Famous French Spiritual & Religious Leaders

Find out more about the greatest French Spiritual & Religious Leaders, including John Calvin, Pope Julius II, Bernadette Soubirous, Vincent de Paul and Francis de Sales.

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 John Calvin

John Calvin
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 2 Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 0256 AD
Birthplace: Narbonne, France
Died: 0288 AD
Saint Sebastian, a Christian saint, was almost killed during Diocletian's persecution of Christians. However, he was later rescued by Saint Irene of Rome. Following this, Sebastian tried warning Diocletian about his sins but was instead clubbed to death. Medieval traditions labelled him as a protector against the plague.

 3 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.
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 4 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.

 5 Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: 1243 AD
Birthplace: Molay, Haute-Saône, France
Died: March 18, 1314
It is believed Jacques de Molay, the Knights Templar’s last grand master, had cursed King Philip IV of France while being burned to death at his orders. The curse is said to have affected Philip and his descendants, the "Accursed Kings," leading to their downfall and the Hundred Years’ War.

 6 Pope Urban II

Pope Urban II
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1035 AD
Birthplace: Lagery, France
Died: July 29, 1099

Pope Urban II, also known as Otho de Lagery, began as an archdeacon in Reims. He gradually rose through the ranks to become the bishop of Ostia. Later, as the pope, he dealt with conflicts within Christianity and also had a major role in promoting the Crusades against Muslims.

 7 Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux
Famous As: Abbot
Birthdate: 1090 AD
Birthplace: Fontaine-lès-Dijon, France
Died: August 20, 1153

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.

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 8 Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 0316 AD
Birthplace: Szombathely, Hungary
Died: November 8, 0397

Martin of Tours, the patron saint of France, had initially fought for the Roman army. Born to Pagan parents, he converted to Christianity at age 10. Legend has it that a vision of Jesus in a dream, after he shared his cloak with a beggar, had pushed Martin into religion.

 9 Mirra Alfassa

Mirra Alfassa
Famous As: Spiritual Guru, Writer
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.

 10 Rashi

Famous As: Rabbi, Author
Birthdate: February 22, 1040
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Troyes, France
Died: July 13, 1105

Salomon Isaacides, also popularly known as Rashi, was a medieval French rabbi. He is acclaimed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud. He also authored a  commentary on the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh). His works, penned in a concise and lucid manner, form the foundation of contemporary Jewish studies and rabbinic scholarship and interpretation.

 11 Jean Vianney

Jean Vianney
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: May 8, 1786
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dardilly, Lyonnais, France
Died: August 4, 1859

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.

 12 Louise Marie Therese

Louise Marie Therese
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: November 16, 1664
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moret-sur-Loing, France
Died: 1732 AD

Louise Marie Therese was a French nun who lived in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. She has been mentioned in many different sources, some dubiously claiming that she was the daughter of the Queen of France, Maria Theresa of Spain. She was a black woman and a Benedictine nun in the abbey of Moret-sur-Loing. 

 13 John Baptist de La Salle

John Baptist de La Salle
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: April 30, 1651
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kingdom of France
Died: April 7, 1719

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.

 14 Genevieve

Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 0419 AD
Birthplace: Nanterre, France
Died: 0512 AD

Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. Not much is known about her life, but it is believed that she became a nun as a teenager after deciding to dedicate her life to Christianity. She had frequent visions of heavenly angels and saints and was particularly devoted to Saint Denis. 

 15 Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul
Famous As: Catholic priest
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.

 16 Pope John XXII

Pope John XXII
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1244 AD
Birthplace: Cahors, France
Died: December 4, 1334

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.

 17 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.

 18 Peter the Hermit

Peter the Hermit
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: 1050 AD
Birthplace: Amiens
Died: July 8, 1115

Peter the Hermit, also known as Little Peter, was a major figure of the First Crusade and a leader of the People’s Crusade, which entered the East before the Crusaders. He preached on the Mount of Olives just before Jerusalem was stormed. He also established an Augustinian monastery in Neufmoustier.

 19 Pope Leo IX

Pope Leo IX
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: June 21, 1002
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Eguisheim, France
Died: April 19, 1054

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.

 20 Arnulf of Metz

Arnulf of Metz
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: 0582 AD
Birthplace: Lay-Saint-Christophe, France
Died: July 8, 0641

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.

 21 Gregory of Tours

Gregory of Tours
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: November 30, 0538
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Auvergne, France
Died: November 1, 0594

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. 

