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.