sweden. She might be pressed into service as patron. Feast Dates: October 29 – St. Kennera; November 1 – St. Kendelion.

    Anyway, you might not agree with or like some of the connections that he makes, but it's a place to start and a great resource. He states at the beginning of the book that "In our modern world, most Muslims and Jews discover in their names that they belong somewhere. Christian-Catholics need to rediscover their connections to the Catholic family and take pride in being members of it. And there are ways to make it happen." He believes that there is or can be a patron saint for every name. It just might take a little research. In the introduction, he lays out his criteria used for choosing a patron saint for modern names. It's very interesting, even if you know who your name saint is.

    • Kendra

      Thanks Charlotte. That book does sound cool. As you say, he's just making connections. We can try to figure something out ourselves, but sometimes it's nice to have someone else do it!

    • Charlotte {WaltzingM}

      What I find invaluable is his knowledge of really obscure saints and their feast days. There are so many lesser known, or historical saints, than we sometimes realize. If anyone wants to know what he says about a particular name, feel free to email me. I'd be happy to share a clipping or two.

    • Kendra

      We have all four volumes of Butler's Lives of the Saints. There are SO many interesting obscure ones.

  4. Elizabeth

    Evie beat me to it, but I was going to say that I'm pretty sure Adam and Eve have their own feast day, at least in the Eastern churches.

    Are all the Fridays during Easter solemnities, or just today?

    • Elizabeth

      Wait, wait, I just had a fabulous idea! 😀 Hold Eden's feast day celebration on the Feast of the Annunciation, and get her a copy of the painting of Our Lady Undoer of Knots! Because Mary, with her Fiat, leads us back to Eden, the way things were meant to be, right? What do you think?

  5. Athena Carson

    "Involuntary penance" – great phrase! I definitely need to keep that in mind when life hands me lemons and doesn't provide the vodka to go along with it.

  6. Liesl

    I always joke with people that I'm just going to have to be the first St. Liesl 😉 I've thought about adopting an Elizabeth/Elisabeth for my name day – I have a special love for Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, but I'm never sure if it's ok to "celebrate" her since she hasn't been canonized yet. There's always St. Elizabeth, cousin of Mary (which also happens to be the patron of the parish where I received my initial sacraments!), that I could go with too!

    • Amanda

      Leseur's diary was sure food for thought. Is SOG enough to venerate someone? Or do they have to be venerable?

  7. Amanda

    I was just wonder when/if we celebrated OT prophets as saints. Do Moses and Abraham etc have their own days?

    Also, involuntary mortifications! Good phrase. Unfortunate reality.

  8. Ali

    We don't celebrate name days, but we do celebrate half birthdays with a single round cake cut in half, stacked and frosted to look like half a cake.

  9. Heather

    This is great advice. There is, alas, no Saint Heather. Although there was a TON of us born in the 80s, so maybe there's a good chance of a future Saint Heather, lol! I need to go on the hunt for a special saint of my own. Hopefully one will adopt me 🙂 also— my children both have saint names, but I didnt realize when we named Audrey, that St. Audrey is associated with the word 'tawdry' for cheap jewelry that was sold on her feast day in England. Awwwww!

  10. Alea

    I am so glad to hear that last Friday was a Meat Friday, because we just started to do the no-meat Friday thing year round before Lent, and I totally forgot and we had meat. I remembered sometime on Saturday! My kids are picking saints they like for their nameday too, because we ended up with old Testament boy names (and a daughter named Erin – which is an old testament name – just for a boy – but at 10 that's not a very fun connection for her!)

    • Kendra

      I would say that in America, it sounds like a girl's name, but that might differ in other cultures. I did a quick search of "boys names that end in el" and a site came up with over a thousand suggestions, but not Edel for a boy. Lots of other cool suggestions, though. Axel, Ansel, Ensel etc.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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