2 questions about the names that religious take


#1
  1. In the past I’ve heard of nuns who are known as, say, “Sister St. Patrick,” “Sister St. Joseph,” etc., not merely “Sister Patrick” or “Sister Joseph.” How common is using the “St.” title in a nun’s new name these days, and why would a nun be called “Sister St. Patrick” as opposed to simply “Sister Patrick”?

  2. Of course, it’s quite common for nuns to have male saints’ names in the names they take (e.g. Sister John Mary, Sister Patrick, Sister Joseph), but do monks and religious priests also routinely take female saints’ names other than Mary (or a form of it like Maria)? I mean, while I’ve known of religious priests and brothers to have names like Father Anthony Mary or Brother Maximilian Maria, I’ve never heard of any with names like Father Anthony Elizabeth or Brother Maximilian Anne. And if the only female name they ever take is Mary, Maria, etc., then why is it that nuns are able to choose male saints’ names, but monks aren’t able to choose female saints’ names?

Thanks in advance


#2

I don’t know the answer to your questions.

I thought that they no longer changed their names.

The sisters that taught me in the 60’s all went back to their given names. The sisters I know now have their given names:shrug:


#3

For the most part, that’s only true of those orders that ditched the habit and various other trappings of religious life (and which are now dying out).


#4

Typically today the majority of religious no longer take a new name when they enter the religious community.

There are three different traditions when one would enter a religious community.

One is the taking of a new name, usually a saints name. The individual would give three choices to their superior and the superior would pick a name, not always from the three given. The tradition holds that only one living member can have a name.

The second is the addition to a given name, such as David of Our Lady of Sorrows. Or St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

There is a third tradition of doing both such as St Edith Stein who is known as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

I know of one group of men, the Clerics Regular of St Paul, who all take Mary as their middle name following their found St Anthony Mary Zaccaria.

I have never heard of any taking Saint as part of their name unless it is in the second or third options above, as in Mary of St Patrick or something like that.


#5

[quote="DavidJoseph, post:1, topic:286617"]
1. In the past I've heard of nuns who are known as, say, "Sister St. Patrick," "Sister St. Joseph," etc., not merely "Sister Patrick" or "Sister Joseph." How common is using the "St." title in a nun's new name these days, and why would a nun be called "Sister St. Patrick" as opposed to simply "Sister Patrick"?

[/quote]

As Br David says, I've only heard of this when there is a title following the saint's name and even then not very commonly.

  1. why is it that nuns are able to choose male saints' names, but monks aren't able to choose female saints' names?

This is only a theory, but I suspect that it's just tradition, not law (nor even Tradition). In the same way that, even though I tell my Confirmandi that they can have either a male or a female saint's name, it's only ever the girls who choose a male name, none of the boys ever choose a female name. In some Romance languages, having Mary/Marie/Maria etc is relatively common as part of a boy's given name, but not any other female name (I've never even seen a derivation of a Marian title for a boy, although girls have Dolores, Carmel and so on, it's straight up Mary-boy's name or nothing).

Plus, there are loads more male canonised saints than female, so men already have more choice :D

BTW, the one living member with the same name thing only applies, I think, to monks and nuns who are expected (whether under a vow of stability or not) to stay in the one community. Friars and sisters I have known who take a religious name are allowed any name approved by the superiors, who may well take into consideration the confusion engendered by multiple name sharing but I don't think they're obliged to (at least that's how Dominicans work and, although I've never asked them, the CFRs and CSJs near us seem to operate on the same principle).


#6

[quote="ByzCath, post:4, topic:286617"]
Typically today the majority of religious no longer take a new name when they enter the religious community.

There are three different traditions when one would enter a religious community.

One is the taking of a new name, usually a saints name. The individual would give three choices to their superior and the superior would pick a name, not always from the three given. The tradition holds that only one living member can have a name.

The second is the addition to a given name, such as David of Our Lady of Sorrows. Or St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

There is a third tradition of doing both such as St Edith Stein who is known as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

I know of one group of men, the Clerics Regular of St Paul, who all take Mary as their middle name following their found St Anthony Mary Zaccaria.

