Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Saint Cajetan

Saint Cajetan  (1480-1547)

Like a few other saints, like St Francis De Sales and St Alphonsus, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life — first as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia. Born in 1480, his life took a characteristic turn when he joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination at 36. When he was 42 he founded a hospital for those with incurable illnesses at Venice. At Vicenza, he joined a “disreputable” religious community that consisted only of men of the lowest stations of life — and was roundly censured by his friends, who thought his action was a reflection on his family. He simply sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them, but was criticized for this.
The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that was “sick in head and its members.” Cajetan and three friends decided that the best road to reformation lay in reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. One of them later became Pope Paul IV. Together they founded a congregation known as the Theatines, named after the town of Chieti, where their first superior-bishop had his see. They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was wrecked when Emperor Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527. The Theatines were outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before the Protestant Reformation. In Naples he founded one of many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money to help the poor and protect them against usurers. Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy. 

"St Cajetan" by Giovanni Lanfranco
When Cajetan was sent to establish a house of his congregation in Naples, a count tried to prevail upon him to accept an estate in lands. He refused. The count pointed out that he would need the money, for the people of Naples were not as generous as the people of Venice. “That may be true,” replied Cajetan, “but God is the same in both cities.”
He died on August 7, 1547 in the Kingdom of Naples. His remains are in the church of San Paolo Maggiore in Naples; outside the church is Piazza San Gaetano, with his statue. He was beatified in 1629, by Pope Urban VIII. On April 12, 1671, Cajetan was canonized together with St Rose of Lima and St Luis Beltrán. He is the patron saint of workers, gamblers, job seekers and unemployed people.

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