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."
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.
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.
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.
Initially a professor of theology, Vincent Ferrer later traveled across Europe to preach. He became known for his austere lifestyle. The Catholic saint is now revered as the patron saint of builders, fishermen, prisoners, and others. He had a major role in ending the Great Western Schism.
Pope Callixtus III was initially a professor of law. He later helped King Alfonso V with Pope Martin V reconcile. He was infamous for his nepotism, as he was highly biased toward his nephew, Rodrigo Borgia, whom he made a cardinal and who later took over as the pope.
Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit missionary and priest. His lifelong work with African slaves made him the patron saint of slaves. Peter Claver was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. Many organizations, religious congregations, schools, missions, parishes, and hospitals have been named in his honor.
Antipope Benedict XIII, or Pope Luna, initially served as a university professor of canon law and later became a cardinal. He was made the pope after Clement VII’s death, on the grounds that he would resign to end the Western Schism later, but he didn’t and was thus deposed.
Adolfo Nicolás was a Spanish priest of the Roman Catholic Church. From 2008 to 2016, he served as the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Also an educator, Adolfo Nicolás taught at Sophia University for 20 years and then led educational institutions in Manila and Tokyo between 1978 and 1993.
Saint Dominic was a Castilian Catholic priest who is credited with founding the Dominican Order. Dominic is said to have abstained from meat throughout his life. He is also remembered for putting himself to undue hardship like traveling barefoot and rejecting the luxury of a bed. He is regarded as the patron saint of astronomers.
Ruy López de Segura was a Spanish Catholic priest, author, and chess player. He is credited with authoring one of Europe's first books about modern chess. The best chess player in Spain for about two decades, Ruy López de Segura made immense contributions to chess opening theory.
Son of a tax collector, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros spent 6 years in prison only because he wouldn’t give up on his claim to a rightful benefice. Part of the Spanish Inquisition, he opted for forced conversions of Muslims to Christianity, which caused the Moorish revolt of Moriscos.
A pioneer of modern anthropology and a renowned ethnographer, 16th-century Spanish priest and missionary Bernardino de Sahagún remains one of the greatest resources of the history of ancient Mexico. Best remembered for compiling Historia General and its manuscript the Florentine Codex, he developed the Aztec language Nahuatl.
Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian Francisco Suárez was born to an affluent lawyer and had initially studied law. However, he joined the Jesuits later, following which he taught philosophy and theology. Known for writing Disputationes Metaphysicae, he was a prime figure of the School of Salamanca movement.
John of the Cross was a Spanish Catholic priest, mystic, and Carmelite friar. One of the 36 Doctors of the Church, he is a major figure of the Counter-Reformation in Spain. He was a prolific writer and poet, and his writings are counted among the greatest works of all Spanish literature. He was beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X.
Pedro Arrupe, who was the superior general of the Society of Jesus, had dropped out of medical school to care for the poor. He was part of one of the first rescue teams at Hiroshima after the tragic atomic bomb destruction. He later resigned due to paralysis caused by a stroke.
Spanish Baroque dramatist, poet and Roman Catholic monk Tirso de Molina is best known for writing the play The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest which first introduced the legendary fictional character of Don Juan. Other notable works of Molina includes the comedy sitcom Don Gil of the green tights and the trilogy of The Santa Juana.
Joan Enric Vives Sicília, the bishop of Urgell, was born to common retailers in Barcelona. He also holds the title of the Co-Prince of Andorra and has earned accolades and honors such as the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ from Portugal. He believes in the motto Parare vias Domini.
Spanish Baroque poet Luis de Góngora created his own style known as Gongorismo. Born to a judge, he initially used his father’s library to gain knowledge. His works such as Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea and Soledades were criticized by many for their complex style and obscurity.
Born to a Spanish Catholic mother and an Indian Hindu father in Barcelona, Raimon Panikkar grew up to be a Catholic priest and a philosophy professor. An expert in comparative religion, he compared the tenets of Catholicism and Hinduism in his doctoral thesis. He also penned several spiritual texts.