I have never heard of any taking Saint as part of their name unless it is in the second or third options above, as in Mary of St Patrick or something like that.

[/quote]

I'm responding to the last sentence in your post .

There were at least two Congregations of Sisters (both in Canada) that used the word 'Saint' in their religious names: the Congregation of Notre Dame (founded by St. Marguerite Bourgeoys) and the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (founded in France, but brought to Canada in the 19th century.

For instance, the foundress of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (St. Claudine Thevenet) took as her religious name 'Marie Saint-Ignace' (Mary St. Ignatius). A Canadian member of the Congregation, Blessed Dina Belanger, had as her religious name 'Marie Sainte-Cecile de Rome' (Mary St. Cecilia of Rome).

Of course, since Vatican II, they don't do that anymore.


#7

The use of Saint in a religious name is a French custom. Most communities outside of France or former French colonies do not use this custom.

Male religious do not take female names other than adding Mary as a second name. The reason is very simple, the purpose of giving female religious masculine name was to draw attention away from their femininity. This was also a French custom. Not a universal one. Though it is done.

Today, the renewal communities are going back to taking religious names. For example, my community uses it. The postulant gives me three names and a reason for each name. I choose one of those names or another of my choosing. There cannot be two brothers with the same name. Each brother also has a title, just like John of the Cross or Paul of the Cross.

In our community we do not use last names. That's another custom in the renewal communities. The family name is dropped, but you use double names, such as Peter Damien, William Vito, Jason Richard, Joseph Martin, etc. In our community no one may be a Francis of Assisi. You can be any of the other Francis: Francis Xavier, Francis Solanus, Francis de Sales, Francis Paola, but never a Francis Bernadone or Francis of Assisi. That name is retired forever. I don't think that I've ever met a Franciscan male named Francis of Assisi or a female named Clare of Assisi, unlike the Carmelites where there are many Teresa, Theresa, and Therese. My guess is that would be because St. Teresa of Avila is looked upon as a reformer, not a foundress. She founded houses, not an order. The OCD wee an accident.

In some communities of men there is a custom of using Mary, Marie or Maria for everyone as a sing of their Marian spirituality. The Franciscans of the Immaculate and the Franciscans of the Eternal Word both use it for everyone.

Many communities use the baptismal name to maintain the connection between the baptismal vows and the vows of religion. This too is a very valid option. One can never over estimate the value of Baptism.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#8

I know some religious communities (at least in the United States) combine the practices of retaining the baptismal name and taking a religious name so the sister/brother has two names. For example, if the sister was baptized Elizabeth and out of the three names she submitted to her superior, her superior picked Andrew, her name would become Sr. Elizabeth Andrew.


#9

When all sisters used to take new names, a common rule in most communities was that the name had to be different - it could not be a name another sister used because last names were not used anymore. You couldn't have two Sister Francis so one might be Sister Francis and another could be Sister St. Francis. It really was an issue of practicality for most communities.

The rude comment about the sisters not taking new names because they are part of the no - habit communities was unwarranted and irrelevant to the thread. Since it is a work of mercy to instruct the ignorant - I'll give a response.

Back in the "good old days" when all sisters took new names and wore long habits they also didn't have health insurance, college degrees, Social Security, complicated immigration policies, drivers licenses, nursing and teaching certifications, criminal background checks etc... It didn't matter if they changed their name. Jump to the year 2012 though and getting a name change results in serious financial, educational, and practical problems. Sisters who are nurses or teachers or who work in a professional field can't afford to change their names the way they could before (although some do). Imagine if your birth certificate and social security have different names than you passport and your teaching certification and your community wants to send you to a foreign country - good luck! Imagine if you leave religious life and your masters degree is under the name "Sister James John" and now your name is Anne Smith. Imagine you got your RN before you became a sister and now you need to apply for a job - none of your paperwork is in your religious name.

In my community we add another name to our baptismal name but we don't include it on legal documents because it becomes an "alias" that we have to list on everything after that and it gets very sticky.

Sisters have to follow the laws too and it is incredibly complicated to do that with more than one name.


