Famous German Spiritual & Religious Leaders

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 1 
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.
 2 
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.
Clemens August Graf von Galen
4
Birthdate: March 16, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dinklage Castle, Dinklage, Oldenburg, Germany
Died: March 22, 1946

Twentieth-century bishop of Münster, Clemens August Graf von Galen, a figure of Catholic resistance, strongly opposed the Nazi T4 program of euthanizing the sick and the physically and mentally disabled. He escaped being executed, as the Nazis had planned to hang him after winning World War II, which never happened.

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Martin Franz Julius Luther
5
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.

 5 
Nicolaus Zinzendorf
(German religious leader)
Nicolaus Zinzendorf
3
Birthdate: May 26, 1700
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: May 9, 1760

Born into one of the noblest Austrian families, Nikolaus Zinzendorf devoted his life to the welfare of the poor. Recognized as a distinguished leader of the Moravian church and a reformer of the Pietist movement, he created a worldwide missionary network that he hoped would sustain an ecumenical Protestant movement.

Shlomo Carlebach
4
Birthdate: January 14, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: October 20, 1994

Apart from being a rabbi, Shlomo Carlebach, or Reb Shlomo, mesmerized people with his musical talent. “The singing rabbi,” known for his Hasidic-style songs, was also associated with the Baal teshuva movement. Following his death, scores of women accused him of sexual harassment. He also inspired the musical Soul Doctor.

 7 
Bruno of Cologne
(Monk and Founder of the 'Carthusian' Order)
Bruno of Cologne
3
Birthdate: 1030 AD
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: October 6, 1101

Bruno of Cologne was the founder of the Carthusian Order. He personally founded the first two communities of the order. Not much is known about his personal life except that he studied theology in Reims. Most likely ordained a priest in 1055, he soon became the head of the Episcopal school. He was much respected as a teacher. 

 8 
Therese Neumann
(Stigmatic)
Therese Neumann
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1898
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Konnersreuth, Germany
Died: September 18, 1962

Therese Neumann was 20 when she had her first major hysterical episode, after suffering a shock following a fire outbreak. She later often experienced incidents of stigmata, in which her eyes began to bleed and wounds began appearing on her body, mimicking the injuries of Christ.  

 9 
Samson Raphael Hirsch
(German Orthodox Rabbi Best Known as the Intellectual Founder of the 'Torah im Derech Eretz')
Samson Raphael Hirsch
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1808
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: December 31, 1888

Samson Raphael Hirsch is best remembered as the pioneer of the Neo-Orthodox school of Judaism. He also opposed Reform Judaism and their application of historical techniques in the study of religious texts. The Nineteen Letters on Judaism, written under the pseudonym Ben Uziel is his most notable work.

 10 
Ulrich of Augsburg
2
Birthdate: 0890 AD
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: July 4, 0973

Tenth-century bishop Ulrich of Augsburg went down in history as the first saint to be canonized by a pope. He had been a mediator in the conflict between King Otto I the Great and his rebel son Liudolf. He is revered as the patron saint of weavers, among others. 

 11 
Jacob Emden
2
Birthdate: June 4, 1697
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Altona, Hamburg, Germany
Died: April 19, 1776

An outstanding scholar and a prolific writer, Jacob Israel Emden was a leading German Rabbi, mostly remembered for his fierce opposition to the Shabbatean movement and his bitter dispute with Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschütz. Also interested in secular works, he had 31 works to his credit, five of which were published posthumously.

Duke Carl Alexander of Wurttemberg
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1896
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stuttgart, German Empire
Died: December 27, 1964

Duke Carl Alexander of Wurttemberg had been part of the German army in World War I. He escaped Nazi Germany and moved to Switzerland and later to the U.S. Remembered for his relentless work to help German Jews and refugees move to the U.S., he had also been an FBI spy.

 13 
Rupert Mayer
(Catholic priest)
Rupert Mayer
2
Birthdate: January 23, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Died: November 1, 1945

German Catholic priest Rupert Mayer is remembered for his lifelong opposition to Nazism. He had been an army chaplain during World War I and had earned the nickname The Limping Priest after losing a leg to a grenade attack. The Nazis had sent him to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

 14 
Bhikkhu Analayo
1
Birthdate: 1962 AD
Birthplace: Germany

German-born Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Analayo was ordained in Sri Lanka, where he also completed his PhD in Satipatthana-sutta. He has taught courses on Buddhism at the University of Hamburg. He also organizes medication classes and has co-founded the Āgama Research Group. His notable written works include From Craving to Liberation.

