I was looking for a suitable name for my future daughter. I visited this Catholicity website and I got Nessa as an interesting name. But then my friends and home people said it is not a catholic baptism name. So I would like someone here to help me clarify this.

  • 3
    St. Gemma Galgani's mother worried that "Gemma" was not a saint's name, but a priest reassured her, saying that one day she would become a "gem of Paradise" (ch. 26 "Modern Saints: Their Lives and Faces (vol. 1)").
    – Geremia
    Dec 11 '19 at 17:29
  • 1
    What defines a Catholic name for you?
    – Mast
    Dec 12 '19 at 6:42
  • Mast, Catholics want the names which are defined in their name calender, I was told like that by some Priest
    – Denny
    Dec 12 '19 at 13:52
  • @DenisOluka by "name calendar" you mean the names of recognised saints? Yes many people want to name their children after saints, but it's not a requirement. It's also traditional if the birth falls on a saint's feast to name them after that saint, but again not a requirement.
    – OrangeDog
    Dec 12 '19 at 15:43

Is Nessa or Vanessa a Catholic name?

Not to sure what you mean by a Catholic name. Names of children are normally based on language and are often originated from a particular demographically known region.

There is no saint by the name of Vanessa or Nessa.

Canon Law states that names foreign to Christianity are not to be given to infants.

Can. 855 Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given.

Foreign names here simply means offensive to the Catholic Church, the dignity of the child and Christianity in general.

Vanessa seems to be a fine name, even if there is no St. Vanessa in the Roman Martyrology.

Vanessa is a feminine given name, especially popular in the United States, Germany and Brazil. It was invented by the Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift for Esther Vanhomrigh, whom Swift had met in 1708 and whom he tutored. The name was created by taking "Van" from Vanhomrigh's last name and adding "Essa", a pet form of Esther.- Vanessa

However Esther is indeed a biblical and saint’s name.

As for Nessa, I see no problem here either even though it has Arabic origins and is not a saint’s name.

Khairunnisa (Arabic: خير النساء‎) is an Arabic female given name. It can also be spelt as Kherunnisa or Khair-un-nisa. Khair means peace and nissa means lady, so the complete name means "lady of peace". The name is transliterated as Hayrünnisa in Turkey.

There are several other names with the suffix -un-nissa, such as Mehr-un-nissa and Zeb-un-nisa. The name "Nissa" can also be used independently and written as "Nissa", "Nisa", "Nysa", "Neesa" and "Nessa".

For some, Nessa may have origins in Irish mythology also.

Ness, also called Nessa, is a princess of the Ulaid and the mother of Conchobar mac Nessa in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. Her father is Eochaid Sálbuide, king of the Ulaid. - Ness (Irish mythology)

More information may be gleaned here.

Both names are quite fine.

Hope this helps and God Bless.


There's no Catholic saint that I can find named "Nessa" or "Vanessa", and perhaps this is what your friends mean. But there's no requirement that a Catholic child be given a saint's name. The only thing Catholics are to keep in mind is that their child's name shouldn't be "Satan", or an obscenity, or the name of a non-Christian deity or something like that. Canon 855 of the Code of Canon Law says

Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given.

That's all. It would be hard to argue, I think, that a name like "Vanessa" is "foreign to Christian sensibility" even though it's not a saint's name. (And, as I saw in an article on the subject, this gives an opportunity to see "Vanessa" become a saint's name in future.)

  • So @Matt does it mean that a baby won't be baptized from the catholic church with this name?
    – Denny
    Dec 11 '19 at 17:06
  • 1
    No, it means that the priest has no reason to refuse or delay baptism. Dec 11 '19 at 21:21

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