Friday, March 30, 2012

The Feast of St. Fergus

I wasn't sure what to write about today; in fact, I had almost decided to just take the day off and think of something good to write about tomorrow--then my husband suggested that I check to see if there is a Catholic saint whose feast is celebrated on this date. I did some digging and came up with a name I'd never heard before: St. Fergus.

Apparently, this 8th century Irish saint was the bishop of Downpatrick. He also spent some time in Scotland as a missionary. I wasn't able to unearth a whole lot of information about him, other than that he was a descendant of Coelbad, King of Erin, and he is responsible for having a church or monastery built. I don't know whether he was martyred or died of natural causes. The only image I could find of him is the 15th century carved effigy in stone pictured on the left.

One of the best things about discovering this obscure Irish saint heretofore unknown to me is that I am now aware of an awesome new saint's name that one of my sons could use for his future offspring. When my husband and I were in the early days of our marriage and thinking about names for our own future children, I batted around some strong Irish/Scottish-sounding names for our sons, like Seamus and Angus; but my husband (he of the 100% Irish blood!) thought they were a bit over-the-top. So we ended up compromising by naming our female Black Lab/Golden Retriever puppy (who was our first "baby") Shamus*; and when our first son came along, we gave him a more mainstream Irish moniker: the Gaelic version of the name John.

But if only I'd known about this 8th century Irish bishop named Fergus! What a great name for a son! We could call him Gus--a nickname I just love--for short. With my baby-bearing years well behind me, I'm not going to have the chance to use this exquisite name now; but perhaps if we ever get another puppy, we'll name it Fergus. Gus for short if it's a male, and Fergie if it's a female. Boys, you better hurry up and use the name Fergus for a son, or we just might snap it up!

We Catholics like to name our children after saints, and it's amazing how many unusual names (ones you'd never in a million years guess) are actually saints' names. Before my oldest son and his wife were even expecting their first child, my husband, two of my other sons, and I were having a hilarious conversation with him after he'd found a list of all the names of official Catholic saints. Mucus is the name of a saint, did you know that? And Radbod, too. That day, amid much laughter, we decided that if he had a son, he just had to name him Mucus Radbod. (Lucky for him, his wife gave birth to twin girls!)

What do you think of the name Fergus? Do you like it as much as I do? Well, I may never have a grandchild--or a dog--with this name; but from now on, I am going to remember St. Fergus, who along with Sts. Patrick and Brigid did his part to spread the Faith on the Emerald Isle.

(*The gal whose Golden Retriever gave birth to Shamus made up an official-looking birth certificate for us--through the office where she worked--when we adopted our little black doggy. She wasn't aware of the proper Gaelic spelling of Seamus, and thus we ended up using the Anglicized version she'd written on the birth certificate.)


  1. Laura, I have two brothers who are students of mine named Seamus and Aengus! When I met Seamus in class for the first time I had no idea how to pronounce his name so I called him "See-mus", oh how embarrassing! Just love them (and know how to pronounce their names now!) and will think of you and your name loving when I see them from now on!!

  2. What awesome names! I LOVE them! And both in one family--that's great. :)

    1. It really is! And an awesome family!