 15 
Saint Bruno the Great
1
Birthdate: 0925 AD
Birthplace: Germany
Died: October 11, 0965

Tenth-century archbishop of Cologne Saint Bruno the Great, also known as Bruno of Saxony, was the brother of Roman emperor Otto I and the youngest son of Henry the Fowler. He established countless institutions, such as the St. Pantaleon in Cologne. In Otto’s absence, Bruno served as the regent.

 16 
Melchior Hoffman
2
Birthdate: 1495 AD
Birthplace: Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
Died: 1543 AD
 17 
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
(Writer, Theologian, University teacher, Catholic priest)
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
2
Birthdate: November 20, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Geldern

Known to the media as the Bishop of Bling for his extravagant expenses, German bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst made headlines when he spent around $43 million on renovating his home in Limburg, which also had a $300,000 fish tank. He eventually resigned amid a huge controversy.

 18 
Thietmar of Merseburg
1
Birthdate: July 25, 0975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Germany
Died: December 1, 1018

Eleventh-century German bishop Thietmar of Merseburg is best remembered for penning the history of the Ottonian dynasty, which remains a chief source of information about the age. He is credited with being the first to use the word "Teutonici" to differentiate between Germans and non-Germans in the Holy Roman Empire.

 19 
Eleazar of Worms
1
Birthdate: 1176 AD
Birthplace: Mainz, Germany
Died: 1238 AD

Thirteenth-century rabbi and mystic Eleazar of Worms is best known for his copious works such as Sefer Ḥasidim, which offer detailed accounts of the Hasidei Ashkenaz movement of German Jews. His work on Jewish ethics, Ha-Roḳeaḥ, or The Perfumer, earned him the nickname Eleazar Rokeaḥ.

 20 
George Rapp
(Religious leader)
George Rapp
1
Birthdate: November 1, 1757
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Iptingen, Wiernsheim, Germany
Died: August 7, 1847

Eighteenth-century mystic George Rapp is best remembered as the founder of the religious sect of Rappites, or Harmonists. Initially a weaver in Germany, he later moved to the U.S. to escape persecution. Following his death, his followers decreased, due to the Harmonists’ vow of celibacy and little or no conversion.

Immanuel Jakobovits, Baron Jakobovits
1
Birthdate: February 8, 1921
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany
Died: October 31, 1999

Immanuel Jakobovits made headlines when he became the first rabbi to be part of the House of Lords, as Baron Jakobovits. He invited criticism when, in spite of being a Jew, he spoke against Israeli occupation of Arab lands. He was also knighted and made a life peer.

 22 
Conrad Beissel
(Religious leader)
Conrad Beissel
1
Birthdate: March 1, 1691
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Eberbach, Germany
Died: July 6, 1768

Born in Eberbach, Conrad Beissel had initially worked as a baker in Heidelberg and later moved to America. Part of the Schwarzenau Brethren, or the German Baptists, he later led his own group of people who formed the German Seventh Day Baptists and observed the Sabbath as a holy day.

 23 
Mary Prema Pierick
2
Birthdate: May 13, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reken, Germany

Indian Catholic sister Mary Prema Pierick is the current Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, which was established by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Born Mechthild Pierick, in Germany, Prema was drawn to Saint Teresa’s mission and her simplicity after meeting her in Berlin in her late 20s.

 24 
Zecharias Frankel
1
Birthdate: September 30, 1801
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: February 13, 1875

Bohemian-German rabbi Zecharias Frankel is remembered for his study of the history of Judaism. His version of positive-historical Judaism retained traditional customs but also relied on scientific research to make changes. He was also one of the first Jewish scholars to write on the Septuagint, the Old Testament’s first Greek version.

 25 
Michael Stifel
1
Birthdate: 1487 AD
Birthplace: Esslingen, Germany
Died: April 19, 1567

German mathematician Michael Stifel was also a staunch Lutheran. He became a monk in his 20s. Apart from explaining algebra in German, he penned Arithmetica Integra, which detailed his work in logarithms. He was also one of the first to have used the + and – signs.

Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller
1
Birthdate: 1579 AD
Birthplace: Wallerstein, Germany
Died: August 19, 1654

It is believed Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller’s father had died when his mother was pregnant with him. Raised by his grandfather, he later grew up to be a Bohemian rabbi. Best known for Tosafos Yom Tov, a classic commentary on the Mishnah, Heller was a Talmudic scholar of the Golden Age.

