Can We Honor the Man Without Using His Name?
--Not a Francis Fan
You've run into a classic problem of modern baby naming: when your heart and your fashion sense point in opposite directions. Many parents have run into this with a beloved Grandpa Herbert or Grandma Bernice, but Pope Francis has made his chosen name (the 2013 Name of the Year) one of the most debated in the land.
A popular solution is to stash the honor name in the middle, where meaningfulness often takes precedence over style. A classic name like Francis can work with almost any first name you’d like to pair it with. You'd stll be able to tell your son about the man he's named after, and the values that homage represents to you.
Another option is to use an initial to honor a special loved one. Any name starting with “F” could work, from Felix to Finnegan. Again, the meaning of the tribute would come from the value you place on it.
You can also think more broadly about the honoree to find creative ways to honor him. In the case of Pope Francis, you might consider his birth name, Jorge (George, in English). Or you could find inspiration in the man who inspired his papal name, St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis has said of Francis of Assisi:
“For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”
From this, you could choose a name like Pax, or another name that relates to the concept of peace: Absalom, Axel, Calum or Colm, Jonah (“dove” in Hebrew), Oliver (for the olive branch of peace), Solomon or Shiloh.
St. Francis of Assisi also symbolizes stewardship of nature, so almost any nature name could be a fitting tribute. In particular, Francis is known for having preached to a flock of birds and for taming a wolf, so you could consider a bird name (Eagle, Lark, Raven, Jay, even Byrd) or simply Wolf. It may seem a far cry from the peaceful Pope, but the man himself has already showed us that we should expect the unexpected from him.