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 Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda
Famous As: Indian Monk
Birthdate: January 12, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: July 4, 1902

The founder of the Ramakrishna Mission and Ramakrishna Math, Swami Vivekananda was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, and spiritual leader. He is credited with introducing the Indian philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the Western world. He is also credited with elevating the status of Hinduism as a major religion in the modern world by raising interfaith awareness.

 2 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.

 3 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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 4 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.

 5 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.

 6 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.

 7 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.
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 8 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.

 9 Thérèse of Lisieux

Thérèse of Lisieux
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: January 2, 1873
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alençon, 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 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.

 11 Bernadette Soubirous

Bernadette Soubirous
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: January 7, 1844
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lourdes, France
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 Wallace Fard Muhammad

Wallace Fard Muhammad
Famous As: American religious leader
Birthdate: February 26, 1877
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Died: 1934 AD

Wallace Fard Muhammad, who flounded the Nation of Islam, or Black Muslim, movement, was born in Mecca but later moved to the U.S. He mostly preached in and around Detroit and even opened the the Temple of Islam. Considered a reincarnation of Allah by his followers, he mysteriously disappeared in 1934.

 13 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.

 14 George Gurdjieff

George Gurdjieff
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 13, 1866
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gyumri, Armenia
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.

 15 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.

 16 Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: May 13, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Senigallia, 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.

 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 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.

 19 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.

 20 Dayanand Saraswati

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

Dayananda Saraswati was an Indian social leader and philosopher. He is credited with founding an influential Hindu reform movement known as Arya Samaj. He is also credited with popularizing the term Swaraj which was used as a powerful tool by leaders like Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi during India’s freedom struggle. Saraswati influenced people like Bhagat Singh and Madam Cama.

 21 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Famous As: Founder of Ahmadiyya Sect
Birthdate: February 13, 1835
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Qadian
Died: May 26, 1908

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an Indian religious leader. He is credited with founding the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is an Islamic revival movement. A prolific author, Ghulam Ahmad wrote over 90 books on various theological, moral, and religious subjects. He continues to be revered as a subordinate prophet by Ahmadi Muslims, which is often debated by mainstream Muslims.

 22 Pope Pius X

Pope Pius X
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: June 2, 1835
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Riese Pio X, Italy
Died: August 20, 1914

Pope Pius X was the head of the Catholic Church from 1903 to 1914. He is credited for initiating the preparation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. He was vehemently opposed to modernism as a pope. He regularly gave homily sermons in the pulpit, a rare practice for popes. He was beatified in 1951 and canonized in 1954.

 23 Sister Nivedita

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

 24 Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker Eddy
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: July 16, 1821
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bow, New Hampshire, United States
Died: December 3, 1910

Born to Congregationalist parents, Mary Baker Eddy had a difficult life, from losing her brother at 20, being widowed at 22, and then surviving a divorce. Remembered as the pioneer of Christian Science, she propagated faith healing and believed the cause of all illnesses lie in the human mind.

 25 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.   

 26 Baha'u'llah

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

 27 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.

 28 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.

 29 Usman dan Fodio

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

 30 Mirra Alfassa

Mirra Alfassa
Famous As: Spiritual Guru
Birthdate: February 21, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 17, 1973

Mirra Alfassa was a French occultist and spiritual teacher. Alfassa, who worked closely with the Indian philosopher and yogi Sri Aurobindo, is credited with founding the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. She is also credited with establishing Auroville, an experimental township in India. She serves as an inspiration to people seeking knowledge about Integral Yoga.

 31 Idris of Libya

Idris of Libya
Famous As: King
Birthdate: March 12, 1889
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Al Jaghbub, Libya
Died: May 25, 1983

 32 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. 

 33 Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru
Famous As: Spiritual Leader, Social Reformer
Birthdate: August 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chempazhanthy, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Died: September 20, 1928

Born in Travancore in India, Narayana Guru was the son of a teacher and studied in a gurukula. He grew up to lead a social reform movement against the caste system that he saw in erstwhile Kerala. He believed in the motto One Caste, One Religion, One God for All.

 34 Frances Xavier Cabrini

Frances Xavier Cabrini
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: July 15, 1850
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Italy
Died: December 22, 1917

Frances Xavier Cabrini was an Italian-American nun who founded a Catholic religious institute called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The institute played a major role in supporting Italian immigrants to the US. In 1946, Frances Xavier Cabrini became the first American citizen to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

 35 Baháʼu'lláh

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

 36 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

 37 St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel
Famous As: Philanthropist
Birthdate: November 26, 1858
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 3, 1955

Roman Catholic saint Katharine Drexel, the founder of Xavier University, was born to Philadelphia banker Francis Anthony Drexel and picked up he philanthropic habits from her father. In spite of inheriting a massive fortune, she devoted her life to building schools and churches for the racially underprivileged.

 38 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.

 39 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.

 40 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.

 41 Keshab Chunder Sen

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

Keshab Chunder Sen was an Indian social reformer and philosopher. Although he was born a Hindu, Sen thought highly of Christian theology and wanted to incorporate the theology of Christian practice into the framework of Hindu thought. By the use of Christian missionary methods, Keshab Chunder Sen effected several social reforms in India.

 42 Joseph F. Smith

Joseph F. Smith
Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: November 13, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Far West, Missouri, United States
Died: November 19, 1918

Joseph F. Smith was an American political and religious leader. From 1901 to 1918, he served as the president of the Mormon Church. An influential president of the church, Joseph F. Smith's teachings were the course of study in the Church's Melchizedek priesthood classes and Sunday Relief Society for the year 2000–01.

 43 The Bāb

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

 44 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.

 45 Emir Abdelkader

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

 46 Muhammad Abduh

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

 47 Meher Baba

Meher Baba
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: February 25, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Poona, India
Died: January 31, 1969

Meher Baba, or the Awakener, is best remembered for his 44-year silence, during which he chiefly communicated through an alphabet board. Born into a Parsi family, he later came under the influence of spiritual leaders such as Hazrat Babajan, and started the Meher Baba Movement, in search of spiritual consciousness.

 48 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.

 49 Cosmo Gordon Lang

Cosmo Gordon Lang
Famous As: Archbishop
Birthdate: October 31, 1864
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom
Died: December 5, 1945

 50 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