One of the greatest catholic reformers of the 16th century. This saintborn with a silver spoon started on an ordinary life just like most ofus, till he burned with a passion neither his nobility nor excellenteducation could quench.
And so His Life Took a Different Turn…
The youngest of three brothers, Gaetano da Conti di Thiene, was borninto nobility of first ranking on October 1, 11480, in Vicenza, Italy.His father was count Gasper, Lord of Thiene, and his mother was MariaPorta, a devout woman.
By every standard of that era, Cajetan was a silver spoon boy. Sadly,his father died when Cajetan was only two years. His mother took it uponherself to see that Cajetan received an excellent spiritual and physicaleducation with all purity.
Cajetan got an early start, and he ran with it. At the age of 24 in1504, he graduated with a doctorate degree in Civil law and Canon lawfrom the University of Padua.
In 1506 was invited to Rome by Pope Julius 11 to work with him as adiplomat. He assisted at the 5th Lateran Council and reconciled theRepublic of Venice by the Pope’s side.
When Pope Julius 11 passed on in 1513. Cajetan resigned from hisposition to join the priesthood.
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restlessuntil it rests in you. St. Augustine of Hippo
Those words of Augustine of Hippo were very accurate for Cajetan. Hisheart burned of a higher devotion he has never known before. In 1513, hestudied to become a priest leaving behind what seemed like a promisingcareer.
September 30,1516, Cajetan was ordained a priest. Soon after he became apriest, his mother became sick, and he went back to his hometown inItaly in 1518.
After his mother’s death, he set up a hospital for the incurables in1522 at Vincenza. . He was dedicated to caring for the sick, the poor,and the sad of society.
Cajetan and a few like-minded priests came together to form a newcongregation in 1523. The congregation was known as the Order of theTheatine. The title was taken from one of the co-founders, GiovanniPietro Caraffa, bishop of Theate, who later became Pope Paul IV.
Mission to Rescue the Church
Upholding the vows of charity, chastity, and obedience, Cajetan and hiscompanions were scandalized by the life of the clergy (Church) in Rome.The church of God and its leadership were in terrible shape.
People were hungry for bread, spiritual nourishment, and the clergy,whose duty was to feed the laity with the words of God, were lost onimmorality and acquiring wealth.
The leadership of the country was no different as the church wascomplacent.
Many were hungry, and morality was at an all-time low in Rome. Thechurch needed to be rescued from itself, but who will bell the cat?
Cajetan returned to Rome, and together with the few morally consciouspriests and the Theatines, they embarked on reformation within thechurch. They took off their beautiful vests and put on poor robes, andidentified with the poor and worn out of the society.
Cajetan hungered to save souls going astray. They led by example. Hepracticed moral living, teaching religious studies, preached the truth,spoke reason to the nobles, challenged the status quo, and above all,they tendered to the sick and needy. Never neglecting any.
Cajetan and his group persisted in the face of open opposition from thelaity and clergy, who didn’t want the reformation. Their lives were theopposite of how many priests lived then.
His practical life and example won many, and holy life gradually creptback into the church even though the process was slow.
Joy in Suffering
In 1527, the Theatines were sacked by Spanish soldiers during the sackof Rome. They fled to Venice. Cajetan, in particular, was imprisoned andtortured by the soldiers before he was released to join his order.
In Venice, Cajetan continued with caring for the sick and needy. He alsobuilt a hospital for the incurables.
The Pope sent Cajetan to Naples in 1533. At Naples, he founded anotheroratory (congregation). He also established a nonprofit bank designed toprotect the poor from borrowing money at exorbitant rates. That Bankis today the Bank of Naples.
Worn out from labor, Cajetan became sick. when doctors advised him to betransferred to a bed rather than the board he sleeps in, he refused. Hesaid, “My savior died on the cross; let me die on the wood atleast.”
He died on August 7,1547.
5 Interesting Facts About Saint Cajetan
- A man of great courage, he showed the light when the church was in a
- Do you have any concerns about the church? St. Cajetan has shown
that fighting for the reformation of the church is better than
fighting against the church.
- Are you unemployed and worried? Call on st. Cajetan. He’s the Patron
saint of the unemployed, bankers, gamblers, workers, and job
seekers. He has been there before.
- A man of empathy. He emptied himself to care for the needy, and the
sick with all his nobility afforded him.
- What better way to be joyful in suffering? He offered all his
sufferings for the conversion of souls.
Prayer to Saint Cajetan
Glorious St. Cajetan, acclaimed by all people to be the Father ofProvidence because you provide miraculous aid to all who come to you inneed, I stand here before you today, asking that you present to the Lordthe requests that I confidently deposit in your hands.May these graces that I now request help me to always see the Kingdomof God and His righteousness, knowing that God who dresses with beautythe flowers of the field and abundantly feeds the birds of the sky willgive me all other things.Amen.