A list of famous Christians. These Christians are famous for a variety of reasons, but all share a common Christian faith.
Jesus Christ (c. 2BC – 32 AD) The central figure of Christianity. His teachings and life inspired his apostles to spread his message and began early Christian communities. His teachings and life later formed the basis of the New Testament and the development of the Christian religion.
Mary Magdalene A close disciple of Jesus Christ. Present at the crucifixion of Christ. Mary Magdalene is portrayed in the New Testament as a disciple who is healed by Jesus of her inner devils and became very devoted to him.
St Peter (0AD – c 64 AD) A close disciple of Jesus Christ, St Peter was ‘the rock on which I will build my church.’ He was an early Christian leader and is seen as the first bishop of Rome. He features prominently in the New Testament, and his epistles form an important part of early Christian teachings.
St Paul (5 – 67AD) Missionary and influential early Christian. The letters of St Paul form a significant proportion of the New Testament. St Paul began his life as Taurus of Saul prosecuting Christians but converted to Christianity.
Constantine the Great (272 – 337) Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, by doing, Constantine helped the spread of Christianity throughout Western Europe. He also convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 to unify the Christian creed.
St Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Augustine was born near Hippo (modern-day Algeria). He became an influential bishop and Christian writer. He is considered an important Father of the Church and an influential figure in Western philosophy and Christianity.
Thomas Beckett (1118 – 1170) Archbishop of Canterbury during the time of Henry II. He is considered a martyr by both the Anglican church and Roman Catholic church after he was murdered by the king’s men in Canterbury Cathedral.
Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1327) A Germany mystic, theologian and philosopher. Eckhart became a popular preacher for his practical philosophy which stressed the inherent divinity of every human soul.
John Wycliffe (1330 – 1384) Translated some of the first versions of the Bible into English. Wycliffe was an early critic of the Papacy, becoming a precursor for the reformation of Martin Luther
Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431) A poor peasant girl, who at a very young age rose from obscurity to shape the course of French and European history. Joan of Arc had a religious temperament and she credited the instruction from her Angels for giving her the strength and wisdom to advise the King of France. Died a martyr’s death after refusing to recant her experiences. Seven years after her death, her prophecy of French independence came true.
Desiderius Erasmus (1466 – 1536) Erasmus was a Catholic priest and noted scholar. He was a significant figure of the Renaissance and preached religious tolerance. Although he remained a Catholic all his life, he wanted to see the Church reform and his ideas proved influential in the reformation and development of Protestantism.
Thomas More (1478 – 1535) Martyred for standing up to King Henry VIII when Henry wished to split from the Roman Catholic Church to get a divorce.
William Tyndale (1494 – 1536 ) One of the first persons to print the Bible in English. He worked on translating the Bible into English even when it was deemed to be an illegal act. He was executed for blasphemy after years of avoiding capture.
Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) Sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church which he felt had been corrupted and lost its original focus. A key figure in the Protestant Reformation; it is generally believed to have begun when he pinned his 95 theses in 1517 to a church in Wittenberg.
John Calvin (1509–1564) French Protestant reformer. Calvin broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1530. He wrote influential Christian works, which supported the Protestant Reformation. He also introduced a new liturgy and form of church government. His theological teachings formed the basis of the Reformed, Congregational and Presbyterian churches.
Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515 – 1582) Spanish mystic, writer and reformer. In a difficult period of the Spanish Inquisition and at a time when women had few rights or opportunities, St Terese of Avila was an influential and pivotal figure of her generation
J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750) A devout Lutheran Christian. One of the greatest composers of sacred and choral music. Two of his greatest works were the St Matthew Passion and St John Passion, about the life of Jesus Christ.
John Wesley (1703 – 1791) A member of the Anglican church, Wesley inspired the creation of Methodism, which became a separate church to the established Anglican church. Wesley was a great preacher and encouraged unordained followers to preach and evangelise the Gospel.
William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) With others campaigned successfully for the abolishment of slavery. Felt slavery incompatible with his Christian conscience.
Elizabeth Fry (1780 – 1845) British Quaker who campaigned for better conditions in prisons, also set up charities for the homeless and poor. She was a leading social reformer of the Victorian period and helped women to become more accepted in social campaigns.
Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) While serving in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was shocked at the poor standards of hospitals and treatment of the wounded. She sought to improve the standards of nursing and look at ways to increase the cleanliness and quality of hospitals.
Bernadette Soubirous (1844 – 1879) French peasant girl from the town of Lourdes. Initially scorned for her visions of a divine lady. Bernadette impressed even mockers with her quiet humility, dignity and simplicity. Became a nun and had her visions officially approved by the Church authorities even in her lifetime.
St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873 – 1897) A saint of great humility and simplicity. The way of St Thérèse of Lisieux was to do small things with love. Largely anonymous during her life, her writings became best sellers after her death. She was made a doctor of the church
J.R.R.Tolkien (1892 – 1993) Best-selling author. A committed Catholic who wrote on themes of good and evil, humility and pride. Arrogance and selfishness. The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels with strong underlying teachings of morality and spirituality.
Maximilian Kolbe (1894 – 1941 ) A Polish Franciscan priest. In 1941, he was arrested for sheltering Jews and sent to Auschwitz. He volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to death and is known as the ‘Saint of Auschwitz.’
C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) Author who sought to promote Christian ideas within the context of his Narnia Chronicles. Lewis also wrote articles on why he became a Christian after a long period of internal debate.
Eric Liddell (1902 – 1945) Olympic 400m champion. Turned down the opportunity to run in the 100m because heats involved participating on Sunday, which he considered sacred.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945 ) was a Lutheran Pastor who was an influential critic of Hitler and Nazism. He was arrested in 1943 for conspiring against the Nazi regime and was executed in 1945. His theology and writings remain influential today.
Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997) – Devoted life to the care and service of the poor. A true devotee of Christ who inspired others to change their attitude to the poor.
Abbe Pierre (1912 – 2007) French Catholic priest who found the Emmaüs movement, which has the goal of helping poor and homeless people and refugees.
Billy Graham (1918 – ) An American evangelist preacher, Graham has spoken to millions around the world and called many to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour. He served as spiritual adviser to many US presidents and supported the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King.
Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) Had a great effect on many lives that he touched. People felt he was a sincere and compassionate person. Lived through two very difficult periods of Poland’s history – occupation by Nazi Germany and Communist era, before becoming Poland’s first pope.
Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) A pioneering leader of the US civil rights. Fought peaceful for an end to segregation and discrimination against coloured people in America. His powerful speeches used Christian imagery value to promote the ideal of a oneness-world – a world where everyone would be treated as equal.
Desmond Tutu (1931 – ) Charismatic and principled church leader. Played a key role in fighting apartheid during the 1970s and 1980s. Widely respected as a world figure of high principles.
Pope Francis (1936 – ) The first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas, he has sought to reform the Vatican and the Catholic church. Pope Francis has stressed a more humble approach to the position of the pope and has been keen to bring people together.
Cliff Richard (1940 – ) British rock and pop star over the past 50 years. Initially seen as a rebellious rock star, his Christian faith has been an important influence on his music, and humanitarian activities.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan “Famous Christians”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net – 10th March 2015. Last updated 5 March 2018.
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People of the Protestant Reformation A list of some of the most influential people in the Protestant Reformation, which saw a break from the Catholic Church to create new Protestant Christian religions. Includes John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, Jan Hus and Desiderius Erasmus.
Famous saints – Famous saints from the main religious traditions of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. Includes St Francis of Assisi, Mirabai and Guru Nanak.