Spanish Catholic priest Joseph Calasanz founded the Pious Schools, whose followers, the Piarists, dedicated themselves to the service of the poor. He was the man behind Europe’s first free school for children from impoverished homes. A friend of Galileo Galilei, he supported the heliocentric system, unlike other religious orders.
John of Ávila, or the Apostle of Andalusia, was a prominent Spanish priest and preacher. Though he was supposed to be sent for missionary work to North America, he later stayed back in Spain, persuaded by the archbishop of Seville. He also wrote religious treatises such as Audi filia.
Sixteenth-century Spanish-born rabbi Joseph Karo penned the last great codification of Jewish law, the Bet Yosef, later known as the Shulḥan ʿarukh. Expelled from Spain, he later settled in Palestine. Another of his notable works is the Maggid mesharim, a mystical diary that described visits by the Mishna.
Francis Borgia, 4th Duke of Gandía was a Spanish Jesuit priest. He helped establish the Gregorian University in Rome and a dozen colleges in Spain. Despite being an inlfuential person, Francis led a simple life and was acclaimed as a saint in his own lifetime. Francis Borgia was canonized by Pope Clement X on 20 June 1670.
Spanish-Salvadoran Jesuit priest and human rights activist Ignacio Ellacuría contributed massively to the development of Latin America’s liberation theology. While teaching at the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, he also faced severe army backlash for his political activism. He was eventually assassinated by an elite army unit.
Seventeenth-century Spanish mystic and priest Miguel de Molinos propagated an extreme type of Quietism through his book Spiritual Guide. He believed people should sacrifice their individual wills to make way for God’s will. He was eventually imprisoned for heresy and died in custody, amid rumors of sexual misconduct.
A Spanish benediction monk, Pedro Ponce de León is best remembered for his pioneering work, which helped several deaf persons to speak and write. Although he was not the creator of the modern sign language, he has been credited with developing manual alphabets based on monastic sign language, which was quite effective in achieving its objective.
Bahya ibn Paquda is best known as the author of Al Hidayah ila Faraid al-Qulub, or Duties of the Heart, an Arabic treatise of Jewish philosophy, also considered the first written work on Jewish ethics. Islamic mystics inspired him to look for the existence and nature of God.
Trained in theology and law, Vasco de Quiroga was the second audiencia of New Spain and the Bishop of Michoacán. Considered as a humanist educator and a social reformer, he is believed to have worked diligently for the welfare of the Indian in Mexico, establishing two hospitals and also the Colegio de San Nicolás Obisbo for that purpose.
Spanish botanist José Celestino Mutis had initially studied medicine and served as the royal physician of Ferdinand VI. While working in South America later, he studied the medicinal properties of plants. He also built a massive botanical garden and penned a treatise that contained over 6,000 illustrations of plants.
Born in Aragon, Spain, Jewish philosopher and theologian Joseph Albo is remembered for his iconic work Sefer ha-ʿiqqarim, or Book of Principles, which laid down the fundamental principles of Judaism. He had also been part of the famous Disputation of Tortosa between Christians and Jews.
An influential Jesuit missionary in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, José de Anchieta worked with the indigenous population, converting many of them into Catholic faith. He also wrote Arte de grammtica da lingoa mais usada na costa do Brasil, providing orthography to the local Tupi language and is known to co-found the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Known for founding Collegio di Spagna at Bologna, Gil Álvarez Carrillo de Albornoz was a soldier before he entered the church. Eventually he became the archbishop of Toledo and supported a campaign against the Muslims. He was later on made the cardinal-priest of S. Clement and finally a papal legate. Gil Álvarez Carrillo de Albornoz helped the papacy to return from Avignon to Rome.
Simeon ben Zemah Duran was the first Spanish Jewish rabbi to earn a regular salary from the community, going against the trend of the rabbi’s post being honorary. He excelled in subjects such as philosophy, math, and medicine, and is best remembered for his commentary Magen Avot.
Gil Sánchez Muñoz, or Antipope Clement VIII, was an advisor of Benedict XIII. During the Western Schism, Benedict chose Clement as a cardinal, even at the reluctance of others to accept this decision. Later, Clement had to let go of his titles, reconciled, and was made the bishop of Majorca.