The Saints and Their Names

The saint making machine at the Vatican shows no sign of slowing down. We have just had released to us a list of those Servants of God who are now lined up for beatification. Almost without exception they are vowed religious/founders and foundresses, and priests except for the pacficist martyr (and married layman) of the Nazi period F. Jagerstatter. Amid all this saint making, however, it strikes me as odd that many of my young Catholic students are named Heather, Crystal, Madison, Ryan, and so on. Is this one of those small signs of the impending apocalypse about which the late (wonderful) Walker Percy urged us to be attentive? Some years ago, when informed that a now departed Notre Dame coach had a son named something like "Dwayne" an old subway alumnus snorted: "What the hell kind of name is that for a kid? Notre Dame coaches name their kids "Anthony" or "Patrick". A small ray of hope on the horizon: last year, the most popular name for a masculine baby in the United States was "Jose."

Lawrence Cunningham is John O'Brien professor of Theology (Emeritus) at the University of Notre Dame.

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