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Name Origin: Victoria, the Angel Goddess

Updated on August 18, 2013

Most people associate the name Victoria solely with Britain’s Queen Victoria. But there is a lot more to it than that. Once you start researching the history and meaning of the name Victoria, you will most likely come across a simple explanation: The name Victoria is derived from the Latin word which means victory, and is the female counterpart to the name Victor. This is very much just the SIMPLE explanation. Victoria is a Latin name because it was the name of a Roman goddess

Photograph of the statue of Nike on the Memorial to the Titanic engineers
Photograph of the statue of Nike on the Memorial to the Titanic engineers | Source

Victoria and Nike – Goddesses of Victory

Victoria is the Roman version of Nike, Greek mythology’s goddess of victory. The two women were not exact copies of each other: Nike was very much considered the goddess of victory, but she was also considered a warrior. According to legend, Nike was a charioteer during Zeus’ war against the Titans, therefore she was also called upon as a patroness of athletes (hence the modern sportswear brand named after her). Victoria, on the other hand, was used more as a good luck charm and was often worshiped only once a victory had been obtained. To a certain extent, Victoria was very much a lesser deity of Roman mythology. She was often ignored, particularly when the Roman Empire started to decay. Victoria was, however, a common female name.

Photograph of the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre
Photograph of the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre | Source

How the Goddess Became an Angel

Victoria and Nike were identical in appearance: each was portrayed as a beautiful, full grown woman, usually dressed in female garb and with an enormous set of wings sprouting from her shoulders. Victoria was a messenger, particularly one carrying the message of glory. But even more so, she could fly about the battlefield and provide a supernatural ability to conquer. Effigies of Victoria and Nike were beautiful and ethereal, and were known as Winged Victories. In fact, Nike, and by default Victoria, is the identity of the famed headless statue known as The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

After the Romans conquered the Greeks, statues and carvings of Nike were mostly likely rededicated to the goddess Victoria. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Winged Victories were not destroyed, but rather Christianized. In all likelihood, the popular idea about the “physical” appearance of angels is due at least partly to the goddesses Nike and Victoria. When the pagan temples were consecrated as Christian places of worship, the images, which at this stage would have been images of Victoria, were considered heavenly angels. When new Christian churches were built, beautiful winged figures were once again included in the artwork.

St. Victoria and Our Lady of Victory

Victoria is now very much considered a Christian name. However, it is always a challenge for girls with this name to hunt down their patron saint. There are in fact five different Saint Victorias, but practically nothing is known about any of them and none are routinely included in the liturgical calendar.

 
Biographical Information
Traditional Feast Day
St. Victoria (c. 60)
Martyred during the reign of the Emperor Nero alongside St. Edistus, a soldier she had been servant to.
Unknown
St. Victoria (c. 250)
Murdered after refusing an arranged marriage.
July 10th
St. Victoria of Albitina (c. 304)
Martyred after refusing an arranged marriage. She was executed along with a large group of other Christians.
February 11th
St. Victoria of Spain (c. 304)
Martyred during the Diocletian Persecution alongside her brother, St. Acislcus.
November 17th
St. Victoria of Africa (c. 484)
Miraculously saved from martyrdom after refusing to give up under torture.
December 6th
 
 
 
17th century painting of Our Lady of the Rosary by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
17th century painting of Our Lady of the Rosary by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo | Source

Girls named Victoria – and for that matter, boys named Victor – who are looking for a patron saint are usually pointed towards Our Lady of Victory. This is basically an extension of Mary’s title as Our Lady of the Rosary. However, Our Lady of Victory has quite a story: In 1571, Giovanni Andrea Doria miraculously won the Battle of Lepanto against the Ottoman Empire. Doria felt the victory was due to the fact that he kept a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe onboard the ship.

Two years later, the Pope instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory. Although the day, October 7th, was later renamed the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Victory is still a popular Marian title.

© 2013 LastRoseofSummer2

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      yo mama 2 years ago

      hi these are fun facts

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is so interesting! Thank you for sharing the information. It's fascinating to see how traditions and beliefs evolve over time.

    • profile image

      Rayne123 3 years ago

      Another great piece of history.

      I did not know these facts.

      My grandmothers name was Victoria, it is a beautiful name actually.

      Thank you

      Laurie

    • writinglover profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago from Lost...In Video Games

      This was very interesting! I love anything that's related to mythology or name origins (I can't think of the proper word). Voted it up!