We all know the feeling: sitting in a lobby or anteroom outside the interviewer’s office, dressed to impress, reviewing the posting one more time, mentally going back over your pre-prepared answers to the interview questions. We also know the rush we feel on our first day of work, trying to learn the organization and its power players, hoping that we can really make a difference at this job.
For better or worse, we define ourselves by our work. When we are introduced to someone, invariably the first question they ask us is, “What do you do?” implying that they want to know what job we hold. It can be a symbol of status or power, and we can derive much of our identity from our job.
However, we should see our work not just as a job, but as a blessing to be able to provide for our families. And when we need assistance in finding a job or encouragement in our workplace, we can look to examples like St. Cajetan, the patron saint of employment.
About St. Cajetan
St. Cajetan was originally born Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene, the son of an Italian lord, in the year 1480. His father died when Gaetano was only two years old and his mother raised him with a strong Catholic faith. He originally studied to become a lawyer, earning his law degree at a relatively young age and working for Pope Julius II. His close work with the Catholic Church led to his ordination as a priest in 1516.
However, after his mother died, he returned to his hometown of Vicenza to begin localized ministry. He was struck by the amount of indifference coming from the church leaders, as well as vast areas of the church in need of reformation. Church membership was dwindling, and there were many paths to restoring the institution to its former glory.
Cajetan’s answer was to reengage the priesthood in working closely with the common people. His first major act upon returning to Vicenza was opening a hospital for “incurables” like the poor, the sick, and the indigent. This was spurred on by his recent membership in a confraternity called the Oratory of Divine Love. Rather than climbing the ladder of the papal hierarchy, this oratory and its members devoted themselves to ecclesiastical reform at the point of most direct contact with the people. Their primary devotions to service included caring for orphans, helping the poor, and visiting the imprisoned and the sick.
Members of this order were subject to ridicule by the rest of the church, and Cajetan was no exception. His work saw significant resistance from other church leaders, but he never wavered. His ministry was defined by care for “the least of these.”
He founded two clerical organizations within the Catholic Church during his lifetime.
The first was the Theatines or the Congregation of Clerics Regular of the Divine Providence. They were named from the Italian city of Chieti, where the order was founded. The main goal of this organization was to reform the morals and lifestyle of clergy and laity alike. However, their numbers were small, and they were scattered after Rome was attacked in 1527. Its members later escaped to Venice, where Cajetan ministered for the rest of his life.
In Venice, Cajetan met Jerome Emiliani and helped him found another order called the Congregation of Clerks Regular. This group would later come to be called the Somaschi Fathers, and they are similarly dedicated to the causes of the poor, orphans, and the needy. In stark contrast to the influence and aristocracy of the priesthood of the day, the Somaschi Fathers lived their lives dedicated to material poverty, instead of focusing on giving to and serving others in their ministry.
Another way Cajetan ministered to the poor was by founding a bank in Verona and Venice to provide an alternative to banks that charged high-interest rates. They served the poor that could not otherwise receive financial assistance. It evolved into the modern-day Bank of Naples.
Cajetan fell ill at the end of his life and died in Naples in 1547.
Cajetan’s impact can still be felt today, as the orders he cofounded are still actively working around the world. He was beatified in 1629 and canonized in 1671, and his feast day is August 7.
St. Cajetan is recognized as the patron saint of job seekers and the unemployed, as well as gamblers, gamers, and good fortune. He is also known as the patron saint of Argentina.
He is seen as an intercessor for the unemployed due to his hard work in serving those that needed financial and job-seeking assistance. He protected the poor from usurers or those who would charge high interest and deceive their debtors into indentured servitude. He worked hard to provide for those that could not provide for themselves, which helped them improve their own lives.
However, his more lasting contributions to the church were a focused attention and effort on reforming the morals and actions of priests and common folk alike. He joined similar-minded orders and worked tirelessly to change the hearts and minds of those who had fallen away from acts of service, and even though he did not achieve the fame of some other saints, he remains an example of serving the least of these as Christ did.
St. Cajetan saw deep and distressing needs in the Catholic Church and did his very best to change what he could and influence where he could. His dedication to the poor and needy brought joy and hope to those who previously had none, and he ran in opposition to those who simply wanted to maintain the status quo of oppression from the rich and powerful.
In this way, St. Cajetan serves as an example to us today that we should use what we have to serve others, especially those who do not have the same means or opportunities as we do. We should give selflessly and love others as Christ loved us.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.