By Julia Dauer
Photograph courtesy Julia Dauer
My mother got my name from a movie. Julia came out in 1977, eleven years before I was born. It starred Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Fonda and was Meryl Streep’s first film. My mother saw it in theaters. I have two copies, one on VHS and one on DVD, both given to me by my mother at various times. Sometimes I take them out and look at their covers and admire the deep drop in the “J” of the movie’s title. I’ve never watched it.
Names were a big thing growing up, partly because we were Catholic. There were always name cards and patron saints, stained glass windows, medallions. If you were lucky, your name got you a saint, a famous one, a martyr maybe, who could intercede for you in heaven and be your guardian on earth.
The year I turned 14, I got confirmed. It’s a ceremony where you have a sponsor and you go up in front of the church and stand in a big circle and a priest comes around and makes crosses on everybody’s forehead with eucalyptus oil. I’m not sure what’s being confirmed in the ceremony—your commitment to Almighty God maybe? It felt important the way ceremonies with you at the middle feel important, and also because the adults told us over and over again they were going to make an immortal mark upon our souls. Afterwards, we would have new names.
We got to pick our new names, our names for after, and I picked Jude. “J” and “u” like me, but a rounder, surer end, and a boy. In those years I was trying hard to be a girl in the style of the girls around me, but I was relieved to get to choose in this instance to be a boy. There wasn’t any trouble with it. It was a thing nuns did. And at least, the adults said, I was in earnest.
St. Jude was a big deal, and no one else in our class had picked him. I still buy his candles at the grocery store—tall glass cylinders full of green wax and on the front Jude beams out with his green cloak and his big, ridiculous necklace. I grew up and became unreligious, but I still like the holy candles.
Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. There is another saint for depression, St. Dymphna, but when I think of desperation, I think of Jude. A sense of being unable to find traction in the world. No one can find any photos from my confirmation, but in the other photos from around that time, I look pretty happy. All I remember is being sad. The name felt like an opening. You’re 14 and you can say, with your name, I am so sad and maybe I am a boy.
I used to change clothes halfway through family holidays. Girl’s clothes in the morning, boy’s clothes in the afternoon. For my confirmation, I wore a tweed skirt with black leather lining on the pockets and a black turtleneck. There was applause, there was cake.
Nothing really changed. I was still Julia, Jul-yah, like my parents say it. No one called me Jude. I did not feel protected.
I tried other things. Around this time, I made a new friend named Lukas, with a “k” like I like. He said aunt like taunt instead of aunt like can’t, and it made me see that I could make words different if I tried. I said taunt/aunt for a while and dropped it. I stretched my name out, three syllables instead of two, Jew-lee-uh, and it stuck.
Names were big. The name of the Lord. Lots of fights over it. Lots of drama.
The year we got confirmed, we read Romeo and Juliet in school. I memorized the prologue and the part about cutting you out in little stars and thought a lot about poison and dying in someone else’s arms. It was suddenly momentous being named Julia, so close to the romantic lead. We were fairly certain that all-consuming romances would define and save our lives. We wanted to be meaningful. We were bored. Except for religion, we didn’t have much going on. We were just starting to imagine what we might want from each other.
What did my mother imagine when she picked this name for me? The somber women from the movie poster? A radiantly pious child?
I still think about naming myself something else. I understand better how I might do that now. I could ask people to call me by a new name. Mostly, people would. I could be called Jude, J.L., J.V., Vincent, Vince. Vincent, the painter, sure, and Vince, my grandfather’s brother who died under a falling truck bed on the side of the highway around the time Julia was released. A name I would give to a child, if I had one, which I don’t or won’t. I could give it to myself instead.
I am not good at identity. I have Jude candles in my living room. I have the bags and blankets from when I was a kid, Julia sewn into them in big, beautiful letters. I don’t know if it’s the right name, but I like the way it looks. I am grateful that people have something to call me. I didn’t have to get martyred for it, or make a movie or become a girl or a boy or believe in anything at all. It’s here, someone gave it to me, I have it, and I accept.
