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Name day: find your patron saint

For centuries the name day has had a high value in Catholic circles. Some families still celebrate the anniversary of their patron saint as a second birthday. But not everyone knows when it is their name day. How do you determine your name day, what meaning does this day have and when you celebrate it if there are more saints or angels with the same name?

How do you determine your patron saint?

You have several possibilities for determining your patron saint. You can find information on this topic on the website of your diocese. If you do not find what you are looking for, call us and get personal advice on your patron saint.

Of course, you can also use a simple search on the Internet, such as 'Thomas the patron saint', to find your personal saint and find out more.

There are also numerous websites on the Internet where you can simply enter your name and they will give you information on the saint associated with your name or when you celebrate your name day. Sometimes you can also enter a date if you want to know the saints of a particular day. Below you will find two information pages that invite you to browse:

Good to know: during the liturgical reform in the 1970s, the Catholic Church revised the ecclesiastical calendar of saints and placed several celebrations of saints on a different date. It is therefore not unusual today for people with the same name (patron) to celebrate their name day on different dates.

What does the name day mean?

"A good name is a great gem" - this quote was handed down to us by Friedrich Schiller. Indeed, many families today think a lot about what name to give their child before birth. According to the teachings of the Church, a name has a special significance for a baptised child: it brings him or her out of anonymity and distinguishes him or her from others. Already in early Christian congregations it was a lived custom to give children the names of saints or even angels.

In the Middle Ages, at baptism, a child was given the name of the saint of the day. The great importance of this day can be seen from the fact that the church register did not record the date of birth, but that of baptism. The day of commemoration of the saint in whose name a person was baptised represents a personal holiday. The names of the saints are to be intercessors and models for the child and to give him or her comfort in need - and this throughout life.

Kind bei der GeburtThe name of a child has a special meaning - also to determine the patron saint of the name.

By the way: although mainly Catholics maintain the tradition of name days, the Protestant Church also has a name calendar. But since Protestants do not know any canonisation, no name day is celebrated there.

What is a name day gift?

The name day was already solemnly celebrated in the late Middle Ages as the feast of the patron saint, with fasting, participation in religious services and donations of sacrifices and alms. After the Reformation, the Jesuits and Capuchins started celebrating the name day. But this was not only celebrated religiously, but also festively in the family circle. Since the 18th century, it has been said that on this day a picture of the patron saint and some pretzels were tied to a child's arm.

Although the religious occasion of the name day celebration should not be overshadowed, the subject is always happy with a personal gift. A small carved wooden statue of the patron saint is a great gift idea.

Holy Nunfrom 54 €
Mother Annfrom 77 €
Saint Christopherfrom 19 €
Saint Joseph as Joinerfrom 56 €

The gift doesn't have to cost a lot, just a small thought. For example, a nice birthday card with a personal dedication and a few loving phrases.

When is the name day when several saints have the same name? Or when the same saint has different commemoration days?

Determining one's name can be difficult when several saints have the same first name. If your name is John or Thomas, you are spoilt for choice, because the different saints are simply called that.

It can also be difficult if the same saint has different commemoration days in the church calendar. Your name is Mary? Congratulations, you can choose your name day as you wish. The church only knows 14 feast and memorial days for the Virgin Mary. Mary mother of God.

Madonna Gardenafrom 26 €
Madonna R.I.from 50 €
Madonna of the Alpsfrom 41 €
Madonna of Lovefrom 32 €

In the above cases, when should one celebrate one's name day? First of all, the Church does not make any rules.

If you have not celebrated your name day on a certain date since childhood because your parents have chosen a specific saint, make your own choice. Take a look at the biographies of the saints, which are questioned for you:

  • Who was he or she?
  • Why was he canonised by the Church?
  • What is the most beautiful thing in your life?
  • What can we still learn from him today?
Die GottesmutterThere are many days of celebration and commemoration of the Blessed Mother. The choice of a name day is not an easy decision.

Which saint do you like best? If your name is Mary and you are an ardent pilgrim, it would make sense to name 11 February (Our Lady's day in Lourdes) or 13 May (Our Lady's day in Fatima). As a diligent prayer of the Rosary, you could celebrate your name day on 7 October (feast of Our Lady of the Rosary). In fact, many Marys choose the Feast of the Name of Mary on 12 September. However, the choice of name for your patron depends entirely on your own taste.

What are the most popular names and their namesakes?

Names inspired by the Bible or religious figures are always at the top of the list of the most popular names. Below you will find out which sacred examples lie behind Mia, Emma, Ben & Co:

Female first names

  • Emilia: Emilia has many sacred models, be it Saint Emiliana (5 January), Saint Emilie de Vialar (21 March), the mystic Emilie de Vialar (24 August) or the Dominican Emilia Bicchieri (3 May).
  • Emma: the name 'Emma' is derived from St Emma of Lesum, wife of the Saxon Count Liudger and sister of Bishop Meinwerk of Paderborn. She was considered a peacemaker in disputes and arguments. Her memorial day is 3 December.
  • Mia: Mia is a short form of Maria and can choose her personal name day from many possible namesakes. We have already mentioned some possible dates above.
  • Sophia: Sophia was a young Roman woman who professed Christianity and suffered martyrdom for her faith during the persecution of Christians. Already in the 6th century she was venerated as a saint. Her name day is 15th May.
  • Lina: Lina is an abbreviation of Karolina or Caroline. Her patroness may be the socially committed nun and founder of the Congregation of the Poor School Sisters of Our Lady. Name day: 9 May.

Male first names

  • Ben: Ben is the short form of Benjamin. Benjamin ('Son of Fortune') was a deacon and worked as a missionary in his homeland, Persia. He died as a martyr. Benjamin's name day is 31 March.
  • Paul: many dignitaries of the Church bore the name Paul. Paul could choose his name day: 25 January, 6 February, 16 April, 13 June, 26 June, 29 June or 19 October.
  • Jonah: the prophet Jonah is known through the biblical story of the whale. According to legend, he was saved from drowning by a whale. His memorial day is 21 September.
  • Luigi: Luigi comes from Aloisius and refers to the 'martyr of charity': Alois of Gonzaga.
  • Noah: Noah was a biblical figure from the Old Testament and was instructed by God to build an ark. Noah celebrates his name day on 28th November.

By the way: if you are interested in religious figures, we also recommend our article on the meaning of the Putto Angel.

Have you found the right patron saint and want to enrich your home with a high-quality, hand-carved saint statue? Then you are welcome to browse through our online shop. We offer you almost 400 sacred wood figures and angels of different sizes.

Credits: main image: ©gettyimages/georgeclerk, image 1: ©gettyimages/damircudic, product images: © Lignoma, image 2: ©gettyimages/Tangkwa_Nikon

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