Famous Polish Spiritual & Religious Leaders

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Maximilian Kolbe
(Polish Catholic Priest and Conventual Franciscan Friar)
Maximilian Kolbe
Birthdate: January 8, 1894
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zduńska Wola, Poland
Died: August 14, 1941

Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar and a Catholic priest. Venerated as Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Maximilian is best remembered for volunteering to die at the death camp of Auschwitz in place of a stranger during World War II. In 1982, Pope John Paul II declared Maximilian Kolbe a martyr of charity.

Pope John Paul II
Birthdate: May 18, 1920
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wadowice, Poland
Died: April 2, 2005

Pope John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005. He is hailed for helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and improving the Catholic Church's relations with Islam, Judaism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He was a lifelong football fan, having himself played the sport in his youth.

Nachman of Breslov
Birthdate: April 4, 1772
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Międzybóż, Kingdom of Poland
Died: October 16, 1810

Nachman of Breslov was a Polish Rabbi best remembered as the founder of the famous Breslov Hasidic movement. He managed to revive the Hasidic movement by merging in-depth Torah scholarship with the esoteric secrets of Judaism. Nachman of Breslov attracted thousands of followers and his influence continues even today through several Hasidic movements like Breslov Hasidism.

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Jacob Frank
(Religious Leader)
Jacob Frank
Birthdate: 1726 AD
Birthplace: Korolivka, Ukraine
Died: December 10, 1791

Jacob Frank was a Polish-Jewish religious leader. He is credited with creating Frankism, a new denomination of Judaism. Jacob Frank is also remembered for his claims; he convinced his followers that he was the reincarnation of the biblical patriarch Jacob and the self-proclaimed messiah Sabbatai Zevi.

Stanislaus of Szczepanów
Birthdate: July 26, 1030
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Szczepanów, Poland
Died: April 11, 1079

Stanislaus of Szczepanów was a Polish priest who also served as the Bishop of Kraków. He is best remembered for his conflict with the King of Poland Bolesław II the Generous whose violent behavior was criticized by Bishop Stanislaus. Enraged, the king executed Stanislaus and he became known as Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.

Isaac Halevi Herzog
(Chief Rabbi)
Isaac Halevi Herzog
Birthdate: December 3, 1888
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lomza, Poland
Died: July 25, 1959

The first Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Isaac Halevi Herzog had later also been the Chief Rabbi of Palestine and, later, of Israel. He is remembered for his efforts in merging the traditional Jewish beliefs with modern living requirements. He also made contributions to resolve the Arab–Jewish conflict of Palestine.

Elimelech of Lizhensk
Birthdate: 1717 AD
Birthplace: Tykocin, Poland
Died: March 11, 1787

Elimelech of Lizhensk was a rabbi who played a key role in the founding of the famous and influential Hasidic movement. Many of his disciples like Chozeh of Lublin and Menachem Mendel of Rimanov went on to become great leaders.

Jonathan Eybeschutz
Birthdate: 1690 AD
Birthplace: Kraków, Poland
Died: September 18, 1764

Jonathan Eybeschutz was a Kabbalist, Halachist, and Talmudist. He served as the Rabbi of Wandsbek, Hamburg, and Altona—together they were called the Three Communities. Jonathan Eybeschutz is also remembered for his works concerning Halakha (Jewish law), many of which have been published. 

Yechezkel Landau
Birthdate: November 6, 1713
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Opatow, Poland
Died: April 29, 1793

Yechezkel Landau was a Polish religious leader and an influential authority in halakha. He is best remembered for his work Noda Biyhudah, which serves as a major source of halakha or Jewish law from his time. A highly respected figure, Yechezkel Landau also had a say in political affairs, particularly when the government introduced anti-Semitic measures.

Raphael Kalinowski
(Discalced Carmelite Friar)
Raphael Kalinowski
Birthdate: September 1, 1835
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vilnius, Russian Empire
Died: November 15, 1907

Raphael Kalinowski was a Polish friar who founded several Carmelite monasteries in and around Poland after the suppression by the Russians. A multi-talented personality, Kalinowski also served as a royal tutor, engineer, and teacher. Raphael Kalinowski was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1983. Today, he is revered by Catholics as a patron saint of officers in Poland.

Arthur Hertzberg
Birthdate: June 9, 1921
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lubaczow, Poland
Died: April 17, 2006

Arthur Hertzberg was a Jewish-American activist and scholar who served as the president of the American Jewish Congress as well as the American Jewish Policy Foundation. As a social activist, Arthur Hertzberg walked alonsgide Martin Luther King Jr. in The Great March on Washington. He also took part in the Rabbis' March in 1943.

Zbigniew Oleśnicki
Birthdate: December 5, 1389
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sienno, Poland
Died: April 1, 1455
Zbigniew Oleśnicki was a Polish Roman Catholic clergyman, diplomat, and statesman. He also served as the Archbishop of Kraków from 1423 to 1455. In 1439, he was appointed cardinal of the Church, making him the first native Polish cardinal. An influential statesman, Zbigniew Oleśnicki served as regent during King Władysław III's reign as a minor. 
Stanislaus Hosius
(Polish cardinal)
Stanislaus Hosius
Birthdate: May 5, 1504
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kraków, Poland
Died: August 5, 1579

Stanislaus Hosius was a Polish Roman Catholic cardinal who served as the papal legate to the Holy Roman Emperor's Imperial Court in Vienna, Austria. He carried out many difficult political negotiations during his career. He founded the lyceum of Braniewo to counter the rapid spread of Protestantism. He is designated a Servant of God. 

Jacob Joseph of Polonne
Birthdate: 1710 AD
Birthplace: Poland
Died: 1784 AD

Jacob Joseph of Polonne was a rabbi and one of the first disciples of the founder of Hasidic Judaism, the Baal Shem Tov. He was already an accomplished scholar of the school of Lurianic Kabbalah when he became associated with Tov. In his teachings, he addressed the question regarding the dual requirement in Judaism to both love and fear God.

Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz
(Religious leader)
Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz
Birthdate: 1766 AD
Birthplace: Przedbórz, Poland
Died: 1813 AD

Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz was the founder and first Grand Rabbi of the Peshischa movement of Hasidic philosophy. Also known as Yehudi, he was an important figure of Polish Hasidism. He was the leading disciple of Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin and encouraged individuality of thought and critical judgment of religious routine. His teachings had a great influence on modern Hasidism. 

Jan Szarek
Jan Szarek
Birthdate: February 13, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bielsko, Poland
Died: October 8, 2020

Jan Szarek was a Polish bishop affiliated with the Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland. He headed the Polish Ecumenical Council from 1993 to 2001. He studied theology at the Christian Theological Academy before beginning his religious career. He received an honorary doctorate from the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw. He died from COVID-19 in 2020.