#10

What Sister says is accurate. It's very complicated. What we do is a legal name change after solemn vows. Then you don't have to go back and change all that paperwork. You just submit your copy of the court order with your paperwork whenever you need to do so. That's what I had to do to get my license and my Social Security card. It's the same process that women go through when they get married and go from Miss Jones to Mrs. Smith.

However, the law does require that you have a surname. We keep our family name. We just rarely use it. If you watch the friars on EWTN, you will notice how that works. They rarely use their surnames. But it's on all legal documents with the religious name.

So Jack Daniels becomes Friar Thomas Aquinas Daniels. Everyone calls him Thomas Aquinas or simply TA. Like me. I have never been called by my full religious name. I've been JR since day one. I've gotten so used to it that I even sign things with JR.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#11

[quote="adrift, post:2, topic:286617"]
I don't know the answer to your questions.

I thought that they no longer changed their names.

The sisters that taught me in the 60's all went back to their given names. The sisters I know now have their given names:shrug:

[/quote]

Some still do. Like the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and I'm pretty sure that the monastic orders do that too.


#12

[quote="White_Peony, post:11, topic:286617"]
Some still do. Like the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and I'm pretty sure that the monastic orders do that too.

[/quote]

There is no universal rule. Therefore, there is no universal answer. Even before Vatican II, secular institutes and societies of apostolic life had consecrated members who never changed their names. For example, the Daughters of Charity, Salesians of Jon Bosco, Vincentians, and Maryknoll men never changed their names.

Here is a brain teaser for you, since everyone is so interested in religious name.

This popular spiritual theologian published under his birth name to protect his solitude until he was outed by the Catholic press. In religious life he was known as Brother Louis or Dom Louis in French. Who is he?

If you get it on your first attempt, I'll admit you to our postulancy program. :D

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#13

[quote="JReducation, post:12, topic:286617"]
There is no universal rule. Therefore, there is no universal answer. Even before Vatican II, secular institutes and societies of apostolic life had consecrated members who never changed their names. For example, the Daughters of Charity, Salesians of Jon Bosco, Vincentians, and Maryknoll men never changed their names.

Here is a brain teaser for you, since everyone is so interested in religious name.

This popular spiritual theologian published under his birth name to protect his solitude until he was outed by the Catholic press. In religious life he was known as Brother Louis or Dom Louis in French. Who is he?

If you get it on your first attempt, I'll admit you to our postulancy program. :D

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

Thomas Merton?


#14

[quote="DCNBILL, post:13, topic:286617"]
Thomas Merton?

[/quote]

I agree! Thomas Merton :)


#15

[quote="JReducation, post:12, topic:286617"]
There is no universal rule. Therefore, there is no universal answer. Even before Vatican II, secular institutes and societies of apostolic life had consecrated members who never changed their names. For example, the Daughters of Charity, Salesians of Jon Bosco, Vincentians, and Maryknoll men never changed their names.

Here is a brain teaser for you, since everyone is so interested in religious name.

This popular spiritual theologian published under his birth name to protect his solitude until he was outed by the Catholic press. In religious life he was known as Brother Louis or Dom Louis in French. Who is he?

If you get it on your first attempt, I'll admit you to our postulancy program. :D

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

Thomas Merton, but somebody probably beat me to it. Now, I'll go back and read the whole thread and see. :p


#16

Yes, it was Thomas Merton. At the time the Trappists maintained their French customs and called the monks Dom. He was Dom Louis. Later they changed to English and he became Brother Louis. He was named after St. Louis King of France, maybe because he was a Frenchman himself. :shrug:

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :slight_smile:


#17

So when do I start my postulancy? :smiley: Can I commute? :wink:


#18

[quote="DCNBILL, post:17, topic:286617"]
So when do I start my postulancy? :D Can I commute? ;)

[/quote]

Actually, if you want to be a secular brother, you can commute and you're not too far either.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#19

[quote="JReducation, post:7, topic:286617"]

Male religious do not take female names other than adding Mary as a second name.

[/quote]

There are exceptions. I know a Fr. John Therese.


#20

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