French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is remembered as someone who deviated from theology to science. He discovered the fossilized remains known as the Peking man in China, but faced a lot of opposition from his religious superiors when it came to publishing his scientific thoughts.
Bernard of Clairvaux, or Saint Bernard, was a 12th-century Burgundian monk, who became the abbot of the abbey of Clairvaux, founded by him. He chose to live a life of physical austerities, which caused him ailments such as anemia. He is revered as the patron saint of beekeepers and candlemakers.
Jean Vianney was a French Catholic priest active in the first half of the 19th century. Venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as the patron saint of parish priests, he is also referred to as the "Curé d'Ars." He was devoted to St. Philomena, who he regarded as his guardian. His feast day is 4 August.
French diplomat and bishop Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord is counted among the most pragmatic and prominent diplomats in European history. He served King Louis XVI and thereafter changed sides several times, serving at highest levels of successive French governments of Napoleon I, Louis XVIII and Louis Philippe I. He served as the first Prime Minister of France under Louis XVIII.
Eighteenth-century philanthropic educator Charles-Michel de l'Épée is regarded as the Father of the Deaf for pioneering the education of the deaf and dumb. He laid down the Signed French system, which enabled the deaf to participate in legal proceedings. His French Sign Language laid the path to the American Sign Language.
Called the Gentleman Saint for his tenderness and patience, Francis de Sales was a Catholic priest and Bishop of Geneva (1602-1622). Canonized in 1665, he was later proclaimed Doctor of the Church for his contribution to theology and patron of writers and journalists for his extensive use of broadsheets and books. He also invented sign languages for teaching the deaf.
Marcel Lefebvre was a French Roman Catholic archbishop who founded the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). He joined the Holy Ghost Fathers for missionary work as a young man and was ordained a diocesan priest in 1929. Years later, he was appointed the Vicar Apostolic of Dakar, Senegal, and the Apostolic Delegate for West Africa.
Pope John XXII was the head of the Catholic Church from August 1316 to his death in 1334. Elected by the Conclave of Cardinals, he was the second and longest-reigning Avignon Pope. He centralized power and income in the Papacy and lived a lavish life. He was considered an excellent administrator who efficiently reorganized the church.
Pope Leo IX went down in history as one of the most significant popes, due to his role in the Great East-West Schism of 1054, which separated the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. His idea of reforming the church including the removal of evils such as clerical marriage.
Jesuit missionary explorer Jacques Marquette is best remembered for his journey to the Mississippi River with Louis Jolliet, which led to the first accurate documentation of the course. While attempting a communication with the Illinois Indians, he died at the mouth of Père Marquette at age 37.
Charles de Foucauld was a cavalry officer in the French Army in the late 19th century. He later became an explorer and geographer, eventually adopting the life of a hermit and a Catholic priest. He was assassinated in 1916 and is listed as a martyr in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.
A Frankish noble, Arnulf of Metz served at the court of Theudebert II and was also made the bishop of Metz. Along with Pippin, he led a campaign against Brunhild and caused its downfall, eventually leading to the reunification of Frankish territories under Chlotar II.
Pierre Roger, who later became the fourth Avignon pope, as Pope Clement VI, had also served as the archbishop of Sens and Rouen. He was a significant figure of the Crusades against the Ottoman Turks and led a campaign in Smyrna. Highly nepotistic, he erected statues of his relatives.
French Catholic priest Urbain Grandier was a popular preacher in Loudun. However, he was later accused of practicing witchcraft and causing the demonic possession of a group of nuns from the Ursuline convent. It is believed the jealousy of the rival preachers was behind the accusation.
Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours. He is mainly known for being the primary contemporary source for Merovingian history. His accounts of the miracles of saints are also considered invaluable. A prolific writer, he spent most of his career in Tours and is considered an outstanding literary figure of the 6th-century Merovingian world.
Abbot Suger was a French abbot, statesman, and historian considered one of the earliest patrons of Gothic architecture. He was born into a humble family and trained at the priory of Saint-Denis de l'Estrée. He started working as the secretary to the abbot of Saint-Denis and later became the abbot. He was also a patron of art.
Michel de Certeau was a French scholar and Jesuit whose work combined philosophy, psychoanalysis, history, and the social sciences. He is credited with co-founding a journal called Christus in 1956, with which he was associated for the rest of his life. Michel de Certeau also taught at many universities in places like Paris, San Diego, and Geneva.
François Fénelon was a French writer, poet, theologian, and Catholic archbishop. He is best remembered for his book The Adventures of Telemachus, which was published in 1699. François Fénelon also served as a tutor of Louis, Duke of Burgundy, guiding the character formation of Louis, Grand Dauphin's eldest son.
Pierre-roger De Beaufort, better known as Pope Gregory XI, was the last French pope and also the last pope of the Avignon papacy. He had been made a cardinal deacon at the age of 18 by his uncle, Pope Clement VI. His act of returning the 70-year-old Avignon papacy to Rome was historic.
Saint Ansgar, or Oscar, was a medieval missionary and the first archbishop of Hamburg. He had been sent to evangelical missions in Denmark and Sweden. His frequent travels for work earned him the nickname the Apostle of the North. He was made a saint by Rembert, his successor.
Abbe Pierre was a French Catholic priest and a member of the Resistance during World War II. Born into a wealthy Catholic family, he entered the Capuchin Order as a teenager and renounced all his inheritances. Later on, he founded the Emmaus movement to help poor and homeless people. He remained active until his death at the age of 94.
William of Rubruck was a Flemish explorer and Franciscan missionary. He is best remembered for his travels to the Central Asia and Middle East in the 13th century. William's account of his travels is counted among the masterpieces of travel literature during the medieval period. His works have drawn comparisons to that of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo.
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.
Former archbishop of Paris, Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger was the inspiration behind the film The Jewish Cardinal. Born a Jewish, he was converted to Catholicism at 13 but lost his mother at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the Nazi Holocaust. He won the Nostra Aetate Award for improving Catholic-Jewish ties.
A 12th-century Italian bishop of Paris, Peter Lombard is remembered for his iconic book on theology, Four Books of Sentences. The book earned him the title of magister sententiarum, or “master of the sentences.” Though his teachings were challenged during his lifetime, they were approved by the fourth Lateran Council.
Bernard Gui was a Bishop of Lodève, a Dominican friar, and a papal inquisitor. Gui is widely regarded as one of the most popular medieval inquisitors of all time, thanks to his fictionalized portrayals in today's popular culture. He is most notably mentioned in the 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, which was written by Italian novelist Umberto Eco.
French Roman Catholic priest Guy Gilbert was trained in Algeria and later began his spiritual career working with juvenile delinquents in France. He has mentored Belgian prince Laurent and has also worked for Radio Notre-Dame and La Croix. The Légion d’Honneur winner has also penned several books.
Initially a high-ranking government official, Germanus of Auxerre quit his job to devote himself to the Church. The Roman clergyman served as the bishop of Auxerre. He established the Monastery of SS. Cosmas and Damian. He is also remembered for his fight against Pelagianism and his support for the Cult of Saint Alban.
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.
John Baptist de La Salle, also known as La Salle, is remembered as the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or the de La Salle Brothers. Apart from setting up charitable boarding schools, he also trained teachers. He is revered as the patron saint of school teachers and educators.