Catholic Converts

Newt Gingrich, who becomes a Catholic this weekend, isn’t the first celebrity to find the church later in life. From Jeb Bush to Nicole Kidman, The Daily Beast presents 12 famous converts.

Todd Williamson, WireImage / Getty Images

Todd Williamson, WireImage / Getty Images

Anne Rice

Queen of the Damned author Anne Rice gave up demonic subjects to return to her religious roots, publishing Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt in 2005.

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Nicole Kidman

When Nicole Kidman divorced Tom Cruise in 2001, she ditched Scientology and experienced a “spiritual homecoming,” returning to Catholicism.

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Tony Blair

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair converted to Catholicism after leaving office in 2007. The British press said his conversion was due to his sensitivity to the role of religion in public life.

AP Photo

Gary Cooper

In the mid-1950s, Gary Cooper was the toast of Hollywood. But in private life, he quietly converted to Catholicism. “His reasons for converting are his to know,” Cooper’s daughter later wrote of her father.

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Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush converted when he married his wife, a Catholic, in 1995, and became a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus in 2004.

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Frances Shand Kydd

Frances Shand Kydd, mother of Princess Diana, converted to Roman Catholicism late in life. In the years before her death in 2004 at 68, she devoted herself to Catholic charity work.

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Graham Greene

Graham Greene converted late in life, and developed a fascination with Padre Pio, a miracle-working Capuchin monk. “In Rome I was told by a Monsignor of the Vatican that Padre Pio was ‘a pious old fraud,’ a view which I did not share,” Greene once wrote.

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Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who grew up in a Hindu household, converted to Catholicism in college. "I did not have an overnight epiphany like so many people do,” Jindal has said, calling his conversion a "very intellectual-based journey.”

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T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot’s writings on the human condition led him to consider tradition and sacrament, and eventually caused him to convert from and eventually caused him to convert from Unitarianism to Anglo-Catholicism.

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Sam Brownback

Early Presidential contender Sen. Sam Brownback has been all over the map of Christianity. Raised as a Methodist, Brownback switched to evangelicalism before officially converting to Catholicism in 2002 through Opus Dei.

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Bob Novak

Political commentator Bob Novak was raised as a secular Jew, but became a devout Catholic in 1998. Novak has said the Catholic belief in the afterlife was “comforting” during his battle with brain cancer.