Becky’s full name is Rebekah Lucia. Some of you have asked about the meaning or origin of her name.
Our little girl is named after some mighty women.
Before our first child was born, Sam and I brainstormed a list of both boys’ and girls’ names. As we didn’t know the gender of the baby, we wanted to be fully prepared for either possibility. Like a true engineer, Sam created a detailed spreadsheet with the names, the meanings, and the saints/people who shared the name.
We went back to this spreadsheet, created in 1999, to search for any remaining names for Baby Ocho. Amazingly, 9 of the 10 girls’ names we have used for our daughters (Margaret, Anne, Angela, Bernadette, Josephine, Veronica, Elisabeth, Mary, and Frances) were on that original list. The pickings were slim for Ocho.
We have never named a child before his/her birth. Usually, we head into the hospital with piles of baby name books and spend those first days praying/talking about a name. By the time the birth registrar is getting antsy, we have settled on a name. But everything with Becky was different.
We wanted to be prepared to baptize the baby in the delivery room, if necessary. So we needed to select both a boy’s name and a girl’s name. A boy’s name was easy for me. I wanted a little Charlie. The girl’s name proved more elusive. I can’t explain when or how the name came to me. But one day it was there: Rebekah. And I just knew it would fit if we had a girl.
Rebekah is a Hebrew name that means to tie, to bind, captivating, strong combatant, hearty. Becky has brought our family together in a special way, binding us together on a new life journey. Her life as a special needs child captures our attention and hearts in a special way. She is, and will need to be, a strong combatant, fighting to gain weight and growing as big as possible before her heart surgery.
Sam had a beloved Aunt Becky. She was the youngest of Ralph and Caroline Rauch’s nine children (Sam’s paternal grandparents). She was a late in life baby for Sam’s grandparents and a much loved youngest sister. Tragically, she was killed by a drunk driver while a student at Ohio State University.
Shortly after we were married, I remember staying at Sam’s grandparents home, in Becky’s old room. On the shelves was some of her high school memorabilia, a timeless tribute to a young life. The above framed pictures were in the family room and are still in the homes of some of Becky’s siblings. She was a profound joy to her family. I hope Great Aunt Becky is pleased to share her name with our little girl.
Our children are also named after saints in the church, men and women whom we believe to be in heaven, interceding for us before the throne of God. Sam and I realized early on that we would need as much help as possible to raise our kids, both temporal and spiritual. So we made it a point to name each of our children after saints.
Becky is named after St. Rafqa (St. Rebecca), a Lebanese Maronite nun, who died in 1914. Most saints have certain affiliated patronages, things that they are known to assist with. We pray to St. Anthony when we lose things. We pray to St. Francis to intercede for our animals. We pray to St. Rita for an impossible cause. Though not a perfect analogy, it’s similar, in an earthly sense, to calling upon a friend who knows how to fix your television, or has the perfect pork tenderloin recipe, or can figure out your federal taxes.
Well, Saint Rafqa is the patroness against bodily ills and loss of parents. Knowing we would have a child with medical issues, born to parents who aren’t exactly spring chickens, this saint seemed the perfect fit for Becky.
It’s amazing that we chose a saint from the Arabic world as part of Becky’s birth story would reflect this heritage. When I walked into the operating room for the version procedure, I became overwhelmed at the all of the equipment. Despite my attempt to be brave, the tears came streaming down my face.
Rosie, the nurse walking with me, said she would stay with me while the anesthesiologist administered the spinal. After I climbed up to the operating table, she put her hands on my shoulders and whispered in my ear, “I will be silently praying in Arabic for all to go well.” I knew then we had chosen the perfect saint for a little girl.
The name Lucia (pronounced Lou-chia, like a Chia pet) honors Saint Lucy, the patroness against blindness and diseases of the eyes. Lucy or Lucia is derived from the Latin word lux which means “light”. St. Lucy is the saint of light during the dark days of winter.
In Scandinavian countries, girls dress in a white robe with a red sash, placing lighted candles on their heads to celebrate St. Lucy’s feast day on December 13. I found this beautiful video which shows the Swedish tradition of St. Lucia.
Each of our children has one name that honors the Blessed Mother in some way. Becky is named after Sister Lucia, one of the three children to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima, Portugal. On October 13, 1917 (exactly 103 years before Becky’s birthday), Lucia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco witnessed the last Marian apparition at Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun. Sister Lucia lived to the age of 97.
Becky has already been a light to us during this tumultuous 2020 and she is our little miracle. I imagine she will continue to be so throughout her life.
Becky was baptized the day after her birth, on October 14, 2020, with her name Rebekah Lucia. Our dear friend, Fr. Michael Caruso, a Jesuit priest came to the NICU and administered an abbreviated Sacrament of Baptism. He then gave Becky the Anointing of the Sick. As is fitting for 2020, we had many friends and family join us via Zoom. All of our children were able to leave class and watch along with us. We emailed the link out just moments before beginning and it was wonderful that so many people were able to quickly join us.
The NICU chaplain provided a beautiful gown for Becky.
We draped a piece of linen, embroidered with the signs of the seven sacraments, at Becky’s bedside. This was hand made by Sam’s maternal grandmother and used at the Baptisms of all of his siblings and all of our children.
So, despite the sterile surroundings of the NICU, there was moment of divine grace as Becky was welcomed as a child of God. This gave me immeasurable comfort in the following days.
In the future, if Becky has to write a paper about the meaning of her name, I hope she finds this post. She should have plenty of content. She has been with us for 19 days now. I’d say her name fits her perfectly. As far as nicknames, this gal has a few, given by her siblings and nurses. I’ve heard Little B, Becks, Baby Bee, and Bea.
But my favorite? My 3 year-old niece calls her “Rebecky”.