 22 Pope Clement VI

Pope Clement VI
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1290 AD
Birthplace: Rosiers-d'Égletons, Corrèze, France
Died: December 6, 1352

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.

 23 Pope Clement V

Pope Clement V
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1264 AD
Birthplace: Villandraut, France
Died: April 20, 1314

Pope Clement V heralded the Avignon Papacy by choosing Avignon as the papal residence instead of Rome. He also crushed the order of the Knights Templar and was known to favor his relatives. Following his death, his body was completely destroyed in a church fire caused by a lightning strike.

 24 Charles de Foucauld

Charles de Foucauld
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: September 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: December 1, 1916

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. 

 25 Jean de Brébeuf

Jean de Brébeuf
Famous As: Missionary
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.

 26 Pope Gregory XI

Pope Gregory XI
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1329 AD
Birthplace: Saint-Julien-Maumont, France
Died: March 27, 1378

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.

 27 Ansgar

Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: September 8, 0801
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Amiens, France
Died: February 3, 0865

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.

 28 Pierre Cauchon

Pierre Cauchon
Famous As: Bishop of Beauvais
Birthdate: 1371 AD
Birthplace: Reims, France
Died: December 18, 1442

 29 Louise de Marillac

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

 30 Marguerite Bourgeoys

Marguerite Bourgeoys
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: April 17, 1620
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Troyes, Champagne, Kingdom of France
Died: January 12, 1700

 31 Madeleine Sophie Barat

Madeleine Sophie Barat
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: December 12, 1779
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Joigny, France
Died: May 25, 1865

 32 Pope Callixtus II

Pope Callixtus II
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1065 AD
Birthplace: Quingey, France
Died: December 13, 1124

 33 Pope Stephen IX

Pope Stephen IX
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1020 AD
Birthplace: Duchy of Lorraine, France
Died: March 29, 1058

 34 Saint Denis of Paris

Saint Denis of Paris
Famous As: Bishop of Paris
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Roman Italy, Italy
Died: 0258 AD

 35 Antipope Clement VII

Antipope Clement VII
Famous As: Antipope
Birthdate: 1342 AD
Birthplace: Annecy, France
Died: September 16, 1394

 36 Pope Urban IV

Pope Urban IV
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: October 31, 1195
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Troyes, France
Died: October 2, 1264

 37 Pope Clement IV

Pope Clement IV
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: November 23, 1190
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Gilles
Died: November 29, 1268

 38 Pope Benedict XII

Pope Benedict XII
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1285 AD
Birthplace: Saverdun, France
Died: April 25, 1342

 39 Pope Innocent V

Pope Innocent V
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1225 AD
Birthplace: Savoy
Died: June 22, 1276

 40 Pope Urban V

Pope Urban V
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: October 31, 1310
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Château de Grizac, France
Died: December 19, 1370

 41 Rose Philippine Duchesne

Rose Philippine Duchesne
Famous As: Sister
Birthdate: August 29, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Grenoble, France
Died: November 18, 1852

 42 Julie Billiart

Julie Billiart
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: July 12, 1751
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cuvilly, France
Died: April 8, 1816

 43 Ranulf Flambard

Ranulf Flambard
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: 1060 AD
Birthplace: Normandy, France
Died: September 5, 1128

 44 Pope Martin IV

Pope Martin IV
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1210 AD
Birthplace: Touraine, France
Died: March 28, 1285

 45 Joseph Justus Scaliger

Joseph Justus Scaliger
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: August 5, 1540
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Agen, France
Died: January 21, 1609

Joseph Justus Scaliger was a French Calvinist scholar and religious leader. His works on chronology were regarded as one of the most important contributions of Renaissance scholars. Joseph Justus Scaliger is best remembered for inflating the idea of classical history from ancient Roman and Greek history to include Babylonian, Persian, ancient Egyptian, and Jewish history. 

 46 Pope Innocent VI

Pope Innocent VI
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1282 AD
Birthplace: Limousin, France
Died: September 12, 1362

 47 François Leclerc du Tremblay

François Leclerc du Tremblay
Famous As: Capuchin Frair
Birthdate: November 4, 1577
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 17, 1638

 48 Henry Of Blois

Henry Of Blois
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: 1096 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: August 8, 1171

 49 Marcos de Niza

Marcos de Niza
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: 1495 AD
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: March 25, 1558

 50 Étienne Guibourg

Étienne Guibourg
Famous As: Abbé
Birthdate: 1610 AD
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: December 31, 1686