Famous 16th Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders

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Vote for Your Favourite 16th Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders

 1 
Martin Luther
(Father of Protestantism and Church Reformer)

Martin Luther
16
Birthdate: November 10, 1483
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eisleben, Germany
Died: February 18, 1546

German monk Martin Luther challenged the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the pope, in his Ninety-five Theses, and was thus excommunicated. His German translation of the Bible enriched the German culture, and his marriage set an example for clerical marriage. His teachings are now known as Lutherans.

 2 
Kabir
(Saint and Mystic Poet)

Kabir
6
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1518 AD

Kabir was an Indian saint and mystic poet whose works influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement, which in turn played a key role in the formation of Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Kabir is an important figure in both Hinduism and Islam and his legacy continues to live through a religious community known as the Kabir panth.

 3 
Francis Xavier
(Missionary)

Francis Xavier
6
Birthdate: April 7, 1506
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Javier, Spain
Died: December 3, 1552
Navarrese Catholic missionary and saint Francis Xavier co-founded the Society of Jesus. His mission focused on the Portuguese Empire in Asia. He is remembered for his efforts to spread Christianity in Goa. He extended his mission to Japan and Borneo but died before he could preach in China.
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 4 
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
(Founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism)

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
4
Birthdate: February 18, 1484
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Navadvipa, India
Died: June 14, 1534

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a 15th-century Indian saint. Some of his disciples consider him to be the combined avatar of Radha and Krishna. His mode of worship characterized by ecstatic song and dance rituals had a deep influence on Vaishnavism in Bengal. He expounded Bhakti yoga and founded Gaudiya Vaishnavism. His birthday is celebrated as Gaura-Purnima by his disciples.  

 5 
Guru Nanak
(Founder of Sikhism)

Guru Nanak
5
Birthdate: April 15, 1469
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nankana Sahib, Pakistan
Died: September 22, 1539

Guru Nanak was the founder of one of the most popular monotheistic religions of the Indian subcontinent, Sikhism. Widely regarded as the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, Nanak contributed 974 hymns to the religion's sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak is worshipped by Sikhs around the world and his birth is celebrated as Guru Nanak Gurpurab.

 6 
John Calvin
(Theologian)

John Calvin
6
Birthdate: July 10, 1509
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Noyon, France
Died: May 27, 1564

French theologian, pastor, and reformer John Calvin was a major figure during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. He was influential in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church to embrace Protestantism. As an apologetic writer, he generated much controversy.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola
4
Birthdate: October 23, 1491
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Azpeitia, Spain
Died: July 31, 1556

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a  Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian in the 16th century. He was one of the founders of the religious order called the Society of Jesus and served as its first Superior General at Paris. He was an inspired spiritual director and the founder of what is today known as "Ignatian spirituality."

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 8 
Desiderius Erasmus
(Philosopher)

Desiderius Erasmus
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1466
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 12, 1536

Born as an illegitimate child of a priest from Rotterdam, Desiderius Erasmus later grew up to be a significant figure of the northern Renaissance. He is remembered for his research on free will and for being the first to edit the New Testament, replacing traditional elements with new-age humanism.

 9 

Pope Leo X
5
Birthdate: December 11, 1475
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: December 1, 1521
Son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and part of the Medici banking family of Florence, Giovanni de’ Medici, was tonsured at 7, as a mark of his entry into ecclesiastical life. He took over as Pope Leo X after Julius II’s death. An art connoisseur, he was a true Renaissance pope.

 10 

Pope Clement VII
4
Birthdate: May 26, 1478
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: September 25, 1534

Pope Clement VII was head of the Catholic Church from 1523 to 1534. He also served as the ruler of the Papal States and is considered the most unfortunate of the popes as his reign was marked by military, political, and religious struggles. Despite his troubled papacy, Pope Clement left a remarkable cultural legacy, having commissioned artworks by personalities like Michelangelo.

 11 

Pope Julius II
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1443
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Albisola Superiore, Italy
Died: February 21, 1513

Pope Julius II served as the ruler of the Papal States and head of the Catholic Church from 1503 until his death in 1513. One of the most influential and powerful popes, Julius II left a significant political and cultural legacy. He commissioned a series of architecture and art projects, which beautified and improved the city to a great extent.

