St. Blaise confronting the Roman governor: Sce...

If you think choosing a saints’ name for your son means sticking with a tried-and-true choice like John, Matthew, or James, you’re half right.

While many of the saints’  names are familiar choices, there are more than 10,000 saints, and more are named regularly.

This is good news for parents eager to find an unusual name for a child that will reflect their Catholic faith.

Or maybe it is bad news – after all, that’s a pretty extensive list of possibilities – at least as many as the average baby name book.

Plenty of them are challenging to wear in 2014.  I think we can take Mun and Ubald off the list.  But that still leaves pages of potential saintly names for a boy.

Here are a select few that strike the right balance – wearable in our age, far less expected than John or James, and with ties to a saint.

Abel – Yes, there’s Cain and Abel in the Bible.  But there’s also a saint by the name, an Irish-born bishop and later abbot of a Benedictine monastery around the eighth century.

Apollo – Better known as a Greek god – and the name of Gwen Stefani’s youngest – there was also a fourth century hermit known as Apollo, as well as several saints Apollinarus and Apollonius.

English: Statue of Saint Blaise on the Holy Tr...

Blaise – Tempted by names like Cash and Crew, but determined to find something with deeper roots?  Saint Blaise could be the answer to your prayers!  A fourth century martyr, Blaise was a physician in life.  Wildly popular during the Middle Ages, he’s still well known today.  That’s probably because the blessing of Saint Blaise traditionally prevents sore throats.  That’s him in the stained glass image above, and in the statue to the right.

Benedict – There’s a long line of saints Benedict, as well as the Pope Emeritus.  In the US, Benedict also brings to mind Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold.  I’ve added the name to this list for two reasons: British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, best known as the star of Sherlock, as well as the easy nickname Ben.

Colman – Like Blaise, Colman could read as a modern choice.  A formal name for Cole, maybe, or a borrowed surname.  Instead, Colman is the given name of several Irish saints, starting in the early Middle Ages.

Day – At first glance, Day is a word name, something like naming your child Wednesday or June.  Except there’s an obscure Cornish saint named Day, Dei, or Thei.  There’s not much written about him, though a small village in Cornwall still bears his name.

Finbar, Finbarr – The saintly Finbar was once Bishop of Cork, and now that city’s patron saint.  If you’re looking for something authentically Irish, and like the idea of the nickname Finn, Finbar is one to consider.  The extended Kennedy clan includes a William Finbar, known as Finn.

Fintan – Some of these best saint names are Irish, and sure enough – here’s another interesting appellation from that category – and another formal name for Finn.

Imre – Also called Emeric, the eleventh century Hungarian prince and heir to the throne died while hunting.  Singer Alannis Morrisette has a son named Ever Imre.

Ivo – A handful of saints have worn this name.  It’s also a nature name, connected to the yew tree – and sometimes swapped for Yves or Ives.

Junian – The name of a sixth century hermit and saint.  The village of Saint-Junien, where he once lived, is named in his honor.  If Julian is a Top 100 choice for boys, why not Junian?

Kingsmark – Looking for a really assertive name for a son?  Like the idea of Kingston or Kingsley, but not attached to Jamaica and/or Harry Potter?  Consider Cynfarch – or better still, his English equivalent, Kingsmark.  It’s the name of obscure Welsh saint.

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Landry – Two French bishops by the name would become saints, one from the fifth century and another from the seventh.  In Latin, the name is Landericus.  It comes from the Germanic Landric – powerful ruler.  Want another reason to find Landry suitably masculine?  Think of Dallas Cowboys coaching legend, the late Tom Landry.

Linus – Before The Peanuts gave us a very famous Linus, there was the second pope, mentioned in New Testament.  As saint names go, Linus is familiar as a given name – and yet it has been outside the US Top 1000 for decades.

Maccallin – Maccallin was a Scottish saint who helped establish a Benedictine monastery in Namur, Belgium in the tenth century.  It became a private home after the French Revolution.  Saint Maccallin was one of the first abbots.  Maccallin would fit right in with rising names like Sullivan, and also offers friendly short form Mac.

What’s your favorite obscure saint’s name for a son?  Are there any on this list that you would consider?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. We are considering Aquinas after St. Thomas Aquinas, for our first son, due next year. One of our daughters is named Avila, so we think it would be fitting. 😉

  2. Oh, one of my favorite category of names! Does anyone else love it when they do the litany of saints at church just to hear the names!

    I love so many other these names. I do know a Blaise in real life. It’s just an awesome name, I think!!

    1. Yes! I thought that was just me. 🙂

      My son is in the middle of a research project where he chose three saints’ lives to profile. He chose great saints, including Francis – how could I argue with that? But I had to stop myself from suggesting saints based on names alone as we flipped through

      I suspect I’m going to have a similar issue when it comes to confirmation … though even I have a saint’s name based on meaning rather than the name itself. (Teresa of Avila – though, of course, Avila could be an amazing name …)

  3. Fun list! While my boys’ names are more the tried-and-true variety, I do have a friend with a Blaise and another with a Linus. We’re planning on using John Benedict as a future boy’s name. My favorite saint name off the beaten path is Cyprian.

    1. Cyprian is a great name, as is John Benedict! I’m a sucker for a classic first-unconventional middle combination.

  4. I’m expecting a little one on Sunday, and this category is my favorite. Benedict is our front runner but others on our list were Augustine, Blaise, Edmund, Linus and Matthias.

  5. Maybe Anselm isn’t obscure enough of a saint (he’s pretty major!), but it’s rare enough as a contemporary name. I’ve long tried to get my husband to put it even on his long list, but he won’t consider it. 🙁

    1. Good point, Sara – I went for obscure saints with obscure names this time. But Anselm is an obscure name with a MAJOR saint behind it – could be a great choice!