Priests

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Priests and priestesses have existed since the ancient times, from the simplest societies, to hamlets and royal families. A priest is a person who is authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion and acts as intercessor between humans and one or numerous deities. In order to attain priesthood, an individual has to go through a complex process of introspection, education and sacraments. Some of the ancient priests and priestesses acted as bureaucrats on behalf of kings and were also given the responsibility to staff temples, give offerings and perform other religious rituals. In places like Italy, priesthood was only attained by Roman matrons and the elite. During the onset of Christianity, there was a sudden growth in the formation of Catholic Churches since the 3rd century and priests headed churches and were appointed as the ones in authority to act on behalf of Christ. Although Islam does not hold the office or the title of ‘priest’, they do have the title of ‘mullahs’, which translates to ‘cleric’ and in layman’s terms; priests. They are not necessarily religious, but are highly educated respected individuals in the society. Hindu priests, often known as ‘pujaris’ or ‘purohits’ and belong to the ‘Brahmin’ caste and are ordained as priests after a period of training. Not only do these priests perform rituals in temples but also perform rituals pertaining to weddings, funerals and other services. Here is a list of famous priests. Go through their biographies, which include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.
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 1 
Martin Luther
(German Theologian, Religious Reformer and Key Figure in Protestant Reformation)
Martin Luther
5
Birthdate: November 10, 1483
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eisleben, Germany
Died: February 18, 1546

German monk Martin Luther challenged the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the pope, in his Ninety-five Theses, and was thus excommunicated. His German translation of the Bible enriched the German culture, and his marriage set an example for clerical marriage. His teachings are now known as Lutherans.

 2 
Desmond Tutu
(First Black African Archbishop of Cape Town & Nobel Peace Prize Winner)
Desmond Tutu
5
Birthdate: October 7, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Klerksdorp, South Africa
Died: December 26, 2021
Desmond Tutu is known for his anti-Apartheid activism in South Africa. The first black Archbishop of Cape Town, he has also been the Bishop of Johannesburg. His efforts to eradicate AIDS, poverty, anti-LGBT sentiments, and human rights violations earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
 3 
Anthony of Padua
4
Birthdate: August 15, 1195
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: June 13, 1231

Thirteenth-century Portuguese Catholic priest Anthony of Padua was the friar of the Franciscan Order. He is remembered for his self-less devotion to the poor and the sick and is revered as the patron saint of lost items. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

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 4 
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
(Priest, Confessor and Founder of the Society of Jesus)
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
4
Birthdate: October 23, 1491
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Azpeitia, Spain
Died: July 31, 1556

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a  Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian in the 16th century. He was one of the founders of the religious order called the Society of Jesus and served as its first Superior General at Paris. He was an inspired spiritual director and the founder of what is today known as "Ignatian spirituality."

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 5 
Thomas Wolsey
(English Statesman, Catholic Bishop and Almoner of Henry VIII)
Thomas Wolsey
5
Birthdate: 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ipswich, United Kingdom
Died: November 29, 1530
Thomas Wolsey was an archbishop and a cardinal of the Catholic Church, who was made King Henry VIII’s chief advisor, or the Lord Chancellor. He failed to negotiate an annulment of the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and thus lost his titles. He was eventually charged with treason.
 6 
Marie Laveau
(American Voodoo Priestess and Herbalist)
Marie Laveau
7
Birthdate: September 10, 1801
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: June 15, 1881

Occultist and herbalist Marie Laveau was known as the Vodoo Queen of New Orleans. Though a hairdresser, she was chiefly known for her spiritual practices which she used to heal the sick and the poor. She has inspired several books, such as Robert Tallant's The Voodoo Queen.

