20 Famous Catholic Celebrities
Hollywood and religion have a long history dating back to the early days of cinema. Religious symbolism is a staple of Hollywood films. Even atheists and agnostic directors will still include a deep message about their beliefs. Celebrities have diverse religious beliefs, from Jewish and Hindu to Buddhist and Scientologist. Then there are the atheists, agnostics, and more, with a large number of Hollywood stars identifying as Catholic celebrities.
According to sacred tradition, Jesus Christ founded the Roman Catholic Church in the first century. It’s now one of the largest religious institutions worldwide, with over 1.3 billion baptized Catholics. Many of these Catholics are world-famous celebrities. They range from openly religious to playing it close to the chest. Some stars are born Catholic but don’t practice faithfully until adulthood while many stars were brought up following the religion, mainly because their parents made them.
Whatever the reason, there are many famous people who are Catholic as you will discover below.
1. Martin Scorsese
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese is the mastermind behind the classic films Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and The Departed. Scorsese grew up in a devout Roman Catholic household and has incorporated Catholic themes like guilt and redemption into many of his films.
In his personal life, Scorsese began referring to himself as a lapsed Catholic due to his three divorces. He later reaffirmed his devotion to the Catholic religion and its tenets.
2. Katie Holmes
Religion has been a constant theme throughout Katie Holmes’s life. Baptized as a Roman Catholic, Holmes grew up in a very religious family, regularly attending the Christ the King Church. Her faith changed in 2006 when Holmes entered into a high-profile relationship with Tom Cruise.
Holmes began studying Scientology due to Cruise’s famous association with the Church. When their relationship ended and Holmes divorced Cruise, she left Scientology and received custody of their daughter Suri. After the breakup, Holmes became a practicing Catholic again, attending St. Francis Xavier Church.
3. Steve Carell
After starring in The Office and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell’s career took off. The funnyman built on this momentum with his starring role in Evan Almighty. A devout Roman Catholic, Carell frequently prayed during filming. Carell’s parents raised him Roman Catholic and he has maintained his belief and faith during adulthood and throughout his career.
4. Mel Gibson
World-famous actor Mel Gibson is known for his strong religious convictions. His views and religion influence his work more than any other Hollywood star. In 2004, Gibson directed the critically acclaimed and controversial Passion of the Christ, depicting the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ (Jim Caviezel). It was a deeply religious movie for some viewers, while others felt it had anti-Semitic tones.
Gibson is not shy about discussing his feelings regarding his Roman Catholic faith. As a child, his parents raised him as a sedevacantist traditionalist Catholic. As an adult, he attends and funds a private church, the Church of the Holy Family. On occasion, Gibson’s religious and political views have created a great deal of controversy. Regardless, he believes that non-Catholics and non-Christians can still get into Heaven.
5. Nicole Kidman
Australian-American actress Nicole Kidman’s religious faith has come up a few times during her career. Kidman’s family raised her as a Catholic, which she continues to practice. Kidman briefly dabbled in the Church of Scientology during her marriage with Tom Cruise.
After divorcing Cruise, Kidman has refused to talk about Scientology but is open about her Catholic faith. She ended up in hot water when Catholic leaders called the film The Golden Compass “anti-Catholic.” Kidman defended the film and noted she wouldn’t take on a role she deemed “anti-Catholic.”
6. Jimmy Fallon
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has mentioned his religious upbringing in passing a few times on his show. He grew up in a strict Roman Catholic home, rarely leaving his house because of his parent’s overprotectiveness. Before a comedy career, Fallon’s religious beliefs pulled him in a different direction.
Fallon attended the Roman Catholic school St. Mary of the Snow. His experience as an altar boy had such a profound impact that he considered becoming a priest. It’s safe to say he’d be one funny priest. Thankfully Fallon followed his passion for comedy, establishing himself as a comedy great.
7. Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren was a major star and sex symbol during the era known as Classic Hollywood Cinema. Loren was born in Rome, Italy, and brought up in a strict Roman Catholic household. Throughout her career, she has been a devout Roman Catholic.
Like many celebs on this list, her faith plays a prominent role in her life. Loren openly discussed her faith and admiration of Pope John Paul II. She even visited his tomb to pray. Loren is one of the last remaining stars of the classic era.
8. Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg openly discusses his deep faith and devotion to Roman Catholicism. Earlier in his life, Wahlberg had numerous run-ins with the law and seriously injured and hurt people. He also dabbled in illegal substances from a young age. He credits his devotion and religious convictions for turning his life around.
Wahlberg even calls his faith the most vital aspect of his life. He continues to practice his religion by attending mass regularly and praying daily. In 2015, Wahlberg even apologized to Pope Francis for jokes he made in the film Ted.
9. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones rose to the top of Hollywood in the 90s. Throughout her childhood and career, Jones kept her faith and belief as a Roman Catholic.
