St Cajetan

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Founder and reformer. The son of a count, Cajetan was born in Vicenza, Italy, in 1480. He graduated from the University of Padua with law degrees. After working in the papal offices in Rome he was ordained a priest. With the death of Pope Julius II in 1513, Cajetan withdrew from the Papal Court.

Recalled to Vicenza by the death of his mother, he founded a hospital for incurables in 1522. By 1523 he had established a hospital in Venice, as well - in spite of opposition from his family. He eventually founded the Congregation of Clerks Regular, or 'Theatans' which became one of the great orders of the Counter Reformation.

Cajetan established a bank to help the poor and offer an alternative to the loan sharks. This later became the Bank of Naples.

Cajetan encouraged everyone to receive Holy Communion frequently. He said: "I shall never be happy," he said, "until I see Christians flocking to feed on the Bread of Life with eagerness and delight, not with fear and shame."

Cajetan lived very simply and died at the age of 67. In his last sickness, he lay on hard boards, even though the doctor advised him to have a mattress. "My Saviour died on a cross," he said. "Let me at least die on wood." He died on this day in 1547, in Naples and was canonised by Pope Clement X in 1671.

His remains are in the church of San Paolo Maggiore in Naples; outside the church is Piazza San Gaetano, with a statue.

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