A selection of people whose life was influenced by their spiritual faith in God and the Divine. In these examples, their spiritual and religious faith was a profound influence on their life.
Moses (1391 BC – 1271 BC) Moses was a key figure in the Old Testament, who led the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt across the Red Sea to the promised land. On Mount Sinai, he wrote down the Ten Commandments.
Buddha (5th Century BC). Siddhartha was an Indian Prince, but he had the faith to give up his family and kingdom to go and seek enlightenment as a wandering ascetic. After several years of rigorous self-discipline, Siddhartha the Buddha attained enlightenment and founded the Buddhist faith.
Socrates Greek philosopher. To die with a philosopher’s equanimity may be easy in theory, but, Socrates died for his faith in truth, liberty and faith in doing the right thing.
Jesus Christ (4 BC – 30 AD) The life of Christ was a demonstration of his faith in God. Incarnating in a world beset by materialism, hypocrisy and cruelty, his faith allowed a new message and new gospel to be shared with the world. At times, Christ was tempted with earthly power and prosperity, but he chose the path of truth and offered to the world his message of Salvation.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945) A German Lutheran Pastor who was a leading opponent of Hitler and the Nazis. He was eventually arrested and died in a concentration camp before the end of the war.
William Tyndale (1494–1536 ) One of the first persons to print the Bible in English. Executed for blasphemy after years of avoiding capture. Tyndale had great faith to publish the Bible so ordinary people could read the gospels in their native language.
Nelson Mandela Widely revered for his strength and wisdom in opposing apartheid, Mandela also helped to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy.
Abraham Lincoln – Lincoln is remembered as one of America’s greatest president’s but few people had as many setbacks as Lincoln. He always maintained faith which allowed him to succeed. He strived to keep America together and ushered in a new policy of freedom for former slaves.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1869) – US Campaigner against slavery. Her influential novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (1852) helped challenge attitudes on slavery within America. She was guided by her Christian faith, saying in a forward to the later edition. “I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation.”
Joan of Arc It was remarkable that a fourteen-year-old uneducated peasant girl rose to shape a nation and become a Kingmaker. Joan always maintained faith in her heavenly visions and prompting. Executed at the stake, she became a powerful symbol of simple faith.
Mother Teresa Mother Teresa’s life revolved around faith. It was a faith that God resided in all human beings from the lowest street beggar to someone dying in obscurity.
Swami Vivekananda Vivekananda was an Indian monk. Without any money, he sailed from India to America and came to play a leading role in the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, with his clarion call for religious unity. Vivekananda helped to give faith to a new generation of Indians.
Martin Luther King Martin Luther King maintained steadfast faith that by appealing to man’s higher nature, America would be transformed from a society bedevilled by racism. When many were tempted by violent resistance, King maintained faith in a non-violent approach.
Mahatma Gandhi Gandhi had faith in the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and religious tolerance. Strove to campaign for an independent India. Gandhi also sought to unite the different faiths of India.
Pope John Paul II A person of great faith. Prior to becoming the first Polish pope, he lived through two very difficult occupations – first the Nazi occupation and then Communist rule. Maintained great faith in the sanctity of human life.
Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941 ) was a Franciscan priest who encouraged devotion to Mary and was committed to praying for those hostile to the Church. In 1941, he was arrested for sheltering Jews and sent to Auschwitz. He volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to death.
William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) – Christian reformer who campaigned against slavery, helping to outlaw slavery in Great Britain. The Slavery Abolition Act 1833, was passed three days after his death.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “People of Faith”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net Published 11 Feb 2013. Updated 5th December 2017.
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Famous Christians – Famous Christians from Jesus Christ and the early Apostles to Catholic Popes and saints. Includes St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Sienna and St Teresa.
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