 27 
Barbara von Krüdener
1
Birthdate: November 22, 1764
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Died: December 25, 1824

German mystic Barbara von Krüdener, born to a wealthy baron and married to a Russian diplomat, renounced her affluent lifestyle to step into the world of spirituality. She converted many, including Tsar Alexander I, and was a key force behind the Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria, and Prussia.

 28 
Josel Of Rosheim
1
Birthdate: 1480 AD
Birthplace: Haguenau, France
Died: 1554 AD

Josel of Rosheim was a 16th-century German Jewish advocate, or shtadlan, known for his fight for the rights of German Jews. A Czech-French by birth, he had initially been a money lender, apart from being a rabbi. He is also remembered for his efforts to counter anti-Semitism.

 29 
Wolfgang Capito
(Religious reformer)
Wolfgang Capito
1
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: Haguenau, France
Died: November 4, 1541

Wolfgang Capito was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition active during the early 16th century. After studying medicine and law, he went on to receive a doctorate in theology. He served as a pastor for a few years and became the cathedral preacher of Basel Minster. Along with Martin Bucer, he drew up the Confessio Tetrapolitana

 30 
Hans Denck
(Theologian)
Hans Denck
1
Birthdate: 1495 AD
Birthplace: Weilheim-Schongau, Germany
Died: November 27, 1527

German theologian Hans Denck was a staunch supporter of Anabaptism and opposed Lutheranism. Initially a school headmaster, he later became a mystic and a leader of the Reformation movement. His notable works include On True Love and various translations. He died of bubonic plague at the age of 32.

 31 
Nathan Marcus Adler
1
Birthdate: January 13, 1803
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: January 21, 1890

Nathan Marcus Adler was born to the chief rabbi of Hanover and later followed in this father’s footsteps to become the chief rabbi of the British Empire. His contribution to the community included the establishment of the Jews’ College. His efforts led to the Synagogue bill being passed.

 32 
Ebbo
(Archbishop)
Ebbo
1
Birthdate: 0775 AD
Birthplace: Germany
Died: March 20, 0851

Ebbo was archbishop of Rheims for several years between 816 and 841. As a young man, he became the librarian and councilor of Louis the Pious, King of Aquitaine. After Louis became the emperor, he appointed Ebbo to the see of Rheims. Ebbo was a key figure in the spread of Christianity in the north of Europe. 

 33 
Gunther Plaut
1
Birthdate: November 1, 1912
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Münster, Germany
Died: February 8, 2012

Gunther Plaut was a Reform rabbi and author. For several decades, he was the rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. Born in Germany, he received his Doctor of Laws degree as a young man and fled to USA during the Nazi regime. He became a US citizen and later became president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. 

 34 
Ernst Gutting
(Theologian, Catholic priest)
Ernst Gutting
1
Birthdate: January 30, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ludwigshafen
Died: September 27, 2013

Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, twentieth-century German Roman Catholic bishop Ernst Gutting had served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Diocese of Speyer. He had also been the titular bishop of Sufar. At the time of his death in 2013, Gutting, aged 94, was the oldest-surviving German Catholic bishop.

 35 
Johann Georg Gichtel
1
Birthdate: March 14, 1638
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Regensburg, Germany
Died: January 21, 1710

Johann Georg Gichtel was a German mystic and religious leader. He was a vocal critic of Lutheranism. As a young man, he was trained to be a lawyer, but he later abandoned his profession to promote the Christerbauliche Jesusgesellschaft (Christian Edification Society of Jesus). Later on, he became an ardent disciple of mystic Jakob Böhme. 

 36 
Samuel Holdheim
1
Birthdate: 1806 AD
Birthplace: Kepno, Poland
Died: August 22, 1860

Samuel Holdheim was a German rabbi and author active in the 19th century. He is considered one of the more extreme leaders of the early Reform Movement in Judaism. He was a pioneer in modern Jewish homiletics and often found himself at odds with the Orthodox community. He upheld progressive views due to which he was considered a controversial figure.

 37 
Johannes Zimmermann
(Missionary, Philologist)
Johannes Zimmermann
0
Birthdate: March 2, 1825
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gerlingen, Germany
Died: December 13, 1876
 38 
Gregory (VI)
(Antipope)
Gregory (VI)
1
Birthdate: 0000
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rome
Died: 1012 AD

Following the death of Pope Sergius IV, Gregory VI was fielded as the next papal candidate by the Crescentii family. However, Gregory fled to Germany after the Tusculani chose Benedict VII as their candidate. Gregory was eventually persuaded by Emperor St. Henry II to withdraw his claim from the papacy.

