Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan (1480-1547) Confessor

Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan (1480-1547) Confessor, Priest, Known as the “Father of Providence” and the “Huntsman of Souls” – Founder of the Theatine Order.

Saint Cajetan of Thienna, Confessor
From the Liturgical Year, 1901

Cajetan was born at Vicenza of the noble house of Thienna and was at once dedicated, by his mother, to the Virgin Mother of God.

His innocence appeared so wonderful from his very childhood that everyone called him “the Saint.” He took the degree of Doctor in Canon and Civil law at Padua and then went to Rome where Julius II. made him a Prelate. When he received the Priesthood, such a fire of Divine love was enkindled in his soul that he left the Court to devote himself entirely to God. He founded hospitals with his, own money and himself served the sick, even those attacked with pestilential maladies. He displayed such unflagging zeal, for the salvation of his neighbour that he earned the name of the “Huntesman of Souls.”

His great desire was to restore Ecclesiastical discipline, then much relaxed, to the form of the Apostolic life and to this end, he founded the Order of Regular Clerks. They lay aside all care of earthly things, possess no revenues, do not beg, even the necessaries of life from the faithful but live only on alms, spontaneously offered. Clement VII. having approved this institution, Cajetan made his solemn vows at the High Altar of the Vatican Basilica, together with John Peter Caraffa, Bishop of Chieti, who was afterwards Pope Paul IV and two other men of distinguished piety.

During the sack of Rome, Cajetan was most cruelly treated by the soldiers, to make him deliver up his money which the hands of the poor, had long ago carried into the heavenly treasures. He endured with the utmost patience stripes, torture and imprisonment. He persevered unfalteringly in the kind of life he had embraced, relying entirely upon Divine Providence and God never failed him, as was sometimes proved by miracles.

He was a great promoter of constant and deeply pious attention at the Divine worship, of the beauty of the House of God, of exactness in holy ceremonies and of the frequence of the most Holy Eucharist. More than once he detected and foiled, the wicked subterfuges of heresy. He would prolong his prayers for eight hours, without ceasing, to shed tears being often rapt in ecstasy and was renowned for the gift of prophecy. At Rome, one Christmas night, while he was praying at our Lord’s crib, the Mother of God was pleased to lay the Infant Jesus in his arms.

He would spend whole nights in chastising his body with disciplines, and could never be induced to relax anyof the austerity of his life, for he would say, he wished to die in sackcloth and ashes.

At length he fell into an illness caused by the intense sorrow he felt, at seeing the people offend God by heresy and sedition and, at Naples, after being refreshed by a heavenly vision, he passed to Heaven. His body is honoured with great devotion in the Church of St. Paul in that Town. As many miracles worked by him both while living and in death. made his name illustrious, Pope Clement X. enrolled him amongst the Saints.

About St Cajetan:


Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan – Confessor, Founder of the Theatine Order – the “Father of Providence”

Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan – Founder of the Theatine Order – Priest, Confessor, Reformer, Doctor of Civil and Canon Law, Diplomat, Mystic, Miracle Worker, Apostle of the sick and the poor.   Known as the “Father of Providence” and the “Huntsman of Souls” – (Born in October 1480 at Vicenza, Italy as Gaetano dei Conti di Tiene -and died in1547 at Naples, Italy of natural causes) – Beatified on 8 October 1629 by Pope Urban VIII and Canonised on 12 April 1671 by Pope Clement X. Patronages –  bankers, gamblers;,unemployed, workers, document controllers, job seekers, Albania, Naples and Italy, Ħamrun (Malta), Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala.

St Cajetan Thiene-FounderSaint-updtl
Cajetan und Luther photo by Francesco de_ Rossi
Cajetan and Luther| by Francesco de’ Rossi

St Cajetan was born of a noble family in Vicenza, Italy. He was the youngest of three sons born to Don Gaspar di Thiene and Dona Maria di Porto.

He studied civil and Canon Law at the University of Padua and moved to Rome where he worked in the Court of Julian II.   He assisted at the fifth Council of the Lateran.   He was ordained a priest and became part of the “company of Divine Love.”   In 1518 he returned to Vicenza.   After the death of his mother, he dedicated himself to the founding and directing of hospitals to treat the syphiletics in Vicenza, Verona and Venice.  With his own hands he cared for the sick.   Such zeal did he show for the salvation of his fellowmen that he was surnamed the “huntsman for souls.”

St Cajetan, after the painting by Francesco Solimena, published in 1700 by Paolo Petrini.
st cajetan 6
st cajetan 3

In 1524, with Juan Pedro Carrafa, Bishop of Chieti, he founded the Clerics Regular who later would be called the Theatines.   One of the four men who joined him in his new order, Juan Pedro mentioned above, went on to become the pope (Pope Paul IV).  The Theatines, as they were later to become, were to be a community of priests who were to lead an apostolic life.   They were to look with disdain all earthly belongings, to accept no salaries from the faithful;  only from that which was freely donated were they allowed to retain the means of livelihood.   St Cajetan was tortured during the plunder of Rome in 1527 (the torturers hoping to obtain his inheritance which had long before been spent on the poor and sick), Cajetan later returned to Venice where for three years he directed the Religious Institute he had founded.   In 1533, where he established a centre for opposing the spread of Lutheranism in Naples.   He eventually extended that mission to the city of Verona where he would die fourteen years later in 1547.   It was in this city that he planted the yeast of reform that made him worthy of the devotion with which the Neopolitans have always awarded him.   He founded a bank to help the poor and offer an alternative to usurers (loan sharks).   It later became the Bank of Naples.   His concern for the unemployed, giving them the necessary financial help in their time of need, made him their patron.    Later in his life, Saint Cajetan would introduce the Forty Hours’ Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as an antidote to the heresy of Calvin.   In 1629, Urban VIII authorised public worship to Cajetan and on April 12, 1671, Clement X inscribed him in the catalogue of Saints.

st cajetan 5
saint caj
st cajetan LARGE

St Cajetan often prayed eight hours daily.   On Christmas Eve at the Church of Saint Mary Major he was greeted with his first vision of Our Blessed mother.   When he entered the church he saw the Mary, radiant with light, who came to him and placed Her divine Infant in his arms.   These are the words he used to describe his vision: “….I boldly found myself, at the time of the Holy Nativity, in this crib; to give me courage I had with me Saint Jerome my father, who had the crib so close to his heart and whose remains were placed at the entrance of the same crib;  and with a little bit of encouragement from the old man (St. Joseph), from the hands of the Virgin Mary, I took into my arms that little Baby:  the Eternal Word Who became flesh.   My heart was really hard, you must believe me, because if it were not as hard as a diamond, it was sure to liquefy at that moment… patience…”  

St Cajetan is the “Heart” of the Catholic reformation, the founder of the Clerics Regular (Theatines) and the “Great Man and Great Saint” that Christians acclaim as “The Father of Providence” for he aids those who invoke him in their needs with great miracles. 

Founder Statue at St Peters Rome

Prayer of Saint Cajetan before a Crucifix

Look down, O Lord, from Your sanctuary, from Your dwelling in heaven on high and behold this sacred Victim which our great High Priest, Your Holy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, offers up to You for the sins of His brethren and be appeased despite the multitude of our sins.   Behold, the voice of the Blood of Jesus, our Brother, cries to You from the cross.   Listen, O Lord.   Be appeased, O Lord.   Hearken and do not delay for Your own sake, O my God;  for Your Name is invoked upon this city and upon Your people and deal with us according to Your mercy. Amen.

St Cajetan “Father of Providence” Pray for us!