Feastday: August 7
Saint Cajetan was one of the great reformers of the Church during the period of the Reformation, remaining loyal to the Church regardless of the corruptions and excesses that led many others to betray Her.
He was born in October 1480 into a noble family, and received a rigorous education guided by his mother, following the death of his father when he was just two. His studies of canon and civil law led him to work as a jurist in the court of Pope Julius II, which he abandoned upon the Pope's death, in order to study for the priesthood.
St. Cajetan was 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 Naples.
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.