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 7 
Girolamo Savonarola
(Italian Preacher, Reformer and Martyr)
Girolamo Savonarola
4
Birthdate: September 21, 1452
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ferrara, Italy
Died: May 23, 1498
Distingusihed for his clash against corrupt clergy and with tyrranical rulers, Girolamo Savonarola became a moral dictator of the city of Florence. He earned a reputation for austerity and detested every form of pleasure that earned him powerful enemies.
 8 
T. D. Jakes
(Priest, Author, Writer)
T. D. Jakes
5
Birthdate: June 9, 1957
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: South Charleston

Known for his baritone voice and his signature goatee, T. D. Jakes is a bishop at The Potter's House and a filmmaker, too. He has produced and appeared in films such as Jumping the Broom and Not Easily Broken, the latter being based one of his novels.

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 9 
Jerome
(Christian Priest Best Known for His Translation of Most of the Bible into Latin)
Jerome
4
Birthdate: 0342 AD
Birthplace: Štrigova, Croatia
Died: September 30, 0420
Latin priest Jerome of Stridon, also known as Saint Jerome, is remembered for translating the Bible into Latin, which came to be known as the Vulgate. Named a Doctor of the Church, he was a secretary to Pope Damascus I and predominantly preached about how women ascetics should behave.
 10 
Georges Lemaître
(Scientist & Priest)
Georges Lemaître
11
Birthdate: July 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
Died: June 20, 1966

Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.

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 11 
John Newton
(British Sailor and Anglican Clergyman)
John Newton
5
Birthdate: July 24, 1725
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wapping, London
Died: December 21, 1807

John Newton was an English Anglican cleric. As a young man, he was forcefully recruited into the navy and worked on slave ships in the slave trade for several years. He later converted to Christianity, following which he denounced slavery and became an abolitionist. He was then ordained as a Church of England cleric. 

 12 
John Henry Newman
(Theologian and Philosopher)
John Henry Newman
4
Birthdate: February 21, 1801
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom
Died: August 11, 1890

An important figure in the English religious history, John Henry Newman was a nineteenth century theologian, scholar and poet. Famed for leading the Oxford movement in the Church of England, he later switched to the Roman Catholic Church, eventually becoming the Cardinal Deacon of St. George in Velabro.  Also an influential educator and writer, he was canonized in October 2019.

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 13 
Junípero Serra
(Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Missionary of the Franciscan Order)
Junípero Serra
6
Birthdate: November 24, 1713
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Petra, Spain
Died: August 28, 1784

Junípero Serra was a Roman Catholic priest who is credited with founding the Franciscan Missions of the Sierra Gorda. He is also credited with founding nine of the 21 Spanish missions in California. On 25 September 1988, Junípero Serra was beatified in the Vatican City by Pope John Paul II. On 23 September 2015, he was canonized by Pope Francis.

 14 
Ignatius of Antioch
(Syrian Bishop)
Ignatius of Antioch
4
Birthplace: Roman Syria
Died: 0108 AD

Ignatius of Antioch went down in history as a man who was arrested and executed for his non-allegiance to Roman gods. The seven letters he wrote while being escorted from Antioch to Rome as a prisoner later served as a mirror that reflected his concern for Christianity, against false teachings.

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 15 
Benedict of Nursia
(Italian Christian Monk, Writer, Theologian and Founder of Western Christian Monasticism)
Benedict of Nursia
5
Birthdate: March 3, 0480
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Norcia, Italy
Died: March 21, 0547
The only valid mention of Saint Benedict is found in the Dialogues of St. Gregory I. Of the many legends about him is the one in which he rolled himself against bushes to inflict wounds, just to escape the Devil who showed the image of a beautiful woman to him.
 16 
Bartolomé de las Casas
(The First Resident Bishop of ‘Chiapas’, and the First Officially Appointed "Protector of the Indians")
Bartolomé de las Casas
7
Birthdate: November 11, 1484
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seville, Spain
Died: July 18, 1566
Known for works such as Historia de las Indias, Spanish historian Bartolomé de las Casas is remembered as the first to have focused on the exploitation of the indigenous community in the Americas. His life-long struggle to end slavery brought about significant changes in the treatment of colonized people.
 17 
Ambrose
(Ancient Bishop of Milan Who Also Contributed to Music and Literature)
Ambrose
4
Birthdate: 0339 AD
Birthplace: Trier, Germany
Died: April 4, 0397

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.

