Owing to his quality classical education, Anselm of Canterbury became one of the finest Latinists of his time. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he resisted the English kings and was exiled. He is now remembered as a significant figure in the Investiture Controversy, which pitted the king against the pope.
A 4th-century bishop of Milan, Aurelius Ambrosius was a strong supporter of the Latin church and a vocal opponent of Arianism and paganism. He also converted St. Augustine of Hippo. He is also remembered as an important literary figure and also composed several hymns.
A cardinal of the Catholic Church of Italy and the archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo was a major figure of the Italian Counter-Reformation. He gained a lot of respect with his charitable work during the plague of 1576–78. He is revered as the patron saint of cardinals, bishops, and spiritual leaders.
Matteo Ricci was an Italian priest best remembered as one of the founding members of the Jesuit China missions. Renowned for his missionary work in China, Ricci became the first European to set foot on the Forbidden City of Beijing. He is credited with converting important Chinese officials to Catholicism. The Catholic Church considers him a Servant of God.
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.
Pope Linus served as the bishop of Rome from 67 AD until his death in 76 AD. Pope Linus finds a mention in the New Testament along with other popes like Saint Peter and Clement of Rome. Canada's Saint-Lin–Laurentides is named in his honor.
Gregory of Nazianzus was a theologian and Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely regarded as the most renowned and talented rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. Much of Gregory of Nazianzus' theological work continues to have a significant impact on modern theologians.
Bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States Benedict IX, counted among the youngest popes in history, is the only person who served as Pope for more than once. He became Pope thrice, however earned bad repute as pope and became notorious as the only man in the history who sold the papacy.
Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and cardinal of the Catholic Church. One of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation, he has been named a Doctor of the Church. He has also been canonized as a saint. He was a professor of theology at the Roman College and later became its rector. He became Archbishop of Capua in 1602.
Pope Anacletus, or Cletus, was once the bishop of Rome and later set up 25 Roman parishes as the pope. He was said to have been martyred during Domitian’s rule. He finds mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy and has been named to the Roman Canon of the Mass.
Pope Gregory IX served as the Bishop of Rome and chief of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore the ruler of the Papal States from 1227 until his death in 1241. Pope Gregory IX is best remembered for instituting the Papal Inquisition and issuing the Decretales.
Gerard Majella was an Italian lay brother who is honored by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint. His intercession is sought for unborn children, children, mothers, women in childbirth, expectant mothers, and motherhood. Many churches in New Zealand, England, and Sri Lanka are dedicated to him.
Pope Alexander III served as the chief of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore the ruler of the Papal States from 1159 until his death in 1181. A native of Siena, Alexander was chosen as the pope after a contested election.
Erasmus of Formia was a Christian saint who is venerated as the patron saint of abdominal pain and sailors in Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Erasmus of Formia is counted among the 14 Holy Helpers or saintly figures.
Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene, better known as Saint Cajetan, was a Italian priest who co-established the Theatine order, thus becoming a significant figure of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also created what later became the Bank of Naples. He is the patron saint of Argentina, bankers, gamblers, and unemployed people.
Lazzaro Spallanzani was an Italian physiologist, biologist, and Catholic priest. He is best remembered for making significant contributions to the study of animal reproduction, bodily functions, and animal echolocation. Lazzaro Spallanzani's research on biogenesis was the first step towards debunking the theory of spontaneous generation.
Benedict XV became Bishop of Rome at the outbreak of the First World War and his pontificate was mostly occupied with several issues of the war. He declared neutrality of the Holy See and made unsuccessful efforts to mediate peace between both sides. He later succeeded in re-establishing relation between France and the Vatican and promulgated Code of Canon Law.
Pope Alexander I was a 2nd-century bishop of Rome. Some believe he introduced the custom of the holy water and of mixing sacramental wine with water. Some also believe he may have been martyred during the reign of Trajan or Hadrian. He is believed to have had a vision of baby Jesus.
Pope Leo XI served as the chief of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore the ruler of the Papal States from 1 April 1605 until his death on 27 April 1605. Having lasted under a month, Pope Leo XI's papacy is one of the briefest of all time.
