SAN GAETANO
Contact
PEOPLE CLOSE TO HIM
Gian Pietro Carafa:

He was born near Benevento on the 28th June of 1476 into one of the most illustrious of the noble families of Naples which had given distinguished figures to both Church and State.
From early childhood he led a holy and blameless life and in his youth was led and supervised through his studies by a prominent relative,

Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, one of his relatives, introduced him to the Papal Court in 1494, and resigned the See of Theati, today's Chieti in his favour. This name is significant because later he would be the first superior general of the Order he co-founded with Don Gaetano, and which order would take this name and be called the Theatine Order.

A spirited hot blooded Neapolitan, Gian Pietro was a passionate and convincing preacher. Energetic and authoritative in his contact with people, he was fairly attractive and of heavy build, but inside, a charitable heart full of love for Christ's church. Although he was highly educated and surpassed most of his contemporaries in the knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, he still remained stuck in medieval thinking. His favourite author was St.Thomas Aquinas.

At first he felt an attraction to join the Dominicans and then he switched over to the Camaldolese Order. In the service of Pope Leo X he went for a time, as ambassador to England and also for some years as Apostolic Nuncio in Spain.

But his desire for spiritual perfection prompted him to seek admission into the congregation of Clerics Regular founded by Himself and Don Gaetano and become their first general. Here it is safe to say that he had to make a very important decision since at this time he was already consecrated Bishop. So in 1524 he persuaded Pope Clement VII, though with difficulty, to accept the resignation of his benefices, and renounce all his high positions in the church. This would permit him to bow to the regulations that Don Gaetano had dictated, don the cassock of the order and join his group.

The Pope permitted all this but insisted that Carafa still function as a Bishop in the eyes of the church and be ready to help it with his knowledge and expertise when called to do so by Him. In fact the Pontiff placed Carafa on the committee named to outline the project of reform of the papal Court, and on 22 Dec. 1536 he was created cardinal. This obliged him to return to Rome and although he never lost contact with the Theatines spiritually, he had to concentrate on helping the Pope with the preparations for the upcoming Ecumenical Council. Carafa was involved in every effort for reform within the church made by Pope Paul III. At this time Carafa was also made Archbishop of Naples.

His friend Don Gaetano in the middle of an upheaval in Naples was doing his best to rebut the false teachings of the protestants when in 1545 Pope Paul III opened the Ecumenical council of Trent, Cardinal Carafa was there, one of the mainstays for the reforms. When Paul III passed away and Julius III was elected, Cardinal Carafa once again was helping when the Council was reconvened.

With another Pope being elected and passing away, (Marcellus II, who reigned for only twenty two days), it was the turn of Cardinal Carafa himself to take his turn at the helm of the Catholic Church. He was elected Pope May 23, 1555 when he was already 79 and took the name of Paul IV. Gaetano had passed away eight years earlier and would have rejoiced if he were there for the election of his closest friend to the highest office of Christ's Church. Carafa was a surprise choice as Pontiff to succeed Marcellus II. His rigid, severe and unbending character combined with his age and patriotism meant he would have declined the honour. He accepted apparently because the Emperor Charles V was opposed to his accession.
As Pope he was extremely conservative but was still very energetic for his age. He cut Papal expenditure, ordered bishops back to their sees, expelled traveling entertainers from Rome and forbade hunting and dancing.
His activity was fairly fruitful in the spiritual concerns of the Church. He could boast that no day passed without seeing a new decree of reform. He made the Inquisition a powerful engine of government, and in 1559, he wrote an index of prohibited books which were detrimental to one's faith. His index of Prohibited Books was very similar to previous indexes of the same nature but his was the first universal one.
He died August 18, 1559 and was buried in St.Peter's the next day. His body was later transferred to Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The picture on the right shows a detail from his tomb.
Bonifacio De'Colli:

From Piemonte, he had, like Gaetano, already obtained a double degree from university when he met Gaetano in Pope Leo X's court. Later on he was ordained Priest. He was an exquisite and calm man full of sweetness. He believed in one's love towards one's neighbour and did his best to actually practice this. His thoughts were very similar to what Gaetano believed. Our Saint, trusted him with his idea of a project of founding his order. Bonifacio was first, then Bishop Carafa. Bonifacio had the same idea about the poor as Gaetano when he said: "Christ suffers through the poor".
In 1536 he was elected Superior of the Vicenza Theatines.
Paolo Consiglieri:

