I know about the famous Mary Celeste ship which was found with no one on board in 1872. Sank in 1885. Let's nickname it "the Ghost ship".

Today, while watching some National Geographic movie about the Bermuda Triangle, I got to know that there was another ship, named either Mary Celestia or Marie Celeste, sank in 1864 near Bermuda. Let's nickname it "the Bermuda ship".

The Wikipedia article for the Ghost ship says:

The reason for the choice of name is unclear; Begg points out that Maria Celeste was an illegitimate daughter of the astronomer Galileo, and was also the name of a well-known nun, either of whom might have influenced Haines.

(BTW, the wording here gives the impression that the "illegitimate daughter" and the "well-known nun" were two separate persons. But it seems it's one and the same person.)

(I couldn't find the reason given for naming the Bermuda ship so.)

Now, my question:

Was Maria Celeste (Galileo's daughter) so well-known in the 19th century that many entities (at least two ships) were named after her? I've never heard of her before today. Were other things named after her? Like towns and cities?

Or was is just a coincidence that both ships were named so? In other words: was is simply a very popular name back then? Some sort of a fad?

  • 4
    I really don't think two ships sharing a similar name is particularly exceptional. It is a bit of a stretch to infer from this that the name must be "very popular" or that Galileo's daughter must be "such well-known", especially given that there's no firm evidence those ships were named after her. Maria Celeste does have a namesake crater on Venus, though.
    – Semaphore
    Sep 18, 2015 at 9:33
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    Oh, the "well-known nun" Wikipedia refers to may be Maria Celeste Crostarosa, an Italian mystic who lived during the 18th century.
    – Semaphore
    Sep 18, 2015 at 9:46
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    The ships were certainly NOT named after Galileo's daughter. Maria Celesta is translated as "Heavenly Mary", which can mean the Virgin Mary or a common female name.
    – Alex
    Sep 18, 2015 at 11:55
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    (BTW, I didn't really claim the ships were named after Galileo's daughter. Most unfortunately, somebody edited my question and changed its original title ("Two ships: ...") and by this shifted the focus of the question.)
    – Niccolo M.
    Sep 18, 2015 at 14:37
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    @Mark C. Wallace: Thanks; I massaged my original title a bit and I hope it's ok now. I apologize if I seemed to accuse you of doing something wrong. My original title was indeed a bad one.
    – Niccolo M.
    Sep 18, 2015 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


Maria Celesta is translated from the Latin as Heavenly Mary. This could mean a woman's name in a Catholic country or Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. In Catholic countries, naming ships in this way was quite common. Certainly they would not name a ship in honor of Galileo's daughter.

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