Editor’s note: This essay is part of a series called Name Tags, about issues related to names and naming. You can find the original Call for Submissionshere.
Julia Dauer is a writer and printer and a PhD candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She grew up in Kentucky.
This is a list of patron saints of occupations and activities or of groups of people with a common occupation or activity.
- Adrian of Nicomedia – arms dealers, butchers, guards, soldiers
- Agatha – bakers, bellmaking, nurses
- Albertus Magnus – natural scientists
- Alexander of Comana – charcoal-burners[page needed]
- Alexius – belt makers and nurses
- Aloysius Gonzaga – Catholic students, Jesuitscholastics
- Amand – bartenders, brewers, innkeepers, merchants, vine growers, vintners,[page needed]
- Ambrose of Milan – bee keepers, beggars, candle-makers,chandlers, wax-melters and refiners
- Anastasius the Fuller – fullers
- Anastasia of Sirmium – weavers, healers, martyrs, exorcists
- Andrew the Apostle – fishmongers, fishermen[page needed]
- Andrew Kim – clergy of Korea
- Anne – miners,[page needed] mothers,equestrians,cabinet makers, homemakers, teachers, stablemen, French-Canadian voyageurs, and sailors
- Ansovinus – gardeners
- Anthony Mary Claret – weavers
- Anthony the Abbot – basket-makers,[page needed] gravediggers, butchers,swineherds and motorists
- Anthony of Padua – those seeking lost items or people,[page needed] nomadic travelers, brush makers, women seeking a husband
- Antipas – dentists
- Apollonia – dentists [page needed]
- Arnold of Soissons – brewers
- Arnulph – millers
- Augustine of Hippo – printers, brewers and theologians
- Barbara – miners, artillerymen, military engineers and firemen, Italian marines, architects, builders, foundry workers, fireworks makers, service-men of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, mathematicians,geoscientist, stonemasons
- Bartholomew the Apostle – leatherworkers, plasterers,tanners, trappers,curriers
- Basil the Great – hospital administrators
- Basilides - Italian prison officers
- Basilissa - nursing mothers
- Bede – historians and English writers
- Benedict of Nursia – farmers, farmhands, engineers, architects, Italian speleologists, students,husbandry, heraldry and officers of arms
- Bénézet – bridge-builders
- Benno – fishermen
- Bernadette of Lourdes – shepherds
- Bernardine of Feltre - pawnbrokers, bankers
- Bernardine of Siena – advertisers
- Bernard of Clairvaux – bee keepers, chandlers, advertisers, wax melters and refiners
- Bernard of Menthon – mountaineers, skiers
- Bernard of Vienne – farmers, farmhands, husbandry
- Bernward of Hildesheim – architects
- Blaise – veterinarians, wool combers and weavers, town criers
- Boethius – philosophy
- Bona of Pisa – flight attendants, travelers, specifically couriers, guides, pilgrims
- Botulph – farmers, farmhands, husbandry
- Brendan the Navigator – sailors, navigators, mariners, seafarers, those traveling by sea
- Brigid of Ireland – dairy workers, scholars, nuns, medicine/healers
<--- Please do NOT add anything that is not an occupation or activity. Countries, medical conditions, etc. do not belong on this list! --->
- Cajetan – unemployed, gamblers, odd lot dealers, and of job seekers
- Camillus of Lellis – nurses, hospital workers
- Cassian of Imola – shorthand writers, stenographers, school teachers, parish clerks
- Catherine of Alexandria – tanners, librarians, students, philosophers, secretaries, scribes, stenographers, preachers, nurses
- Catherine of Siena – jurors, Italian nurses
- Cecilia – musicians
