Tuesday, 17 March 2009

No Common Name

Now take the holy abbess Sexburga, mentioned by St. Bede, for instance. Was this name given her by her parents, taken in religion or merely acquired posthumously? Be that as it may I suppose some good may eventually come out of parents naming their children after some minor celebrity of the moment and that, after lives of heroic virtue, we may expect some saint "Kylie" or "Darren", "Jason" or "Jade" raised to our altars and thus provide a wider pool of genuinely Christian names from which to choose. There is certainly something to be said for this. After twenty centuries we are on to our sixteeth Benedict as Pope having had twenty-three (well really twenty-two but it's enough) Johns, a dozen Piuses, thirteen Leos and fourteen Clements. In the England of Tudor times when the king was called Henry most men, good and bad, were called Thomas after St. Thomas Becket who had stood up to Henry II. Is it any wonder that HenryVIII freaked out? And what contrasts between them! On the one hand you had depraved monsters like Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer while, on the other, a true hero and saint like Thomas More.
As a matter of fact we can be very grateful to St Thomas Becket and St Francis of Assisi for breaking up what was looking like becoming a monopoly of Johns (generally after him of whom the Lord said was no greater born of woman)- although St Francis should have been a John really, having been thus baptised. Yet it is a funny thing how the names given in almost any field seem to be drawn from a narrowing pool. I was very pleased when Pope Benedict was elected and he didn't choose "John Paul III". Granted, he didn't have a lot of time to think it over but...Benedict is fine.
As is Patricius! To all who share the name of the great apostle of Ireland, noble in name and noble in spirit, Happy Feastday!

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