Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How Gabriel Got His Name


As I chatted with a friend last week we happened to discuss how Michael and I chose the name Gabriel for our son. While the basic explanation is relatively brief, it got me thinking that perhaps I should put it down more fully in writing for posterity's sake.

Choosing Gabriel's name was not difficult for us. Shortly before we knew the gender of the baby we spent an hour or so jotting down potential name ideas for both boys and girls. I had already been reflecting on my relationship with my husband and how we had developed a devotion to Mary together. Not only did I trust in Mary's prayers and guidance for me as I discerned whether or not I was called to marry Michael, but the rosary had become a crucial part of our shared prayer life when we were long distance (me in Chicago, him in Ann Arbor). We tried hard to always incorporate prayer into our interactions - even if it meant only a quick Hail Mary at the end of our long, late-night phone conversations from miles apart. Ultimately when Michael proposed it was after praying the rosary together at a perpetual Adoration chapel called Marytown.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation

Naturally, with all of these significant ties to our Holy Mother Mary threaded throughout our love story, the name Gabriel took on a special meaning. Gabriel was the archangel that announced to Mary that she would bear the child Jesus in her womb. Her fiat which allowed her to say "yes" to God's plan in this instance is the faith I personally strive for in my daily life...but the kicker that makes all of this even more perfect for our firstborn son's name is the fact that Michael and I happened to meet at a concert in a bar...on the Feast of the Annunciation. :)

I've always loved the name Gabriel and was quite pleased when I suggested it and Michael also liked it well enough to place it high on our list.

As if all of this weren't enough reason to choose the name Gabriel, there's one more little detail that made it nearly impossible to think of any other name for a boy: Michael and I were married on the Feast of the Archangels (Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael). :)


With having met on the Feast of the Annunciation and getting married on the Feast of the Archangels, Gabriel seemed to be a very clear choice. However, we didn't tell anyone and wanted more time to think about it, pray about it, and wait until we would meet our son face to face to make the official decision.

Even though "Gabriel" was the front-runner in both of our minds, it took me a long time to refer to our son as Gabriel when I would speak to him within my womb. I wanted to make sure the name felt right so I had been praying about it for a long time. Then, one Sunday at church, I was praying for our baby and referred to him as Gabriel for the first time ever...and I felt such an overwhelming sense of peace. I remember looking up at the statue of Mary and asking her to pray for our growing family - and had asked her to help me know what name we should give our son before this happened.

After Mass that day I told Michael what had happened as I prayed and how I had felt incredibly confident that Gabriel was, in fact, the right name for us to choose...and Michael quickly agreed, saying that he had felt something similar during the same Mass! How awesome it is when God answers our prayers so clearly and at the very same time!

All of this made it very easy for Michael and me to know that we wanted to name this little baby Gabriel. The only missing link was to decide which middle name we'd like; we had narrowed it down to a couple of choices but I won't reveal too much about that process simply because we may be blessed with another son down the road and could potentially use the other name still. ;) At the end of the day "Alexander" flowed nicely with Gabriel and we both liked the combination a lot. Plus, with a meaning of "defender of men" it matched very well with Gabriel (which means "strong man of God" or "strength of God"). I mean, really. Strong man of God and defender of men? It hardly gets more manly, strong, or beautiful than that!

And that was how Gabriel Alexander came to be given his name. :)

15 days old today!

"Must a name mean something?" Alice asked doubtfully.

"Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh; "my name means the shape I am - and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost."
-Lewis Carroll


  1. What a great story! I was wondering the story behind it, even better than I thought:) He is so beautiful!

  2. Sounds like Gabriel is a perfect fit! And if you've seen my nephew, you know that little boys named Gabriel end up being the most adorable little boys in the world :-)

  3. I loved reading this! Your reasons and your commitment to prayer are beautiful! I can totally identify with taking a long time to actually address our baby by name when we aren't 100% decided yet, so he's had a nickname for months now, but I'm happy to say that I think we're just about there, with a similar sense of peace and a very natural feeling like you described. And on another note, what a little hunk you've got!! More pictures, please!

  4. Just beautiful, Stephanie! I love his name, and the story behind it makes it even more special! :)

  5. Love the name! Great story! He is so beautiful! Congratulations!

  6. Gabriel has been on our potential list for a while. I always love, love hearing how and why people choose names. Your story was great. Thanks for linking up! ~K