The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Belgium

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This page contains a list of the greatest Belgian Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 3,187 Religious Figures, 21 of which were born in Belgium. This makes Belgium the birth place of the 23rd most number of Religious Figures behind Austria, and Ireland.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Belgian Religious Figures of all time. This list of famous Belgian Religious Figures is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Belgian Religious Figures.

Photo of Father Damien

1. Father Damien (1840 - 1889)

With an HPI of 65.19, Father Damien is the most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages on wikipedia.

Father Damien or Saint Damien of Molokai or Saint Damien De Veuster (Dutch: Pater Damiaan or Heilige Damiaan van Molokai; 3 January 1840 – 15 April 1889), born Jozef De Veuster, was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious institute. He was recognized for his ministry, which he led from 1873 until his death in 1889, in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi to people with leprosy (Hansen's disease), who lived in government-mandated medical quarantine in a settlement on the Kalaupapa Peninsula of Molokaʻi. During this time, he taught the Catholic faith to the people of Hawaii. Father Damien also cared for the patients and established leaders within the community to build houses, schools, roads, hospitals, and churches. He dressed residents' ulcers, built a reservoir, made coffins, dug graves, shared pipes, and ate poi with them, providing both medical and emotional support. After 11 years caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, Father Damien contracted leprosy. He continued with his work despite the infection but finally succumbed to the disease on 15 April 1889. Father Damien also had tuberculosis, which worsened his condition, but some believe the reason he volunteered in the first place was due to tuberculosis. Father Damien has been described as a "martyr of charity". Damien De Veuster is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. In the Anglican Communion and other Christian denominations, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for leprosy and outcasts. Father Damien Day, 15 April, the day of his death, is also a minor statewide holiday in Hawaii. Father Damien is the patron saint of the Diocese of Honolulu and of Hawaii. Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October 2009. Libert H. Boeynaems, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia, calls him "the Apostle of the Lepers." Damien De Veuster's feast day is 10 May.

Photo of Gertrude of Nivelles

2. Gertrude of Nivelles (626 - 659)

With an HPI of 63.88, Gertrude of Nivelles is the 2nd most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Gertrude of Nivelles, OSB (also spelled Geretrude, Geretrudis, Gertrud; c. 628 – 17 March 659) was a seventh-century abbess who, with her mother Itta, founded the Abbey of Nivelles, now in Belgium.

Photo of Bavo of Ghent

3. Bavo of Ghent (589 - 654)

With an HPI of 60.94, Bavo of Ghent is the 3rd most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Saint Bavo of Ghent (also known as Bavon, Allowin, Bavonius, Baaf; AD 622–659) is a Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint. He was the son of Pepin of Landen and the brother of saints Begga and Gertrude of Nivelles.

Photo of Gudula

4. Gudula (b. 646)

With an HPI of 60.33, Gudula is the 4th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Saint Gudula was born in the pagus of Brabant (in present-day Belgium). According to her 11th-century biography (Vita Gudilae), written by a monk of the abbey of Hautmont between 1048 and 1051, she was the daughter of a duke of Lotharingia called Witger and Amalberga of Maubeuge. She died between 680 and 714. Her name is connected to several places: Moorsel (where she lived) Brussels (where a chapter in her honour was founded in 1047) Eibingen (where the relic of her skull is conserved). In Brabant she is usually called Goedele or Goule; (Latin: Gudila, later Gudula, Dutch: Sinte Goedele, French: Sainte Gudule).

Photo of Begga

5. Begga (615 - 693)

With an HPI of 57.88, Begga is the 5th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Saint Begga (also Begue, Beghe, Begge) (b. 615 – d. 17 December 693) 7 was the daughter of Pepin of Landen, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, and his wife Itta of Metz. She is also the grandmother of Charles Martel, who is the grandfather of Charlemagne.

Photo of Lutgardis

6. Lutgardis (1182 - 1246)

With an HPI of 57.49, Lutgardis is the 6th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Lutgardis of Aywières (Dutch: Sint-Ludgardis; 1182 – 16 June 1246; also spelled Lutgarde) is a saint from the medieval Low Countries. She was born in Tongeren, known as Tongres in French (which is why she is also called Lutgardis of Tongres or Luitgard of Tonger(e)n), and entered monastic life at the age of twelve. During her life various miracles were attributed to her, and she is known to have experienced religious ecstasy. Her feast day is 16 June.

Photo of Clemens August of Bavaria

7. Clemens August of Bavaria (1700 - 1761)

With an HPI of 57.26, Clemens August of Bavaria is the 7th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Clemens August of Bavaria (German: Clemens August von Bayern) (17 August 1700 – 6 February 1761) was an 18th-century member of the Wittelsbach dynasty of Bavaria and Archbishop-Elector of Cologne.

Photo of Adalard of Corbie

8. Adalard of Corbie (751 - 827)

With an HPI of 57.13, Adalard of Corbie is the 8th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Adalard of Corbie (Latin: Adalhardus Corbeiensis; c. 751, Huise – 2 January 827) was the son of Bernard who was the son of Charles Martel and half-brother of Pepin; Charlemagne was his cousin. He is recognised as a saint within the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church.

Photo of Juliana of Liège

9. Juliana of Liège (1193 - 1258)

With an HPI of 56.93, Juliana of Liège is the 9th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Juliana of Liège (also called Juliana of Mount-Cornillon), (c. 1192 or 1193 – 5 April 1258) was a medieval Norbertine canoness regular and mystic in what is now Belgium. Traditional scholarly sources have long recognized her as the promoter of the Feast of Corpus Christi, first celebrated in Liège in 1246, and later adopted for the Catholic Church in 1264. More recent scholarship includes manuscript analysis of the initial version of the Office, as found in The Hague, National Library of the Netherlands (KB 70.E.4) and a close reading of her Latin vita, a critical edition of which was published in French by the Belgian scholar and current (2023) bishop of Liège, Jean-Pierre Delville. Newer scholarly work notes the many references to her musical and liturgical performances. Modern women scholars recognize Juliana as the "author" of the initial version of the Latin Office, Animarum cibus, which takes its title from the beginning of its first antiphon.

Photo of Rimbert

10. Rimbert (830 - 888)

With an HPI of 56.59, Rimbert is the 10th most famous Belgian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Saint Rimbert (or Rembert) (c. 830 - 11 June 888 in Bremen) was archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, in the northern part of the Kingdom of East Frankia from 865 until his death in 888. He most famously wrote the hagiography about the life Ansgar, the Vita Ansgari, one of the most popular hagiographies of middle ages.

People

Pantheon has 24 people classified as Belgian religious figures born between 589 and 1987. Of these 24, 1 (4.17%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Belgian religious figures include Jozef De Kesel. The most famous deceased Belgian religious figures include Father Damien, Gertrude of Nivelles, and Bavo of Ghent. As of April 2024, 2 new Belgian religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Juliana of Liège, and Jan Pieter Schotte.

Living Belgian Religious Figures

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Deceased Belgian Religious Figures

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Newly Added Belgian Religious Figures (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Religious Figures were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 11 most globally memorable Religious Figures since 1700.