The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Turkey

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This page contains a list of the greatest Turkish Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 2,272 Religious Figures, 120 of which were born in Turkey. This makes Turkey the birth place of the 3rd most number of Religious Figures behind Italy and France.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Turkish Religious Figures of all time. This list of famous Turkish 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 Turkish Religious Figures.

Photo of Paul the Apostle

1. Paul the Apostle (5 - 66)

With an HPI of 92.16, Paul the Apostle is the most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 130 different languages on wikipedia.

Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Hebrew name Saul of Tarsus, was a Christian apostle (although not one of the Twelve Apostles) who spread the teachings of Jesus in the first-century world. Generally regarded as one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age, he founded several Christian communities in Asia Minor and Europe from the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD.According to the New Testament book Acts of the Apostles (often called the Book of Acts or simply Acts), Paul participated in the persecution of early disciples of Jesus, possibly Hellenised diaspora Jews converted to Christianity, in the area of Jerusalem, prior to his conversion. In the narrative of Acts, Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem" when the ascended Jesus appeared to him in a great bright light. He was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish messiah and the Son of God.[Acts 9:20–21] Approximately half of the Book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works. Fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. Seven of the Pauline epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is not asserted in the Epistle itself and was already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It was almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews, but that view is now almost universally rejected by scholars. The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive. Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.Today, Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship and pastoral life in the Latin and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions of the East. Paul's influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive", among that of many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith.

Photo of Saint George

2. Saint George (280 - 303)

With an HPI of 88.41, Saint George is the 2nd most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Saint George (Greek: Γεώργιος; died 23 April 303), also George of Lydda, was a Christian who is venerated as a saint in Christianity. According to tradition he was a soldier in the Roman army. His parents were Christians of Greek origin. His father, Gerontius, was a Cappadocian serving in the Roman army. His mother, Polychronia, was a Christian from the city of Lod in Palestine. Saint George was a soldier of Cappadocian Greek origins, member of the Praetorian Guard for Roman emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. He became one of the most venerated saints and megalomartyrs in Christianity, and he has been especially venerated as a military saint since the Crusades. In hagiography, as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and one of the most prominent military saints, he is immortalized in the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. His memorial, Saint George's Day, is traditionally celebrated on 23 April. England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Catalonia and Aragon in Spain, Moscow in Russia, and several other states, regions, cities, universities, professions and organizations claim George as their patron. The bones of Saint George are buried in his tomb (sarcophagus) in the Church of Saint George, Lod, Israel.

Photo of Saint Nicholas

3. Saint Nicholas (270 - 342)

With an HPI of 85.73, Saint Nicholas is the 3rd most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.

Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of Greek descent from the maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor (Greek: Μύρα; modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, unmarried people, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus ("Saint Nick") through Sinterklaas. Very little is known about the historical Saint Nicholas. The earliest accounts of his life were written centuries after his death and contain many legendary elaborations. He is said to have been born in the Greek seaport of Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents. In one of the earliest attested and most famous incidents from his life, he is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay a dowry for each of them. Other early stories tell of him calming a storm at sea, saving three innocent soldiers from wrongful execution, and chopping down a tree possessed by a demon. In his youth, he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine. Shortly after his return, he became Bishop of Myra. He was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, but was released after the accession of Constantine. An early list makes him an attendee at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he is never mentioned in any writings by people who were actually at the council. Late, unsubstantiated legends claim that he was temporarily defrocked and imprisoned during the Council for slapping the heretic Arius. Another famous late legend tells how he resurrected three children, who had been murdered and pickled in brine by a butcher planning to sell them as pork during a famine. Fewer than 200 years after Nicholas's death, the St. Nicholas Church was built in Myra under the orders of Theodosius II over the site of the church where he had served as bishop, and his remains were moved to a sarcophagus in that church. In 1087, while the Greek Christian inhabitants of the region were subjugated by the newly arrived Muslim Seljuk Turks, and soon after their church was declared to be in schism by the Catholic church, a group of merchants from the Italian city of Bari removed the major bones of Nicholas's skeleton from his sarcophagus in the church without authorization and brought them to their hometown, where they are now enshrined in the Basilica di San Nicola. The remaining bone fragments from the sarcophagus were later removed by Venetian sailors and taken to Venice during the First Crusade.

Photo of Luke the Evangelist

4. Luke the Evangelist (31 - 84)

With an HPI of 83.04, Luke the Evangelist is the 4th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.

Luke the Evangelist (Latin: Lucas; Ancient Greek: Λουκᾶς, Loukâs; Hebrew: לוקאס‎, Lūqās; Aramaic: /ܠܘܩܐ לוקא‎, Lūqā') is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although a lack of conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious. The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times, and the Pauline Epistle to the Colossians[Col 4:14] refers to him as a physician (from Greek for 'one who heals'); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul. Since the early years of the faith, Christians have regarded him as a saint. He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly having been hanged from an olive tree, though some believe otherwise.The Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day is 18 October.Luke the Evangelist is remembered in the Church of England with a Festival on 18 October.

Photo of John Chrysostom

5. John Chrysostom (349 - 407)

With an HPI of 82.93, John Chrysostom is the 5th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.

