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The Meaning of Charles Kolbe’s Name

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I’ve always loved names–something I credit to the fact that my childhood best friend bought a baby name book at a yard sale once (I think she was in third grade and I was in first at the time) that we read cover to cover, underlining all of our favorites. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have future baby names in the back of my head, and Dave and I started talking about ours sometime when we were engaged! We’ve since had three girl and two boy names “on deck,” and when we found out we were having a boy and saw his sweet little face during the sonogram, we were convinced that sure enough, our first child would be named Charles Kolbe Kirk!

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Charles (and its nickname, Charlie) is a name I’ve always liked–especially for boy names, I tend to prefer the classics. I can’t remember how I learned this exactly, but one day, I found out that Charles is one of the English translations for the Polish boy’s name Karol. The most famous Karol is Karol Wojtyla, who later became known as Saint Pope John Paul II :) Dave and I share a deep devotion for JPII, but didn’t want to name one of our future sons John Paul, since we want the devotion to be shared in our future family. Charles was the perfect solution–a name we love, and a subtle nod to our favorite saint. We call our little Charles Charlie 99% of the time, and I can’t get enough of the traditional, charming sound of it!

Kolbe (pronounced the same way as Colby) is another Polish name, and a more recognizable one to many Catholics. St. Maximilian Kolbe is another of our favorite saints–he was martyred at Auschwitz during World War II, and his life is the most beautiful example of John 15:13 (“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”). I highly recommend reading more about him here–his story is truly incredible! Dave and I both had the privilege of visiting and praying at St. Maximilian Kolbe’s prison cell when we were studying abroad (the semester we met), and he has remained a special saint to us ever since. Maximilian was a bit of a mouthful to us, but we loved the way Kolbe sounded as a middle name for our boy!

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  1. Natalie says:

    I love this! So much meaning which I think it so important and precious!

  2. Abby says:

    Love the meaning and the names- so classic yet unique and meaningful!

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you so much, Abby! P.S. I still really want to get together soon!! Once we’re a little more settled, I’ll be in touch!

  3. Debbie Orlicki says:

    Love it!

  4. Patty says:

    Just started following your blog from Lara’s, Lisa!!

    I just went to Poland for WYD…it blew my mind and has given me such a deep love of JP2. Seeing where St. Max died in Auschwitz was one of the most powerful moments of the trip for me personally and spiritually.
    When I saw on Instagram Charlie’s name I was pretty certain whom his middle name was after ;) #teamCatholic :)

    • Lisa says:

      Patty! So nice to e-meet you:) That is so amazing–I’ve never been to WYD but it seems like it would be such an inspiring experience!
      P.S. Your name/blog sounded so familiar to me and I just placed it–I’m a devoted Blessed is She reader! :)

  5. Maureen says:

    All the heart-eyed emojis in the world for this sweet post!

  6. Dana says:

    Ah, perfect!

  7. Em says:

    I still remember talking about names on one of our road trips, and now, here he is! If only I could remember the girl names on the short list… :)

  8. Kyla Fetzner says:

    Such an adorable, classic name for a little Southern gent! :)

  9. Kristina says:

    Beautiful! As a fellow Catholic believer I absolutely love that you named your son after two saints who are so important to you. I am sure Charlie will love the stories behind his name one day :)

  10. Catherine Pelicano says:

    My best friend has done the same thing naming her little boys: She used Martin as a nod to St. Therese’s parents and Becket for St. Thomas:) God bless your beautiful family!

  11. […] Saint John Paul II’s feast day very conveniently falls on a Saturday this year, and since Charlie was named in honor of him, it was a shoe-in for the date of our little guy’s first sacrament. […]

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