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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.