Francesco now Italy's most popular baby name

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Moved by the election of Pope Francis seven months ago, the name “Francesco” has leapfrogged to Number 1 on the list of the most popular baby names in Italy, according to a study, reports the Religion News Service.

The study, conducted by Enzo Caffarelli, who researches the origins of names at Rome’s Tor Vergata University, along with telephone directory publisher Seat PG Italia, also showed a trend toward re-naming streets, town squares and parks for St. Francis of Assisi, the pontiff’s namesake.

There are now more than 2,000 public places in Italy named after Francis; 300 of them were named this year. The name Francesco has long been commonplace in Italy, according to Caffarelli.

But the new pope has pushed its popularity even higher. Caffarelli noted that over the first three months of the year — before Francis’ election — the name was Number 2 in Rome, behind “Lorenzo.”

After the papal election on March 13, Francesco leaped into first and has grown more popular since then.

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