It’s the kind of quirky antique that baby name guides omit, an all-but-lost appellation that has a certain vintage charm.
Thanks to Meredith for suggesting her great-grandmother’s name as our Baby Name of the Day: Consiglia.
References to Consiglia are rare. The current Queen of Belgium’s full name is Paola Margherita Maria Antonia Consiglia, born in 1937.
The Italian priest Pio of Pietrelcina, commonly known as Padre Pio, has been a popular candidate for canonization in recent years. One of the women said to be cured through his miraculous intercession was Consiglia de Martino.
Consiglia Teutonica was just fourteen during the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts strike known as the Bread and Roses uprising. Consiglia’s mom was an organizer, and their kitchen a war room. Years later, Consiglia would help historians record oral histories of the events.
Women wearing the name are plentiful in the 1930 US Census, nearly all with Italian surnames, many with spouses called Guido or Rocco or Frank. There must have been a flurry of baby girls called Consiglia at the the turn of the twentieth century.
Singer Consiglia Licciardi has had a long career in Italy. Like Meredith’s grandmother, she hails from Naples.
But where does the name come from? Anyone who has seen a mob movie has stumbled across the shadowy position of consigliere – literally the Italian word for counselor. It is sometimes misunderstood as the equivalent of lawyer. The most famous consigliere was Tom Hagen of The Godfather. Tom had a law degree, but his predecessor, Genco, had nothin’ but street smarts.
In Latin, consilium is advice, and a consiliarius is one who offers such guidance. Before the term was used by the mafia, it surfaced in medieval Venice. The consigliere ducal was an advisor to the Doge.
But none of this tracks with a name given to daughters in the nineteenth century. Here’s something that does: there’s a story that a fresco of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child miraculously appeared in a church in Genazzano, Italy – about midway between Rome and Naples – during a feast in the year 1467. Over the centuries, it became a pilgrimage site, with miracles attached to the portrait. Mary is called Our Lady of Good Counsel in this depiction.
Devotion to his particular aspect of Mary intensified, and seems to have peaked in the 1890s and early 1900s, under Pope Leo XIII. Other artists painted Our Lady of Good Counsel, and this title entered into common use. Marian attributes frequently became given names, especially in Spanish and Italian. Little wonder that affection for Our Lady of Good Counsel would translate to a bunch of baby Consiglias.
If you have Consiglia on your family tree and are eager to use it, the nickname option Cosi might serve as an update. Still, while some Marian names – Lourdes, for one – are fashion-forward, Consiglia keeps company with other obscurities like Assumpta.
She might not be the easiest name to wear in 21st century America, but Consiglia does demonstrate that names have always been influenced by major cultural events of our time. Parents are delightfully inventive, and our influences are ever-changing.
Mary Schafrik says
My Mother and her 2 Cousins were all named for a Grandmother Consiglia –
All three registered for school in the USA as Sylvia.
Mary, that’s fascinating – thanks for sharing!
My Italian family was big on slightly different names – Chiara had granddaughters named Clara, Clarina, etc. Though the boys tended to be just Vincent, Anthony, etc.
How about Selia as nickname for Consiglia or Signe.
My paternal grandmother’s name was Consiglia. My father is one of 10 children and most of his siblings named one of their daughters Consiglia. My birth certificate name is Consiglia. I’ve been called Celia all my life. My cousins with the same name including an aunt are called Connie for short.
I love the uniqueness of my real name.
It was con-SIG-lee-ah in my head until I read the comment about con-SEEL-yah. I like Cecilia better. Baby CeCe made an appearance on The Office tonight!
Thanks so much for doing my great-grandmother’s name! It was anglicized to Connie and I’ve wondered about Consiglia ever since I found out that was her full name, but never had any luck finding information on it.
Oh I love Marian appellation names! I’ve never heard Consiglia before and she is lovely! I would die for a year of NOTDs devoted to Marian names!
This would be a fantastic topic for a Fetching Names post!
Sarah A says
Consiglia is really pretty, though I can’t really see her on anyone without Italian heritage. Also, it screams “Godfather” to me, but then my family are big fans. It’s definitely rich enough in history, meaning, and beauty that with the right background Consiglia would make a great first or middle name!
Something is rubbing me the wrong way about -siglia. Even if it is not actually pronounced, it just looks weird. I’m not sure what it looks like – maybe a bacteria? The Con- beginning is pleasant and attractive, though. If it is pronounced as it looks, I think Consignia looks more appealing, but Consuela seems easier in general to deal with.
Consignia – if not pronounced like consignment – could have Signe as a nickname (cute!). But, I think I’m really favoring Concetta as the Con- name of choice. Love the meaning, love the potential for vintage Etta and quirky Chet as nicknames…
I really like Consiglia. If I’m pronouncing it correctly (con-SEEL-ya), it sounds almost like Cornelia or Cordelia, and could yield the great nickname of Celia…pretty!