Famous 20th Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders

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 1 
Swami Vivekananda
(Hindu Monk)
Swami Vivekananda
48
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
(Spiritual Guru)
Sai Baba of Shirdi
15
Birthplace: India
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 
Dalai Lama
(Spiritual Leader of Tibet and 14th Dalai Lama)
Dalai Lama
17
Birthdate: July 6, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Taktser, Tibet
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is known for his advocacy for peace in Tibet and has won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. He belongs to a lineage of reincarnations of Avalokiteśvara. He fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion and formed a Tibetan government in exile.
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 4 
Pope Francis
(Pope, Head of the Catholic church (Since 2013))
Pope Francis
16
Birthdate: December 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Pope Francis is the sovereign of the Vatican City and head of the Catholic Church. He is the first Jesuit pope and first non-European pope since Pope Gregory III. Often praised for having a comparatively less formal approach, Pope Francis is popular for his humility, international visibility, and concern for the poor.

 5 
Billy Graham
(Evangelist)
Billy Graham
6
Birthdate: November 7, 1918
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Died: February 21, 2018
Billy Graham was an evangelist and an ordained SBC minister. He had been on Gallup's list of the 10 most admired men 61 times. He broadcast his sermons through radio and TV, and organized annual "Crusades,” or evangelistic campaigns. He owned several media outlets and advised many U.S. presidents. 
 6 
Eckhart Tolle
(Spiritual Teacher and Self-Help Author Known for His Works ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’)
Eckhart Tolle
8
Birthdate: February 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lünen, Germany
Spiritual and self-help writer Eckhart Tolle is best known for his bestselling books The Power of Now and A New Earth. He collaborated with Oprah Winfrey, appearing in 10 live webinars and was also named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100. He also launched Eckhart Teachings and the website Eckhart Tolle TV.
 7 
Jaggi Vasudev
(Yoga Guru)
Jaggi Vasudev
21
Birthdate: September 3, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mysore, Karnataka, India

The recipient of Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award of India, Jaggi Vasudev is a mystic, yogi, and author.  His spiritual program called inner engineering is famous all over the world, particularly in the Western world. Popularly known as Sadhguru, Jaggi Vasudev's yoga programs, environmental initiatives, and educational and social initiatives have earned him celebrity status in India.

 8 
Pope John Paul I
5
Birthdate: October 17, 1912
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Canale d'Agordo, Italy
Died: September 28, 1978
Pope John Paul I, also known as The Smiling Pope and The September Pope, was the shortest-reigning Pope and died 33 days after being made the Pope. He was the first Pope to choose a double name, including the names of his predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI.
 9 
Pope Paul VI
6
Birthdate: September 26, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Concesio, Italy
Died: August 6, 1978
Succeeding Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI was elected the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State in June 1963 and continued in his role till his death in August 1978. He reconvened the Second Vatican Council and after its conclusion worked towards implementation of its reforms. He was canonised in 2018 by Pope Francis.
 10 
Ram Dass
(Spiritual Teacher)
Ram Dass
5
Birthdate: April 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Died: December 22, 2019

Ram Dass was an American spiritual teacher and psychologist. Born as Richard Alpert in Boston, he embraced Hinduism on a visit to India and changed his name. He traveled extensively, giving talks, and authored or co-authored many books on spirituality. He also founded the charitable organizations, Seva Foundation, and Hanuman Foundation. He was openly bisexual.

 11 
Pope Pius XII
(Pope (1939-1958))
Pope Pius XII
5
Birthdate: March 2, 1876
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: October 9, 1958

Pope Pius XII served as the head of the Catholic Church and the sovereign of the Vatican City from 1939 till 1958. Of the many positions he had held, one was the secretaryship of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. He is remembered for negotiating the treaty of Reichskonkordat.

 12 
Pope John XXIII
4
Birthdate: November 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, Italy
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.

 13 
Thich Nhat Hanh
(Buddhist monk and peace activist who has founded dozens of schools and universities and has published over 100 books.)
Thich Nhat Hanh
4
Birthdate: October 11, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Huế, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, French Indochina
 14 
Louis Farrakhan
(Singer, Civil rights advocate, Religious servant, Journalist, Politician, Violinist, Anti-vaccine activist, Muslim minister)
Louis Farrakhan
9
Birthdate: May 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

Louis Farrakhan, formerly known as Louis X, is the leader of the ‘Nation of Islam’ which has been called a black nationalist organisation and a hate group. He has been described as anti-Semitic by monitoring organisations and has been accused of promoting anti-white theology and black superiority over whites. He was banned from Facebook in 2019 for being an extremist.

 15 
Charles Stanley
(Pastor, Radio personality)
Charles Stanley
6
Birthdate: September 25, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Pastor of the First Baptist Church Charles Stanley had also established In Touch Ministries. A born-again Christian since age 12, he later gained fame with his show In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley, which was translated into 107 languages. He has also penned countless books on religion.
 16 
Russell M. Nelson
(Religious Leader, Surgeon)
Russell M. Nelson
5
Birthdate: September 9, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Russell M. Nelson is an American religious leader and the current president of the Mormon Church. A former surgeon, Nelson is credited with co-developing the heart-lung machine, which was used in the first-ever open-heart surgery. He became a respected heart surgeon and went on to serve as the president of the Utah Medical Association before becoming a religious leader.

