What Is Madonna's Real Name?

Cher, Prince, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Adele. While the Queen of Pop isn't the first or last entertainer to go by a single name, Madonna has one of the most striking and recognizable mononyms in showbiz. Not only does it perfectly prepare you for her sometimes intimidating personality, but it also lets you know right up front that you're dealing with a legend.

Madonna's name also fits well with the themes of her music: religion and sexuality, often combining the two to much acclaim (and controversy). Growing up in the Catholic Church, she later turned imagery of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ on its head for hits such as "Like a Virgin" and "Like a Prayer." Despite their titles and the latter's gospel choir, the songs aren't exactly church-friendly. After the latter's controversial video, then-Pope John Paul II even told people to boycott the singer and steer clear of her "Blond Ambition" tour. Pepsi, who was sponsoring the tour and included "Like a Prayer" in a commercial, also received backlash.

Nevertheless, Madonna proved to be the perfect stage name as the pop star continued wrestling with themes of spirituality in her songs, videos, and performances. If she went by anything else, her work might not have received as much attention, positive or negative. But much like her protégé Lady Gaga, who's really Stefani Germanotta, surely there's a regular person behind the larger-than-life persona ... right?

Madonna IS her real name

It seems too good to be true, but Madonna is in fact the Queen of Pop's real name. Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, if you want to get technical, per Biography. Indeed, the iconic name we know her by today was her real name all along. In a way, it's almost prophetic that a woman named after the visual representation of the Virgin Mary would go on to make so many bold artistic statements about religion, feminism, and sexuality.

In a 1991 interview with Vanity Fair, Madonna acknowledged the irony, sharing, "I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name. How could I be anything else but what I am having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this." Well, she definitely didn't end up a nun, but somehow the name suits her current occupation, too!

To take it a step further, Madonna's first and middle name were passed down from her mother, who died from cancer when the singer was just five years old. Over the years, Madonna has spoken out about missing her mother and explored the subject in her music. Most notably, she wrote "Promise to Try" off her 1989 "Like a Prayer" album about her mother. With the emotional piano ballad's lyrics addressing a "little girl," it seems that it's from the perspective of Madonna's mother speaking to her.

Madonna has hinted at a return to Catholicism

Despite being the subject of a church-wide boycott as well as dabbling in Kabbalah, Madonna hasn't completely abandoned her Catholic roots. In May, she took to Twitter to get the attention of Pope Francis: "Hello @Pontifex Francis —I'm a good Catholic. I Swear! I mean I don't Swear! Its been a few decades since my last confession. Would it be possible to meet up one day to discuss some important matters ? I've been ex communicated 3 times. It doesn't seem fair. Sincerely Madonna."

It's unknown if Madonna has since gotten the meeting she wanted with Pope Francis, or if she was even serious, but it should be interesting to see if anything comes of it. Pope Francis is considered more liberal than past popes, and if Madonna has any shot at warming up to a pope, it may be with him. While he didn't publicly reply, multiple priests responded to the tweet, with one saying, "I don't know if the Pope himself can meet with you, but I can find you a priest near where you are to help you. Just DM me if you need help or have questions."

With no new album since 2019 and a much-anticipated biopic in the works, Madonna is in an interesting place career-wise. A mid-life come-to-Jesus moment would certainly be a pivot, and also give her name a whole new meaning.