Historically, the French have been very strict about naming. It is permitted to change a name legally, but very difficult, and only with a very good reason. Even when one does, every single official document about one gives one's name as "Monsieur X, who changed his name from Y...." One might as well not have bothered.
Forty per cent of all French surnames are religious, falling into general groupings, as determined by the authors of the Grand Dictionnaire des Noms de Famille (éditions Ambre, 2002)
- Biblical names, such as Adam, Daniel, Gabriel, Levy, or Salomon
- The evangelists' or apostles' names or Mary and Joseph, such as Jacques, Andrieu, Pierre, Marie, Joseph, Lucas, Marc
- Names of saints that may have Germanic, Greek, of Latin origins, such as Arnaud, Lambert, Nicolas, Vidal, or Clément
- Names of religious occupations, such as Clerc or Moine
- Names of religious festivals, such as Noël or Toussaint
- Names of pilgrimages, such as Pelerin
- Names of religious places such as Chapelle
- There are also surnames of a religious nature given to nameless foundlings such as Dieudonné, meaning God-given.