 12 
John of the Cross
(Roman Catholic Saint)

John of the Cross
3
Birthdate: June 24, 1542
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fontiveros, Spain
Died: December 14, 1591

John of the Cross was a Spanish Catholic priest, mystic, and Carmelite friar. One of the 36 Doctors of the Church, he is a major figure of the Counter-Reformation in Spain. He was a prolific writer and poet, and his writings are counted among the greatest works of all Spanish literature. He was beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X.

 13 
Reginald Pole
(Archbishop of Canterbury)

Reginald Pole
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1500
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stourton Castle, England
Died: November 17, 1558

Roman Catholic cardinal Reginald Pole had been the archbishop of Canterbury. Half of his education expenses was covered by fellowships from King Henry VII. A prominent member of the government under Mary Tudor, he re-established many monasteries and also let the burnings of Protestants continue.

 14 

Pope Paul III
3
Birthdate: February 29, 1468
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canino, Italy
Died: November 10, 1549

 15 

Pope Alexander VI
6
Birthdate: January 1, 1431
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Játiva, Spain
Died: August 18, 1503

Pope Alexander VI served as the pope from 1492 to 1503. Due to his involvement with several mistresses, Alexander is regarded as one of the most controversial popes of the Renaissance. However, during his papacy, a new architectural era surfaced in Rome as he encouraged the development of fine arts; famous personalities like Pinturicchio, Raphael, and Michelangelo worked for him.

 16 
Juan Diego
(Saint)

Juan Diego
3
Birthdate: 1474 AD
Birthplace: Cuautitlan, Mexico
Died: May 30, 1548

 17 

Pope Gregory XIII
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1502
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: April 10, 1585

 18 
Katharina von Bora
(Martin Luther's wife)

Katharina von Bora
4
Birthdate: January 29, 1499
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lippendorf, Neukieritzsch, Germany
Died: December 20, 1552

Katharina von Bora was a former nun, whose marriage with German professor of theology, priest, Augustinian monk, author and composer Martin Luther, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation, set a model for clerical marriage, permitting Protestant clergy to marry. She is often regarded to have played a key role in Reformation as she helped in defining Protestant family life.

 19 

Charles Borromeo
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1538
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Arona, Italy
Died: November 3, 1584

 20 
Guru Arjan
(Fifth Sikh Guru)

Guru Arjan
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1563
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Goindwal Sahib, India
Died: May 30, 1606

Saint Teresa of Avila
0
Birthdate: March 28, 1515
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gotarrendura
Died: October 4, 1582

Teresa of Ávila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish noblewoman who later turned into a Carmelite nun. She was posthumously named a Doctor of the Church. She co-established the Discalced Carmelite Order. Her written works include The Interior Castle and her own autobiography.

 22 
Ravidas
(Poet)

Ravidas
3
Birthdate: 1377 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, India
Died: 1520 AD

Ravidas was an Indian mystic, social reformer, poet-saint, and spiritual figure. An influential personality, Ravidas taught his followers to disregard social divisions of gender and caste that were prevalent in India at that time. The Ravidassia sect, a religious sect of Vaishnavism, is based on Ravidas' teachings. Ravidas is revered even today as a saint by his followers.

 23 
Vincent de Paul
(Catholic priest)

Vincent de Paul
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1581
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, France
Died: September 27, 1660

Vincent de Paul was a 17th-century Catholic saint who established the Congregation of the Mission, whose followers are also known as Lazarists, or Vincentians. Known for his charity toward the peasant community and the poor, he also formed associations of women who helped and nursed the sick.

 24 

Pope Adrian VI
4
Birthdate: March 2, 1459
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: September 14, 1523

Sixteenth-century pope Adrian VI remains the only Dutch to have been a pope and was the last non-Italian pope till John Paul II’s election after over 400 years. He wished to reform the Church but wasn’t able to do much, as he was strongly opposed by many, including Italian cardinals.

 25 
Guru Hargobind
(Sikh Guru)

Guru Hargobind
4
Birthdate: June 19, 1595
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Amritsar, India
Died: March 19, 1644

 26 

Aloysius Gonzaga
3
Birthdate: March 9, 1568
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Castiglione delle Stiviere, Italy
Died: June 21, 1591

 27 

Pope Urban VIII
3
Birthdate: April 5, 1568
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: July 29, 1644

 28 

Pope Paul IV
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1476
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Capriglia Irpina, Italy
Died: August 18, 1559

 29 

Pope Innocent X
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1574
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: January 7, 1655

 30 
Guru Ram Das
(Fourth Sikh Guru)

Guru Ram Das
3
Birthdate: September 24, 1534
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lahore, Pakistan
Died: September 1, 1581

 31 

Pope Clement VIII
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1536
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fano, Italy
Died: March 3, 1605

 32 

Isaac Luria
3
Birthdate: 1534 AD
Birthplace: Jerusalem, Israel
Died: July 25, 1572

Isaac Luria was a rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in Ottoman Syria, now Israel. He is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah, and his teachings are referred to as Lurianic Kabbalah. He wrote only a few poems and was known to deliver his lectures spontaneously. The Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue was built in his memory.  

