Famous 19th Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders, including Swami Vivekananda, Joseph Smith, Pope Paul VI, Pope John XXIII and Pope Pius XII.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Sai Baba of Shirdi

Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Famous As: Spiritual Guru
Birthdate: September 28, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pathri
Died: October 15, 1918

Sai Baba of Shirdi was an important and influential Indian spiritual master. Identified both as a Muslim fakir and a Hindu saint, Sai Baba's teachings are still relevant among Muslim and Hindu communities around the world. While Shri Sai remains a common name for establishments in India, his temples are also located in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, and Asia.

 2 Ramakrishna Paramhamsa

Ramakrishna Paramhamsa.
Famous As: Spiritual & Religious Leader
Birthdate: February 18, 1836
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kamarpukur, West Bengal, India
Died: August 16, 1886

The widely revered Hindu religious leader and saint who had a large following was known for promoting the ancient Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta and Bhakti. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a devotee of Goddess Kali who he worshipped as the universal mother. His marriage to Sharada Devi was never consummated. Swami Vivekanada was the most famous disciple of the Bengal-born mystic.

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 3 Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo.
Famous As: Philosopher, Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: August 15, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: December 5, 1950

Sri Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, poet, yogi, teacher, and nationalist. He was one of the most influential leaders of the Indian independence movement before becoming a spiritual reformer, focusing on spiritual evolution and human progress. He is credited with founding the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, which continues to serve spiritual aspirants from all over the world.

 4 Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda.
Famous As: Guru
Birthdate: January 5, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: March 7, 1952

Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian Hindu monk, yogi, and guru. He is known for introducing the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India to millions across the world. He authored the book Autobiography of a Yogi and is considered the Father of Yoga in the West.

 5 Joseph Smith Jr.

Joseph Smith Jr..
Famous As: Religious leader, Theologians
Birthdate: December 23, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sharon, Vermont, United States
Died: June 27, 1844

Religious leader Joseph Smith Jr. is known as the founder of the Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. He also published the Book of Mormon. He established his communities in Ohio and Missouri and eventually founded the city Nauvoo in Illinois, which became the center of his spiritual activities.

 6 Brigham Young

Brigham Young.
Famous As: Second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Birthdate: June 1, 1801
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whitingham
Died: August 29, 1877
Brigham Young, known as the "American Moses," was the second president of the LDS Church. He founded Salt Lake City, was the first governor of the Utah Territory, and led to the formation of the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. He was a polygamist who had 55 wives.

 7 Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Famous As: Public Speaker & Philosopher
Birthdate: May 12, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Madanapalle
Died: February 17, 1986

Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian philosopher, speaker, and writer. Many years after his death, Krishnamurti's supporters oversee several schools based on his views and ideas. The Krishnamurti Foundation runs several schools in India and foreign countries. Among those who were influenced by his works were Toni Packer, Dada Dharmadhikari, and Achyut Patwardhan.

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 8 Pio of Pietrelcina

Pio of Pietrelcina
Birthdate: May 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pietrelcina
Died: September 23, 1968

Born Francesco Forgione, Pio of Pietrelcina changed his name after joining the Capuchin order at age 15. He later became famous for exhibiting stigmata, marks on his body symbolizing the wounds of Jesus. He is revered as the patron saint of adolescents and civil defense volunteers.

 9 Thérèse of Lisieux

Thérèse of Lisieux.
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: January 2, 1873
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alençon, Orne, France
Died: September 30, 1897
French nun Thérèse of Lisieux, known as "The Little Flower of Jesus,” became one of the most well-known Catholic saints ever. She became the youngest Doctor of the Church and the third woman to receive the honor. A devoted Carmelite, she died of tuberculosis at age 24.

 10 Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII.
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: November 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sotto il Monte
Died: June 3, 1963

Pope John XXIII served as the Bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church from 1958 until his death in 1963. He took many people by surprise when he called the historic Second Vatican Council, which addressed relations between the modern world and the Catholic Church. Pope John XXIII was canonized on 27 April 2014.

