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Cloelia

15th c. Illuminated manuscript, Cloelia crossing the Tiber

Cloelia (clo-AY-lee-uh modern, CLAY-lee-uh original) is the perfect rare alternative for parents who love Claudia (which used to be #200 in 2000 and fell to #761 in 2016) or Chloe (#20 in 2016 and the spelling Khloe #125), but can't come to terms with how popular both of those names have been. If Cloelia isn't quite what you're looking for, Clelia (CLAY-lee-uh) is her twin sister, which in sound is a little bit like Claudia or Kaylee (#70) and a little like Leila (#230 and the spelling Laila #164).

Internationally the name Cloelia is not really used, but 19th century Clelia still has a place. Clelia was #187 in Italy in 2015, and was not on the list a few years beforehand, so it seems it's having a bit of a resurgence. In France it was #378 in 2015 and has been on their list of top names since 1982. The height of Clelia's popularity in the U.S. was in 1920 when it was given to a mere 20 girls, and 2013 was the last year it was listed. Cloelia has not been used in the U.S.

Cloelia has always been considered a special Italian name connected to Latin Cloelius or Cluilius, and Cluilia may have been her original form. According to W. M. Lindsay in The Latin Language: An Historical Account of Latin Sounds, Stems, and Flexicons, Cluilius derives from Cluvius, meaning "famous," from Greek kleu- and equivalent to cluvior/nobilior.

The historical namesake is a Roman girl given as part of a peace treaty with the Clusians to be used as a hostage. She escaped by swimming across the Tiber river but was caught returning to Rome and sent back to the Etruscans. Lars Porsena, who was king and in charge of the hostages, was so impressed that he either released her with a few other hostages of her choosing or promised her and the others no harm would come to them upon their return. She has been written about and painted ever since.

Additionally, Saint Clelia Barbieri is the 19th century Roman Catholic patron saint of those mocked for their religious belief. She founded the Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows and was the youngest founder of a religious community in catholic history. She was born in 1847 in Bologna, Italy.

A few other important women named Clelia include Clelia Grimaldi, an Italian botanist and marchesa born in 1760, Clelia Borromeo, an Italian mathematician-scientist and countess, American women's health advocate and hygienist Clelia Duel Mosher, who researched sex before Kinsey and warned that Victorian beliefs were dangerous for women's health, Italian actresses Clelia Bernacchi, Clelia Rondinella, and Clelia Matania, and operatic soprano Clelia Strepponi, who was married to Giuseppe Verdi.

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