The last Greek pope and the last pope of the Byzantine Papacy, Pope Zachary, or Saint Zacharias, succeeded Pope St. Gregory III. Known for his association with Byzantine emperor Constantine V, he was also successful in making peace with the Lombards. He translated Dialogues by Pope St. Gregory I the Great.
Pope Telesphorus served as the bishop of Rome from 126 until his death in 137. He is venerated as a patron saint of the order by the Carmelites. Some sources even portray him as a hermit living on Mount Carmel. Saint-Télesphore, a town in Canada's Quebec province, is named after Pope Telesphorus.
Carlo de' Medici was an Italian priest who served as a senior clergyman and Papal tax collector in Tuscany. Carlo de' Medici was portrayed by British actor Ray Fearon in the fantasy drama series Da Vinci's Demons. He was also played by Callum Blake in the second season of Medici.
While some historians believe that Pope Pius I was initially a slave, others believe he was a man of low ranks. He is known to have battled both Gnosticism and Valentinianism as a pope. Though some believe he was martyred, the claims remain unsubstantiated. His feast day is July 11.
A 1st-century Greek-origin bishop of Rome, Pope Sixtus I was a successor of Pope St. Alexander I. He served the Catholic Church under the rule of Roman emperor Hadrian. Most sources believe he ruled as a pope for about 10 years. Though considered a martyr by some, his martyrdom remains unsubstantiated.
The bishop of Rome from 199 to 217, Pope Zephyrinus faced strong opposition from Roman priest St. Hippolytus, who began the first schism of the Christian Church. Ironically, the only source of information on Zephyrinus is Hippolytus’s Philosophoumena. He is remembered for combating heresies.
Italian theologian and missionary Bernardino of Siena contributed immensely to the growth of the Franciscan order of the Observants. Born into a noble family, he was orphaned as a child and served plague patients initially. He was known for his extreme views against homosexuality, witchcraft, and gambling.
Apart from being a Catholic priest, Gregorio Allegri was also a talented composer. He was associated with the Vatican’s Papal Choir throughout his life. One of his most-loved compositions, Miserere mei, Deus, is said to have inspired a teenaged Mozart to create his own version of the track.
Pope Sixtus II served as the bishop of Rome from 257 to 258. He was among the deacons who were persecuted by Emperor Valerian. One of the first victims to be beheaded on 6 August 258, Pope Sixtus II was martyred with six other deacons. He is venerated by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
A 4th-century bishop of Rome, Pope Damasus I is remembered for building ties between the Church of Rome and the Church of Antioch. His pontificate witnessed the use of Latin as the language of the mass. He was also vocal against major heresies. He is revered as a patron saint of archaeologists.
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.
Also known as Gerard of Burgundy, Pope Nicholas II headed the Catholic Church in the 11th century. He not only increased papal influence in Italy but also brought about a change in the election procedure of popes, shifting the power of electing popes from the Roman aristocracy to cardinals.
Counted as the first German pope, Pope Gregory V reigned for less than three years. A member of the Salian dynasty, he is said to have acted as a representative of the Holy Roman Emperor in Rome. His pontificate, which started in May 996 and ended with his death in February 999, was historically one of the most unsettled periods.
A 16th-century Italian Catholic bishop, Pope Boniface VIII initially held important positions in the papal government. He collated canon law in the Liber Sextus and also brought about peace between France and Aragon. Though he died of natural causes, an alternate theory states his enemies probably had a role in his death.
Eusebio Kino was a Tyrolean missionary, explorer, geographer, astronomer, and cartographer. Nicknamed Father Kino for his missionary work, Eusebio worked closely with the indigenous Native American people, including the Sobaipuri, Tohono O'Odham, and other Upper Piman populations, as part of his exploration. He also led an overland expedition in the Baja California Peninsula, proving that it is not an island.
Alessandro Farnese, who later came to be known as Pope Paul III, was the last Renaissance pope and the first pope who belonged to the Counter-Reformation era. A patron of the arts, he commissioned legendary painter Michelangelo to paint frescoes in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican.
Pope Stephen III served as the bishop of Rome from 768 until his death in 772. As the ruler of the Papal States, Pope Stephen III called for the Lateran Council of 769, which is widely regarded as the most prominent Roman council of the 8th century.
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.