Famous Converts to Catholicism

I’m interested in putting together a list of famous converts to the Catholic Church because I think that may provide a qualitative measure of the movement toward Rome.

One of my pet theories is that although the Catholic Church loses a large number of members each year to non-Catholic sects (it is said that the second largest religious group in the US is ex-Catholic), these emmigrants are largely ignorant of or indifferent to their faith at the time of their departure.

Conversely, those who are entering the Catholic Church tend to be highly knowlegable about both the denomination they are leaving and the faith they are embracing. No one becomes a Catholic in ignorance; to the contrary, they have often undergone a lengthy period of soul-searching as they have wrestled with and become convinced about theological issues that they initially wanted to disprove.

Here is my initial list (in no particular order):

James Akin
Dave Armstrong
Tony Blair
Newt Gingrich
Scott Hahn
Thomas Howard
Robert Koons
Gerry Matatics
John Henry Newman
Tim Staples
Steven Ray
Mark Shea
Robert Sungenis

I look forward to your additions.


GK Chesterton
Bobby Jindal
Graham Greene
Thomas Merton
Dorothy Day
Jacques Maritain (philosopher)
Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Dietrich Von Hildebrand (philosopher)
Dave Brubeck

Richard Challoner (1691-1781)-- The famous reviser of the D/R Bible was converted by John Gother in his youth (c. 1704), and then recommended by him for training at the Douay School.

Ronald Knox (1888-1957) modern English translator of the Vulgate Bible. Converted in 1917 and wrote A Spiritual Aeneid documenting his conversion.

She is not famous, but there is this really cool blog, called ‘The Diary of a Former Atheist’ by JENNIFER FULWILER. She and her husband where former atheists but they entered the Catholic Church in 2007.

She says:

*Five years ago I had never once believed in God, not even as a child. I was a content atheist and thought it was simply obvious that God did not exist. I thought that religion and reason were incompatible, and eventually became vocally anti-Christian. Imagine my surprise to find myself today, just a few years later, a convert to Christianity who loves her faith (my husband and I both entered the Catholic Church in 2007). This is the chronicle of my journey.

VITALS: I’m 32, have been married for six years, and have four young children: a 5-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl, 2-year-old girl, and another girl born in March 2009.*


Oscar Wilde

Alec Guinness

Me, too!! :thumbsup: :wink:

This thread interests me.

What about converts of the distant past?

Several fairly well-known people have become Catholics recently – they are Laura Ingraham – Lawrence Kudlow – Robert Novak. Whenever I see Laura Ingraham on TV (sometimes she substitutes for Bill O’Reilly) I am impressed by the beautiful Cross she wears. I was also very impressed by Robert Novak who was Jewish and converted to Catholicism (I believe he passed away recently). We used to watch him on TV every afternoon about 4 PM (Pacific time).

Allen Hunt (Allen Hunt radio show)

Sean Herriot (Morning Air on Relevant Radio)

Luca Lionello is an Italian actor. He played the role of Judas Iscariot on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. He was an atheist until 2004, when he became a Catholic due to his experience filming The Passion of the Christ. He has also played at least two other Apostles. St. Barnabas in Imperium: St. Peter, starring Omar Sharif, and St. Thomas in Abel Ferrara’s Mary.

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.

St. Paul.

God bless

Roy Schoeman
Rosland Moss

I thought so…
From the Internet Movie Data Base:

On 9 June 1979, the Archbishop of Panama arrived at the hospital and baptized John Wayne into the Roman Catholic Church. Wayne was given a Catholic funeral service, but his grave went unmarked until 1999 when he finally received a headstone.


**St. Peter (Simon, son of Zebedee, the first Pope!)
St. Andrew (Peter’s brother)
St. James
St. John
St. Phillip
St. Bartholomew
St. Mattew
St. James the lesser
St. Thomas
St. Thaddeus
St. Simon
St. Matthais (replaced Judas Iscariot)

St. Paul

St.Stephen (the first martyr Acts 7)

St. Augustine

Just to name a few!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

Dave Brubeck? The musician?

Hi Randy-

I agree with the fundamental premise, BTW - that which the Church has gained through conversions qualitatively exceeds that which the Church has lost. I’ve tried to make this point a number of times on the forums as well. I have focused largely on the clear discrepancy between converts TO Catholicism from Protestantism and converts FROM Catholicism to Protestantism. It is indisputable that many sincere, faithful and educated Protestants have converted to Catholicism and have become the staunchest of advocates for the Church. Is there anything even remotely similar happening in Protestantism where sincere, faithful and knowledgeable Catholics are converting to Protestantism? I say no. And the silence from our Protestant brothers and sisters when challenged by this reality is telling.

BTW, I would add David Currie to the list - I loved his “Born Fundamentalist, Born-again Catholic”. It has a uniquely gentle approach to apologetics because it was written to his children to explain why he left the faith of his father, grandfather, etc…

Author Anne Rice recently converted.


That is a great point!!!

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