Callistus, Callista

443px-François_Boucher_012Origin: Greek/Late Latin
Meaning: “most beautuful.”

Callistus and Callista is a Late Latin form of the Greek Καλλιστοσ (Kallistos) meaning “most beautiful” which is ultimately derived from the Greek feminine name Kalliste or Kalliste.

In Greek mythology, Callisto was the daughter of King Lycaon of Arcadia, she was a hunting companion or nymph of the goddess Artemis, and took an oath to remain a virgin. Zeus disguised himself as Artemis in order to get close to the virgin, upon embracing the false image of Zeus, Zeus took on his true form and raped Callisto. When Artemis discovered that one of her virgin maids was pregnant and defiled, she turned Callisto into a bear and Callisto gave birth to her son Arcas. Zeus placed Callisto and her son in the constellation Ursa Minor. Later, Kallisto became an epithet for the goddess Artemis Kalliste. A moon of Jupiter was also named in the nymph’s honour.

In later years, the masculine form of Callistus was borne by three popes, also known as Callixtus, one of which was canonized a saint. His designated name-day is October 14.

The feminine version is borne by actress Calista Flockhart (b.1964). It was also borne by a 19th-century American female Baptist missionary Calista Vinton (1807-1864).

Spelled Callista, it is the name of a genus of molusc, and an orchid genus. It was also the name of the title character in the 1855 novel by John Henry Newman (Callista). A fictionalized version of Christians in ancient Rome.

Kallista is the name of a suburb of Melbourne Australia, and Kalista is the name of a village in Bulgaria.

Other forms of the name include, male versions:

  • Calistu (Corsican)
  • Kalist (Croatian/Slovak)
  • Calixus (Danish)
  • Kallistus/Kalixtus (German)
  • Kallistos (Greek)
  • Callisto (Italian)
  • Callixtus/Callistus (Late Latin)
  • Kalikstas (Lithuanian)
  • Kalikst (Polish)
  • Calisto/Calixto (Spanish/Portuguese)

Female forms include

  • Kalliste/Kallisto (Classic Greek)
  • Calista (English spelling, has been in usage since at least the 18th-century. Also used in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries)
  • Callista (Late Latin/Italian)
  • Kallisti (Modern Greek)
  • Kalista/Kaliksta (Bulgarian, Czech/Slovak, Croatian, Polish)
  • Calixta (Spanish/Portuguese)

English nickname options include Calla and Callie.