Many children, when they are old enough, become curious as to the origins of their names. For some female children who are named after a great-grandmother, an aunt, or a famous personality or celebrity, the answer is quite obvious. For a select few who bear names that are not that common, the search could lead them to obscure books or stories that are their parents’ favorites. But there are those bearing what are now quite common girl saint names but are not quite aware that they also bear the names of Roman Catholic saints, martyred centuries ago for their faith.
Here are ten of the most common names of female saints and a brief introduction of the remarkable women who bore them. It might serve to inspire the bearers of these names to find out about the virtues that made these women pillars of their religion.
St. Joan of Arc is perhaps one of the more well-known female Catholic Saints. (Her story was even made into a full-length movie that was very well received both by critics and the movie-going public). She lived and died in France in the Middle-Ages and fought as a soldier in the wars that darkened the time. She received visions and revelations even when she was just a little girl. Her involvement in the politics of the time caused her to be judged a heretic and burned alive at the stake. St. Joan is now revered for her devotion for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
The name, Claudia is derived from St. Claudia of Rome. St. Claudia was of the nobility, the daughter of Caractacus, an exiled British King. St. Claudia was baptized a Christian in Rome. Claudia is one of the few names of females saints mentioned in the Holy Bible. St. Claudia was the woman written about in the book of Timothy. She was the mother of another Roman Catholic saint who was a one of the first Bishops of the city (St. Linus).
St. Barbara of Izmit was born to a wealthy family in Asia Minor during the Byzantine Era. Her pagan father who worshipped idols confined her to a tower because he was jealous of her beauty being taken away from him by men who’d come to propose marriage. In her solitude she had time to contemplate God’s presence in the world and she eventually sought baptism as a Christian. She was martyred a virgin and is now venerated as the Patroness of architects and builders.
St. Phoebe became part of the Church in Rome upon the recommendation of St. Paul the Apostle. She became beloved to the early Christians due to her industry and selfless support in spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ. She became a deaconess of the Roman Catholic Church and spent her ministry in Corinth in the first century. She is the Phoebe mentioned in the Holy Bible in Romans 16:1.
The name, Hermione may be famous these days and to this generation mainly due to the popularity of a fantastical book and movie series, but the first known Hermione was a Catholic Saint. St. Hermione, the daughter of Phillip the Deacon is known to her devotees as the Martyr of Ephesus. In the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke she was considered a prophetess of her time.
St. Juliana of Nicomedia was known for her steadfastness. Before she was martyred and executed she suffered through many physical beatings from her father and fiancée because of her refusal to be married. Her family had pagan beliefs, but when she found about the Catholic Church her powerful intellect convinced her that paganism was full of deception and so she decided to abandon it. Every time she was beaten her wounds healed miraculously. The people who witnessed the miracles chose to be baptized into the Church.
St. Felicity was born a slave and right before she was executed in an arena as a form of entertainment to the pagans who were watching the proceedings, she gave birth to a baby girl who escaped with the help of some early Christians. St. Felicity, the Patron saint of mothers and expectant mothers, was martyred with other Christians in 203 AD. Their graves and remains were found and marked in a Basilica in Carthage in 1907.
St. Teresa of Avila was born and raised by a well-to-do religious family. She was educated by Augustinian nuns and eventually she entered the Carmelite monastery which she led and where she made many reformations. Her spiritual directors included St. John of the Cross and St. Francis Xavier. She was considered a doctor of the Church for her mystical books and holy writings. She was born in March 28, 1515 and died in October 4, 1582.
St. Catherine of Siena is the patron saint of writers. She was born to a lower middle-class family as the youngest of many children. She had visions at an early age, celestial visitations and spiritual espousals as well. At around 1366, she devoted all her time to her ministry in converting sinners. She also worked selflessly in serving the poor and taking care of the sick.
St. Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist and the cousin of the Virgin Mary. She got pregnant at a very advanced age and like her cousin accepted God’s will for her without question. Two Queens of the United Kingdom are named after her, of course.
People who bear girl saint names don’t necessarily have to follow in the footsteps of these remarkable individuals. Perhaps they can take what inspiration they can and be enriched by the knowledge of the origins of the saintly names that they bear.