The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Ukraine

Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest Ukrainian Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 3,187 Religious Figures, 20 of which were born in Ukraine. This makes Ukraine the birth place of the 24th most number of Religious Figures behind Ireland, and Belgium.

Top 10

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

Photo of Baal Shem Tov

1. Baal Shem Tov (1700 - 1760)

With an HPI of 67.75, Baal Shem Tov is the most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages on wikipedia.

Israel ben Eliezer or Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698 – 22 May 1760), known as the Baal Shem Tov (; Hebrew: בעל שם טוב) or as the BeShT, was a Jewish mystic and healer who is regarded as the founder of Hasidic Judaism. "Besht" is the acronym for Baal Shem Tov, which means "Master of the Good Name," a term for a holy man who wields the secret name of God. The little biographical information about the Baal Shem Tov comes from oral traditions handed down by his students (Jacob Joseph of Polonne and others) and from the legendary tales about his life and behavior collected in Shivḥei ha-Besht (In Praise of the Ba'al Shem Tov; Kapust and Berdychiv, 1814–15). A central tenet in the Baal Shem Tov's teaching is the direct connection with the divine, "dvekut", which is infused in every human activity and every waking hour. Prayer is of supreme importance, along with the mystical significance of Hebrew letters and words. His innovation lies in "encouraging worshippers to follow their distracting thoughts to their roots in the divine."

Photo of Nachman of Breslov

2. Nachman of Breslov (1772 - 1810)

With an HPI of 66.03, Nachman of Breslov is the 2nd most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Nachman of Breslov (Hebrew: רַבִּי נַחְמָן מִבְּרֶסְלֶב Rabbī Naḥmān mīBreslev), also known as Rabbi Nachman of Breslev, Rabbi Nachman miBreslev, Reb Nachman of Bratslav and Reb Nachman Breslover (Yiddish: רבי נחמן ברעסלאווער Rebe Nakhmen Breslover), and Nachman from Uman (April 4, 1772 – October 16, 1810), was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement. He was particularly known for his creative parables, which drew on Eastern European folktales to infuse his teaching by creating deeply kabbalistic and yet universally accessible remedies, advices and parabolic stories, through which anyone can project himself into and draw spiritual and practical guidance. He emphasized finding and expressing a person's uniqueness, while steering away from despair in a world he saw as becoming more and more standardized. Through Martin Buber's translation, his teaching is thought to have influenced some 20th century writers, including Franz Kafka. Nachman, a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, revived the Hasidic movement by combining the Kabbalah with in-depth Torah scholarship. He attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime, and his influence continues today through many Hasidic movements such as Breslov Hasidism. Nachman's religious philosophy revolved around closeness to God and speaking to God in normal conversation "as you would with a best friend". The concept of hitbodedut is central to his thinking.

Photo of Josaphat Kuntsevych

3. Josaphat Kuntsevych (1580 - 1623)

With an HPI of 65.78, Josaphat Kuntsevych is the 3rd most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Josaphat Kuntsevych, OSBM (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623) was a Basilian hieromonk and archeparch of the Ruthenian Uniate Church who on 12 November 1623 was beaten to death with an axe during an anti-Catholic riot by Eastern Orthodox Belarusians in Vitebsk, in the eastern peripheries of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. His death reflects the conflict between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches that intensified after four Ruthenian Orthodox Church (Kiev Metropolitanate) bishops transferred their allegiance from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople to the Holy See, under the terms laid down by the 1439 Council of Florence, by signing the 1596 Union of Brest. Archeparch Josaphat remains one of the best-known victims of anti-Catholic violence for his role in both personally accepting and very effectively spreading the Eastern Catholic Churches as a hieromonk and bishop,: 57  and was canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX as a saint and a martyr of the Catholic Church. In response to the nickname "The Soul-Snatcher", which Josaphat received from both his Orthodox and Calvinist opponents, his biographer, Fr. Demetrius Wysochansky, has written, "In summing up his pastoral activities which were directed towards the one goal of snatching souls, his contemporaries and witnesses to his life were able to say: 'Whatever Catholics there are in Polotsk, are the fruit of the pastoral labors of Josaphat.' To this statement one may add that whatever Catholics there have been in Lithuania and Byelorussia in the 350 years since Josaphat's death, may all attribute their Catholic Faith to the labors and blood of Josaphat, the 'Soul-Snatcher.'"

