Before I get into the history, I just want to say that I quite like this name. He has the same trendy vibe as Corbin and the sophisticated feel of Sebastian all wrapped into one. With the popularity of other trendy male K names, I could see this picking up in the United States. If only more Anglophones were aware of its existence..
Korbinian does share a common ancestor with Corbin. Both names are derived from the Latin corvus meaning “raven.” It may have actually been a Latin translation of the German male name, Hraban (raven).
Korbinian’s roots are Latin, but its usage seems to be isolated to Bavaria and Austria. The reason being is that the name is connected to a 7th-century Frankish saint who was known for converting the region of Bavaria to Christianity. Interestingly enough, he was not borne as Korbinian, his real name was Waldegiso, being named after his father. For reasons unknown, his mother who was named Corbiniana, decided to rename her son upon her husband’s death, making him a junior of herself.
St. Corbinian had lived as a hermit in France, he was very popular among the locals, who would often visit him and listen to his sermons. One day, he decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome, where he met with the Pope, who convinced Corbinian to quit the life of a hermit and instead evangelize the Germanic tribes on the French border. He was delegated by the Pope to administer to the Duke of Bavaria. Corbinian was made the first bishop of Freising.
According to legend, while on his way to Rome, Corbinian was attacked by a wild bear. He managed to tame it and made the animal carry his belongings all the way to Rome. Upon his arrival to Rome, Corbinian set the bear free.
It is often believed that the story was apocryphal, a way to symbolize the saint’s conversion of the ferocious German tribes to docile Christians. His motifs and symbols are often the bear. The bear, (which is in reference to St. Corbinian), is found in Freising and Bavarian heraldry. In fact, the current pope, Benedict XVI, was previously the bishop of Freising-Munich when he assumed the Papacy, he integrated the bear into his papal coat-of-arms, in honour of St. Corbinian. The source of Corbinian’s life can be found in the Vita Corbiniani written by Bishop Arbeo of Freising.
Possible nickname options are Korby and Binny. The Latin spelling is Corbinian. This form is also used in Germany.
It feminine form of Corbiniana is not a bad choice either. With the recent interest in such names as Cordelia and Georgiana across the pond in Britain, this might make an appealing alternative.
Currently, Korbinian is the 227th most popular male name in Germany, (2011).