The X-Men are a superhero team in the Marvel Comics Universe. They were created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The X-Men #1 (September 1963). The basic concept of the X-Men is that under a cloud of increasing anti-mutant sentiment, Professor Xavier created a haven at his Westchester mansion to train young mutants to use their powers for the benefit of humanity, and to prove mutants can be heroes. [Source]
The X-Men Universe has always had a deep undercurrent of social commentary. At its heart, the social issues between humans and mutants has served to directly comment on such issues as racism, ethnic diversity, political differences, anti-semitism, religion, and most recently LGBT.
Over the decades, several characters in the X-Men Universe have been depicted as either devout, nominal, or lapsed Catholics. The most famous Catholics in the Marvel Universe are Nightcrawler and Daredevil. However, in recent years, certain characters who had Catholic backgrounds or were even considered devout, have had their religious backgrounds disregarded or changed in favor of LGBT themes.
1. Nightcrawler (Catholic/Priest)
Nightcrawler, aka Kurt Wagner, is the most devout and openly Catholic heroes within the X-Men universe. In the fondess for juxtaposition the X-Men universe often displays, Nightcrawler is a soft spoken and prayerful man who happens to look like a demon. In the comics Nightcrawler even studied for the priesthood (and was a priest, before being called back to fight), and spoke often of prayer, God’s mercy, and that the salvation of Christ is available to all men. In the 2003 X-2 film, Nightcrawler retained his Catholic character, though he sported “Christian tattoos” – one for every sin. [Source]
In the cartoon television series, Nightcrawler is introduced as mutant who has sought refuge in monastery. Nightcrawler speaks of God’s love toward all people (humans and mutants), and gives Wolverine a Bible to read. At the end of the episode, Rouge wanders into a church to contemplate the existence of God, and stumbles upon Wolverine reading the Psalms while kneeling in front of an altar.
2. Aurora (Catholic) & Northstar (Lapsed Catholic)
Jeanne-Marie Beaubier and her brother Jean-Paul Beaubier were both raised Catholic and were original members of Canada’s Alpha Flight team – a government based Canadian version of the X-Men. Jeanne-Marie or Aurora was raised by nuns and at one point considered religious life. Her twin brother, Jean-Paul or Northstar was raised separately from his twin sister and earlier on appeared to be at least nominally Catholic. However, Northstar became the first homosexual hero in the Marvel Universe, and is now considered a LGBT icon. [Source] [Source]
3. Banshee (Irish Catholic)
Sean Cassidy – better known as Banshee – was raised in Ireland and carried his Catholicism with him quietly throughout his adventures. Upon his death, Banshee hopes that St. Peter will let him into Heaven. [Source]
4. Rockslide (Nominally Catholic)
Santo Vaccarro or Rockslide is the son of an Italian-American lapsed Catholic. Rockslide is a character in the New X-Men Series and is training to become bonafide X-Man. Rockslide does not portray any overt religious themes or concerns, but rather seems more interested in women and wrestling. [Source]
5. Santa Anna (Catholic)
Anna was the illegitimate daughter of a male Argentine priest and a young Irish missionary. She is born in County Kerry, Ireland. Her birth brought scandal until her mutant powers of healing and limited telekinesis manifest. This generates a group of worshipful followers, which is where her code name originates from. Anna also develops the power to change into a gaseous form.
Saint Anna was a member of the mutant team X-Force, and given that she was devoutly Christian (Catholic), she was one of the few members to join the team for purely altruistic reasons. [Source]
6. Gambit (Bayou-Culture Catholic)
As a mutant, Gambit possesses the ability to manipulate kinetic energy, as well as a hypnotic charm. He is also skilled in card-throwing, hand-to-hand combat, and the use of a Bō staff. Few X-Men trusted Gambit, who was originally a professional thief, when he first joined the group. Gambit is a Cajun who was raised in a Catholic household. “As an adult, Gambit is largely lapsed with regards to Catholicism. Even as a child, Gambit’s family was not particularly devout in a normative Catholic sense. They were more active in a peculiar Louisiana bayou religious-cultural amalgamation of Catholicism, Cajun folk ways, and magical/occult elements, with some Vodoun influences.” [Source] [Source]
7. Karma (Catholic/Lesbian)
Karma is a mutant endowed with the ability to seize control of another’s mind, though she has sometimes been depicted with other more extensive psionic abilities. The origin of the character relates to the Vietnam War, as she and her family were among the boat people fleeing the country shortly after the advent of Communism and in the wake of violence. Her Vietnamese origin contributes to two of her main traits—her Catholicism and her mastery of the French language, both of which stem from France’s strong historical influence in Vietnam. [Source]
Xi’an Coy Manh was introduced into X-Men Universe as a devout Catholic. However, in recent idealogical shifts in the X-Men Universe, her Catholicism has become almost non-existent and she apparently became a lesbian. She is one of the first lesbian comic book heroes, making her a significant LGBT landmark. [Source]
8. Havoc (Raised Catholic)
Alexander Summers or Havoc, is the younger brother of Scott Summers – better known as Cyclops. “Alex Summers was raised as a Catholic, but he was not born into Catholicism. Alex and his older brother Scott Summers (who would become the X-Man known as Cyclops) were with their parents in a small airplane being flown by their father, test pilot Christopher Summers, when the aircraft was attacked by a Shi’ar spaceship. Damaged by the attack, the plane began to crash, so Alex and Scott’s parents pushed them out of the airplane with a parachute.”
“Alex and Scott survived landing via parachute, but their parents apparently died when the airplane crashed. (Their parents were actually abducted by the Shi’ar, and although their mother was soon killed, their father survived and was later reunited with his sons after they were adults.) Scott and Alex Summers were put in an orphanage and Alex was soon adopted. Alex was raised by the Blandings, who were churchgoing Catholics. Havok became a Catholic, but as an adult he has apparently been lapsed in this faith and has not been portrayed as an active churchgoer.” [Source]