Baby Name of the Day: Auxiliadora


Español: Parroquia María Auxiliadora. Córdoba ...

Español: Parroquia María Auxiliadora. Córdoba (Argentina). English: Maria Auxiliadora church. Cordoba, Argentina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s another fascinating rarity with religious overtones.

Thanks to Pree for suggesting Auxiliadora as our Baby Name of the Day.

If you meet an Auxiliadora, she’s probably actually Maria Auxiliadora.  This is a Marian name, like Lourdes or Consiglia or Pilar or Assumpta, and she was a bit of a challenge to track down.

That’s because in English she’s Mary, Help of Christians.  You have to know the Latin – Sancta Maria Auxilium Christianorum – to decipher the origin of the given name.

She feels clumsy in English, but Auxiliadora has quite the backstory.

Saint John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople and quite the thinker, back in the 300s.  He’s not without controversy, but his influence is undeniable.  He’s the first to refer to Mary as Auxiliadora, but not the first to understand Mary as a helper – that’s among the earliest tenets of the organized church.

The phrase is used sparingly over the years, and then came the sixteenth century, and the battles against invading Ottoman forces.  Pope Pius V asked Christians to pray to Mary, asking her to help the Christians ward off the thundering horde.  European forces carried the day, and Mary got the credit.

The future saint John Bosco boosted the title in 1800s.  An educator and founder of religious orders, the priest helped spread the use of the title throughout the world.  Parishes and their affiliated schools can be found throughout the US.  There’s a neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Chile called Marie Auxiliadora, and I bet there are other streets and places, too.

Finding women by the name?  That’s another story:

  • Maria Auxiliadora Jimenez Gonzalez played women’s soccer in Spain, and answered to the short form Auxi.
  • A German genealogist includes a Maria Auxiliadore on his family tree. Her surname is Italian, but it isn’t clear where she was born or lived.  But he does include a fun snippet – her nickname was Dodo.
  • Searching US Census records turns up dozens of women by the name, most born in California or the American southwest or in Spanish-speaking countries.  Most are combined with Maria, but not all – I spotted an Ethel Auxiliadora and my favorite, Anais Auxiliadora.

It’s no wonder she’s rare in English.  I can’t hear her without thinking of auxiliary – an aid or support, like the Ladies’ Auxiliary or the auxiliary power supply.  It isn’t a problematic meaning in any way, but it isn’t one that logically lends itself to a personal name, either.

File Auxiliadora under the mostly unwearable in the English-speaking world, but don’t count her out in every language.  And she’s a lovely surprise in the middle spot, especially if you’re looking for something extravagant, unusual, and Catholic with a nod the Spanish language.  And if you’re the kind of parent willing to consider Alexandria and Elisabetta, maybe a longer name isn’t unthinkable.

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15 Comments

It is right up there with other old world names that you find in old records. Many of them I like or have come to appreciate Such as; Annunciata, Audefleda, Clariandra, Candelaria, Esclarmonde, Ermingarde, Evochilde, Godeleve, Yseult, and Innocentia to name a few. I think Auxiliadora, including the names listed up above and so many others are an acquired taste, but I don’t think that they should be ruled out entirely. I think they age well, are rich and steeped in history, and have a mysteriously charming appeal to them. Outside elementary schools, your child needn’t worry about being teased. I’m finding that as you get older, the most appealing names are the ones that you know anything about. People in general are drawn to intrigued, especially adults who have the rationale to understand it, kindergartners are drawn to fitting in. It takes a bold person and meaningful purpose to bestow a big and out of the ordinary names on their child, but I see advantages to it as well, especially if it is a name from within the family tree.

Having grown up with a different name than most of the elementary kids that I went to school with, I felt like I was breaking the mold. My mother often told me that sometimes in life, there are instances where you have to go about things in life on your own, and there will not always be a group pf people to coddle you, hold your hand or support you and that would include your name too. Both require you to carry your own weight, both impact your life and both stand out. If you can carry yourself in those tough moments than you can carry the weight of your name and what it respresents.

I think Auxiliadora represents a piece of that aspect. Breaking the name mold is another way and a nod toward understanding that there other bigger things to embrace, preserve, and respect in life besides choosing names that fit a specific name-mold-mentality. I learned that lesson as child in elementary school. Perhaps other children who have excellent parents who have navigated those rough waters would be just the type of people who are inclined to fancy Auxiliadora. I personally would be tickled pink to meet a little Auxi.

My name Mariuxy is derived from Maria Auxiliadora. Nicknames vary from “Mary” to “Uxy”. I love my name.

Oh my goodness. Wow. Kudos to any parent willing to use this! It’s pretty in a clunky way, but what a name for a child to learn to spell, let alone say!

When I was born I was going to die so my mother prayed for Saint Maria Auxiliadora to hold me and cure me. I survived and going on 60! By the way Auxiliadora nick name is Dora

I actually like this recent string of unusual girl names being featured 🙂

That said, I have seen this name listed on the name-day calendar and have seen it on old Spanish ladies. I never appreciated it before until I read this little take you did 🙂 I definitely see the appeal.

Abby, this is not meant to be a negative comment in any way. However, I’m wondering why you seem to be getting down to the most obscure and increasingly bizarre girls’ names while the wealth of boys’ names out there remains neglected. I’d love to see a Boys’ Month for the NotD feature.

Should have added that I realize you feature lots of boys’ names, but lately the balance has started to feel out of wack.

Auxiliadora is quite a lot of name, though strikingly beautiful. I actually like Dora for a short form. But if I were going to go with a super elaborate A name my favorite is Aureliana.

Boy, Auxiliadora is a mouthful. Lovely meaning, but my first thought was that it looks like a antibiotic.

Auxi could be striking.

Wow! That’s a lot of name and meaning. A perfect name for a much-prayed for child, though. Shortened to Auxli or Auxley, it sounds less exotic but still unique.

Wow! I’ve never even heard of this name before, it certainly is extravagant. Although it might be too much for a person in real life, I’d love to see it on a literary character.