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DJ Burnett wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Can you choose the name of a saint that is no longer canonical as your Confirmation name?

DJ

  { Can you choose the name of a saint that is no longer canonical as your Confirmation name? }

Eric replied:

Hi, DJ —

As far as I know there are no saints who were "canonical" and are no longer. There are saints whose feasts on the universal calendar have been suppressed (such as St. Christopher, the primary example), but no saints have been "de-canonized".

I am unaware of any canonical prohibition on adopting the name of such saints and my intuition tells me there isn't one. It should be OK to take any name of any saint, even one whose cult has been suppressed, but ultimately consult your pastor or director of religious education.

Eric

DJ replied:

Thanks Eric,

I would like to convert, and I haven't yet been confirmed. I wanted to choose a Saint's name as my Confirmation name, and I feel inspired by the story of St. Guinefort, so I wanted to choose Guinefort as my Confirmation name.

I was asking if this is permissible because I recently discovered that St. Guinefort was a "local" saint that hadn't been canonized by the Church. In fact, the Church sent an inquisitor to investigate the local veneration of Guinefort, and the inquisitor tore down Guinefort's shrine and prohibited his veneration.

So, while I'm inspired by the story and would like to choose his name as my Confirmation name,
I am not sure it would be permitted.

DJ

Eric replied:

DJ —

Guinefort was a dog <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Guinefort>.

Dogs cannot be saints as they do not have rational souls or spirits. Dogs have sensitive souls, which according to common understanding, die with the animal's death and are not immortal.

For that reason, they cannot be saints. Therefore I cannot recommend this name as a Confirmation name.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Eric —

However, Guinefort may also be a human name. If it is not a name like Fido, one reserved for dogs, and if it has a meaning not inconsistent with Christianity, then one can use a name.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi, Mary Ann —

Technically true, but part of the point of having a Confirmation name is to have a patron saint to pray for you and serve as a sponsor. Dead dogs cannot do this, so I wouldn't recommend the name. If you're going through the trouble of choosing a Confirmation name, which cannot be changed later, it's best to choose a Saint who is alive in Heaven and who is able to intercede for you and "adopt" you, so to speak. It's not strictly necessary to choose a saint, but it kind of defeats the pious tradition, and it deprives you of a heavenly intercessor and sponsor.

DJ, I recommend you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the Communion of Saints and what it means.

Mike Humphrey, our Web Administrator and fearless leader, use to run a free program that sent Catechisms to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer has the financial or operational means to do this anymore. Nevertheless, if you wish to go deeper, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as faithful Catholics.

Saints are those who have set themselves apart as servants of God and entered into communion with Him. The Communion of Saints is a spiritual family of persons who:

  • pray for one another
  • share one another's merits
  • love one another
  • support one another in Christ
  • are sharers in the divine nature, and
  • are part of the one living Body of Christ.

It is comprised of humans who are saved from sin in the economy of salvation (including those in the grace of God on earth) plus those angels who never sinned.

For this reason, the custom arose of choosing someone in the Communion of Saints in Heaven to help initiate us into the Communion of Saints, a patron or sponsor. This used to be codified in law, but I don't believe it is anymore. Some argue that the Confirmation name should be the baptismal name.

It's up to you what you want to do I suppose, but just be aware of the traditions. I never got to choose what I now believe to be a proper Confirmation name because no one bothered to explain these things to me, and it was badly presented to me.

The best I can do, is make sure you make an informed decision.

Eric

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