We received a request to determine if the name Celestina — such a gorgeous name — was used in 16th C Italy. The masculine form, Celestine, was the name of a couple of popes (and an anti-pope!) which means it wasn’t entirely unheard of amongst men, but papal names, unlike saint’s names, didn’t necessary bump the popularity of their corresponding feminine forms. So just because examples of Celestinus can be found floating around wasn’t any guarantee, or even indication, that we’d find any Celestinas.
But we did! Our earliest example is one Celestina that occurs in Il “liber” di S. Agata di Padova, from 1304.
Our next earliest example is an English one from Canterbury, Kent, in 1349/50. This is an unusual name to find in England at this time; during the 13th C there was a fashion of adopting fanciful Latinate names, but most of these names fell out of use within a century. So where does this English Celestina come from? Was she maybe not English by birth? We’ll never know.
Interestingly, a century later, the daughter of one of the papal collectors in England, the Italian Simone da Teramo, named his daughter Celestina. We haven’t yet found a precise date for her, but Simone was collector between 1420 and 1425, so she was presumably born sometime in the early 15th C.
Then we move into the more murky of the data that we’ve found. There is a reference to one Celestina filia Thomas which occurs on p. 34 of vol. 14 of Studi piemontesi; unfortunately, we don’t have access to enough of this journal to be able to determine the date of this record. If any of our readers have access to this journal, we would love to have a copy of the article covering p. 34!
How about the 16th century? Well, we did find a 16th C example, from 1502. But it’s from Barcelona, not Italy, so we’re still on the lookout! If you know of any 16th C Italian examples, please share in the comments.