When Carafa was accepted by Gaetano, he also contributed a companion to the project, also from the Oratory of 'Divino Amore'. Paolo was an affectionate friend that would give his life to Bishop Carafa. His name was Ghislerio, which he changed for that of Paolo at his profession. He belonged to the family Ghisleri which gave the Papacy one of its members. When Carafa became Pope he made him canon of Saint Peter's.
Blessed Giovanni Marinoni:

Born in Venice on the 25th December 1490 from Bergamasque parents (from Bergamo Italy), Baptized Francis which name he changed on becoming a religious. A diligent student in his studies, he was a cleric in the College of San Pantaleo and then went to the university of Padova.


A priest of great pious life, he became first a sacristan then canon of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice. He gave up this position to enter the Theatine order of San Gaetano. After that he was chaplain of the Hospital for the Incurables and finally on the 9th December 1528, entering the Theatine order, taking the cassock from the hands of Giampietro Carafa and making his profession at the feet of San Gaetano on the 29th May 1530. In August 1533 Giovanni Marinoni and Gaetano, obeying the order of Pope Clement VII, left Venice and went to Naples.
His great spirituality gave excellent fruit, because in close collaboration with the founder San Gaetano in 1539 he inspired the noble Aurelio Paparo, Gian Domenico di Lega and Leonardo Palma who became their spiritual sons, to initiate the "Monte di pieta" which later on became the Bank of Naples, while other spiritual daughters helped in meritorious works. With the help of Giovanna Scorziata, Giovanni founded a small college called 'Il Tempio' (The Temple) for the education of young girls. With the four Palescandolo sisters he also founded the monastery of San Andrea delle Dame.

He worked hard together with Don Gaetano to preserve the faith which in those times was being poisoned by an unorthodox movement of reformists. In 1540 he was nominated as superior of the San Paolo Maggiore house and spiritual director to the Dominican nuns of the Sapienza. In his meek but forceful manner he guided and formed the first members of the new Theatine Order in an intense spiritual life, apostolic activity, renunciation of worldly goods and total trusting abandon in God.

He was teacher to Saints like San Andrea Avellino, Blessed Paulo Burali of Arezzo Cardinal, venerables Giacomo Torno and Salvatore Caracciolo and other renowned bishops and people of God who kept at heart the Theatine spirituality which Giovanni imbibed them with.

San Andrea Avellino was his first biographer and says of Giovanni Marinoni: "He was always of an amiable nature loved by all students, good or bad, revered and honoured. I have seen his eyes because I frequently accompanied him to Naples, and in them I saw the honour given to him by everyone; he was held as a Saint".

He was an excellent preacher with a great following and always expounding the theme of Christ crucified. Some, in the crowds listening to his preaching, later on became bishops and took part in the Council of Trent and there quoted Giovanni's preaching as an authentic style to be emulated.

When his friend Cardinal Carafa became Pope Paul IV, he offered him the Archbishop's seat of Naples but he humbly refused it. In 1558 he started the foundations of the new convent of San Paolo Maggiore which was finished under his successor Gerolamo Ferro in 1565, three years after Giovanni Marinoni's death.

Old age and sickness had undermined his health while he continued with an intense life of zeal and charity for other people's lives. Those days Naples was struck by various waves of Cholera epidemics and it was one of these that ended his life on the 13th December 1562.

His remains are venerated in the crypt of the Basilica San Paolo Maggiore which has since become a church in itself with a direct entrance from the square. In this same church are also the remains of San Gaetano, of Blessed Paolo Burali and other Venerables and brothers of the order. The remains of San Andrea Avellino lie upstairs in the main Basilica.

Pope Clement XIII, on the 11th September 1762 confirmed the cult of his devotion after 200 years and declared him Blessed. He is depicted with a crucifix in his hands because of his great devotion to Christ's Passion.
His feast is celebrated on the 14th of December.
Gian Matteo Giberti