Photo of Menachem Mendel Schneerson

4. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902 - 1994)

With an HPI of 62.77, Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the 4th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson (Yiddish: מנחם מענדל שניאורסאהן; Modern Hebrew: מנחם מנדל שניאורסון; April 5, 1902 OS – June 12, 1994; AM 11 Nissan 5662 – 3 Tammuz 5754), known to adherents of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or simply the Rebbe, was an Orthodox rabbi and the most recent Rebbe of the Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty. He is considered one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century. As leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, he took an insular Hasidic group that almost came to an end with the Holocaust and transformed it into one of the most influential movements in religious Jewry, with an international network of over 5,000 educational and social centers. The institutions he established include kindergartens, schools, drug-rehabilitation centers, care-homes for the disabled, and synagogues. Schneerson's published teachings fill more than 400 volumes, and he is noted for his contributions to Jewish continuity and religious thought, as well as his wide-ranging contributions to traditional Torah scholarship. He is recognized as the pioneer of Jewish outreach. During his lifetime, many of his adherents believed that he was the Messiah. His own attitude to the subject, and whether he openly encouraged this, is hotly debated among academics. During Schneerson's lifetime, the messianic controversy and other issues elicited fierce criticism from many quarters in the Orthodox world, especially earning him the enmity of Rabbi Elazar Shach. In 1978, the U.S. Congress asked President Jimmy Carter to designate Schneerson's birthday as the national Education Day U.S. It has been since commemorated as Education and Sharing Day. In 1994, Schneerson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his "outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality, and acts of charity". Schneerson's resting place attracts both Jews and non-Jews for prayer.

Photo of Jacob Frank

5. Jacob Frank (1726 - 1791)

With an HPI of 61.37, Jacob Frank is the 5th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Jacob Joseph Frank (Hebrew: יעקב פרנק; Polish: Jakub Józef Frank; born Jakub Lejbowicz; 1726 – 10 December 1791) was a Polish-Jewish religious leader who claimed to be the reincarnation of the self-proclaimed messiah Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676) and also of the biblical patriarch Jacob. The Jewish authorities in Poland excommunicated Frank and his followers due to his heretical doctrines that included deification of himself as a part of a trinity and other controversial concepts such as neo-Carpocratian "purification through transgression". Frank arguably created a religious movement, now referred to as Frankism, which incorporated aspects of Christianity and Judaism. The development of Frankism was one of the consequences of the messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi. This religious mysticism followed socioeconomic changes among the Jews of Poland, Lithuania and Ruthenia.

Photo of Filaret

6. Filaret (b. 1929)

With an HPI of 58.17, Filaret is the 6th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Patriarch Filaret (secular name Mykhailo Antonovych Denysenko, born 23 January 1929) is a Ukrainian religious leader, currently serving as the primate and Patriarch of the unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, that he left in 2019, views him as the Honorary Patriarch emeritus, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople recognises him as former Metropolitan of Kyiv. He was formerly the Metropolitan of Kiev and the Exarch of Ukraine in the Patriarchate of Moscow (1966–1992). After joining the Kyiv Patriarchate, he was defrocked and in 1997 excommunicated by the ROC. On 11 October 2018, the Patriarchate of Constantinople reinstated him in church communion. However, while restored to the episcopate, the Ecumenical Patriarchate never recognised him as Patriarch and views him as the former Metropolitan of Kyiv. On 15 December 2018, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate united with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and some members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine; the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate thus ceased to exist.

Photo of Andrey Sheptytsky

7. Andrey Sheptytsky (1865 - 1944)

With an HPI of 56.85, Andrey Sheptytsky is the 7th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Andrey Sheptytsky, OSBM (Polish: Andrzej Szeptycki; Ukrainian: Митрополит Андрей Шептицький, romanized: Mytropolyt Andrei Sheptytskyi; 29 July 1865 – 1 November 1944) was the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Lviv and Metropolitan of Halych from 1901 until his death in 1944. His tenure in office spanned two world wars and seven political regimes: Austrian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Soviet, Nazi German, and again Soviet. According to the church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, "Arguably, Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky was the most influential figure ...in the entire history of the Ukrainian Church in the twentieth century". The Lviv National Museum, founded by Sheptytsky in 1905, now bears his name. The Information-Resource Center of the Ukrainian Catholic University that was opened in September 2017 also bears his name — The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center.