- Charles Borromeo – Catechists, seminarians
- Christina the Astonishing – millers, psychiatrists
- Christopher – travelers, bookbinders, gardeners, mariners, drivers, surfers, athletes, pilots
- Clare of Assisi – theatre performers, embroiderers,gilders, laundry workers, goldsmiths
- Claude – sculptors, secretaries
- Clement – marble-workers, tanners, mariners,stonecutters
- Columbanus – motorcyclists
- Cosmas – doctors, pharmacists, surgeons, barbers
- Crispin – tanners, shoemakers, cobblers, leatherworkers, curriers, saddle-makers
- Cuthbert – shepherds
- Cuthman – shepherds
- Damian – doctors, pharmacists, surgeons, barbers
- Dismas – undertakers
- Dominic – astronomers, astronomy, scientists
- Dominic de la Calzada – civil engineers
- Dominic of Silos – shepherds
- Dorothea of Caesarea – florists, horticulture, brewers
- Drogo of Sebourg – coffee house keepers, coffee house owners, shepherds
- Dunstan – blacksmiths, goldsmiths, musicians, locksmiths
- Dymphna – mental health professionals, psychiatrists, therapists
- Edward the Confessor – kings
- Eligius – metal-workers, jewelers, mechanics, taxi drivers,farriers,harness makers,numismatists,Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers soldiers, veterinarians, farmers, farmhands, husbandry
- Elisabeth of Hungary – bakers, beggars, nursing services
- Elizabeth Seton - sailors
- Erasmus of Formiae or Elmo – sailors,pyrotechnicians,steeplejacks, chimney sweeps and anyone who works at great heights
- Ephrem the Syrian – spiritual directors and spiritual leaders
- Eustachius – hunters, trappers, firefighters
- Ferdinand III – engineers
- Fiacre – taxi-drivers, veterinarians, drivers, gardeners, horticulturists
- Florian – firefighters, chimney sweeps
- Foillan – dentists, surgeons, truss-makers, children's nurses
- Frances of Rome – automobile drivers
- Francis de Sales – writers/authors, journalists
- Francis of Assisi – ecologists, merchants,animal welfare, and rights workers
- Francis Caracciolo – chefs
- Archangel Gabriel – communications workers, postal workers, broadcasters, messengers, radio/television workers, radiologists,diplomats, ambassadors, emergency dispatchers, police dispatchers
- Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows – students, seminarians, clerics
- Gangulphus – tanners, shoemakers
- Gemma Galgani – students, pharmacists
- Genesius – actors, comedians, clowns, dancers, theatrical performers of all kinds, also attorneys, barristers, lawyers
- George – agricultural workers,archers, armourers,Boy Scouts, butchers, cavalry, soldiers,Crusaders, equestrians, horsemen, husbandry, knights, saddle makers, shepherds, Teutonic Knights (policemen and firefighters in Brazil)
- Germaine Cousin – shepherdesses
- Giles – beggars, spur makers
- Gregory the Great – teachers
- Gottschalk – linguists, princes, translators
- Gummarus – lumberjacks
- René Goupil – nurse anesthetists
- Hervé – bards, musicians
- Homobonus – businessmen, tailors, and clothworkers
- Honorius of Amiens (Honoratus) – bakers, confectioners, bakers of altar bread, candle-makers, florists, flour merchants, oil refiners, and pastry chefs
- Hubertus – hunters, furriers
- Hunna – laundresses, laundry workers, washerwomen
- Isidore the Farmer – farmers, farmhands, husbandry, manual laborers
- Isidore of Seville – computer scientists, software engineers, computer programmers, computer technicians, computer users, schoolchildren, students
- Ignatius of Loyola – Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, Society of Jesus, soldiers, Educators and Education.
