Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: August 7
Like most of us, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life, first
as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia.
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 incurables 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
sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them.
The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that
was “sick in head and 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 Paul IV.) Together they founded a
congregation known as the Theatines (from Teate [Chieti] where their
first superior-bishop had his see).
They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was
wrecked when Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527. The Theatines were
outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before
the Protestant Reformation.
He founded a monte de pieta (“mountain of piety”) in Naples, one of
many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on the
security of pawned objects. The purpose was to help the poor and protect
them against usurers. Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became
the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy.