All religions have intercessors or other spiritual guides. They serve as intermediaries, building bridges between our world and that of the gods, between our world and the beyond.

This zone will introduce you to various types of intercessor. There are formal or official intercessors as well as charismatic or self-proclaimed intercessors.

Explore More On This Theme

Mother Teresa (1914–1997)

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, who took the name of Mother Teresa, was a nun of Albanian origin, born in Skopje, Macedonia. She founded the Order of Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India. Today, the Order is established on every continent. A woman with an iron will devoted to helping the destitute, Mother Teresa became a world icon, as famous and adulated as the Pope himself. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. When she died, the Indian government granted her a state funeral. Mother Teresa was beatified five years after her death.

© Michel Setboun/CORBIS 1980

Brother André (1845–1937)

Brother André, born Alfred Bessette into a poor Quebec family in 1845, dedicated his life to fostering faith in Saint Joseph and comforting ordinary people. His legacy is Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, one of the world’s major Catholic shrines.

A simple man with little education but great religious fervour, Brother André worked most of his life as the doorkeeper at a Catholic school. Although he was one of the humblest members of his congregation, he had a gift for healing that drew thousands to his door. In 1904, supporters of Brother André donated money and labour to build a small chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph’s Oratory, which sprung up around that chapel, is to this day an important destination for pilgrims. Brother André died in Montreal on January 6, 1937 and was canonized (declared a saint) on October 17, 2010.

© L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal

The Shaman Awa (Aua) (ca. 1872- ?)

Awa, an Inuit shaman (angakkuq), was from Igloolik, in Nunavut. He became known beyond his people partly through the accounts of the Danish ethnographer Knud Rasmussen, who visited the region and Awa’s camp in the early 1920s. In one of his journals dating from 1922, Rasmussen quotes Awa as saying, “We believe happy people should not worry about hidden things. Our spirits are offended if we think too much.” Awa was known to have the power to visit other settlements with his spirit.

© National Museum of Denmark

Billy Graham (1918– )

Originally from North Carolina, William Franklin “Billy” Graham is a Protestant Baptist pastor. He developed a personal, simple, persuasive and impassioned style of preaching that has proven to be highly successful. His stroke of genius was the discovery of the power of the modern mass media: radio in the 1940s and later television. Billy Graham owns several television stations and attracts over 30 million viewers on Sundays. His “crusades”, especially that of Madison Square Garden in New York City, in 1957, made him a household name nationally. Since then — thanks to his highly popular televised services, his tours and lectures — he has become the main representative of a genuine evangelical subculture that has a growing influence on political life in the United States.

© Alan Levenson/CORBIS 1983

Ayatollah Khomeini (1902–1989)

The Iranian Ruhollah Khomeini was a religious leader in the Shiite hierarchy, a well-known theologian and a political leader. His influence over the crowds stemmed as much from his official position as from his personal charisma. For his followers, his title, ayatollah, invoked the absolute authority of the imam. The chief opponent of the Shah’s reforms, exiled in Iraq and then in France, he triumphed in February 1979 during the revolution that often bears his name. The Islamic Republic of Iran that he founded, and of which he was the supreme spiritual and political leader until his death, is a theocracy with democratic elements. During his lifetime, he became the object of a real cult.

© Michel Setboun/CORBIS 1979

Theme of the Day


+ Learn More

Tell us about a religious holiday that is significant to you.

    • joe
    • August 22nd, 2012
    Christmas, because it brings family together, whether religious or not.
    • Sam
    • June 20th, 2012
    Even though I'm not sure God exists, I celebrate Easter and Christmas. These two holidays are an affirmation of how God really does love all of us. I have prayed many years but still have had no inspiration. I guess some people just have to wait. I hope I'll get a sign soon.
    • Anurb
    • April 15th, 2012
    The trees, the birds, the grass, the sun...nature in all her beauty. She is my God(dess).
    • GMD
    • April 10th, 2012
    April 21 Ridvan commemorating the day in 1863 when Baha'u'llah declared His Mission to the world. Since then His followers have encircled the earth with His love and unity.