 11 Bernadette Soubirous

Bernadette Soubirous.
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: January 7, 1844
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lourdes
Died: April 16, 1879
Bernadette Soubirous grew up amidst poverty, which contributed to her ill health and her stunted frame of just over 4 feet. At 14, she had visions of the Virgin Mary, which led to the formation of the Marian shrine of Lourdes. She was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI.

 12 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Famous As: Founder of ISKCON
Birthdate: September 1, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kolkata
Died: November 14, 1977
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, also known as Srila Prabhupada, was born Abhay Charan De. He founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as ISKCON or the Hare Krishna Movement. He renounced his family and pharmaceutical business to become a Vaishnava monk and was considered a Krishna Chaitanya messenger.

 13 George Gurdjieff

George Gurdjieff.
Famous As: Spiritual Teacher
Birthdate: January 1, 1866
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gyumri
Died: October 29, 1949

Born to a poet and carpenter, George Gurdjieff grew up reading a lot of science books in his hometown, Kars. He later laid down the concept of The Fourth Way, stating that humans can overcome their state of waking sleep through methods involving a combination of music, dance, and lectures.

 14 Charles Taze Russell

Charles Taze Russell.
Famous As: Christian Restoration Minister
Birthdate: February 16, 1852
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Allegheny, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died: October 31, 1916

Charles Taze Russell was an American restorationist minister who is credited with founding the Bible Student movement, which formed the basis for several independent Bible Student groups. He is also credited with co-founding a not-for-profit, non-stock organization called the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, which is an important publisher of religious books in America.

 15 Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX.
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: May 13, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Senigallia, Marche, Papal States, Italy
Died: February 7, 1878

Pope Pius IX served as the longest-tenured pope. His reign also witnessed the first Vatican Council and was thus the last pope who had control over the Papal States. He also issued the Syllabus of Errors and inspired books such as The Pope Who Would Be King by David Kertzer.

 16 John Bosco

John Bosco.
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: August 16, 1815
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Castelnuovo d'Asti, Piedmont, Kingdom of Sardinia, Italy
Died: January 31, 1888

The founder of the Salesian Order, John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, started his life as a priest in Turin. He began teaching young boys who came to Turin for jobs and later branched out to form a similar institution for girls too, with St. Mary Mazzarello.

 17 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: May 8, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Corralejo de Hidalgo, Mexico
Died: July 30, 1811

Spanish priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is remembered as the father of Mexican independence. During the 1808 French invasion of Spain, the Mexicans demanded independence from Spanish rule. Hidalgo’s subsequent call for revolt against the Spanish is remembered as the Cry of Dolores. He was executed by a firing squad.

 18 Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII.
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: March 2, 1810
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Carpineto Romano, Italy
Died: July 20, 1903
Pope Leo XIII is best remembered for writing the Prayer to St. Michael and his encyclicals on the Rosary, which earned him the nickname Rosary Pope. He advocated for age-old Christian ways and means and was the first pope to have no authority over the Papal States.

 19 Dayanand Saraswati

Dayanand Saraswati.
Famous As: Indian philosopher
Birthdate: February 12, 1824
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tankara, Gujarat
Died: October 30, 1883

 20 Baha'u'llah

Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: November 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: May 29, 1892

 21 Father Damien

Father Damien.
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: January 3, 1840
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tremelo, Belgium
Died: April 15, 1889

Father Damien was a Roman Catholic priest best remembered for his ministry, which he led for people with leprosy. He is credited with building schools and hospitals to benefit those in need. After caring for those in the leper colony for 11 years, Damien contracted leprosy and succumbed to the disease. He is referred to as a martyr of charity.   

 22 Sister Nivedita

Sister Nivedita
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: October 28, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Died: October 13, 1911

 23 Muhammad Ahmad

Muhammad Ahmad.
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: August 12, 1844
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dongola
Died: June 22, 1885

Born to a Sudanese shipbuilder, Muhammad Ahmad grew up to become a Sufi religious leader. His war against the Ottoman-Egyptian rule and his capture of Khartoum led him to establish a vast Islamic state. Named the first Mahdi, he was one of the rare African rulers to defeat the British.