 33 
James Ussher
(Archbishop)

James Ussher
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1581
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: March 21, 1656

 34 

Pope Paul V
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1550
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: January 28, 1621

 35 
Aḥmad Grāñ
(Somalian Muslim leader)

Aḥmad Grāñ
3
Birthdate: 1506 AD
Birthplace: Saylac, Somalia
Died: February 21, 1543

 36 

Pope Pius IV
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1499
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: December 9, 1565

 37 
Hugh Latimer
(Bishop)

Hugh Latimer
3
Birthdate: 1487 AD
Birthplace: Thurcaston, Leicestershire, England
Died: October 16, 1555

Born to a yeoman farmer, Hugh Latimer later studied at the University of Cambridge and became a Roman Catholic preacher. However, he later converted to Protestantism and became a major figure of the Reformation in England. He was burned at the stake after Mary Tudor took over the throne.

 38 

Pope Pius V
3
Birthdate: January 17, 1504
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bosco Marengo, Italy
Died: May 1, 1572

 39 

Pope Urban VII
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1521
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: September 27, 1590

 40 
Henry Garnet
(Priest)

Henry Garnet
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1521, 1555
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Heanor, England
Died: May 3, 1606

English Jesuit priest Henry Garnet was initially an Anglican but later converted to Roman Catholicism. After teaching Hebrew at a college in Rome, he went back to England as a missionary. Accused of being involved in the Gunpowder Plot against King James I, he was hanged to death in 1606.

 41 
Elizabeth Barton
(Catholic nun)

Elizabeth Barton
3
Birthdate: 1506 AD
Birthplace: Aldington Frith , England
Died: April 20, 1534

Elizabeth Barton was an English Catholic nun best remembered for her prophecies. Although her prophecies, which were fairly accurate, made her popular, they eventually led to her death. Her prophecy against Henry VIII was deemed fake and she was executed for treason. Barton continues to be revered by churches like the Anglican Catholic Church.

 42 
Guru Angad
(Sikh Guru)

Guru Angad
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1504
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sri Muktsar Sahib, India
Died: March 28, 1552

 43 
Guru Amar Das
(Sikh Guru)

Guru Amar Das
3
Birthdate: May 5, 1479
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Punjab, India)
Died: September 1, 1574

 44 
Jean de Brébeuf
(Missionary)

Jean de Brébeuf
3
Birthdate: March 25, 1593
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Conde-sur-Vire, France
Died: March 16, 1649

Jean de Brébeuf was a French missionary who explored New France, now known as Canada. He later came to be known as the patron saint of Canada. Captured by the native Iroquois in Huronia, he and another missionary were tortured to their deaths. The Iroquois also ate up his heart.

 45 

Pope Sixtus V
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1521
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Grottammare, Italy
Died: August 27, 1590

 46 
Thomas Hooker
(Preacher)

Thomas Hooker
3
Birthdate: July 5, 1586
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Marefield, United Kingdom
Died: July 7, 1647

Thomas Hooker was an English colonial leader. Hooker is credited with founding the Colony of Connecticut and is hence referred to as the Father of Connecticut. Thomas Hooker, who played a major role in the development of colonial New England, was one of the founders of the state of Connecticut as well as the city of Hartford.   

Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros
3
Birthdate: 1436 AD
Birthplace: Torrelaguna, Spain
Died: November 8, 1517

Son of a tax collector, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros spent 6 years in prison only because he wouldn’t give up on his claim to a rightful benefice. Part of the Spanish Inquisition, he opted for forced conversions of Muslims to Christianity, which caused the Moorish revolt of Moriscos.

 48 
Angela Merici
(Educator)

Angela Merici
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1474
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Desenzano del Garda, Italy
Died: January 27, 1540

 49 

Pope Julius III
3
Birthdate: September 19, 1487
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Monte San Savino, Italy
Died: March 23, 1555

 50 

Louise de Marillac
3
Birthdate: August 12, 1591
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Le Meux, Oise, France
Died: March 15, 1660