Pio of Pietrelcina
4
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.

 18 
Maximilian Kolbe
4
Birthdate: January 8, 1894
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zduńska Wola, Poland
Died: August 14, 1941

Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar and a Catholic priest. Venerated as Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Maximilian is best remembered for volunteering to die at the death camp of Auschwitz in place of a stranger during World War II. In 1982, Pope John Paul II declared Maximilian Kolbe a martyr of charity.

 19 
Óscar Romero
(Prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador)
Óscar Romero
4
Birthdate: August 15, 1917
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador
Died: March 24, 1980

Óscar Romero was the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. He was a prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. Disturbed by a growing war between left-wing and right-wing forces, he spoke against social injustice, poverty, assassinations, and torture. He was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980. He is considered an unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador.

 20 
T. B. Joshua
(Televangelist, Faith Healer)
T. B. Joshua
7
Birthdate: June 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Arigidi, Nigeria
Died: June 5, 2021

Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist, and philanthropist T. B. Joshua is the founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN). He is extremely popular across Africa and Latin America, and his YouTube channel, Emmanuel TV, has over a million subscribers. He is considered one of the most influential people from Africa and is the recipient of several awards. 

 21 
Pope Benedict XVI
(Pope, Head of the Catholic church (2005-13))
Pope Benedict XVI
15
Birthdate: April 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Markit, Germany
Pope Benedict XVI started off as a Hitler Youth member, but a finger injury prevented him from fighting in the German army. In 2005, he became the head of the Catholic Church. The liberal theologian-turned-conservative resigned in 2013, becoming the first pope to do so since the 1400s.
 22 
Charles Taze Russell
(Christian Restoration Minister)
Charles Taze Russell
4
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.

 23 
Stella Immanuel
(Physician, writer)
Stella Immanuel
10
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Cameroon
Thomas S. Monson
5
Birthdate: August 21, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: January 2, 2018
Thomas S. Monson was an American author and religious leader who served as the president of the Mormon Church from 2008 to 2018. Many adherents of the religion considered him to be a prophet, especially during his presidency. During his career, Monson received several honors, including the Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
 25 
Bernice King
(Minister)
Bernice King
8
Birthdate: March 28, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Bernice King is an American minister best known as the daughter of the popular activist and leader Martin Luther King Jr. Over the years, Barnice King has supported many noble causes for which she has been honored with several awards. In 2009, she was honored at the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Convention for her service to women.

 26 
Meir Kahane
(Politician, Rabbi, Journalist)
Meir Kahane
5
Birthdate: August 1, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: November 5, 1990

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Meir Kahane was an Israeli rabbi, best remembered as the founder of the Kach Party. He moved to Israel after being imprisoned for alleged militant activities. Though he acquired a seat in the Israeli parliament, his party was banned for its racist nature.

Rick Warren
6
Birthdate: January 28, 1954
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

Rick Warren is an American pastor. He is credited with establishing Saddleback Church, one of the largest in the USA, where he serves as the senior pastor. Also an influential author, Warren's bible study book The Purpose Driven Life has sold over 30 million copies, making him one of the bestselling authors in the USA.

 28 
Wallace Fard Muhammad
(American religious leader)
Wallace Fard Muhammad
6
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.

 29 
Pope Pius XI
4
Birthdate: May 31, 1857
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Desio, Italy
Died: February 10, 1939

A man who believed in the motto “The peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ,” Pope Pius XI was also an avid scholar. His reign witnessed the rise of Benito Mussolini and the signing of the Lateran Treaty, which recognized Vatican City as an independent nation state.

 30 
Pope Pius X
5
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.

 31 
Abdülmecid II
(Was the last Caliph of the Ottoman Dynasty, the only Caliph of the Republic of Turkey)
Abdülmecid II
3
Birthdate: May 29, 1868
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Beşiktaş, Turkey
Died: August 23, 1944

Abdülmecid II is remembered as the last caliph of the Ottoman dynasty of Turkey. Son of Sultan Abdulaziz, he received his education at the palace. After the deposition of his cousin and the abolition of the Sultanate, he was declared the caliph by the Turkish National Assembly.

 32 
David Miscavige
(Leader of the Church of Scientology)
David Miscavige
13
Birthdate: April 30, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol Township, Pennsylvania, United States

David Miscavige is the current leader of the Church of Scientology. After serving as a deputy to L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church, Miscavige took on the mantle of leadership after the former's demise. Miscavige is credited with establishing the Religious Technology Center to control and supervise the use of texts, symbols, and trademarks of Scientology and Dianetics.

 33 
Mother Angelica
5
Birthdate: April 20, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Canton, Ohio, United States
Died: March 27, 2016

Born to Italian parents, amid poverty, in Ohio, Mother Angelica and her siblings were raised by her mother after her father abandoned them. Initially a factory worker, she later became a Poor Clare nun and also founded the Eternal Word Television Network, which streamed Catholic-oriented programs.