 18 
Jim Elliot
(Missionary)
Jim Elliot
4
Birthdate: October 8, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
Died: January 8, 1956
 American Christian missionary Jim Elliot was one of five people killed during Operation Auca. He is still remembered for his selfless devotion to God and his zeal, tempered by love, to guide people. The Journals of Jim Elliot contains volumes of documents written over many years by Jim Elliot in which the missionary has detailed his mission work.
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 19 
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
(Jesuit Priest who Co-developed the Concept of Noosphere & was Part of the Discovery of Peking Man)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
5
Birthdate: May 1, 1881
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Orcines, France
Died: April 10, 1955

French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is remembered as someone who deviated from theology to science. He discovered the fossilized remains known as the Peking man in China, but faced a lot of opposition from his religious superiors when it came to publishing his scientific thoughts.

 20 
Anselm of Canterbury
(Benedictine Monk, Philosopher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1093 - 1109))
Anselm of Canterbury
5
Birthdate: 1033 AD
Birthplace: Aosta, Italy
Died: April 21, 1109

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.

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 21 
Thomas Aquinas
(Italian Theologian & Philosopher)
Thomas Aquinas
7
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.
 22 
Bernard of Clairvaux
(French Abbot, Theologian and Co-Founder of the 'Knights Templars')
Bernard of Clairvaux
4
Birthdate: 1090 AD
Birthplace: Fontaine-lès-Dijon, France
Died: August 20, 1153

Bernard of Clairvaux, or Saint Bernard, was a 12th-century Burgundian monk, who became the abbot of the abbey of Clairvaux, founded by him. He chose to live a life of physical austerities, which caused him ailments such as anemia. He is revered as the patron saint of beekeepers and candlemakers.

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 23 
Isidore of Seville
(Spanish Scholar, Theologian, and Archbishop of Seville)
Isidore of Seville
4
Birthdate: 0560 AD
Birthplace: Cartagena, Spain
Died: April 4, 0636

Spanish scholar Isidore of Seville is widely remembered as the last of the Western Latin Fathers. His Etymologies was a chief reference book for years. The 7th-century archbishop of Sevilla wrote about varied subjects, such as religion, science, history, and linguistics. He had a major role in the Councils of Toledo.

 24 
Mychal Judge
(Catholic priest)
Mychal Judge
5
Birthdate: May 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: September 11, 2001

Designated Victim 0001 of the 2011 Twin Tower attack, Mychal Judge was a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest. Developing an early interest in monastic life, he served in various parishes before being appointed chaplain to New York City Fire Department. On hearing about the attack, he rushed to the spot and died while praying for the victims inside North Tower.

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 25 
John of Damascus
(Saint, Best Known for His Strong Defence of 'Icons')
John of Damascus
4
Birthdate: 0676 AD
Birthplace: Damascus, Syria
Died: December 4, 0749

John of Damascus was a Christian apologist, priest, and monk. A polymath, John contributed to various fields, such as philosophy, theology, law, and music. He also wrote several works explaining the Christian faith. The hymns which he composed are still used in Eastern Christian practice as well as in western Lutheranism.

 26 
Pythia
(Priestess)
Pythia
5
Birthplace: greece
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 27 
Solomon Burke
(Singer, Priest, Guitarist, Songwriter, Composer)
Solomon Burke
4
Birthdate: March 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: October 10, 2010
American preacher and singer Solomon Burke shaped the sound of rhythm and blues as one of the founding fathers of soul music in the 1960s. Known for his 'prodigious output', Burke has been called 'a key transitional figure bridging R&B and soul'. During his professional career that lasted 55 years, Burke released 38 studio albums and had 35 singles.
 28 
Saint David
(Bishop of Mynyw During the 6th Century)
Saint David
3
Birthdate: 0500 AD
Birthplace: Caerfai Bay, Wales
Died: March 1, 0589

Saint David was a Welsh bishop who lived during the 6th century. His life and teachings inspired Welsh composer Sir Karl William Pamp Jenkins to come up with a choral work titled Dewi Sant. David's teachings also inspired another composer named Arwel Hughes, who composed an oratorio titled Dewi Sant in 1950. David is considered the patron saint of Wales.

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 29 
Ivan Illich
(Roman Catholic Priest and Author of 'Deschooling Society' which Criticises Modern Society's Educational Approach)
Ivan Illich
5
Birthdate: September 4, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: December 2, 2002

Ivan Illich was a Roman Catholic priest, philosopher,  theologian, and social critic. He criticized modern society's institutional approach to education in his book Deshooling Society. He studied theology and philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained as a priest in 1951. Later on, he founded the Center of Intercultural Formation (CIF) to train missionaries. 

 30 
Xuanzang
(Scholar)
Xuanzang
4
Birthdate: 0602 AD
Birthplace: Henan
Died: February 5, 0664
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 31 
John Vianney
(French Catholic Priest)
John Vianney
4
Birthdate: May 8, 1786
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dardilly, France
Died: August 4, 1859

Jean Vianney was a French Catholic priest active in the first half of the 19th century. Venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as the patron saint of parish priests, he is also referred to as the "Curé d'Ars."  He was devoted to St. Philomena, who he regarded as his guardian. His feast day is 4 August.

 32 
Duns Scotus
(Philosopher, Priest)
Duns Scotus
4
Birthdate: 1265 AD
Birthplace: Duns, Scotland
Died: December 8, 1308

Duns Scotus was a Scottish Franciscan friar, philosopher, theologian, and university professor. Widely regarded as one of the most prominent philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages, Scotus had a major influence on both secular and Catholic thought. In 1993, Duns Scotus was beatified by the Catholic Church. His life and work inspired a 2012 Italian film titled Blessed Duns Scotus.

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 33 
Fray Tormenta
4
Birthdate: May 29, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Agustín Metzquititlán, Mexico
 34 
John Amos Comenius
(Czech Philosopher and Pedagogue Regarded as the 'Father of Modern Education')
John Amos Comenius
4
Birthdate: March 28, 1592
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nivnice, Moravia, Czech Republic
Died: November 15, 1670

John Amos Comenius was a Czech philosopher, theologian, and pedagogue. Regarded as the father of modern education, Comenius is credited with introducing many educational concepts and innovations such as education for women, equal opportunity for poor children, and universal and practical instruction among other innovations. He also led schools and served as an adviser for governments across Protestant Europe.

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 35 
Jaime Sin
(Catholic priest)
Jaime Sin
5
Birthdate: August 31, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Washington, Aklan, Philippines
Died: June 21, 2005
 36 
Charles Borromeo
(Italian Cardinal and Archbishop - A Major Figure of the Counter-Reformation)
Charles Borromeo
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1538
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Arona, Italy
Died: November 3, 1584

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.

 37 
Daniel Berrigan
(Peace activist, Theologian, Writer, University teacher)
Daniel Berrigan
4
Birthdate: May 9, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Virginia
Died: April 30, 2016

Daniel Berrigan was an American anti-war activist, Jesuit priest, Christian pacifist, author, poet, and playwright. Berrigan gained national attention for his protest against the Vietnam War, which landed him on the FBI's most-wanted list. He remained a popular anti-war activist throughout his life, co-founding an anti-nuclear weapons movement called the Plowshares movement in 1980.

 38 
Matteo Ricci
(Italian Priest, Missionary and One of the Founding Figures of Jesuit China Missions)
Matteo Ricci
4
Birthdate: October 6, 1552
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Macerata, Italy
Died: May 11, 1610

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.

 39 
Josemaría Escrivá
(Spanish Priest Who Founded the Organization 'Opus Dei')
Josemaría Escrivá
5
Birthdate: January 9, 1902
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Barbastro, Spain
Died: June 26, 1975

Josemaría Escrivá was a Spanish priest best remembered for founding an organization called Opus Dei. He is also remembered for authoring a book titled The Way. The book has been translated into many languages and has sold millions of copies around the world.

