Just had a baby? Looking for a good name for him or her? Why not choose the name of an Italian saint? Our guide to Italian Saint names gives you facts & information on the most popular saints to hail from Italy.
The lives of the people of Italy have been greatly influenced by the saints of Christianity. This is apparent in the various religious buildings, medieval churches, baroque art and architecture that fill the length and breadth of this country. A further influence of the saints of Christianity can be seen in the names that people tend to have. Many of the Italian names that we commonly get to hear have been derived from the names of these saints and other biblical characters that were of religious significance.
Derived Saint Names
Italian saint names may not appear now as they used to be. This is because during the early years of the Greek rule in Italy much of the religious literature was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Hence the people were given names of saints at their birth in these languages. With the passage of time these names underwent spelling changes which also resulted in a change of pronunciation. A name that may have been derived from a saint’s name in the good old days may seem to be quite different today. Most Italians will however be aware of the roots of these names but the non Italians may not even have the vaguest of ideas.
4th Century Italian Saints
In the belief system of the Italians there is a saint by the name of Sant’Achilleo who is believed to have been martyred in the fourth century. The Italianized version of the saint’s name is Achilleus. Similarly you have Sant Agostino who was a fourth century bishop and doctor of the Church. Augustine is the name derived from this saintly character.
The modern Italian name Claude too finds its roots in the name of San Claudio who was a Burgundian monk in the sixth century. The pope during the years 88-07 was San Clement out of which is derived the name Clement. Another famous Italian name for girls that is commonly heard of is Dorothy. This is a name derived from the name of a virgin martyr by the name of Santa Dorotea.
Saint Names for Babies
During the early years the Church played a vital role in encouraging the people to give their children truly Christian names at the time of baptism. The source book of these names was the New Testament which was believed to be the word of God at that time. Later years saw the Italian public taking names from the Old Testament as well. The practice of giving the new born a religiously inclined name continued for quite some time. With time however people started looking at other things for inspiration. This included elements in nature, physical attributes of the person or his or his parent’s profession. Gradually people started giving their children different names with a Christian counterpart name to please the Church so as to say. This name was never used in documentation rather it was a way to show some sort of respect to the age old social norm. Although the influence of the Italian saints declined both in terms of practical life and in terms of names, we can still trace back the roots of most of the Italian names to those of their saints.