- Jadwiga of Poland – queens
- James, son of Zebedee – veterinarians, equestrians, furriers, tanners, pharmacists, traveler, pilgrimage
- James, son of Alphaeus – pharmacists
- Jerome – librarians, translators, spectacle makers
- Joan of Arc – Soldiers
- John the Almoner – Knights Hospitaller
- John the Apostle – tanners
- John the Baptist – farriers, bird dealers, Knights Hospitaller
- John of Damascus – makers of images of the crucifix
- John the Evangelist – editors, authors, art dealers, tanners, and theologians
- John of God – hospital workers, nurses, booksellers
- John Baptist de la Salle – teachers of youth
- John Berchmans – altar servers
- John Bosco – apprentices, editors, printers/publishers
- John Gualbert – foresters
- John Vianney – priests
- Joseph – cabinetmakers, carpenters, craftsmen, laborers, traveler, workers, and working people
- Joseph of Arimathea – funeral directors,tinsmiths
- Joseph of Cupertino – air travelers, aviators, astronauts, test takers, poor students
- John of Capistrano – jurists
- Jude (also known as Jude Thaddeus) – police officers, hospital workers, lost (or impossible) causes
- Julian the Hospitaller – shepherds, boatmen
- Justa and Rufina – potters
- Lawrence – librarians, archivists, students, tanners, cooks, comedians.
- Leodegar – millers
- Lidwina – ice skaters
- Lucy - authors, cutlers, glaziers, labourers, martyrs, peasants, saddlers, salesmen, stained glass workers.
- Luke the Evangelist – doctors, surgeons, artists, painters, notaries
- Madeleine Sophie Barat
- Marcellin Champagnat – education and teachers
- Margaret of Antioch – nurses
- Martha – dieticians, cooks
- Mary Magdalene – tanners, hairdressers, pharmacists, prostitutes.
- Magnus of Avignon – fish dealers, fishmongers
- Albertus Magnus – chemists, medical technicians
- Macarius of Unzha, Venerable – craftsmen, merchants, travelers
- Malo – pig-keepers
- Martin of Tours – soldiers
- Matthew – accountants, tax collectors, bankers, bookkeepers, joiners, custom agents, security guards, perfumers
- Maturinus – comic actors, jesters, clowns, sailors (in Brittany), tinmen (in Paris) and of plumbers.
- Maurice and Lydia – dyers
- Maurice – infantrymen
- Michael the Archangel – soldiers, paramedics, paratroopers, police officers, security officers
- Pantaleon – doctors, midwives, physicians
- Patrick – engineers
- Paul the Apostle – hospital public relations
- Peter the Apostle – popes, fishermen, fishmongers, sailors, bakers, harvesters, butchers, glass makers, carpenters, shoemakers, clockmakers, blacksmiths, potters, bridge builders, cloth makers
- Peter of Alcantara – guards
- Peter Damian – traceurs/freerunners
- Phocas the Gardener – farmers, farmhands, husbandry
- Pope John XXIII – Papal delegates
- Pope Celestine V – bookbinders
- Piran – tinners, tin miners
- Philip – Special Forces, pastry chefs
- Raphael the Archangel – doctors, pharmacists, nurses, shepherds, matchmakers, travelers
- Raymond Nonnatus – midwives, obstetricians
- Raymond of Penyafort – medical record librarians, Canon lawyers
- Rebekah – physicists
- Regina – shepherdesses
- John Regis – medical social workers
- Reinold – Stonemasons
- Robert Bellarmine – Catechists
- Roch – surgeons, tile-makers, second-hand dealers, gravediggers
- Rose of Lima – embroiderers, gardeners
- Tarcisius - altar servers
- Tatiana of Rome – students
- Theobald of Provins – Farmers, winegrowers, shoemakers, beltmakers, charcoal-burners
- Thérèse of Lisieux – florists, aviators, missionaries
- Teresa of Ávila- lace workers, chess
- Thomas – architects, politicians, land surveyors
- Thomas Aquinas – students, teachers, academics
- Thomas Becket – diocesan priests
- Thomas More – politicians, statesmen, lawyers, civil servants, court clerks
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