Famous Italian Spiritual & Religious Leaders

Find out more about the greatest Italian Spiritual & Religious Leaders, including Pope John Paul I, Pope Paul VI, Pope John XXIII, Pope Pius XII and Pope Pius XI.

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 
Thomas Aquinas
(Philosopher, Theologian)

Thomas Aquinas
5
Birthdate: January 25, 1225
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Roccasecca, Italy
Died: March 7, 1274
Dominican friar and Catholic priest Thomas Aquinas was also a Doctor of the Church. He tried to mingle Aristotelian philosophy and Christianity. His works, including Summa Theologica and Disputed Questions on Truth, and his views on the Scriptures have been studied as prominent texts on theology, philosophy, and canon law.

 2 

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.

 3 

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.

 4 
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.

 5 

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.

 6 

Pope Leo X
5
Birthdate: December 11, 1475
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: December 1, 1521
Son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and part of the Medici banking family of Florence, Giovanni de’ Medici, was tonsured at 7, as a mark of his entry into ecclesiastical life. He took over as Pope Leo X after Julius II’s death. An art connoisseur, he was a true Renaissance pope.

James, brother of Jesus
4
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Nazareth
Died: 0062 AD

James, brother of Jesus, was a Christian apostle and led the Jerusalem Christians. Mentioned in the Gospels as one of the four brothers of Jesus. He was apparently stoned to death or thrown from a tower by priestly authorities. Some scholars believe he was more of a cousin of Jesus.

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 8 

Pope Gregory I
4
Birthdate: 0540 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 12, 0604

Pope Gregory I served as the bishop of Rome from 590 until his death in 604. He is best remembered for sending the Gregorian Mission to Britain, which was successful in converting the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. He is also credited with developing the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts and is widely regarded as its de facto author.

 9 
Saint Lucy
(Saint)

Saint Lucy
4
Birthdate: 0283 AD
Birthplace: Syracuse, Roman Empire
Died: 0304 AD

Saint Lucy was a Christian martyr who was killed during the Great Persecution. Lucy is venerated as a saint in the Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches. She is one of the women commemorated in the Canon of the Mass by Roman Catholics. Saint Lucy's Day, her traditional feast day, is observed on 13 December by Western Christians.

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.

 11 

Pope Clement VII
4
Birthdate: May 26, 1478
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: September 25, 1534

Pope Clement VII was head of the Catholic Church from 1523 to 1534. He also served as the ruler of the Papal States and is considered the most unfortunate of the popes as his reign was marked by military, political, and religious struggles. Despite his troubled papacy, Pope Clement left a remarkable cultural legacy, having commissioned artworks by personalities like Michelangelo.

 12 

Pope Julius II
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1443
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Albisola Superiore, Italy
Died: February 21, 1513

Pope Julius II served as the ruler of the Papal States and head of the Catholic Church from 1503 until his death in 1513. One of the most influential and powerful popes, Julius II left a significant political and cultural legacy. He commissioned a series of architecture and art projects, which beautified and improved the city to a great extent.

 13 
John Bosco
(Priest)

John Bosco
4
Birthdate: August 16, 1815
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Italy
Died: January 31, 1888

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.

 14 

Pope Pius IX
4
Birthdate: May 13, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Senigallia, Italy
Died: February 7, 1878

Pope Pius IX served as the longest-tenured pope. His reign also witnessed the first Vatican Council and was thus the last pope who had control over the Papal States. He also issued the Syllabus of Errors and inspired books such as The Pope Who Would Be King by David Kertzer.

 15 

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.

 16 

Pope Leo XIII
4
Birthdate: March 2, 1810
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Carpineto Romano, Italy
Died: July 20, 1903
Pope Leo XIII is best remembered for writing the Prayer to St. Michael and his encyclicals on the Rosary, which earned him the nickname Rosary Pope. He advocated for age-old Christian ways and means and was the first pope to have no authority over the Papal States.

 17 

Clare of Assisi
4
Birthdate: July 16, 1194
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Assisi, Italy
Died: August 11, 1253
Clare of Assisi, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, ran away from home to escape marriage and received her vows instead. She later formed the Poor Clares. She was made the patron saint of television, as she had once seen the Mass on the walls of her room.

 18 

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.

 19 

Rita of Cascia
4
Birthdate: 1381 AD
Birthplace: Roccaporena, Italy
Died: May 22, 1457

 20 

Pope Innocent III
5
Birthdate: February 22, 1161
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gavignano, Italy
Died: July 16, 1216

Pope Innocent III served as the Pope of the Catholic Church from 1198 until his death in 1216. One of the most influential and powerful of the medieval popes, Pope Innocent exerted influence over the European Christian states, claiming supremacy over kings of Europe.

 21 
Vestal Virgin
(Goddess)

Vestal Virgin
4
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Rome

 22 

Saints Methodius
3
Birthdate: 0815 AD
Birthplace: Thessalonica, Greece
Died: April 6, 0885

 23 

Pope Clement I
3
Birthdate: 0035 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: 0099 AD

Pope Clement I served as the fourth Bishop of Rome from 88 AD until his death in 99 AD. Regarded as the first Apostolic Father of the Church, Clement is revered as a saint and is regarded as a patron saint of mariners. According to a legend, Clement was responsible for the conversion of large numbers of pagans to Christianity.

 24 

Pope Sixtus IV
3
Birthdate: July 21, 1414
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Celle Ligure, Italy
Died: August 12, 1484

Remembered as a patron of the arts, Pope Sixtus IV devoted himself to the reconstruction of Roman churches and also sponsored the construction of the Sistine Chapel. He also developed the Vatican Library and made it available for scholars. He was a key force behind making Rome a Renaissance city.