 24 Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop.
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: January 15, 1842
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New South Wales
Died: August 8, 1909

Mary MacKillop, the first Australian to be made a saint by the Catholic Church, was born to poor Scottish immigrants and had taken up the reins of her family at age 14. She got a pedophile priest dismissed and is thus revered as a patron saint of sexual abuse victims.

 25 The Bāb

The Bāb
Famous As: Religious Leaders
Birthdate: October 20, 1819
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran
Died: July 9, 1850

 26 Swaminarayan

Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: April 3, 1781
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chhapaiya, India
Died: June 1, 1830

Swaminarayan, also known as Sahajanand Swami, was an Indian yogi and ascetic. He is credited to have revived several central Hindu practices of dharma, ahimsa, and brahmacharya. He was initiated into the tradition of Uddhav Sampradaya by his guru and later became the leader of the tradition. He also undertook reforms for women and the poor. 

 27 Usman dan Fodio

Usman dan Fodio
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: December 15, 1754
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gobir, Nigeria
Died: April 20, 1817

 28 Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor
Famous As: Physician, Translator, Theologian, Non-fiction writer, Missionary, Bible translator
Birthdate: May 21, 1832
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Barnsley
Died: June 3, 1905

Hudson Taylor was one of the most popular Christian missionaries in China. His 51-year stint in China witnessed him baptizing over 50,000 people. Apart from converting people, he also mingled with the Chinese at a personal level, adopting their clothing habits, contrary to what other missionaries practiced.

 29 Henry Benedict Stuart

Henry Benedict Stuart
Famous As: Cardinal
Birthdate: March 6, 1725
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Palazzo Muti, Rome, Italy
Died: July 13, 1807

 30 Baháʼu'lláh

Famous As: Religion Founder
Birthdate: November 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehrān, Iran
Died: May 29, 1892

 31 Mary Slessor

Mary Slessor
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: December 2, 1848
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Aberdeen
Died: January 13, 1915

Born into a Scottish working-class family, Mary Slessor had grown up in the slums of Dundee and had initially been a mill worker. She later went to Nigeria as a Presbyterian missionary. She fought against the Nigerian custom of killing twins and later became the first female British Magistrate.

 32 Richard Allen

Richard Allen
Famous As: Minister
Birthdate: February 14, 1760
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 26, 1831

Born to slave parents, American clergyman Richard Allen became a Methodist convert at 22. He later founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church and served as its first bishop. Apart from establishing the first church for Blacks in the U.S., he worked on various aspects to improve the lives of Blacks.

 33 Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 3, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fréjus, France
Died: June 20, 1836

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, also known as the Abbé Sieyès, was a French Roman Catholic Abbé, clergyman, and political writer. He was a chief political theorist of the French Revolution and held offices in the French Consulate government. He is credited to have coined the term sociologie in an unpublished manuscript. He led a rather uninvolved social life.

 34 Jemima Wilkinson

Jemima Wilkinson
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: November 29, 1752
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cumberland, Rhode Island, United States
Died: July 1, 1819

Jemima Wilkinson was an American preacher who later became known as the Public Universal Friend after becoming a genderless evangelist. The Public Universal Friend preached throughout the northeastern US. The Friend's teachings attracted several followers who became part of the Society of Universal Friends.

 35 Muhammad Abduh

Muhammad Abduh
Famous As: Jurist
Birthdate: 1849 AD
Birthplace: Lower Egypt, Egypt
Died: July 11, 1905

 36 Keshab Chunder Sen

Keshab Chunder Sen
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 19, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: January 8, 1884

 37 Joseph Franklin Rutherford

Joseph Franklin Rutherford
Famous As: Lawyer, Judge
Birthdate: November 8, 1869
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Morgan County
Died: January 8, 1942

Joseph Franklin Rutherford was an American lawyer who later developed an interest in the teachings of Charles Taze Russell. Eventually, he joined the Bible Student movement and later became the president of the Watch Tower Tract Society. Also an author, Joseph Franklin Rutherford wrote 21 books and distributed almost 400 million booklets and books.

