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.
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.
Mary Magdalene was an important biblical figure. It is said that she witnessed many of Jesus' miracles and life events, including his crucifixion and the subsequent resurrection. Since it is claimed that Magdalene was a prostitute, she has been viewed as the patroness of wayward women in the modern era. Her life has inspired several important works of art.
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.
Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Emperor Nicholas II, was the last Russian tsarina and reigned from 1894 to 1917. She suffered from hemophilia. Alexandra and her entire family were murdered by the Bolshevik revolutionaries. In 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized her as Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer.
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.
Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of the finest authors of the Latin American colonial era. Initially the lady-in-waiting of Mexico’s viceroy, she later took her vows. She built a huge library and penned masterpieces such as the poem Primero sueño and the religious drama El divino Narciso.
Edith Stein was a German Jewish philosopher who studied at the University of Freiburg and completed her dissertation on empathy. Always interested in Catholicism, she read the autobiography of the mystic Teresa of Ávila and converted to Christianity, and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp and is canonized as a martyr.
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.
Deborah was an Israeli prophetess and a judge of Israel who made her judgments underneath a date palm tree between Bethel in the Tribe of Ephraim and Ramah in Benjamin. According to the Bible, Deborah was the only female judge in pre-monarchic Israel.
Elizabeth, the daughter of Hungarian king Andrew II, was married at 14 but lost her husband to a plague in Italy at 20. She then joined the Third Order of St. Francis and opened a hospital for the poor. She is revered as the patron saint of the homeless.
Polish Catholic nun Faustyna Kowalska is remembered for her diary, which recorded her multiple visions of Jesus and was later published. She later got an artist to paint the Image of the Divine Mercy, based on her visions. Known as the Apostle of Divine Mercy, she was canonized as a saint in 2000.
One of the six patron saints of Europe, Bridget of Sweden is also the most celebrated saint of her native land. Married with eight children, she gave up worldly life after her husband’s death, establishing the Order of the Most Holy Savior (later the Bridgettines). With an ever smiling face, she bravely faced all problems, breathing her last in Rome.
Roman Catholic saint Katharine Drexel, the founder of Xavier University, was born to Philadelphia banker Francis Anthony Drexel and picked up he philanthropic habits from her father. In spite of inheriting a massive fortune, she devoted her life to building schools and churches for the racially underprivileged.
Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. Not much is known about her life, but it is believed that she became a nun as a teenager after deciding to dedicate her life to Christianity. She had frequent visions of heavenly angels and saints and was particularly devoted to Saint Denis.
Gianna Beretta Molla was a Roman Catholic pediatrician, canonized as a saint for saving her unborn child’s life at the expense of her own. Although she knew that the removal of only the fibroma would endanger her life, she refused have an abortion, thus upholding the Roman Catholic doctrine that even an unborn child has a fundamental right to life.
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.
Elizabeth Barton was an English Catholic nun best remembered for her prophecies. Although her prophecies, which were fairly accurate, made her popular, they eventually led to her death. Her prophecy against Henry VIII was deemed fake and she was executed for treason. Barton continues to be revered by churches like the Anglican Catholic Church.
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.