Photo of Paisius Velichkovsky

8. Paisius Velichkovsky (1722 - 1794)

With an HPI of 56.82, Paisius Velichkovsky is the 8th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Paisius Velichkovsky or Wieliczkowski (Paisie de la Neamţ in Romanian; Паисий Величковский in Russian; Паїсій Величковський in Ukrainian; 20 December 1722 – 15 November 1794) was an Eastern Orthodox monk and theologian who helped spread staretsdom or the concept of the spiritual elder to the Slavic world. He is a pivotal figure in Orthodox Church history.

Photo of Josyf Slipyj

9. Josyf Slipyj (1892 - 1984)

With an HPI of 55.79, Josyf Slipyj is the 9th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Josyf Slipyi (Ukrainian: Йосиф Сліпий, born as Ukrainian: Йосиф Коберницький-Дичковський, romanized: Yosyf Kobernyts'kyy-Dychkovs'kyy; 17 February 1892 – 7 September 1984) was a Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a cardinal of the Catholic Church.

Photo of Theodosius of Kiev

10. Theodosius of Kiev (1029 - 1074)

With an HPI of 55.52, Theodosius of Kiev is the 10th most famous Ukrainian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Theodosius of Kiev or Theodosius of the Caves (Russian: Феодосий Печерский, romanized: Feodosy Pechersky; Ukrainian: Феодосій Печерський, romanized: Feodosiy Pechers'kyy) is an 11th-century saint who brought Cenobitic Monasticism to Kievan Rus' and, together with Anthony of Kiev, founded the Kiev Caves Lavra (Monastery of the Caves). A hagiography of Theodosius was written in the twelfth century. Theodosius' greatest achievement has been the introducing of the monastic rule of Theodore the Studite in the Monastery of the Caves whence it spread to all the monasteries of the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Church. According to the Primary Chronicle: "...the monastery was completed during the abbacy of Barlaam...When Barlaam had departed the brethren...visited the aged Anthony [founder of the Monastery of the Caves, who was now living in deep seclusion] with the request that he should designate a new abbot for them. He inquired whom they desired. They replied that they required only the one designated by God and by his [Anthony's] own selection. Then he inquired of them: 'Who among you is more obedient, more modest, and more mild than Theodosius? Let him be your abbot.' The brethren rejoiced...and thus they appointed Theodosius to be their abbot. "When Theodosius took over in the monastery, he began to practice abstinence, fasting, and tearful prayer.... He also interested himself in searching out monastic rules. There was in Kiev at the time a monk from the Studion Monastery named Michael, who had come from Greece.... Theodosius inquired of him the practices of the Studite monks. He obtained their rule from him, copied it out, and established it in his own monastery to govern the chanting of monastic hymns, in making reverences, reading of the lessons, behavior in church, the whole ritual, conduct at the table, proper food for special days, and to regulate all else according to prescription. "After obtaining all this information, Theodosius thus transmitted it to his monastery, and from the latter all others adopted the same instruction. Whereas the Monastery of the Caves is honored among the oldest of them all." According to the Life of Theodosius by Nestor the Chronicler: "He was respected, not because of fine clothes or rich estates, but for his radiant life and purity of spirit, and for his teachings, fired with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. To him the goatskin and the hair-shirt were more precious than a king’s purple robe, and he was proud to wear them." Theodosius has been glorified (canonized) as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. His main feast day is 3 May, the date of his repose. His relics were discovered by Nestor the Chronicler on 14 August 1091, and were found to be incorrupt. The relics were transferred to the main catholicon (cathedral) of the monastery, and a second annual feast day was established in commemoration of this event.

People

Pantheon has 24 people classified as Ukrainian religious figures born between 983 and 1979. Of these 24, 4 (16.67%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Ukrainian religious figures include Filaret, Onufriy, and Sviatoslav Shevchuk. The most famous deceased Ukrainian religious figures include Baal Shem Tov, Nachman of Breslov, and Josaphat Kuntsevych. As of April 2024, 3 new Ukrainian religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Andrey Sheptytsky, Tekla Juniewicz, and Michael Levytsky.

Living Ukrainian Religious Figures

Go to all Rankings

Deceased Ukrainian Religious Figures

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added Ukrainian Religious Figures (2024)

Go to all Rankings

Overlapping Lives

Which Religious Figures were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 15 most globally memorable Religious Figures since 1700.