17 fictional priests who make us hot under the collar
Get your frocks off
Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned. We have the hots for some men of the cloth.
There’s something irresistible about a man who can rock a frock, and when you add in the forbidden-fruit factor, it leaves us weak at the knees. (Conveniently, many church pews have cushions that can help with that.) From The Thorn Birds’ Father Ralph to Sierra Simone’s erotic novels, there’s no shortage of fictional options when it comes to worshipping at this taboo altar. Here are 17 of our favorites.
The Priest (Andrew Scott) on Fleabag
Though he's credited simply as "The Priest," Andrew Scott’s character on Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is better known on the internet as the Hot Priest, having ignited a lust of biblical proportions. Scott makes the word “kneel” sound like a titillating order and a sexy supplication all at once. We’ll never look at confession the same way again.
Father Ralph de Bricassart (Richard Chamberlain) on The Thorn Birds
For a generation of women, Father Ralph was their original sin. Based on Colleen McCullough’s novel of the same name, The Thorn Birds is an epic story, spanning generations of the Cleary family on their sheep station in Australia. But at its heart is the forbidden love between Father Ralph de Bricassart and Meggie (Rachel Ward). They meet when Meggie is just a girl, and Father Ralph feels a tenderness for her. But as she blossoms into a young woman and develops feelings for him, the two can’t deny their attraction, even as his ambitions threaten to get the best of him. And it’s not just their tragic, forbidden love — even Drogheda matriarch Mary Carson is thirsty for Father Ralph. But, like, have you seen him in riding boots?
Father Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) in Angels and Demons
Ewan McGregor ascends to a higher level as the Vatican camerlengo, one of the Pope’s right-hand men, in this adaptation of Dan Brown's novel. He cuts a stunning figure in his cassock as a man consumed by religious devotion. He’s so obsessed with strict interpretations of religion and becoming Pope that he masterminds an assassination attempt against four cardinals — and then self-immolates when he’s exposed. Now that’s literally a hot priest.
Father Brah (Rene Gube) on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Father Brah is one of the few priests on this list who's both super-fine and a genuinely good shepherd to his flock. The high school best friend of Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), Father Brah calmly and wisely oversees his pal's personal and professional crises, whether it be Josh’s ill-thought-out decision to join the priesthood or Rebecca’s (Rachel Bloom) poor judgment. On top of that, season 4 revealed he was once Valencia’s (Gabrielle Ruiz) secret love, until fate tore them apart and set him on a different path. A priest with a forbidden love story who’s also an upstanding member of the church? Praise the Lord!
Friar F— (Costas Mandylor) on Sex and the City
Has there ever been a catchier name for a hot priest than "Friar F—"? God bless Samantha (Kim Cattrall) for gifting us with this moniker that has all the maturity of a 14-year-old boy and the horniness of, well, Samantha. Her friar inspires a lot of self-satisfaction on her part, but the friar himself is committed to his vows of chastity and poverty, shunning the joys of the flesh. Seeing Samantha fail in her attempts to fulfill her religious fantasies makes us, well, incensed!
Father Michael Logan (Montgomery Clift) in I Confess
It's a cardinal rule of Old Hollywood that there’s basically no Montgomery Clift movie in which he was not an absolute babe — and we’re very into him sporting vestments. Here, he plays a devout priest who is unable to clear himself as a murder suspect without breaking the seal of the confessional. To make matters more complicated, he was being blackmailed by the murder victim about his relationship with a married woman, Ruth (Anne Baxter), which happened before he was ordained. Murder, priests, forbidden canoodling on an island — your prayers have been answered.
Rev. Sidney Chambers (James Norton) on Grantchester
Okay, okay, this is a sexy vicar, not a priest, but we have to make an exception for James Norton. He plays an Anglican man of the church who moonlights as an amateur sleuth. Because the Anglican Church shares many traditions with Catholicism, we still get to see Sidney in a cleric’s collar, and boy, does Norton know how to wear it. Bonus points: We also get to see Sidney have meaningful romantic relationships, since he hasn’t sworn a vow of celibacy. This is one hot man of the cloth we can feel less guilty about.
Father John Flaherty (Christopher Reeve) in Monsignor
Perhaps only Lucifer has fallen as far from his angelic path as Father John Flaherty in Monsignor. Christopher Reeve stars as this morally bankrupt priest, who both partners with the Mafia to earn money for the church and seduces a young nun into breaking her vows. Is this a case of hate the sin, love the sinner? Because Father Flaherty is oh so bad, and we think that’s oh so good. He makes us so thirsty we can’t help reaching for that communion wine.
