Should the Practice of Choosing a Confirmation Name Be Encouraged?

Since Confirmation stands in relationship to Baptism, any discussion of a Confirmation name must be placed in that context. The current Rite of Confirmation recommends that the sponsor for Confirmation be the baptismal godparent.[1] It presumes that the candidate for Confirmation will be addressed by his or her baptismal name.[2] Nowhere does the rite mention the custom of choosing a separate Confirmation name; neither does the Code of Canon Law. Only in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is there mention of a rite whereby a catechumen may receive a baptismal name.[3]

While the affirmation of one’s baptismal name is thus preferred, one could choose another saint’s name or a mystery of the Lord to be pronounced by the bishop in addition to not in place of ones baptismal name (e.g., John Sebastian Smith or Jane of the Incarnation Smith). There is no restriction as to the sex (male or female) of the saint, just as in many cultures baptismal names may be combined (e.g., Peter Mary or Ann Daniel).

The custom of choosing a patron saint or taking an additional name for the Rite of Confirmation should be accompanied by catechesis regarding the communion of saints. The candidate should demonstrate knowledge of the saint or mystery of the Lord that he or she has chosen. It should be emphasized that if a name is chosen, it is to honor a saint or mystery of the Lord, rather than to honor a loved one.

[1] Rite of Confirmation, no. 5.

[2] Rite of Confirmation nos. 21, 27.

[3] See Rite of Choosing a Baptismal Name, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 202.