Perhaps you wouldn’t necessarily expect there to be a patron saint of gambling, but there is. It’s Saint Cajetan.
The concept of a patron saint is something particularly embrace by the Roman Catholic faith – a person who has been recognised as a saint who becomes a heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. If you pray to them, you are hoping that they will intercede on your behalf to deliver you the good fortune that you are seeking.
The story of Saint Cajetan is an interesting one. Born as Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene in the year 1480, this was a man who was an Italian catholic priest who was also renowned as a religious reformer.
At this time, the Roman Catholic church was in a sorry state, with large numbers of uneducated and self-serving priests taking the money of the worshippers of the church.
Saint Cajetan came from a noble family, from the Lombardy region of the country that we now know as Italy. After studying law in Padua, Saint Cajetan worked as a diplomat for the then Pope, becoming ordained as a priest in the year 1516.
One of Saint Cajetan’s claims to fame is that he was one of the founding members of a religious order known as the Theatines. Established in the year 1524, the full name of the Theatines was the Congregation of Clerics Regular of the Divine Providence. The term Theatines was derived from the Latin name of the city of Chieti in central Italy.
The Theatines combined the pursuit of evangelical perfection together with apostolic service. The Theatines were an exclusive order, aristocratic and austere, maintaining a modest lifestyle.
Saint Cajetan was captured and tortured by Spanish soldiers in 1527 during the sack of Rome, but ultimately managed to escape to Venice where the Theatines continued to build their order.
It was in Venice that Saint Cajetan helped to establish the Congregation of Clerks Regular. In this period Cajetan founded a bank to help the poor and to offer an alternative to usurers, money lenders, and loan sharks. Beginning in Venice but soon extending their reach to Verona, the bank established by Saint Cajetan is today known as the Bank of Naples.
Saint Cajetan died in Naples in the year 1547, and his burial place is marked with a statue in the Piazza San Gaetano.
He was beatified in 1629 by Pope Urban Viii, and canonised in 1671. The feast day of Saint Cajetan is celebrated on 7th August each year.
As well as being the patron saint of gamblers, Saint Cajetan is also the patron saint of good fortune, the unemployed, document controllers, and the country of Argentina.
So next time you’re walking into a casino, sitting down to a game of cards, or logging on for some online gambling, you should probably light a candle for Saint Cajetan – the patron saint of gamblers.