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
4
Birthdate: February 2, 1754
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 17, 1838

French diplomat and bishop Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord is counted among the most pragmatic and prominent diplomats in European history. He served King Louis XVI and thereafter changed sides several times, serving at highest levels of successive French governments of Napoleon I, Louis XVIII and Louis Philippe I. He served as the first Prime Minister of France under Louis XVIII.

 41 
James Smith Bush
(Jurist, Writer, Lawyer, Priest, Politician)
James Smith Bush
4
Birthdate: June 15, 1825
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rochester
Died: November 11, 1889

The progenitor of the Bush political family, James Smith Bush, was a jurist by training before he was drawn to divinity and ordained as a priest. He began his career as rector of the Grace Church in Orange, New Jersey. Later, he visited other parts of the country, writing several books on religion, most significant of them being Evidence of Religion.

 42 
Max Lucado
(Theologian, Writer)
Max Lucado
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Angelo
A best-selling author and pastor at Oak Hills Church, Max Lucado is known for combining poetic storytelling and homespun humor. With over 120 million copies sold in 54 languages, Max is dubbed as America’s Pastor. He received three Gold Medallion Book of the Year awards for his books, Just Like Jesus, In the Grip of Grace, and When God Whispers Your Name.
 43 
Pope Adrian IV
(Former Head of the Catholic Church and Ruler of the Papal States)
Pope Adrian IV
4
Birthdate: 1100 AD
Birthplace: Abbot’s Langley, England
Died: September 1, 1159

Pope Adrian IV was the only Englishman to have served as the pope. Initially aspiring to study law, he later began his spiritual journey by joining the abbey of St Ruf. His reign as the pope lasted a little more than 4 years but was plagued by crisis and controversy.

 44 
Francis de Sales
(Bishop of Geneva (1602 - 1622))
Francis de Sales
6
Birthdate: August 21, 1567
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Château de Sales, Thorens-Glières, France
Died: December 28, 1622

Called the Gentleman Saint for his tenderness and patience, Francis de Sales was a Catholic priest and Bishop of Geneva (1602-1622). Canonized in 1665, he was later proclaimed Doctor of the Church for his contribution to theology and patron of writers and journalists for his extensive use of broadsheets and books. He also invented sign languages for teaching the deaf.

Pio of Pietrelcina
6
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.

Charles-Michel de l'Épée
4
Birthdate: November 24, 1712
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, Yvelines, France
Died: December 23, 1789

Eighteenth-century philanthropic educator Charles-Michel de l'Épée is regarded as the Father of the Deaf for pioneering the education of the deaf and dumb. He laid down the Signed French system, which enabled the deaf to participate in legal proceedings. His French Sign Language laid the path to the American Sign Language.

 47 
Richard Rohr
(American Franciscan Priest and Spiritual Writer)
Richard Rohr
4
Birthdate: March 20, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kansas, United States
American author, Richard Rohr, was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. Some of Richard's famous books include Everything Belongs, Adam's Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, and Eager to Love.
 48 
Kateri Tekakwitha
5
Birthdate: 1656 AD
Birthplace: Auriesville, New York, United States
Died: April 17, 1680
Kateri Tekakwitha was a Catholic saint known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh. She was the first North American Indian canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Tekakwitha was known as “Lily of the Mohawks” in recognition of her kindness. Pope Benedict XVI recognized Tekakwitha as a saint and she was later canonized.
 49 
Pope Linus
(Bishop of Rome from 67 AD to 76 AD)
Pope Linus
5
Birthdate: 0010 AD
Birthplace: Volterra, Italy
Died: September 23, 0076

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.

 50 
Increase Mather
(British Clergyman)
Increase Mather
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1639
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Massachusetts Bay Colony, United States
Died: August 23, 1723

Puritan clergyman Increase Mather was educated at Harvard and Trinity and preached his first sermon the day he turned 18. The son of Puritan minister Richard Mather, he penned An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences, which is said to have influenced the Salem witch trials.