The Key to Naming Sixty Saintly Cities

The Real Key to Naming a City is to Know the Gender of Thy Saints

What do Florida, Texas, California, and New Mexico have in common? Spaniards looking for spices, riches, and slaves conquered these places sometime around the fifteenth century. Evidence of who subjugated  the land remains today in local directories and on maps.

A Holy Tradition

Franciscans and Spanish soldiers often named New World missions and provinces after saints or places in Spain.

Consider San Juan Capistrano. When I hear that name, I think of swallows nestling in the namesake Mission. Fray Lasuén named this outpost after Giovanni da Capestrano. Born in 1386, Giovanni came from a region of Italy called Abruzzi, specifically the town Capestrano. Giovanni (Italian) and Juan (Spanish) are translations of the English name John. Thus, San Juan Capistrano means Saint John who is from Capestrano.

The Church believed they should expand the territorial boundaries of Spain by evangelizing the Natives. Introducing them to canonized (officially recognized) saints was a good way to begin their instruction. Also, the Franciscans believed in a literal translation of Matthew 24:14, which says, “And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached through the whole world for a witness unto all nations, and then the end shall come.” But what they didn’t know was geography and the fact that the world was a whole lot bigger than they knew.

Attribution Distribution

Or, why some places begin with Santa and not San

Santa is feminine, Santo is masculine but San is a fine substitute, much like St. which means the same thing as saint. That being said, below is a list of sixty cities sans (sorry) attribution (such extraordinary vocabulary, but this is, after all, a blog post about words). See if you can ascribe the correct honorific (put the right title) in front.

 

Ana pueblo
Ana
Barbara
Clara
Clarita
Cruz
Fe Springs
Maria
Monica
Paula
Rosa
Angelo
Anselmo
Bernardino
Antonio
Augustine
Benito
Benito
Bruno
Carlos
Catalina
Clara Pueblo
Clara village
Clemente
Diego
Cloud
Cruz
Diego
Dimas
Domingo Pueblo
Elizario
Fe
Felipe Pueblo
Fernando
Francisco
Gabriel
Jacinto
Joaquin
Jose
Juan Bautista
Juan Capistrano
Leandro
Luis Obispo
Marcos
Marino
Mateo
Pablo
Rafael
Ramon
Ildefonso Pueblo
James city
Jo
Jon Village
Juan
Juan
Leo
Petersburg
Rosa
Teresa
Ysidro Village

 

The answers are intentionally not provided. Research the name and you may find interesting tidbits like I did while exploring the history of San Juan Capistrano. I hope you’ll share what you learn about Saint Bruno!

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