New Pope, New Pope’s Name: Francis


I kind of like the idea of getting a new name when something important has happened in your life. What a wonderful way to get a fresh start, and to choose a name that you really think reflects you as a person. That’s the kind of fresh start that Jorge Mario Bergoglio got today, when he became Pope Francis I.

It’s interesting that the new Pope, who by all accounts is extremely conservative, decided to go for a more daring choice for his papal name. Most popes simply choose a name from the short list of names chosen by previous popes – names like Pius, John, Innocent, and Benedict. Francis is the Latin name that means free man and is in the top 700 names for boys and here in the US.  And he is the first Pope in more than 2000 years to select Francis as his name.

I have to admit that even as a lapsed Catholic, I’m intrigued as to what Pope Francis is going to bring – in no small part because he pays homage to one of my favorite saints with his name. St. Francis of Assisi is famous for his love of nature and animals and the Franciscan friars who taught at St. Bonaventure University, my alma mater, were among the kindest and loveliest people I’ve ever met. Maybe this means that he’s going to be a kinder and gentler Pope, and that he’s signaling that he’s hoping to break free of some of the scandal in dissent that the Catholic Church has faced in recent years. (After all, his name does mean free man.)

Based on the number of searches for baby names Francis and Frances (the female version of Francis) currently on Nameberry, I am wondering if we will see a mini boom of  babies named after the new Pope.

When you think of the name Francis? Do you think the selection of the new Pope is going to impact the popularity of that name?

Rostislav Glinsky /