Every August 7, the Catholic Church celebrates San Cayetano, patron saint of bread and work.
“In the oratory we pay God the homage of adoration, in the hospital we meet him personally”, used to say this noble man, also known as the “saint of Providence”.
Spirituality versus frivolity
Cayetano de Thiene was an Italian priest, founder of the Order of Regular Clerics, whose members call themselves Theatines. He was born in Vicenza (Italy) on October 1, 1480, and died in Naples on August 7, 1547. He studied at the University of Padua where he obtained, in 1504, a double doctorate in civil and canon law.
Finished his studies, Cajetan moved to Rome, where he was named Apostolic Prothonotary of Pope Julius II. Being at the service of the Pope, he came to participate in the Fifth Lateran Council. When the Pontiff died in 1513, Cajetan left court life and began to prepare for the priesthood. He was ordained a few years later, when he was 35.
At that time he founded the “Oratory of Divine Love” (1516), an institution very similar to other oratories -composed of clerics and laymen-, which emerged as a response to the frivolity into which many members of the Church had fallen.
In 1518, Cajetan returned to Vicenza, his native town. When his mother died, he devoted himself fully to the foundation and direction of hospitals to treat incurable patients -mostly syphilis- in Verona, Vicenza and Venice.
In 1524, he founded the Order of Theatine (or Clerics Regular) in Rome together with Bishop Juan Pedro Caraffa (1476-1559), who would later be elected Pope under the name of Paul IV. The Theatine Clerics Regular sought the renewal of the Church in general, but especially that of the clergy; they also proposed to renew the preaching of the doctrine, the care of the sick and the restoration of the frequent use of the sacraments.
Cayetano, after being tortured during the sacking of Rome in 1527, is transferred to Venice, from where he dedicated himself to the direction of his Order. In 1533, he was sent to Naples, where he would die years later. It was during this period that Cayetano – by dint of encouraging devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, assistance to the poor and sick, and the renewal of the regular clergy – would forever mark the Neapolitan people, awakening the affection and devotion that they profess to this day. .
reform without rupture
Saint Cajetan was a man of great apostolic ardor and restlessness. Already from the years in Venice he expressed: “I will not be satisfied until I see Christians approach the heavenly banquet with the simplicity of hungry and joyful children, and not full of fear and false shame.”
Being a contemporary of Luther and having become aware of the dangers of the “Reformation”, he did not miss an opportunity to encourage and flourish an authentic renewal of life and customs within the Church, without the need to break its unity. For this reason, he always supported very interesting and innovative initiatives.
Venice and Saint Jerome Emiliani
One of these initiatives was the one he carried out during the time he spent in Venice, when he supported Jerónimo Emiliani -at that time a member of the Oratorio del Amor Divino- to found another order of regular clerics: the Order of the Somascan Fathers. Emiliani worked in the so-called Hospital of the Incurables and was a Venetian nobleman who, after an adventurous youth, decided, in 1531, to dedicate himself to the poor and orphans as a layman. Saint Jerome Emiliani was canonized in 1767 and later declared the Universal Patron of orphans and abandoned youth.
Naples and Blessed Giovanni Marinoni
During the years in Naples, Saint Cajetan organized and founded more hospices for the elderly and hospitals. And not only that: together with Blessed Juan Marinoni he created the “Montes de Piedad”, a charity organization to help the poorest economically and combat the usurers of the time. That charity was to become what is now the Bank of Naples.
At the end of his days and being very ill, San Cayetano did not stop giving testimony of the intense piety that moved him. The doctors, considering his ailments, recommended that he put a mattress on his board bed, to which the Saint replied: “My Savior died on the cross; let me also die on a tree.”
San Cayetano in America: Argentina
Pope Francis professes a special affection for him, as does the Argentine people. In the Pope’s message to the faithful of San Cajetan in 2013, Francis proposed the saint as a model of what a “culture of encounter” should be, that is, a culture in which we meet Jesus personally to generate that “encounter” with others, “in which we recognize that there is someone more than me, who needs more than me… that is going out to meet those most in need”; just as San Cayetano did.
In Argentina, the most famous temple in honor of this Saint is located in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Liniers (Buenos Aires). It is a place of pilgrimage for the devotees of him. There the faithful, every year, ask the Saint not to lack “bread and work”, and they thank him for his intercession.