” The saint who opposed Luther”?

Well, this is curious. Today is the feast day of one Saint Cajetan, one of the “Spirituali” and a member of the Oratory of the Divine Love along with Carafa (who would become Pope Paul IV), Pole (who would become the Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Mary) and Contarini (who would confer with Melanchthon at the 1541 Regensburg Colloquy) – the relationship between the four and their role in the early days of the Counter-Reformation would make a very good book. St Cajetan, with Carafa, was the founder of the Theatine Order, and his dates are October 1, 1480 to August 7, 1547 (which is why today is his feast day). You can find his Catholic Encyclopedia entry here and his Wikipedia entry here.

The one thing you will not find in his Catholic Encyclopedia entry is any record of his meeting with Martin Luther in 1519, because, as his Wikipedia entry says, Saint Cajetan “is not to be confused with his contemporary, Cardinal Thomas Cajetan”. It was the Domincan Cardinal who met with Luther, not the Saint. (Just as an aside, it is very interesting to note that from Tetzel to Cajetan to Eck, Luther’s opponents were almost all Dominican – which gives some support to the idea that the Reformation was, in its early days, an issue between the Augustinians and the Dominicans, much as later there would be conflict between the Dominicans and the Jesuits over the doctrine of grace; Pope Leo could have been quite correct in assuming that it was all a “squabble between monks”). Cardinal Cajetan was born in 1469 and died in 1534. His Catholic Encyclopedia entry is here. If one consults the his Wikipedia entry, one will find a similar warning to that found in Saint Cajetan’s entry: that “he is not to be confused with his contemporary, Saint Cajetan, the founder of the Theatines”.

Given this simple and repeated warning on Wikipedia, it is a little surprising that this article in the Catholic Herald does just that. To be fair, article itself only notes that Saint Cajetan “was, like his contemporary Martin Luther, deeply concerned by the worldliness and decadence he saw among the clergy.” But it seems that an editor made the error of connecting today’s Saint with the Cardinal who met with Luther in 1519, and hence gave the article the title “The Saint who opposed Luther” and illustrated it with a picture of Cardinal Thomas Cajetan OP.

One sometimes encounters the complaint that Vatican appears oblivious of facts that could be learned simply by consulting Wikipedia (the Williamson Case comes to mind). The Catholic Herald is not the Vatican, but the same holds true. A simple consultation of Wikipedia would have spared the venerable journal this embarrassing mistake. However, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I have myself in the past confused the two. I won’t do it again!

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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4 Responses to ” The saint who opposed Luther”?

  1. mike cliffson says:

    Mea culpa -cajetan for cajetan, me too! Not in print or internet!
    (BTW Cajetan (cardinal) comes up too in reference to Copernicus etc in” the Sleepwalkers, ” Koestler’s interesting take on Copernicus, Brahe,Galileo, mostly,Newton slightly and so on.(BEEB dramatization said to be good, only saw one excert which I found shallow, tendencious in general, anticatholic,antichristianity and nasty.) All read around by me for purposes of a.fun b.polemics, so I shouldn’t have got it wrong! Still well worth reading, especially since by no stretch of the imagination can Koestler be called procatholic or even proanything much, which is NOT a guarantee of truth or even objectivity , but does deal with the question of bias to some degree,because THEY still trot out galileo as a gotcha heavy cannon- and it’s a good read!)

    • mike cliffson says:

      Snakes ! Should read: “Koestlers’s take on Copernicus, Brahe, KEPLER above all, Galileo, mostly and tangentially Newton.” Kepler, Kepler, and Kepler again- the (Jesuit-protected) Lutheran among the lot!

  2. Fraser Pearce says:

    Isn’t it about time for another post, old lobster taunter?

    • matthias says:

      I was just going to say the same thing Pastor Pierce,and I was reflecting upon it as I waited for Mass to begin at St patrick’s” where is Schutz’s next post”? Bit like where’s Wally?

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