Up until a few weeks ago, the most famous bearers of this little-known name were a handful of Italian saints. But ever since Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck chose this name for Violet’s little sister, she’s been all Hollywood.
Today’s Name of the Day is Seraphina.
Saints aside, this name is unapologetically religious. The seraphim are an order of six-winged angels referenced in both the Old and New Testaments. There’s some debate about the precise origin of their name, but all agree that it means burning. Sometimes they’re literally depicted in flames; sometimes it refers to the intensity of their devotion to God.
The aristocratic Sveva de Montefeltro Sforza took the name Seraphina when she entered a convent back in the fifteenth century. She was eventually beatified as the Blessed Seraphina Sforza; two other bearers of the name attained sainthood:
- The thirteenth century Seraphina – sometimes called Saint Fina – was a pious young girl who gave away her food and wove clothing for those in need. Her fortunes turned from humble to truly desperate when both her parents died and she was afflicted with a series of mysterious diseases. But Fina kept the faith and is still celebrated in her Tuscan village;
- A fifth century Saint Seraphina is listed in some records, but little is known of her life.
Seraphinus was also in use in Late Latin, though sparingly. And yet the name managed to spread into other languages – Seraphine, Serafina and Serafima are all rare but not unknown.
While we find her in US Census records – often with a strongly Italian surname and occasionally as a member of a religious order – she’s never ranked in the US Top 1000.
Or maybe that should read she’s yet to rank in the US Top 1000. Not only does Seraphina have some serious starbaby credentials, she fits right in with these picks from the current US Top 50:
- Isabella (#2);
- Sophia (#6);
- Samantha (#12);
- Brianna (#22);
- Victoria (#29);
- Nevaeh (#31);
- Gabriella (#38);
- Alexandra (#49).
Seraphina would sound at home in the average kindergarten class full of hyper-feminine girls’ names.
And while the angelic aspect will put some parents off, it is a bonus for others. Besides the polarizing Nevaeh, the US Top 100 includes spiritual appellations like Destiny, Trinity and Faith with plenty of others climbing the charts.
Lastly, Seraphina might be a mouthful, but she shortens to Sera – quite close to the evergreen Sarah (currently #18) and Sara (not far behind at #81).
Overall, Seraphina is exactly what a starbaby name ought to be – surprising, interesting and trend-setting. And while big sister Violet’s name was already on the rise when Ben and Jen chose it in 2005, it is worth noting that Violet had leapt more than 100 places by 2006.
If this were Vegas, I’d be willing to be that Seraphina surfaces in the Top 1000 by 2010.
Well use my spelling – as I think mine makes it less formal and more fun. 🙂 And I use the nick ‘Finah” quite a bit. “Saraphinah”
Tattered Gossamer says
I know i am a few years too late for this thread.. Can anyone tell me where to find the article about 30 somethings recycling their pet names?? Alas that is pretty much what i would do.. although my whole family has told me no for years and years:-) Would love to see what the article says..
Hmmm, Seraphina. What a nice way to honor my mother, Sara. Usually I am against made-up names but what do you think of Seralina?
Laura, I agree – while I like the name Violet, Violet and Seraphina don’t sound like sibs to me. And Seraphine has two middles while Violet just has Anne!
My hang-up with Seraphina is her religious vibe. Maybe it is because I’m Catholic, but it just feels like SO much to put on a kid. Then again, I feel the same way about Destiny. And Trinity. And Nevaeh …
I’m with Kate and Lola here- she’s gorgeous, and I want to like her as I love most feminine names – but she’s just a bit too frilly for my tastes.
And the nn ‘Sera’ puts me off too, truthfully!
I love this name!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i think its sooo pretty though i dont think it went well with Jen Garners first child Violet.
I want to like Seraphina, really, I do. She’s feminine and religious but sadly, I feel pretty much the same as Kate about Seraphina. Too flouncy, frilly and sugary for me. She beats Riley, Morgan & Madison’s butts up & down the block, though! 😀
Serial post. Lest anyone think I want to turn this into a “name your pets discussion”, consider that when we discovered we were to have a daughter, we lamented the fact that we had used the name “Lyra” for the puppy as opposed to saving it for our offspring. I believe Salon ran an article a while back about 30 somethings who have lived long enough to have lost pets as adults and the prevalence of recycling the names of deceased pets as names for children.
I fell in love with the name (if not the spelling of) Seraphina after reading His Dark Materials years ago. My husband deemed the name too ethnic to pair with his very Italian last name. Petwise, I have always considered “Serafina Pekkala” the perfect moniker for a black cat. But since we have no unnamed cats running about, a few years ago we contented ourselves with naming our new mutt for another Pullman character: Lyra.
And on that note, might I suggest Lyra as a future name of the day?
This name was on our short list back in 2002, but we just couldn’t quite love it enough to put it on our kid. Fina sounds like a cute and spunky nickname!
I’d be willing to bet on it too Appellation Mountain! Overall I find Seraphina uber feminine, far too fussy and yes, quite princessy but I have a sneaking liking for her in spite of all this. While she’s way too frilly to ever be my cup of tea I can see why others might be attracted to her, I mean she does roll off the tongue rather nicely in her own pretty way and lets face it, if anyone’s going to pull off this flouncy, four syllable frilly-dilly, ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’ appellation – it’s going to be a celebrity baby…