 25 

Saint Cecilia
6
Birthdate: 0200 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: November 22, 0230

 26 

Agatha of Sicily
3
Birthdate: 0231 AD
Birthplace: Catania, Italy
Died: 0251 AD

Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint, one of the several virgin martyrs commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. She was put to death during the Decian persecution (250–253) in Catania, Sicily. Owing to her determined profession of faith, she is highly venerated in Christianity. She is the patron saint of martyrs and wet nurses. 

 27 

Pope Paul III
3
Birthdate: February 29, 1468
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canino, Italy
Died: November 10, 1549

 28 

Pope Gregory VII
3
Birthdate: 1015 AD
Birthplace: Sovana, Italy
Died: May 25, 1085

Pope Gregory VII is remembered for his role in the Investiture Controversy or the Gregorian Reform. He became the first pope to depose a ruler, Emperor Henry IV, leading to a long conflict between the Catholic Church and the monarchy. He is now revered as a Catholic saint.

 29 

Pope Leo I
3
Birthdate: 0400 AD
Birthplace: Tuscany, Italy
Died: November 10, 0461

Pope Leo I was the bishop of Rome from 440 to 461. A Roman Aristocrat, he is credited to have convinced Attila the Hun to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He was a prolific writer and around 100 sermons and 150 letters composed by him have been preserved. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates him on 18 February. 

 30 

Pope John XII
3
Birthdate: 0937 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: May 14, 0964

John XII was made the pope by his father, Alberic II of Spoleto, the prince of Rome. While John crowned Otto I the king of Germany, he went against the Ottonian Privilege, which called for his allegiance to the king. John was also infamous for his sexually reckless life.

St Francis of Assisi
2
Birthdate: 1181 AD
Birthplace: Assisi, Italy
Died: October 3, 1226

An Italian Catholic friar, deacon, mystic, and preacher, St Francis of Assisi was the founder of the men's Order of Friars Minor and the women's Order of Saint Clare. He arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene in 1223. Also known as Francesco, he is one of the most venerated religious figures in Christianity.

 32 

Pope Boniface VIII
3
Birthdate: 1230 AD
Birthplace: Anagni, Italy
Died: October 11, 1303

 33 
Catherine of Siena
(Mystic, Author)

Catherine of Siena
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1347
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Siena, Italy
Died: April 29, 1380

Catherine of Siena was a mystic, author, and activist. Thanks to her influence over Pope Gregory XI, Catherine is widely regarded as a prominent figure of medieval Catholicism. She also had a strong influence on the Catholic Church and Italian literature. Canonized in 1461, Catherine of Siena was declared the patron saint of Italy in 1939.

 34 
Augustine of Canterbury
(Archbishop of Canterbury)

Augustine of Canterbury
3
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Rome
Died: May 26, 0604

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, or Austin, had been the archbishop of Canterbury and established the Christian church in southern England. Probably born in Rome, he later set out on a voyage to England to convert its largely Pagan population. He baptized many of King Aethelberht’s subjects.

 35 

Pope Benedict IX
3
Birthdate: 1012 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: 1056 AD

 36 

Pope Gregory XIII
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1502
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: April 10, 1585

 37 

Pope Celestine V
3
Birthdate: 1215 AD
Birthplace: Sant'Angelo Limosano, Italy
Died: May 19, 1296

Pope Celestine V was the founder of the order of the Celestines of the Benedictine order. Though he became a pope in his 80s, Celestine proved to be highly inefficient and resigned, becoming the first pope to do so. In his final years, he was imprisoned in the Fumone castle.

 38 
Pope Formosus
(Bishop of Rome)

Pope Formosus
3
Birthdate: 0816 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: April 4, 0896

 39 

Charles Borromeo
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1538
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Arona, Italy
Died: November 3, 1584

Frances Xavier Cabrini
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1850
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Italy
Died: December 22, 1917

Frances Xavier Cabrini was an Italian-American nun who founded a Catholic religious institute called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The institute played a major role in supporting Italian immigrants to the US. In 1946, Frances Xavier Cabrini became the first American citizen to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

 41 

Antipope John XXIII
3
Birthdate: 1370 AD
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: December 22, 1419

Baldassarre Cossa, also known as Antipope John XXIII, was an antipope during the Western Schism. He is remembered for opposing Pope Gregory XII, who is regarded as the rightful heir of Saint Peter. A popular figure in the history of the Catholic Church, Antipope John XXIII has been depicted in various TV series, including Medici: Masters of Florence.

 42 

Pope Pius III
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1439
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sarteano, Italy
Died: October 18, 1503

 43 

Pope Innocent VIII
3
Birthdate: 1432 AD
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
Died: July 25, 1492

 44 

Pope Pius VI
3
Birthdate: December 25, 1717
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cesena, Italy
Died: August 29, 1799

 45 

Pope Leo III
3
Birthdate: 0750 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: June 12, 0816

 46 

Dionysius Exiguus
3
Birthdate: 0470 AD
Birthplace: Scythia Minor
Died: 0544 AD

 47 

Pope Benedict XIII
3
Birthdate: February 2, 1649
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gravina in Puglia, Italy

Pope Benedict XIII served as the ruler of the Papal States and head of the Catholic Church from 1724 to 1730. A man who was not interested in worldly matters, Benedict XIII chose to maintain a monastic lifestyle. He abolished the lottery in the Papal States and built several hospitals. He is also credited with founding the University of Camerino.

 48 
Vitus
(Saint)

Vitus
3
Birthdate: 0290 AD
Birthplace: Sicily
Died: 0303 AD

 49 

Pope Fabian
3
Birthdate: 0200 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: January 20, 0250

 50 

Cardinal Mazarin
3
Birthdate: July 14, 1602
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pescina, Italy
Died: March 9, 1661