Italian Court Renames Couple’s Baby

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A court in Genoa, Italy, has ordered that a 15-month-old boy be renamed "Gregory" after finding that the name his parents chose, "Friday," violated an administrative rule that precludes giving children "ridiculous or shameful" names.

The boy, who was born on a Friday, was baptized as "Friday" and was successfully registered under that name at the local city hall.  But a few months later a clerk at city hall apparently came across the name somehow, and took it upon himself or herself to bring it to the attention of the court.  It ruled this month that the name, which the parents had chosen and God seems to have ratified, was in fact "ridiculous."

Crusoe's Man Friday
Don’t let your child end up kneeling in a woodcut

According to the court, "Friday" was a bad name because Italians traditionally consider Friday an unlucky day, and because the name might draw mocking comparisons to Robinson Crusoe’s "man Friday" in the novel by Daniel Defoe.  The court described that Friday as Crusoe’s "servile savage."  Saying that it believed it was protecting the child from a name that might, among other things, hinder him from developing "serene interpersonal relationships," it ordered the child to be re-registered.

I have also had problems developing serene interpersonal relationships, but I didn’t have any idea my first name could have something to do with it.

After the decision, the boy’s mother revealed the couple’s disturbing motive for naming the boy in this manner: "We named him Friday because we like the sound of the name."  She seemed a little upset that the court had gotten involved.  "I am livid about this," she complained. "A court should not waste its time with things like this when there is so much more to worry about.  My son was born Friday, baptized Friday, will call himself Friday, we will call him Friday but when he gets older he will have to sign his name Gregory."

The court chose "Gregory" not just because it liked the sound of the name or some other pagan reason like that, but because the boy was born on the feast day of St. Gregory.  The report didn’t give details, but I think this has to be St. Gregory the Great, the 64th Pope, who died in 604.  I can’t be completely sure — I looked this up on one of my favorite websites, the Catholic Forum’s Patron Saints Index, which lists thirty-seven Gregorys in various stages of the saintifying process.  But this looks like the main Gregory, his feast day is in the right month, and he’s the one who came up with the "Gregorian chants" so I want to give him credit for something anyway.

I love the Index because there appear to be patron saints for pretty much everything.  Some things have multiple patrons but some saints have to work more than one job.  Yes, there are patron saints for lawyers, the best-known being St. Thomas More, who is also a patron saint for politicians, civil servants, and the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, among other things.  There is a patron saint for lawsuits, and another one for "lawsuits lost unjustly." 

Doesn’t surprise me that they needed to assign someone separately to that last category.

Link: CBS News
Link: Law-related patron saints