Feastday: August 7
Gaetano dei Conti di Tiene (October 1,
1480 – August 7, 1547), was an Italian Catholic priest and religious reformer,
who helped found the Theatines. He is recognised as a saint in the Catholic
Church, and his feast day is August 7.
St. Cajetan was born in October 1480, the
son of Gaspar, lord of Thiene, and Mary Porta, persons of the first rank among
the nobility of the territory of Vicenza, in Lombardy.
His father died when he was two years of
age. Predisposed to piety by his mother, he studied law in Padua, receiving his
degree as doctor utriusque juris (i.e., in civil and canon law) at age 24. In
1506 he worked as a diplomat for Pope Julius II, with whom he helped reconcile
the Republic of Venice. But he was not ordained a priest until the year 1516.
Recalled to Vicenza by the death of his
mother, he founded in 1522 a hospital for incurables there. His interests were
as much or more devoted to spiritual healing than the physical kind, and he
joined a confraternity in Rome called "The Oratory of Divine Love". He intended
to form a group that would combine the spirit of monasticism with the exercises
of the active ministry.
The death of Pope Julius II in 1523 led
him to withdraw from the Papal Court, and returning once more to Vicenza, he
entered the confraternity of St. Jerome, which was instituted upon the plan of
that of the "Oratory of Divine Love" in Rome. However, there the confraternity
consisted of men from the lowest stations of life. This caused embarrassment to
his friends, who thought it beneath him. He persisted and sought out the sick
and the poor over the whole town, and worked in the hospitals of the incurables.
A new congregation was canonically erected
by Pope Clement VII in the year 1524. One of his four companions was Giovanni
Pietro Carafa, the Bishop of Chieti, elected first superior of the order, who
later became Pope as Paul IV. From the name of the city of Chieti (in Latin:
Theate), arose the name by which the order is known, the "Theatines". The order
grew at a fairly slow pace: there were only twelve Theatines during the sack of
Rome in 1527. They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was
wrecked when Emperor Charles V’s troops entered the city.
There Cajetan met Jerome Emiliani, whom he
assisted in the establishment of his Congregation of Clerks Regular. In 1533 he
founded a house in Naples which aided those who wished to check the advances of
Lutheranism. The year 1540 found him in Venice again and from there he extended
his work to Verona.
He founded a bank to help the poor and
offer an alternative to usurers (loan sharks). It later became the Bank of
He died in Naples on August 7, 1547. His
remains are in the church of San Paolo Maggiore in Naples; outside the church is
Piazza San Gaetano, with a statue.
He was beatified on October 8, 1629, by
Pope Urban VIII. On April 12, 1671, Cajetan was canonized together with Rose of
Lima, Luis Beltrán, Francis Borgia and Felipe Benicio. Saint Cajetan's feast day
is celebrated on August 7. He is known as the patron saint of the unemployed,
gamblers, document controllers, job seekers and good fortune.
Prayer to Saint Cajetan
Glorious Saint Cajetan, acclaimed by
all people to be the father of providence
because you provide miraculous aid to
all in need, I stand here before you today,
asking that you present to the Lord our God
the requests that I confidently deposit
in your hands today.
May these graces that I now request
help me to always seek the Kingdom
of God and his Righteousness,
knowing that God — who dresses with
beauty the flowers of the field and
abundantly feeds the birds of the
sky — will give me all other things.
Novena to Saint Cajetan
O glorious St. Cajetan, you studied to be a lawyer, but when you felt
that the Lord was calling you to his service, you abandoned everything
and became a priest. You excelled in virtues, shunning all material
rewards for your labor, helping the many unemployed people of your time.
You provided loans without interest and you attracted a lot of
benefactors who donated to your resources so that you could go on with
your activities. Look on us with mercy. We wish to find employment that
could help us and our families live with dignity. Listen to our
petitions, dear saint; you, who could easily give up the food on your
table for the needy, bring our petitions to Jesus.
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