 39 
Samuel Hirsch
(Philosopher)
Samuel Hirsch
1
Birthdate: June 8, 1815
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Thalfang, Germany
Died: May 14, 1889
 40 
Diedrich Westermann
0
Birthdate: June 24, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baden, Achim, Germany
Died: May 31, 1956

German scholar and missionary Diedrich Westermann is remembered for his extensive research on African languages and culture. Initially a missionary in Togo in West Africa, he later taught at the Institute for Oriental Languages in Berlin. He also extended the works of his teacher, German linguist Carl Meinhof.

Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg
0
Birthdate: 1469 AD
Birthplace: Augsburg, Germany
Died: March 30, 1540

Beginning his career as an influential counselor at the court of Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg and Maximilian I, Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg was later appointed a cardinal by Pope Julius II. Eventually, he rose to the position of Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg; but soon he became unpopular with Salzburg diocese for his arrogance, and had to fight hard to retain his post.  

 42 
Rabbi Yehudah Jacobs
(Spiritual supervisor)
Rabbi Yehudah Jacobs
1
Birthdate: 1940 AD
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: April 27, 2020

Rabbi Yehudah Jacobs was a mashgiach ruchani (spiritual guide) in Beth Medrash Govoha. Born in Germany, he later moved to USA, where he was appointed the mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha. He became known for  the thousands of vaadim he gave to students, who considered him “the wisest of men.” He died due to COVID-19 in 2020. 

 43 
Hatto I
(Archbishop)
Hatto I
0
Birthdate: 0850 AD
Birthplace: Swabia, Germany
Died: May 15, 0913

A trusted advisor to the German king Arnulf of Bavaria and the Archbishop of Mainz, Hatto I played an important role during the king’s reign. After Arnulf’s death, he became the Regent for his young son, King Louis the Child and after Louis’ death secured the election of Conrad, duke of Franconia, as the East Frankish king.

 44 
Joseph Hergenröther
1
Birthdate: September 15, 1824
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Würzburg, Germany
Died: October 3, 1890
German theologian Joseph Hergenröther was a major supporter of papal infallibility. Born to a professor of medicine at the University of Würzburg, Joseph himself grew up to teach ecclesiastical law and history at the university. A church historian, too, he had also organized the first Vatican Council.
 45 
Friedrich Karl von Schönborn
0
Birthdate: March 3, 1674
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mainz, Germany
Died: July 26, 1746

Apart from being the bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg, Friedrich Karl von Schönborn had also served as the vice chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire for almost 3 decades. He made Bamberger Akademie into a university and introduced new regulations for the University of Würzburg.

 46 
Johannes Beck
0
Birthdate: November 1, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Germany
Died: May 9, 2020

Johannes Beck was a German Jesuit and social ethicist. As a young man, he received theological training and was ordained at the St. Michael's Church in Munich in 1956. He advocated for social justice and Catholic social teaching. For several decades, he served as a spiritual advisor to the Catholic Workers' Movement (KAB). He died during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 47 
Isaak August Dorner
(Church Leader)
Isaak August Dorner
0
Birthdate: June 20, 1809
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany
Died: July 8, 1884

German Protestant theologian Isaak August Dorner is best remembered for his efforts to explain Kantian ideas according to Lutheran beliefs. His written works include History of Protestant Theology. Born to a pastor, he developed his knowledge of Protestantism through his travel related to studies in England and the Netherlands.

 48 
William Of Hirsau
0
Birthdate: 1030 AD
Birthplace: Bavaria, Germany
Died: July 5, 1091

Though he was made the abbot of the monastery of Hirsau after Abbot Frederick was deposed, William of Hirsau refused to take over till Frederick’s death. He supported the papal authorities in the Investiture Controversy and also ushered in the Hirsau Reforms. Constitutiones Hirsaugienses is one of his notable works.

 49 
Berchtold Haller
0
Birthdate: 1492 AD
Birthplace: Aldingen, Germany
Died: February 25, 1536

Born in Aldingen in Germany, Berchtold Haller is best remembered as a Protestant reformer of Bern, Switzerland. He gained an interest in theology after becoming acquainted with Lutheran reformer Philipp Melanchthon in Pforzheim, where he completed his schooling. He had initially also taught at gymnasiums in Bern and Rottweil.

 50 
Berthold Von Henneberg
0
Birthdate: 1442 AD
Birthplace: Germany
Died: December 21, 1504

As the Archbishop of Mainz and the Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, Berthold Von Henneberg, played an important role in securing the election of Maximilian I as king of the Romans. Later elected as imperial chancellor, he tied to bring about internal reforms and increase the powers of the clerical and lay nobility without much success.