(1495 - 1540) Among Gaetano's close friends, even though not a professed member of the Theatine order, was this bishop of Verona. As a man of profound piety, he sincerely desired the reform of the church.
He knew very well the fruits of Don Gaetano's work and helped him start off his new Order through the contacts he had with the Pope. In effect he was the right hand of Pope Clement VII.
Actually he wanted to join the order himself but the Pope refused to release him from the Diocese because of his indispensable spiritual work.
After the Order started to flourish, he invited them to open a branch in Verona.
He is considered to be so close to the order of Theatines that he is counted as one of them.
Gian Matteo Giberti, son of the Genoese navy captain, Francesco Giberti, was born in Palermo in 1495 and in 1513 joined the company of Cardinal Giulio de 'Medici, the future Pope Clement VII (1523-1534), in a short time becoming expert in Greek and Latin and admitted as a prominent member of the Roman Academy. Under the protection of the powerful Medici family, Gian Matteo made a swift career, becoming secretary of Cardinal Giulio de 'Medici, and conducting diplomatic activities in 1521 with Emperor Charles V on behalf of another member of the Medici family, Pope Leo X cousin of Julius.
In that same year Gian Matteo became a priest and also a member of the Order of Theatines, founded by St Cajetan and Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa the future Pope Paul IV. On the election of his patron, Giulio de 'Medici as pope in 1523 Gian Matteo was immediately appointed dater (where in the Roman Curia he had a mandate to deal with the award of benefices) and the following year, at the request of the Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti ordained bishop of Verona.
His was the idea of forming an anti-imperialist League among France, Venice, Milan and the Papacy, - called the League of Cognac - in 1526. After the Sacking of Rome (where he was still residing) in 1527, Gian Matteo escaped death by a hair's breadth: imprisoned by the Imperial troops, he escaped in 1528 to Verona, where he lived until his death, although he was called several times to Rome by Pope Paul III for making preparations for the Council of Trent. In Verona, he gave rise to a vigorous reform of the diocese whose clergy were in a disastrous state: through his strong support from high places in Rome, he issued new diocesan constitutions, reformed the monasteries, improved the preparation of priests, published a catechism for children, installed a printing house in the episcopal palace to publish classics of Patriarchs and surrounded himself with excellent cooperation.
From the doctrinal point of view, he was an evangelist and a spiritual trying to work out a reform of the Catholic Church from within. This he hoped would succeed in Italy through the republic of Venice, and therefore not surprisingly, was consistent in opposing the severe infiltration of Lutheranism of his diocese.
San Jerolamo Emiliani:

Born in Venice in 1481 to Angelo Emiliani and Eleonora Mauroceni, he joined the army and played part in the defence of Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray in 1508. He was taken prisoner and miraculously freed. After this he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, to fulfil a vow. He soon returned to Venice to see to the education of his nephews.
All his spare time was devoted to the study of theology and to works of charity. When he became priest in 1518, he spent all his time in hospitals taking care of the poor. During the 1582 plague and famine he took care of orphans, whose number had increased. He rented a house for them near the church of Santa Rosa and, with the help of some pious laymen, took care of their needs. It was at this time that he met with Don Gaetano and helped with the hospital for incurables. He was not actually a Theatine as such because he did not take the vows of poverty but allowed himself to be formed by the norms of Don Gaetano.

In 1531 he went to Verona and persuaded the citizens to build a hospital. At Brescia he built an orphanage and at Bergamo one for boys and another for girls. In this city he also he founded the first house for wayward women who wished to repent. Two priests, Alessandro Besuzio and Agostino Bariso, now joined him in this work, and in 1532 Jerome founded a religious society, with the motherhouse at Somascha, a secluded hamlet between Milan and Bergamo, thus the Order was called the Somascan order. The principal work of the community would be the care of orphans, poor, and sick, and as regards living space, food and clothing, the order was very much like Gaetano's, that is everything in poverty. Working too hard for his health, Jerome contracted a disease at Bergamo and died at the Somascha house in 1537.

After the death of Jerolamo his community was about to disband, but was kept together by the new superior Gambarana. In 1547-1555 they were united with the Theatines. Pius IV (1563) approved the institution, and St.Pius V raised it to the dignity of a religious order. Jerolamo Emiliani was beatified by Benedict XIV in 1747, and canonized by Clement XIII in 1767.
Suor Laura Mignani:

An Augustinian nun from the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Brescia (ca. 1475-1525), she was a Mystic, a saintly woman of great trust of whom Gaetano and other brethren priests had become spiritual children. Important people like Lucrezia Borgia used to write asking for her prayers.

Many of San Gaetano's letters to her have been handed down to us and it is from these that the Saint's spirituality can be confirmed. In one of these letters, his vision of holding Baby Jesus is explained in great detail.