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In a paragraph of the write-up on Roman Catholic Saints at britannica.com , it is written that many Catholics take or are given a saint’s name for their Confirmation. Normally, a Catholic child on its Baptism is given a saint's name which may be different from the child' s name as entered in civil records. But are there places where children are given saint's names on their Confirmation ?

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  • I dont think its universal, I'm from Mumbai and we dont do that here.
    – Nigel Fds
    Dec 7, 2023 at 2:10

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Yes. Catholic.com has a Q&A (What happened to confirmation names?) which addresses your question very nicely (including your question about the name given at Baptism):

Answer:

The custom of adopting a saint’s name at confirmation was done in order to adopt the saint as a special heavenly patron or to honor a saint to whom one had a special devotion. In short, the purpose was to give the confirmand the opportunity to develop his understanding of and reliance on the communion of saints.

While the practice is still in use today, some dioceses have encouraged returning to the older tradition of not picking a new name at confirmation. The idea is that the person is already supposed to have a Christian name, given to him in baptism, and that continuing to use that name at confirmation will serve as a link between these two sacraments of Christian initiation.

My diocese in the United States asks children preparing for Confirmation to choose a saint's name to be used at their Confirmation.

Confirmation names are also referenced in many other places on the Internet, such as on Loyola Press' website.

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  • "...some dioceses have encouraged returning to the older tradition of not picking a new name at confirmation..." That is a pity. The name that is assigned at birth encodes the expectations of the parents, regardless of whether or not the parents are Christians. By the time the child is old enough to be confirmed, they have started to form their own expectations. Maybe she could pick the patron saint of astronauts, or brain surgeons, or corporate lawyers... Dec 7, 2023 at 21:07
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Are Catholic children given Saints' names on Confirmation?

The short answer is yes, but this tradition is not completely universal. We should also keep in mind that Eastern Rite Catholics baptize and confirm their children as infants, whereas in the Roman Rite Confirmation is done around the ”age of reason” or even later.

Practice regarding names

But while various Fathers and spiritual writers, and here and there a synodal decree, have exhorted the faithful to give no names to their children in baptism but those of canonized saints or of the angels of God, it must be confessed that there has never been a time in the history of the Church when these injunctions have been at all strictly attended to.

The point however cannot be dwelt on here. We may note on the other hand that a rubric in the official "Rituale Romanum" enjoins that the priest ought to see that unbecoming or ridiculous names of deities or of godless pagans are not given in baptism (curet ne obscoena, fabulosa aut ridicula vel inanium deorum vel impiorum ethnicorum hominum nomina imponantur). Some of the seventeeth century French rituals have gone further than this. For example that of Bourges (1666) addressing parents and godparents urges: "Let them give to boys the names of male saints and to girls those of women saints as right order requires, and let them avoid the names of festivals like Easter (Pâques), Christmas (Noël), All Saints (Toussaint) and others that are sometimes chosen." Despite such injunctions "Toussaint" has become a not uncommon French Christian name and "Noël" has spread even to England.

In Spain and Italy again, ardent devotion to our Blessed Lady has not remained content with the simple name Maria, but many of her festivals etc. have also created names for girls: Conceptión, of which the diminutive is Concha, is one of the best known, but we have also Asunción, Encarnación, Mercedes, Dolores etc. in Spanish, and in Italian Assunta, Annunziata, Concetta, etc. It is strange on the other hand that the name Mary has by no means always been a favourite for girls, possibly from a feeling that it was too august to be so familiarly employed. In England in the twelfth century Mary as a Christian name is of very rare occurrence. George again is a name which despite the recognition of the warrior saint as patron of England, was by no means common in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, though strangely enough it grew in popularity after the Reformation. A writer who has made a minute examination of the registers of Oxford University from 1560 to 1621, has made out the following list of the more common names borne by the students in order of popularity: John, 3826; Thomas 2777; William, 2546; Richard, 1691; Robert, 1222; Edward, 957; Henry, 908; George, 647; Francis, 447; James, 424; Nicholas, 326; Edmund, 298 (see Oxford Hist. Soc. Transactions, XIV). In Italy and Spain it has always been a tolerably common practice to call a child after the saint upon whose feast he is born.

Confirmation names

The practice of adopting a new name was not limited to baptism. Many medieval examples show that any notable change of condition, especially in the spiritual order, was often accompanied by the reception of a new name. In the eighth century the two Englishmen, Winfrith and Willibald, going on different occasions to Rome received from the reigning pontiff, along with a new commission to preach, the names respectively of Boniface and Clement. So again Emma of Normandy, when she married King Ethelred in 1002, took the name Ælfgifu; while, of course, the reception of a new name upon entering a religious order is almost universal even in our day. It is not strange, then, that at confirmation, in which the interposition of a godfather emphasizes the resemblance with baptism, it should have become customary to take a new name, though usually no great use is made of it. In one case, however, that of Henry III, King of France — who being the godson of our English Edward VI had been christened Edouard Alexandre in 1551 — the same French prince at confirmation received the name of Henri, and by this he afterwards reigned. Even in England the practice of adopting a new name at confirmation was remembered after the Reformation, for Sir Edward Coke declares that a man might validly buy land by his confirmation name, and he recalls the case of a Sir Francis Gawdye, late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, whose name of baptism was Thomas and his name of confirmation Francis (Co. Litt. 3a). - Christian Names

Ideally, a confirmation name should be the name of a saint whom you know something about, or who inspires you, or whose virtues you want to imitate. It is the name of a saint or holy angel who will accompany you through life. In some countries, names like Assunta after the Assumption of Mary are taken, thus their patron would be the Virgin Mary.

If your given name at birth is also a Christian Name one could freely use their given name when confirmed by one’s bishop!

Again the custom of receiving another Christian Name at Confirmation is very commonplace within the Church, yet a few dioceses around the world do not insist or require it at all.

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