St. Cejetan, God’s Champion Against the Lutheran Heresy

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St. Cejetan, God’s Champion Against the Lutheran Heresy

After a brilliant course of study and taking the title of doctor at the university of Padua, St. Cajetan went to Rome: when he was twenty-five years of age. His intention was to lead a hidden life. But his virtues and talents were not slow to raise the veil under which he wished to lie concealed. Pope Julius II. desired to see him. Observing in him the marks of an eminent sanctity, he kept him at his court; and, in order to attach him thereto, appointed him protonotary–an important post. But the Lord had other views over His servant: these views were indicated by the very date of Cajetan’s birth. As we have said, it took place in 1480, three years before that of Luther. To the champion of error, the Lord had opposed a defender of truth.

That such was the mission of St. Cajetan, we find authentic testimony in the decree of his canonization. “His birth demonstrates the sovereign goodness of God, who prepares a remedy for evils, even before they appear. Thus, to check the unbridled fury of Luther, He sent to the Church a powerful auxiliary in the Order of Regular Clerks, founded by St. Cajetan at the very moment when the German monk was laying aside his habit and renouncing the practices of his state.” As a matter of fact, it was in the year 1524, the same in which Luther threw off his habit, that St. Cajetan founded his institute. Such a coincidence, and many others besides, made St. Cajetan be regarded, not only by Pope Innocent XII., but by the various princes of Europe and by all the historians of his life, as a providential antagonist to the apostate of Wittemberg. St. Cajetan, says the learned Boverio, a Capuchin, was the scourge of the Lutheran heresy, and the Jesuit Father, Rallestieri, declares him born to make war on Luther.

His French historian, Mgr. Carpy, a counsellor of state, bears the same testimony of him. “Scarcely had Luther raised the standard of rebellion in Germany, when the blessed Cajetan founded his Order in Rome, chiefly with a view to combat the heresiarch by a reformation of the clergy, whose conduct was in Luther’s eyes a rock of scandal. “Whence it follows that the other orders of regular clerks, established after his example, were so many auxiliary forces to the grand army raised by St Cajetan, without any other heads than Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Hence, the Tribunal of the Rota delivered this beautiful panegyric in regard to him: Zeal in defence of the Faith made him institute, for the confusion of heretics, the Order of Regular Clerks, which the all-good and all-powerful God has favoured with such happy increase, even to our own days.

This increase was not confined solely to the Order of St. Cajetan: it also and more particularly extended to Orders of the same kind, the offshoots of this fruitful tree. Sixteen years after St. Cajetan, behold St. Ignatius with his Clerks of the Society of Jesus–religio clericorum societatis Jesu, as the Council of Trent says; St. John of God, with his Good Brothers; St. Camillus of Lellis, with his Clerks to attend the Sick; St. Jerome Emiliani, with his Somasco Fathers; St. Joseph Calasanctius, with his Fathers of the Pious Schools; Antony, with the Barnabites; Adorno, with his Minor Clerks! As it is meet to attribute to the founder of an Order the glory of the good done by the different congregations born thereof, or formed on its model and animated by its spirit, we ought to say that all the good done during the last three centuries by the different congregations of Regular Clerks is referable to St. Cajetan, justly called the father of these congregations.

A proof, still more evident if possible, of the Providential mission of this great Saint, is found in his life, which was an appropriate counterpart to Luther’s, and in his works, which were the bulwark of the Faith against heresy. We have seen that pride and a spirit of rebellion in regard to the Holy See, a love of riches, and a passion for pleasure were the beginnings of Protestantism. To these diabolical evils, St. Cajetan opposed in his congregation a filial obedience towards the Holy See, chastity, absolute poverty, and the most exemplary regularity.

SS. Donatus and Hilarinus

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SS. Donatus, Bishop of Arezzo in Tuscany, and Hilarinus, Martyrs

BEING illustrious for sanctity and miracles, as St. Gregory the Great assures us, he was apprehended by Quadratianus, the Augustalis, or imperial prefect of Tuscany, in the reign of Julian the Apostate. Refusing to adore the idols, he suffered many torments with invincible constancy, and at length finished his martyrdom by the sword in 361. His relics are enshrined in the cathedral of Arezzo. At the same time and place St. Hilarinus, a monk, received the like crown, being beaten to death with clubs. His relics were afterwards translated to Ostia. See the Martyrologies.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VIII: August. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. August 7.

Saint Cajetan of Thiena

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Saint Cajetan of Thiena

Founder
(1480-1547)

Saint Cajetan was born in 1480 at Vicenza near Venice in Italy, of the pious and noble family by the name of Thiena. His great-uncle, who bore the same name as himself and was a Canon of Padua, was considered to be the prince of the theologians of his century; and several prelates and cardinals, as well as governors of Milan and Naples, were of the same line. His parents dedicated Cajetan to our Blessed Lady. From childhood he was remarked for his obedience, his temperance, and his charity towards the poor.

A distinguished student, a veritable model for all his peers, he desired a higher perfection and left his native town, where he was in honor, to seek obscurity in Rome. There, however, Pope Julius II, perceiving his merit, named him an apostolic protonotary, a high office. He joined a certain Congregation or Confraternity known as that of Divine Love and, working with its members, introduced frequent Communion in their midst, and elsewhere through their influence. The Pope saw to his ordination, and he then offered many fervent Masses. About that time, on Christmas Eve at the Church of Saint Mary Major, when he entered the church he saw the Holy Mother; She came to him and placed Her divine Infant in his arms. It was also Saint Cajetan who later would introduce the Forty Hours’ Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as an antidote to the heresy of Calvin.

He returned to Vicenza when his mother died, and began to seek out the sick poor and transport them to the Hospital of the Incurables or of Mercy, with which he had united the Congregation of Divine Love, established in that city also. He served the sick in the hospital himself. He placed himself under the direction of a holy Dominican priest, Father John Baptist de Crema, who not long afterwards told him he should go to Venice. His obedience was perfect in this sacrifice, which cost not only himself but those in his hospital many tears. At Venice too, he was needed in a hospital; and the Venetians in those days of luxury and licence, soon reformed what was not correct in their conduct to follow his holy examples.

To renew the lives of the clergy, in 1524, with Paul Caraffa, then Bishop of Theata or Chieti in the kingdom of Naples, who later would become Pope Paul IV, and with two other fervent Christians, Saint Cajetan founded the first group of Regular Clerics, since known as Theatines. All had deeply regretted the state of the Church at that time, and with ardor they devoted themselves to preaching, to the administration of the sacraments and the careful execution of the Church’s rites and ceremonies.

When the Germans, under Constable Bourbon, sacked Rome, Saint Cajetan was barbarously scourged to extort from him imaginary riches; his only wealth was his good works, which he had long since securely stored in heaven. When the Saint was on his deathbed, resigned to the Will of God, happy to suffer to satisfy his love, and eager for death to attain to life, he again beheld the Mother of God, radiant with splendor and surrounded by ministering seraphim. Turning Her countenance full of majesty and sweetness upon him, She said, Cajetan, My Son calls you. Let us go in peace. Worn out with toil and sickness, he went to his reward in 1547.

Reflection: Imitate Saint Cajetan’s devotion to our Blessed Lady, by invoking Her aid before every work.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).