A religious name is a type of given name bestowed for a religious purpose, and which is generally used in religious contexts. Different types of religious names may be in use among clergy of a religion, as well in some cases among the laity.


Catholic Church

Baptism name

In baptism, Catholics are given a Christian name,[1] which should not be "foreign to Christian sentiment"[2] and is often the name of a saint.[3] In East Asia, in Africa and elsewhere, the baptismal name is distinct from the traditional-style given name.

Confirmation name

In some countries, it is common to adopt a confirmation name, in addition to the baptismal name.

Monastic and papal name

In some religious institutes, a new member takes a religious name. In Italian, a religious figure is often referred to by their religious name and by their secular name or their it:al secolo name. A newly elected Pope also takes on a new name, called his regnal name or papal name.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Baptism name

In the Eastern Orthodox Church converts often take a new name at the time of their reception into the church, either by baptism or chrismation. A person's religious name is always the name of a saint, who then becomes that person's patron saint. When deciding on a name for their child, Orthodox parents will often name the child after a saint whose feast day falls on either the day of the child's birth or the day of its baptism. Traditionally, Orthodox Christians celebrate their "name day" (i.e., the feast day of their patron saint), rather than their birthday.

Monastic name

Orthodox monks and nuns are often given a new monastic name at the time of their tonsure (i.e., when they take their monastic vows). A monastic name is usually the name of a prophet or a monastic saint. Sometimes, the monastic name will begin with the same initial as the individual's baptismal name.


Converts to Judaism take a Hebrew name upon conversion. Born Jews generally have a patronymic Hebrew name which is used for religious purposes; this is frequently different from their legal name, especially when the latter is of gentile or non-Hebrew origin.


Many Buddhist sects also practice this, with newly ordained sangha often given new names by their master. Lay Buddhists are also given Dharma names during their refuge ceremony.


Hare Krishna movement

Members of ISKCON are given a "spiritual name" by their guru upon initiation. This name ends in "Dasa" for men and "Dasi" for women (meaning "servant"), and generally begins with the same letter as the devotee's given name. In Wicca, a Craft name is often used.

Parody religions

It is usual for a Discordian Episkopos to adopt a faux-mystical and bizarre name for the duration of the Episkoposity; such names are not immutable and are frequently adapted over time. The same is true for the clergy of the related Church of the SubGenius.


  1. ^ Thurston, Herbert (1911), Christian Names, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved May 30, 2012 
  2. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 2156
  3. ^ Catholic Activity: Baptismal Names

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