History of changing name at consecration

Not sure if this is the right place, but I’d like some background on when people began to change their name when they joined a religious order.

How did it began? What was the philosophy/ theology behind the movement? I see it clearly in Scripture and it seems to me that when God re-names someone, the meaning of the name indicates their new role. For example Abram=father, Abraham=father of many, Simon changed to Peter–the rock of the Church. Nowadays it seems as if people take the name of a person or saint who inspires them. While that is a good and fine thing to do, it seems like we end up with about 50 Therese’s and Francis’. I feel the meaning of the name is more important, and should say something about what you aspire to or hope to attain, or what motivates/inspires you to continue in your vocation.

Thanks for the help.

Started in scripture:


The name usually signfiies the holiness of a saint with the same name? So what if we have many of the same name? What a testimony to the holiness that the faith has engendered. :clapping:

In the case of religious profession, the symbolism has always been that of a second baptism, only one of tears and repentance. In the Byzantine churches, the one being tonsured receives his/her new name during the service, and accepts it his first act of obedience.

It is not unheard of in the East to take a new name upon ordination. Anastasios Kephalas took the name Lazarus when he became a deacon. He is now known as the wonderworking bishop St. Nektarios (which name he assumed either at the priesthood or episcopate).

Poe John II 533 AD was the first Pope to change his name. He did not feel that his name of Mercury would be appropriate.

I realize that, but the early popes didn’t change their names, nor did the first monks or religious. They kept their baptismal names. So, when did it become the custom to change your name upon taking vows? And was it always the custom to take a saint’s name or was it also customary to choose a name that had an important meaning?

Yes, popes began to change their names, yet there is still records of people living in community who have names like Nymphna. Did religious begin changing their name because it was like a second baptism, and since you usually get named at baptism it seemed appropriate to take a new name?

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