Rev. Desmond Spellacy (Robert De Niro) in True Confessions
As the muse of Martin Scorsese and a key part of The Godfather films, De Niro basically completes a cinematic holy trinity — and he got to employ those strong Catholic ties in this film as rising Monsignor Desmond Spellacy. His brother Tom (Robert Duvall) is a police detective investigating a murder case implicating the church and its supporters, which catches Des in its crosshairs. A conflicted priest trying to do right by his religion, his family, and his ambitions is never not hot.
Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) in The Night of the Iguana
Richard Burton played his fair share of religious men in his career. Famously, he was Thomas Becket in Becket (will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?). But the sexiest priest he ever played was in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana (let's be honest, Williams has a lock on mastery of sexual-fueled angst). He’s actually an Episcopalian priest, but he was stripped of his congregation for his relationship with a young Sunday school teacher, so there’s still that forbidden element present. Burton’s Shannon suffers a mental breakdown while stranded at a Mexican hotel where he's tempted by both Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. Burton was the king of making dissolute drunks look sexy, and he brings that energy to this disgraced priest in spades.
Father Francis Chisholm (Gregory Peck) in The Keys of the Kingdom
In only his second film (and at peak swoon levels), Gregory Peck plays Father Francis Chisholm, a Catholic priest sent as a missionary to China. The film recounts his trials and tribulations, from growing up as an orphan to the loss of his childhood sweetheart to his struggles to care for his flock in China. The story is one of devout faith and tenacity, with no undertones of romance — but Father Francis is a religious snack far tastier than a communion wafer.
Father Brian Finn (Edward Norton) in Keeping the Faith
Jenna Elfman’s Amy causes Edward Norton’s Father Brian to have a crisis of faith in this romantic comedy. When Amy comes back to New York City, she reunites with childhood friends Father Brian and Rabbi Jake (Ben Stiller), sparking a multi-faith love triangle of epic proportions. Father Brian wrestles with his faith, his vows of celibacy, and his erotic dreams about Amy. It’s like the sexiest version of an "a rabbi and a priest walk into a bar" joke.
John Miller (Christian Bale) in The Flowers of War
This is another cheat since Christian Bale’s character isn’t really a priest, he’s just pretending to be one to protect himself and a group of children taking refuge in a Western-run convent in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. We get to see Bale wearing that cleric’s collar without any of the attendant guilt — not to mention, he's a hero who saves the lives of women and children. Cas-sock it to me!
Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) on The Exorcist
The classic 1973 horror film got a modern spin — and a way hotter priest — with this 2016 television adaptation. Father Tomas Ortega partnered with fellow priests to battle the forces of evil over the course of two seasons — and you know what? He can exorcise our demons any time he wants.
Father Michael (Stephen Colbert) on The Mindy Project
Stephen Colbert got in touch with his Catholic roots when he guest-starred on The Mindy Project — shockingly, not as a love interest for Mindy, but as the new priest at Danny’s parish and one of Danny’s old friends from the neighborhood. Father Mike is a reformed bad boy who begins his sermon with the number of women he’s slept with (275, for the record). tThis has supposedly made him even more staunch in his commitment to the church’s more conservative views, but he’s still got that-bad boy energy we can’t resist. And a tattoo sleeve?!
Father Matt Gutierrez (Antonio Banderas) in The Body
Antonio Banderas portrays a man of the cloth sent to investigate an archaeological find on behalf of the Vatican: a skeleton found in Jerusalem is believed to be the bones of Christ, which the church is anxious for him to disprove. As evidence mounts and tragedy strikes, Father Gutierrez begins to question his faith in life-altering ways. Historically groundbreaking archaeological discoveries, a sexy priest, and a crisis of faith? We’re gonna be pontificating about this one for a long time.
Pope Pius XIII, a.k.a. Lenny Belardo (Jude Law), on The Young Pope
Jude Law is the Pope. What more do you need to know? Just the title alone, and the plot’s centering of the youngest Pope in centuries and the first American Pope, are enough to draw us in. Law plays a Pope dedicated to restoring conservative extremism to the Catholic Church, who goes on his own journey to revelation, side-stepping blackmail and familial drama along the way. But again, like, do you really need to know more than Jude Law rocking that gold miter? And then relaxing in the Vatican gardens in sunglasses looking cooler than should be humanly possible? No, you don't. That's why it's called faith.