Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, OMI

Tissa Balasuriya OMIFather Tissa Balasuriya is a member of a religious order, like the Benedictines, and the Fransciscans. Numerically, the largest religious order of priests in the country are the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), and this is the congregation to which Father Tissa Balasuriya belongs. Founded in 1816 in France as a missionary and educational order, the Oblates came to Sri Lanka in 1847. Father Tissa was excommunicated from his church in 1997 and fought to have the excommunication lifted the following year.

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William and Catherine Booth: The Salvation Army

William and Catherine BoothWILLIAM BOOTH was the most successful evangelist of the nineteenth century. In an age when travelling preachers counted their conversions – and used their weekly totals to advertise for new work – Booth certainly topped the performance league. And, although he never descended to such commercial practices himself, he took great pride in his unparalleled talent for saving souls. But his importance was the world he took as his parish. The poor were his natural congregation and, at least in his early days, the only people who listened to his sermons were the men and women to whom the Church would not reach out.

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Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen was a preacher at a time when canon law forbade women to preach, a named composer when most music was anonymous, a visionary, a theologian, a writer, an artist, a hagiographer, a prolific letter-writer and an early scientist, botanist, herbalist, physician and healer – she even invented her own coded language. This German Benedictine anchorite who lived in the twelfth century was in the fullest sense a polymath. Yet she was an enclosed nun, until mid-life her only contact with the outside world being through a single window.

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Dame Julian of Norwich



Julian was an Anchoress. It is fairly certain that she was not a nun. An anchoress was a person called to a solitary life, but one that was not cut-off from the world, but one anchored in it. Her life was one of prayer and contemplation, a life highly thought of by people of the time. Her 14th Century blockbuster The Revelations Of Divine Love made her the first woman to write a book in the English language (that we know of).

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St Seraphim of Sarov

Prokhor Isidorovitch Moshnin, who later took the name Seraphim, was born in central Russia into a trading family. In his youth his father died and at the age of 15, Seraphim went to the famous monastery of Caves at Kiev, later entering the Sarov monastery in the Oka region as a novice. He was ordained a monk in 1786 and a priest in 1793. The following year he built himself a little hermitage in the forest where he spent ten years in the most austere conditions, feeding wild animals by hand. He was left crippled after a savage attack by robbers.

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Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton OCSO was an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. On May 26, 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain has inspired millions to seek the interior life.

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Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 to 2005. He was elected pope by the second Papal conclave of 1978, which was called after Pope John Paul I, who had been elected in August to succeed Pope Paul VI, died after 33 days. He was proclaimed Saint on 27 April 2014 by Pope Francis, with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in attendance.

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Pope John XXIII

Saint Pope John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (25 November 1881 – 3 June 1963), was an Italian priest of the Roman Catholic Church and the 262nd Pope from 1958 to 1963. He was known as “Good Pope John” and opened the windows and doors of the Church for the Holy Spirit to breathe a fresh breath in the church. He ended the Church’s antipathy towards the Jews and brought new cardinals from other nations into the college of cardinals. Pope John XXIII called the 2nd Vatican Council and passed away mid-way through the conciliar progress.

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Martin Luther King

Martin Luther KingMartin Luther King Jr. was the most important voice of the American civil rights movement, which worked for equal rights for all. King was also a Baptist minister. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was just 39 years old.

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Mother Meera

Mother Meera, an incarnation of the Divine Mother, was born in South India on December 26, 1960. She lives in a small village in Germany and travels throughout the world offering Darshan, a silent blessing of light and love, free of charge. She welcomes people of all beliefs, from all walks of life. Silent yet profound, Mother’s message is gentle and powerful: “If you need my help, I will help you.”

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Mirabai

Mirabai, devotee of Lord KrishnaMirabai was a Hindu mystic poet of the Bhakti movement. She referred to the Lord, whom she saw as her husband, with different names like Satguru, Prabhu Ji, Giridhar Nagar, Krishna. She even called him the husband of her soul. Despite facing criticism and hostility from her own family, she lived an exemplary saintly life and composed many devotional bhajans. Mirabai is representative of the Bhakta tradition of sacred poetry.

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Bammera Potana

Bammera Pothana is a well-known Telugu poet and devotee of Lord Rama. He was related to the poet Srinatha, who was a great devotee of Shiva. Bhakta (as he is often called) Potana translated the Bhagavatham from Sanskrit to Telugu. The works of Pothana, Srinatha and other great telugu poets enabled telugu-speaking peoples to learn and know the classics of sacred lore: the Bhagavatham, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

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Tukaram

Tukaram (1608–50) was a prominent Varkari saint and spiritual poet of the Bhakti movement in India. Tukaram was a farmer and grocer who lost interest in the material world after losing his first wife and child in a famine. He neglected his worldly duties to his second wife Jijai (Awali) and their two children. He was initiated by his Guru Babaji Caitanya in a dream.

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Surdas

Surdas (Sant Kavi Surdas) was a 15th century blind saint, poet and musician, known for his devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Surdas is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the ‘Sur Sagar’ (Ocean of Melody), out of which only about 8,000 are extant. He is considered a saint and so also known as Sant Surdas, a name which literally means the “slave of melody“.

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