Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 508

Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 508

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Greetings from the Academy of Saint Gabriel!

You asked for our opinion of "Celeste d'Arles" as a French name. Here's what we've found.

The name "Celeste" has no particular supernatural associations; indeed, it is a good, Christian name. There was a St. Celeste, bishop of Metz in the 4th C, several popes Celestin (one in the late 13th century), and a virgin martyr St. Celestina [1]. It was probably in use in France throughout much of our period, through it seems to have been rare. Masculine versions of the name, "Celest" and "Celestus", are recorded in France in the 9th and 10th centuries respectively [2]. We do not have examples of the name in later-period France, but it apparently remained in occasional use [3]. "Celeste" would be the expected French feminine form for any time from the 10th century onward; "Celestine" is also possible.

The city of "Arles" is recorded as "Arle" in 13th century records [4]. The final 's' seems to have been added later in our period. Your description of your persona places it in the period of the Provencal troubadours, the 12th and 13th centuries, so we suggest that the most appropriate form of your name is "Celeste d'Arle".

If you would like to consider names that are better documented for your period, you might like to refer to two articles which are available on the

Both contain lists of feminine given names which were used in medieval southern France.

I hope this letter has been helpful. Talan Gwynek contributed to this letter.

For the Academy,

Arval Benicoeur


[1] De Felice, Emidio, Dizionario dei Nomi Italiani (Milan: Arnoldo

Mondadori, 1986)

[2] Morlet, Marie-Therese, Les Noms de Personne sur le Territoire de

l'Ancienne Gaule du VIe au XIIe Siecle, v.II & III (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1972)

[3] E.G. Withycombe, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 3rd

ed. (Oxford University Press)

[4] Dauzat & Rostaing, Dictionnaire Etymologique des Noms de Lieux de la

France (Paris, 1963)