Her Roman Catholic upbringing introduced her to acting as she joined an acting troupe associated with the church. She continues to practice her religion faithfully. She even developed a reputation for wearing elaborate outfits featuring crucifixes to showcase her beliefs.
10. Bruce Springsteen
The legend that is Bruce Springsteen is one of the greatest musicians in rock history. Like many artists, Springsteen’s religious upbringing and Roman Catholic faith influence his music. He grew up in a religious family, attending St. Rose of Lima Catholic school in Freehold, New Jersey. He rebelled against the nuns and the school due to their strict rules.
Despite rejecting the religion, his music often uses Catholic symbols and Irish-Catholic hymns. While he doesn’t practice the faith, he still feels connected to Catholicism. In past interviews, he referenced Jesus Christ and referred to himself as a lapsed Catholic.
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11. Lady Gaga
Musician Lady Gaga is known for her outgoing personality and unique fashion sense. Gaga wasn’t always the fierce superstar she is now. Her parents raised her Catholic and later sent her to an all-girls private Roman Catholic school, the Convent of the Sacred Heart. She felt like an outsider due to her unique personality, but that didn’t stop her from going on to become a pop icon and influential celebrity.
12. Denise Richards
Denise Richards grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family who attended church regularly. She kept the same beliefs into adulthood, even when she married Charlie Sheen. Sheen had a reputation for loving alcohol, women, and drugs. In other words, he wasn’t a devout Catholic.
The couple had an infamously toxic relationship. Richards’s Catholic views often clashed with Sheen’s non-religious beliefs. Eventually, Richards divorced Sheen and continues to practice her faith.
In the 80s, singer Madonna was known for her chart-topping singles and highly sexual music videos. Her film clips often incorporated Roman Catholic imagery, offending Church leaders. Surprisingly, Madonna grew up in a Roman Catholic family, having her confirmation in 1966. She later attended the Catholic schools, St. Fredericks and St. Andrew.
Her religious upbringing left a lasting impression on her that she used it in many of her videos. Madonna continues to practice her faith and identifies as Roman Catholic, although she did dabble in other religions during the 90s, becoming a Kabbalah devotee for several years.
14. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for delivering stellar performances and being a ladies’ man. Growing up in Los Angeles, DiCaprio’s parents separated when he was young but lived near each other so they could raise their son together.
His parents brought him up in a Roman Catholic household. DiCaprio continues to hold some Roman Catholic beliefs although rumors suggest he also takes inspiration from Judaism and Buddhism.
15. Anne Hathaway
Like many people, Anne Hathaway has a complicated relationship with religion. She wanted to be an actor from a young age, but her parents tried to dissuade her. They raised Hathaway and her siblings as Roman Catholics and didn’t want her to get involved in the entertainment industry.
Hathaway’s religious beliefs had such a profound impact she considered becoming a nun at one point. In her teens, Hathaway and her family left the church after her brother came out, converting to the Episcopal Church. After leaving that church, Hathaway notes her religion is a “work in progress,” although she still holds Catholic beliefs.
16. Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey was born and raised in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, in 1962. His career began while performing in stand-up comedy clubs in Toronto, notably Yuk Yuks. He initially started his career as a way to provide for his family, who were struggling.
Carrey had a close relationship with his family. His parents raised him in a Roman Catholic household and Carrey remains a faithful Catholic, but it goes beyond that for the iconic actor. As he once told CBS News, “I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Christian. I’m whatever you want me to be.”
17. Jason Biggs
Actor Jason Biggs often lands roles portraying Jewish characters, which is part of the reason everyone in Hollywood assumes he’s Jewish. The American Pie actor actually grew up in a religious Roman Catholic home. Although he isn’t as religious as other Hollywood celebrities, his faith still plays a vital role in his life.
18. George Clooney
In the 90s, George Clooney went from TV star to Hollywood icon. He grew up in a strict Roman Catholic family who regularly attended church. His entire family is deeply religious. In his older age, Clooney’s views have changed since his upbringing, with the Ocean’s Eleven star questioning the existence of God and Heaven, making him closer to atheists.
19. Chris Evans
Chris Evans became a household name as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On a few occasions, Evans has discussed his religious views. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family who regularly practiced the religion.
As Evans grew older, his religious beliefs evolved. He still practices Roman Catholicism, although he’s not as strict as his parents. Evans also believes in science, evolution, and the idea that God is all around us.
20. Katy Perry
Pop sensation Katy Perry debuted in the late 2000s, becoming a Grammy Award-winning artist and sex symbol. During her childhood, Perry was on a different trajectory in life. After a wild youth, Perry’s parents became deeply religious. They raised Perry and her siblings in a strict Christian household. The family moved around for several years as her parents built churches across America. They eventually settled in Santa Barbara where they operated their own church for several years.
Since her parents forbid pop music, Perry grew up listening to only Christian tunes. Perry began singing in the church choir before starting her music career. While she isn’t profoundly religious these days, Perry notes that she often prays and feels connected to God.
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