 34 
Ralph Abernathy
(American Civil Rights Activist and 2nd President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1968 - 1977))
Ralph Abernathy
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Linden, Alabama, United States
Died: April 17, 1990
American civil rights activist Ralph Abernathy collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr to create the Montgomery Improvement Association.  Abernathy, who also served as an advisory committee member of the Congress on Racial Equality, addressed the United Nations about world peace in 1971. During the Wounded Knee incident of 1973, he helped broker a deal between the FBI and Indian protestors.
 35 
13th Dalai Lama
(13th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
13th Dalai Lama
6
Birthdate: February 12, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Thakpo Langdun, Ü-Tsang, Tibet
Died: December 17, 1933
Thubten Gyatso served as the 13th Dalai Lama after he was recognized as Dalai Lama's reincarnation in 1878. A skilful politician and intellectual reformer, Gyatso is remembered for standing up against the British expedition to Tibet. He is also credited with reinstating discipline in monastic life.
 36 
Rowan Douglas Williams
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Swansea, Wales

Rowan Douglas Williams became the first archbishop of Canterbury who was not from the Church of England. The Welsh Anglican bishop has been quite liberal in his views on homosexuality. He has also taught theology courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and is a life peer.

 37 
Don Miguel Ruiz
4
Birthdate: August 26, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mexico

Best known for his influence on the New Thought movement, Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican author who has penned the bestselling Toltec Wisdom Series. Initially a neurosurgeon, he changed his course after a near-fatal accident and became a shaman. He now studies the spiritual aspect of the human mind.

 38 
Mary MacKillop
(Religious sister)
Mary MacKillop
3
Birthdate: January 15, 1842
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fitzroy, Australia
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.

 39 
Gordon B. Hinckley
(Religious Leader)
Gordon B. Hinckley
4
Birthdate: June 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: January 27, 2008

Religious leader Gordon B. Hinckley was the oldest President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). He built countless temples and also reconstructed the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. The Presidential Medal of Freedom winner was the son of LDS leader and religious speaker Bryant S. Hinckley.

 40 
Aga Khan IV
(49th Imam of Nizari Ismaili Shia Islam )
Aga Khan IV
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

Aga Khan IV is the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism. Serving as the imam since 1957, Aga Khan claims to be a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Apart from being the current leader of the Institution of the Imamate, Aga Khan is also a business magnate and one of the world's richest royals, according to Forbes.

 41 
Sathya Sai Baba
(Spiritual Guru)
Sathya Sai Baba
13
Birthdate: November 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Puttaparthi
Died: April 24, 2011

Indian guru and philanthropist, Sathya Sai Baba, was both a much-revered and controversial personality. He founded the Sathya Sai Organisation, through which he established a network of free hospitals, clinics, and educational institutions. His devotees believed in his alleged omnipotence and omniscience. His critics have accused him of sexual abuse, money laundering, and fraud.

 42 
Chogyam Trungpa
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nangchen, Kham region, Tibet
Died: April 4, 1987
 43 
Ramdev
(Yoga Guru)
Ramdev
30
Birthdate: December 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mahendragarh
 44 
Mirra Alfassa
(Spiritual Guru, Writer)
Mirra Alfassa
3
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.

 45 
Zinovia Dushkova
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kongaz, Moldova

Zinovia Dushkova is a Russian poet, historian, philosopher, and author. A prominent writer, Dushkova's works have been translated into seven languages. In 2015, she was honored with the 20 Years of Gagauzia Medal. In 2017, Zinovia Dushkova’s book, The Call of the Heart, was honored at the Nautilus Book Awards with a silver medal in the United States of America.

 46 
Osho Rajneesh
(Indian Spiritual Leader and Founder of the ‘Rajneesh Movement’)
Osho Rajneesh
23
Birthdate: December 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
Died: January 19, 1990

Osho Rajneesh was an Indian godman and mystic. Also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, he was the founder of the Rajneesh movement. He preached the importance of meditation, mindfulness, celebration,  love, courage, and creativity and called for a more open attitude to human sexuality, because of which he was considered a controversial new religious movement leader. 

 47 
Ali Khamenei
(Supreme Leader of Iran)
Ali Khamenei
8
Birthdate: July 17, 1939
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mashhad
Ali Khamenei has been serving as the supreme leader of Iran since 1989 and has previously been its president. He is one of the co-founders of the Islamic Republic Party and led his country during the Iran–Iraq War. His reign has also seen extreme treatment of journalists and protestors.
 48 
Idris of Libya
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1889
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Al Jaghbub, Libya
Died: May 25, 1983
 49 
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
(Founder of Ahmadiyya Sect)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
7
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.

 50 
Ramana Maharshi
(Philosopher, Hindu Sage)
Ramana Maharshi
5
Birthdate: December 30, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tiruchuzhi, Virudhunagar, India
Died: April 14, 1950

Indian Hindu sage Ramana Maharshi had run away to Arunachala, a sacred mountain in Tamil Nadu, at 16, and had stayed there throughout his life. He propagated vichara, or self-enquiry, as the primary means of self-realization, instead of the study of scriptures as proposed by the Advaita Vedanta philosophy.