The matter of names – THE name – was finally decided, and not a moment too soon. On the evening of April 13th, pregnant daughter and son-in-law agreed on a name; they harmonized on that momentous issue, that bone of contention that had delivered such amusement to we bystanders and caused not a little angst for the vested participants.
Some of us shall prolong the conversation as we examine the importance of names, the importance given names by cultures and religions and pregnant parents. How much does a name matter? Would you be the same person had you been otherwise named? Had you a name more or less easily pronounced, or more or less easily spelled, how would you be different? Because of course you would be different. If a butterfly’s flutter in Mombasa can spark a hurricane in Tegucigalpa, then surely the fact that you have gone through life correcting the universal misspelling of your name has an impact on your personality. How are you shaped by bearing the name of a great leader, a famous ecdysiast, serial killer or sword swallower? The fact that I share a name with a saint who was thrown into the lake with a millstone around her neck, or another saint who crawled into ovens and levitated at her own funeral, surely has impacted my serene and rational self.
So what do we make of Ignatius, for that is to be his name? And of Iggy, his pre-designated nickname? Yes, the night before he was born his parents finally decided that should they have a boy – and they have a boy – they would name him Ignatius and they would call him Iggy.
I never could have predicted this.
Reine and Michael are not hagiographers – but Reine does associate Ignatius with the Jesuits, and to the extent that they represent the intellectual and cerebral (not to mention militant) aspect of Catholicism, she approves.
But he is not named for St Ignatius of Loyola, the 12th child of Spanish nobles. In his early manhood, Ignacio was indeed a valiant soldier. It was not until he was struck by a cannonball on that leg, and spent his convalescence reading two books - The Golden Legend *(Lives of the Saints) & the life of Christ - that he turned his life towards holiness. As soon as he recovered, he took a vow of chastity, hung up his sword, put on a pilgrim’s robes and went to live in a cave for a year. From there on he was a dynamo of saintly energy, converting the Muslims in the Holy Land, having visions, and founding the Society of Jesus.
Nor was he named for St Ignatius, a first century theologian who succeeded Peter as the Bishop of Antioch and was thrown to ravenous wild beasts for his beliefs.
And I very much doubt my grandson was named for Blessed Ignazio Maloyan, an Armenian who was sent to be a parish priest in Alexandria and Cairo, and then a Bishop in Armenian Turkey. He was shot by Turkish soldiers in 1915, and we are told that for three days after his death his body radiated a golden celestial light.
I can tell you that as of now he will be very Google-able.
A Google search and a Facebook search indicate that there is not yet a single Ignatius B…. in the cyber-sphere.
Further research tells us that the popularity of Ignatius as a boy's name peaked in 1900 when it was 600th on the chart. It now is not on the chart at all.
Anecdotally and personally, though, I know that Ignacio is not at all uncommon in Latin America, and I know (of) at least two Ignacios in Nicaragua (called Nacho), one in Bolivia and three in Costa Rica.
I particularly like the idea of Ignacio pronounced with a Castilian lisp, and I have been practicing.
Welcome to the world, Ignatius Schein Richardson Brownstein, born April 14th around 11 a.m., weighing in at 5 pounds 6 ounces.