January 12 – RELIGIOUS NAMES
The religious names of some Brothers who died on 12 January: Eutrope, Macedone, Cyriaque, Eusebe, etc., are examples of names given to the Brothers until the reforms connected with Vatican II. Very few double names, and very rarely baptismal names were retained. Though not common names – far from it – they are not silly either. For example, from among the names of the Superiors General, only Anastase is not ordinary. Further, often ignoring composite forms, the names of Brothers differ from the “of’ attached to names of many nuns. What they can be blamed for is, perhaps, the reference to unknown saints, thus becoming insignificant. They also complicated life by the fact that the name used for civil purposes differed from the one used as religious. That is why, since 1920, motions addressed to General Chapters constantly asked for them·to be suppressed. It would be done only in 1965. Some, like Rev. Br. Anastase, would then keep their former names. Others like Br. Jean Sabin, General Assistant, added their family name, though not to their baptismal name but to the religious name. And it goes without saying that when former times are· evoked one still speaks of Most Reverend Brother Simeon and not of Br. Fran ois Brevet, of Most Reverend Brother Hubert and not of Br. Pierre Robineau. The people of Machecoul (France) remember only Brothers Parmenas and Traseas.
In France, as in countries under French influence, it was from 1903, after the secularisation law, that Brothers were forced to go back to their civil names. Thus in Pondichery (India) one would know only Mr Faucheux and at Diego Suarez (Madagascar) only Mr Foucher, and in France a whole host of “messieurs”: Mr Lemesle at Poitiers, Mr Lelievre at Bordeaux, Mr Gueno at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, Mr Milcent at Pont-I’Abbe.
In India, among Christians, it is the baptismal name that is generally entered in the registers of the State with one or two initials (according to regions), one the first letter of the father’s name and the other of the family, house, etc. The Brothers either keep their original name (Joseph T. A. or T. A. Joseph), or receive a new name (Lawrence Joseph), or, as is customary in the West, adopt a combination of name and family name (Jacob Ezhanikatt).
In some cases, going back to the civil name has not simplified the entries at the secretariat in Rome, where it was easier to write in the registers Br. Louis Chanel than Br. Viriya Chandavarodom, or a simple name instead of the six·or seven syllables of a Malagasy name.
Sometimes Brothers had to change names due to circumstances. In 1834 Br. Philippe arrived in Beaupreau. As the population was hostile to king Louis Philippe, it was judged prudent to change the Brother’s name into Br. Pierre and he was known as Pierre Dugue.