An Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and a missionary, Mother Teresa was the founder of Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. She was both an admired and controversial figure and was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. While she was admired by many for her charitable work, she also earned criticism for her stance against abortion and contraception.
Considered a great saint and a symbol of French unity, Joan of Arc led the French army to the watershed victory over the English forces in Orleans in 1429. In 1430, she was captured by the Anglo-Burgundians while defending Compiegne. She was burned at the stake at the age of 19 in 1431. Pope Benedict XV canonised her in 1920.
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."
Hildegard of Bingen was a German writer, composer, Christian mystic, visionary, philosopher, polymath, and Benedictine abbess of the High Middle Ages. Apart from being the most-recorded composers of sacred monophony in modern history, Hildegard of Bingen is also widely regarded as the founder of scientific natural history.
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.
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.
Legendary 10th-century Chinese monk Budai, is better known as The Laughing Buddha and The Fat Buddha. Named after the “budai” or cloth sack that he carried with him, he was considered an avatar of Maitreya, or the future Buddha. His figures adorn many homes, as a symbol of prosperity and contentment.
17 Cheng Yen
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.
22 Pope Pius IX
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.
John Chrysostom was an influential Early Church Father best remembered for his public speaking and preaching. Regarded as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs of the Greek Church, John continues to be a prominent theologian in Eastern Christianity. He is recognized as a saint by various churches, including the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, and Lutheran churches.
Saint Barbara was an early Christian Lebanese and Greek saint and martyr. She is also known as the Great Martyr Barbara in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Not much is known about her life and work as there is no mention of her in the authentic early Christian writings. She is considered one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in Roman Catholicism.
Athanasius of Alexandria was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. A well-known Egyptian leader of the 4th century, Athanasius' career was shaped by his conflicts with Arius and successive Roman emperors. He is venerated as a saint and his feast day is observed on different days depending upon the various churches.
Ravidas was an Indian mystic, social reformer, poet-saint, and spiritual figure. An influential personality, Ravidas taught his followers to disregard social divisions of gender and caste that were prevalent in India at that time. The Ravidassia sect, a religious sect of Vaishnavism, is based on Ravidas' teachings. Ravidas is revered even today as a saint by his followers.
Jnanadeva was an Indian poet, philosopher, saint, and yogi who lived in the 13th century AD. He is credited with authoring Dnyaneshwari, the oldest surviving work in the Marathi language. He is also credited with co-founding the Varkari Bhakti movement tradition of Hinduism. Over the years, Jnanadeva's legacy has inspired several saint-poets, including Tukaram and Eknath.
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.
Albertus Magnus was a friar, bishop, and philosopher. Regarded by some as the greatest German theologian and philosopher of the Middle Ages, Albertus' writings have inspired the iconography of the archivolts and tympanum of the 13th-century portal of Strasbourg Cathedral. Remembered for his contribution to academics, several education institutions have been named after Albertus Magnus.
38 Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan Buddhist and an ordained nun. Born as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in New York, she began studying with Tibetan Buddhist Lama Chime Rinpoche as a young woman. She eventually became a fully ordained nun or bhikṣuṇī. She is the author of several dozen books and audiobooks. She is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey.
39 Rose of Lima
Rose of Lima is revered as the patron saint of Peru. Legend has it that she had chopped off her hair and damaged her skin to avoid getting married. A member of the Dominican Order, she was the first from the Americas to be canonized by the Catholic Church.
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.
41 Sister Lúcia
Martin of Tours, the patron saint of France, had initially fought for the Roman army. Born to Pagan parents, he converted to Christianity at age 10. Legend has it that a vision of Jesus in a dream, after he shared his cloak with a beggar, had pushed Martin into religion.
Namdev was an Indian saint and poet best remembered for his devotion to Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur. He is credited with popularizing the Vithoba faith, which first emerged in the 12th century. Along with Ravidas, Kabir, Hardas, and Dadu, Namdev is revered as a guru (teacher) in the Dadupanth tradition of Hinduism.
Martin de Porres was a Peruvian lay brother of the Dominican Order. He was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI. He lived an austere life and often went hungry. He abstained from meat and was said to be able to communicate with animals. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people and those who seek racial harmony.
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.
Basava was an Indian poet, philosopher, social reformer, statesman, and saint who lived in the 12th century AD. He is credited with spreading social awareness through his poems. Although hagiographic texts and traditional legends claim that Basava founded Lingayatism, modern scholars believe that he refined and popularized the already existing religious tradition, which is popular in Karnataka, South India.
Marathi poet Sant Tukaram was one of the pillars of the Bhakti movement of Maharashtra. It is believed he began writing abhangas, or religious poetry, after being visited by Vitthal, an avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna, in a dream. He is revered by the Varkari sampradaya.
Rishi Agastya, one of the Saptarishi, appears in the Puranas and is said to have authored texts such as the Agastya Gita. Legend has it that the Vindhya range lies flat as Agastya had asked it to lie flat till he got back from the South, and then never returned.