Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Your Name is WHAT?

My middle name is Dorcas, and that has never been easy!

I always was extremely reluctant to tell people my middle name, mostly because it sounded like "dork" and also because no one had ever heard of it. I used to say that people would laugh if I told them, and of course they swore that they would not. You know what happened next! I would reveal my middle name, and everyone would burst out laughing.

The name is biblical: Dorcas is a Greek name (Tabitha in Aramaic ). She was
a disciple of Joppa found in the Book of Acts 9:36–42 of the Bible. She was a dressmaker, who made clothes for the poor in her village. Acts recounts that when she died, the people of the village called upon Saint Peter who came to where she was being waked and raised her from the dead. (quote from wikipedia).

(Saint Dorcas is on the right in the picture, above.)

There have always been Dorcas Societies doing charitable works. There was also a Dorcas brand  of dressmaker's supplies. Still no amount of having folks do good works in the name of Dorcas, or boxes upon boxes of dressmaker's pins could compensate for having a name that made everyone think of the word "dork"!

But one lives with it. And one goes simply with the initial "D."

Then just last year, I looked up Dorcas in Wikipedia and nearly fell over where I stood.

Dorcas is commemorated as a saint in the Lutheran church. Cool. I was raised in the Lutheran church. The Wikipedia entry gives the dates for celebration of her in different Lutheran synods:
She is commemorated with Lydia of Thyatira and Phoebe on January 27 in the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and on October 25 in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Now that is really cool. My birthday is today, January 27th.

The last sentence of the entry, however, blew me away totally! My mother's name is Dorcas; I was named after her. My mother's birthday is October 25th. She is Lutheran. (The Roman Catholic church celebrates St. Tabitha's day on October 25.)

And it wasn't planned. My great-grandmother, who was definitely not Lutheran, was named Dorcas. We carry on her name.

Somehow, I am less reluctant to tell people my middle name now. I can take their incredulity - "Your name is WHAT?" - and suggest that they look the name up in Wikipedia: A saint who was raised from the dead, whose name I share, who is commemorated on my birthday.

With this turn of events, I am now a bit smug and self-satisfied, thank you very much.

(In the image at the top, Saint Dorcas is on the right.)
(The final image is of St. Peter raising Dorcas from the dead.)


askcherlock said...

Well, I think your middle name is beautiful. Possibly the coincidence of the birthdays are meant to give you positive reinforcement for newly gained confidence. So wear your mantle proudly. From getting to know you, I am sure the Saints would be pleased with you.

ChrisJ said...


Thank you; that's so nice.

Ciss B said...

I know I went through a period in high school where I hated my whole name! I often wished for an unusual name that would give me something to stand out with in my time in high school.

Your middle name is beautiful and since mine was one of those simple ones that almost "everyone," seem to have (typical high school way of dealing with frustration)I was jealous of something like your middle name.

You're lucky to also have that wonderful history of the name being passed down. A saints name that also incorporates that wonderful family history as well is a real gift!

ChrisJ said...

Aren't we contrary creatures? We always seem to want the opposite of what we have!

67 Not Out (Mike Perry) said...

I like the name!

And the coincidences with the dates is fascinating. I'm always amazed by such things - a coincidence by chance or maybe something more? Who knows for sure.

Best wishes,

ChrisJ said...


I thought you might appreciate the coincidences.

corfubob said...

Your post cheered me up no end ChrisD. And I loved the coincidence. My surname means,apparently, 'pig house' not much to be proud of there, but my middle name 'Wilfred' is derived from my uncles, William and Fredrick. I don't share it unless obliged to, maybe there is something about middle names that needs research. Nice to see you here Cher.

ChrisJ said...


I wonder if the combination of William and Fredrick is the basis of Wifred generally. I'd never thought about that. Good! That's my new fact for the day. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Do you know where that Dorcas stained glass window is from (i.e. what church)?

ChrisJ said...


I'm sorry, but I don't know. I had a quick look on Google, but couldn't find it. Links must have changed because I know I didn't look very far or hard when I did the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I spent some time googling as well, without luck. There is a picture of a postcard of what seems to be the same window at (but that does not say where it was from either).

ChrisJ said...


I think I have found it! The link is to an 1895 story in the New York Times about St. Thomas's Church in NYC.

Look for Woodward Memorial Windows at St. Thomas.

ChrisJ said...

The church with those windows burned down and there is a new one from 1913; probably the windows perished as well. I might contact them to ask.

Unknown said...

Well my FIRST name is Dorcas and I NEVER had a problem with the "dork" issue until i went to college. Seriously...but I am over it now being 42 years old. Unfortunately you run into the scenario because you can never say your name is "Dorcas" without a comment..."oh my grandmother was Dorcas", "where did THAT name come from", "WHAT?", "7 brides for 7 daughters or stephen king book", "great quaker name", and on and on and on....and the infamous spelling of my name with a DorcUs...even after I spell it for them or they see it in print. :) Anyway...your grandmother was an angel...and your mom...she lives my life. Happy Saint Dorcas day!