John Chrysostom (; Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος; c. 347 – 14 September 407), was an important Early Church Father who served as archbishop of Constantinople. He is known for his preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. The epithet Χρυσόστομος (Chrysostomos, anglicized as Chrysostom) means "golden-mouthed" in Greek and denotes his celebrated eloquence. Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church, although both Origen of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo exceeded Chrysostom. He is honoured as a saint in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, as well as in some others. The Eastern Orthodox, together with the Byzantine Catholics, hold him in special regard as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs (alongside Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus). The feast days of John Chrysostom in the Eastern Orthodox Church are 14 September, 13 November and 27 January. In the Roman Catholic Church he is recognized as a Doctor of the Church. Because the date of his death is occupied by the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September), the General Roman Calendar celebrates him since 1970 on the previous day, 13 September; from the 13th century to 1969 it did so on 27 January, the anniversary of the translation of his body to Constantinople. Of other Western churches, including Anglican provinces and Lutheran churches, some commemorate him on 13 September, others on 27 January. John Chrysostom is remembered in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 13 September. The Coptic Church also recognizes him as a saint (with feast days on 16 Thout and 17 Hathor).. He is also credited with the second and final destruction of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, by leading a mob. Cyril of Alexandria credited John Chrysostom with destroying the temple, referring to him as "the destroyer of the demons and overthrower of the temple of Diana". A later Archbishop of Constantinople, Proclus, noted the achievements of John, saying "In Ephesus, he despoiled the art of Midas". Although there is little evidence to support this claim.

Photo of Margaret the Virgin

6. Margaret the Virgin (292 - 307)

With an HPI of 82.85, Margaret the Virgin is the 6th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Margaret, known as Margaret of Antioch in the West, and as Saint Marina the Great Martyr (Greek: Ἁγία Μαρίνα) in the East, is celebrated as a saint on 20 July in the Western Rite Orthodoxy, Catholic Church and Anglicanism, on 17 July (Julian calendar) by the Eastern Orthodox Church and on Epip 23 and Hathor 23 in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.Said to have been martyred in 304, she was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades. She was reputed to have promised very powerful indulgences to those who wrote or read her life, or invoked her intercessions; these no doubt helped the spread of her cultus.Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and is one of the saints Joan of Arc claimed to have spoken with.

Photo of Saint Blaise

7. Saint Blaise (300 - 316)

With an HPI of 80.15, Saint Blaise is the 7th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Blaise of Sebaste (Armenian: Սուրբ Վլասի, Surb Vlasi; Greek: Άγιος Βλάσιος, Agios Vlasios; Latin: Blasius) was a physician and bishop of Sebastea in historical Armenia (modern Sivas, Turkey) who is venerated as a Christian saint and martyr. Blaise is venerated as a saint in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches and is the patron saint of wool combers and throat disease. In the Latin Church, his feast falls on 3 February; in the Eastern Churches, on 11 February. According to the Acta Sanctorum, he was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron combs, and beheaded.

Photo of Rachel

8. Rachel (-3500 - -1553)

With an HPI of 79.89, Rachel is the 8th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Rachel (Hebrew: רָחֵל‎, romanized: Rāḥêl, lit. 'ewe') was a Biblical figure, the favorite of Jacob's two wives, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, two of the twelve progenitors of the tribes of Israel. Rachel's father was Laban. Her older sister was Leah, Jacob's first wife; their mother was Adinah. Her aunt Rebecca was Jacob's mother.

Photo of Saint Pantaleon

9. Saint Pantaleon (275 - 303)

With an HPI of 79.14, Saint Pantaleon is the 9th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Saint Pantaleon (Greek: Παντελεήμων, Russian: Пантелеи́мон, romanized: Panteleímon; "all-compassionate"), counted in the West among the late-medieval Fourteen Holy Helpers and in the East as one of the Holy Unmercenary Healers, was a martyr of Nicomedia in Bithynia during the Diocletianic Persecution of 305 AD. Though there is evidence to suggest that a martyr named Pantaleon existed, some consider the stories of his life and death to be purely legendary.

Photo of Irenaeus

10. Irenaeus (130 - 202)

With an HPI of 78.87, Irenaeus is the 10th most famous Turkish Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Irenaeus (; Greek: Εἰρηναῖος Eirēnaios; c. 130 – c. 202 AD) was a Greek bishop noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combating heresy and defining orthodoxy. Originating from Smyrna, he had seen and heard the preaching of Polycarp, the last known living connection with the Apostles, who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.Chosen as bishop of Lugdunum, now Lyon, his best-known work is Against Heresies, often cited as Adversus Haereses, a refutation of gnosticism, in particular that of Valentinus. To counter the doctrines of the gnostic sects claiming secret wisdom, he offered three pillars of orthodoxy: the scriptures, the tradition handed down from the apostles, and the teaching of the apostles' successors. Intrinsic to his writing is that the surest source of Christian guidance is the church of Rome, and he is the earliest surviving witness to regard all four of the now-canonical gospels as essential.He is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, which celebrates his feast on 28 June, and in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which celebrates the feast on 23 August. Irenaeus is remembered in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 28 June.

Pantheon has 120 people classified as religious figures born between 3500 BC and 1965. Of these 120, 3 (2.50%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living religious figures include Fethullah Gülen, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and Ignatius Aphrem II. The most famous deceased religious figures include Paul the Apostle, Saint George, and Saint Nicholas. As of October 2020, 13 new religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Lydia of Thyatira, Mammes of Caesarea, and Nectarios of Aegina.

Living Religious Figures

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Deceased Religious Figures

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Newly Added Religious Figures (2020)

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Which Religious Figures were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 8 most globally memorable Religious Figures since 1700.