 38 Nachman of Breslov

Nachman of Breslov
Famous As: Rabbi
Birthdate: April 4, 1772
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Międzybóż, Kingdom of Poland
Died: October 16, 1810

 39 Charles Kingsley

Charles Kingsley.
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: June 12, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Holne, Devon, England
Died: January 23, 1875

The son of a clergyman, Charles Kingsley later formed the Christian Socialist movement. Remembered for penning children’s fiction such as The Water-Babies, he had also written socially relevant and historical novels. He had also been a professor at the University of Cambridge and a private tutor of Edward VII.

 40 Leonidas Polk

Leonidas Polk
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: April 10, 1806
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Died: June 14, 1864

Leonidas Polk was an American Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. He is credited with establishing an Anglican Christian denomination called the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. A political general of the Civil War, Leonidas Polk is remembered for commanding troops in the Battle of Perryville and the Battle of Shiloh among many other battles.

 41 Oliver Cowdery

Oliver Cowdery
Birthdate: October 3, 1806
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wells
Died: March 3, 1850

Oliver Cowdery was an American religious leader who played an important role during the developmental duration of the Latter Day Saint movement in the 1830s. The first baptized Latter Day Saint, Cowdery was also the Second Elder of the church and one of the first apostles of the Latter Day Saint movement.

 42 Martin Franz Julius Luther

Martin Franz Julius Luther
Birthdate: December 16, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Eisleben
Died: May 13, 1945

Initially the owner of a furniture business, Martin Franz Julius Luther later joined the Nazi Party. He had been the advisor to Joachim von Ribbentrop. In 1947, a discovery of documents proved he had been part of the Wannsee Conference that had planned the Final Solution for the Jewish genocide.

 43 Tenskwatawa

Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: December 31, 1775
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ohio, United States
Died: October 31, 1836

Tenskwatawa was a Native American political and religious leader. Remembered for changing his ways after a near-death experience, Tenskwatawa led a purification movement that condemned the consumption of alcohol and promoted unity among Native Americans. He became known as the Prophet among his ethnic group and accumulated several followers.

 44 Emir Abdelkader

Emir Abdelkader
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: September 6, 1808
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: El Guettana, Algeria
Died: May 26, 1883

 45 Samory

Famous As: Cleric
Birthdate: 1830 AD
Birthplace: Beyla, Guinea
Died: June 2, 1900

 46 Wilford Woodruff

Wilford Woodruff
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: March 1, 1807
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Farmington, Connecticut, United States
Died: September 2, 1898

Wilford Woodruff was an American religious leader. From 1889 until his death in 1898, Woodruff served as the president of the Mormon Church. He is credited with ending the public practice of polygamy among the members of the Church in 1890. Woodruff's journals are regarded as an important contribution to the Mormon Church history.

 47 Geoffrey Fisher

Geoffrey Fisher
Famous As: Archbishop
Birthdate: May 5, 1887
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nuneaton, England
Died: September 15, 1972

Born into a family of Anglican rectors, Geoffrey Fisher had served as the bishop of Chester and of London, before becoming the archbishop of Canterbury. He later officiated the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and also crowned her as Queen Elizabeth II. He was later made a life peer, as Baron Fisher of Lambeth.

 48 Sadhu Sundar Singh

Sadhu Sundar Singh
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: September 3, 1889
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Patiala State
Died: April 22, 2017

 49 Pope Pius VII

Pope Pius VII
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: August 14, 1742
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cesena, Italy
Died: August 20, 1823

 50 Joel Teitelbaum

Joel Teitelbaum
Famous As: Philosopher, Rabbi
Birthdate: January 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sighetu Marmației
Died: August 19, 1979