August 7th - St. Cajetan of Thienna, Priest (RM)
(Also known as Gaetano)
Born in Vicenza, Lombardy, Italy, in 1480; died in Naples, Italy, on August 7, 1547; beatified by Urban VIII in 1629; canonized by Clement X in 1671.
Saint Cajetan, founder of the blue-habited Theatines, was the son of Lord Gaspar ofThienna (Tiene) and his wife Mary di Porto. Both were known for their piety.
At his birth his mother, a fervent Dominican tertiary, dedicated Cajetan to the Blessed Virgin. Although his father died while fighting for the Venetians against King Ferdinand of Naples when Cajetan was only two, the example of his mother helped Cajetan to grow into a man of sweet temper, constant recollection,and unwavering compassion, especially toward the poor and afflicted.
After attaining a doctorate in both civil and canon law at Padua, Italy, he became a senator in Vicenza.
He built a parochial chapel at his own expense atRampazzo, where those living far from the parish church might be catechized and worship.
Thereafter he fled to Rome in 1506, where he had hoped to live in obscurity among the crowds; however, Pope Julius II compelled him to accept the office of protonotary in his court.
Although Julius II was one of the least inspiring examples of a pope, Cajetan saw through the lustful, simonious,indulgent, war-loving court to the essential holiness of the Church.
He knew that despite the vices and follies of Her servants, Holy Mother Church still held the keys to the salvation of the world.
He thanked God for the flowering of the arts in the Renaissance, knowing that the genius of the artist was but a reflection of the creativity of God.
Yet he knew that the Church was in need of reformation. Unlike his contemporaries Luther and Savonarola, however, Cajetan wanted to bring about the reform patiently and humbly.
He put his trust in the Holy Spirit and the love Christ has for His Bride.
During the thirteen years Cajetan labored in Rome for reform, he did what he could to bring comfort to others: he visited the sick in hospitals and sought out the incurable and the dying in their homes.
He had joined the Confraternityof Divine Love, a small, unofficial group devoted to works of charity.
They cared for the sick, the poor, foundlings, and prisoners. Gradually their influence spread further afield in Italy.
He resigned as protonotary upon Julius's death in 1513 and was ordained in 1516.
The following year, while praying at the Christmas crib in the church of Saint Mary Maggiore, he had a mystical experience.
"Encouraged by the Blessed Saint Jerome, whose bones lie in the crypt beneath the crib, I took from the hands of the timid Virgin who had just become a mother her tender Child, in whom the eternal Word had been made flesh."
In 1518, Cajetan returned to Vicenza and his dying mother. There he joined the Oratory of Saint Jerome. Upon Mary di Porto's death, he dedicated his considerable inheritance to relieving distress, first in Vicenza and then in Verona and Venice.
He founded a similar oratory at Venice and continued his work, particularly with the incurable.
In 1523, he returned to Rome, Paul Consiglieri, Boniface da Colle, and Bishop Giovanni Pietro Caraffa of Chieti (or Theate), who later became Pope Paul IV.These men helped Cajetan implement his vision of an order of priests whose lives would be as simple as those of the Apostles and who would serve as models forthe secular clergy.
The members of the Congregation of Clerks Regular (more generally known as the Theatines) were to dress in black and concentrate on the essentials of the priestly life: embracing poverty, spreading charity, and bringing life in the sacraments.
The institute was approved by Pope Clement VII with Bishop Caraffa as the order's first provost general.
In 1524, twelve priests installed themselves in a house on the Pinicio in Rome,where Cajetan occupied himself in the humblest tasks.
When Rome was sacked three years later by Charles V, the Theatines moved to Venice, where the famine and plague gave them ample opportunity to devote themselves to the service of others.
The Venetians called them "hermits" because of their extreme simplicityof life and Cajetan they named "the saint of Providence."
Cajetan was elected superior in 1530, and Caraffa re- elected in 1533. That same year the Theatines founded a house in Naples with Cajetan as its superior. Thereafter, the order rapidly spread throughout Italy, then Europe.
In Naples Cajetan fought widespread opposition to the reforms of the bishops and the prevalent heresies.
Later, with Blessed John Marinoni, he founded the montespietatis to help extend loans to the poor and combat usury.
Cajetan, one of the great Catholic reformers, died in Naples, worn out by his frequent travels and many obligations as superior, on a bed of ashes.
At his request, he was buried in a common grave in the church of Saint Paul.
Many of the reforms of the Council of Trent were anticipated and implemented by Cajetan long before that council convened (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia,Husenbeth).In art, Saint Cajetan is depicted as a Theatine monk with a winged heart.
He may sometimes be shown :
with a book, pen, lily, and flaming heart (not to beconfused with Saint Augustine, who never has a lily);
 seeing a vision of the Holy Family with a lily at his feet; or (3) holding the Christ-Child as an angel holds a lily nearby .
He is venerated in Chieti and Naples.
"However great the work that God may achieve by an individual, he must not indulge in self-satisfaction. He ought rather to be all the more humbled, seeing himself merely as a tool which God has made use of.-- St Vincent de Paul
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray,and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven,and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14
"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." Matthew18:19,20
Prayer of Solace
May Christ support us all the day long,
till the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over and our work is done.
Then in his mercy may he give us a safe lodging,
and holy rest and peace at the last.