Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Ines
Ines is another variation of Agnes (mainly French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish). The French render the name as Inès while in Spanish the accent mark goes the opposite direction (Inés). The Portuguese write Inês and the English (when used) render the name unaccented or spell it Inez. The name’s original root, Agnes, is the Latinized form of the Greek name Hagnē (Ἁγνὴ), derived from “hagnos” meaning “chaste, pure”. Enduring usage of Agnes/Ines is owed almost entirely to an early 4th century saint, one of the so-called “virgin-martyrs”, Agnes of Rome. St. Agnes holds the distinction of being one of only seven female saints (excluding the Virgin Mary) commemorated in the Canon of the Holy Mass (the other six are: Cecilia, Agatha, Lucy, Perpetua, Felicity and Anastasia). Born to the Roman aristocracy c. 291, Agnes was not only educated and wealthy, but she was also said to be quite beautiful and not without her share of many male admirers. However, the “chaste” Agnes, a girl of about 13, refused to marry anyone, as she had already given herself over to Christ as His bride. One of her rejected suitors angrily turned her into the Roman authorities, essentially “outing” her as a Christian (illegal in the then-pagan Roman Empire), and she was consequently sentenced to death. However, since it was against Roman law to execute a virgin, Agnes was dragged to a brothel in an attempt to deflower her. According to legend, the Holy Spirit interceded and all sorts of miraculous circumstances prevented her rape (she grew hair all over her body, the men were struck blind before they could attack her, and so forth). As with many early saints, a cult grew up around Agnes/Ines in the Middle Ages and so the name spread throughout Christian Europe; a particular favorite among royalty and noblewomen. Adding further dimension to this age-old name is the fact that “agnus” is the Latin word for “lamb” (so you often see St. Agnes depicted with a lamb by her side or in her arms). Inès remains a highly popular name in France and Inés is extremely common in Spain. This cosmopolitan-cool name is also used with a fair amount of regularity in Belgium, Catalonia and Sweden.