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Congregation of Clerics Regular of the Divine Providence
Saint Cajetan (1480-1547), the founder of the Theatines.
Formationc. AD 1524;495 years ago (1524)
Founder Saint Cajetan
Type Catholic religious order
Headquarters Italy

The Theatines or the Congregation of Clerics Regular of the Divine Providence are a religious order of the Catholic Church, with the post-nominal initials "C.R."

A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of laypeople and, in some orders, clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world's religions.



The order was founded by Saint Cajetan (Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene), Paolo Consiglieri, Bonifacio da Colle, and Giovanni Pietro Carafa (afterwards Pope Paul IV). Carafa was Bishop of Chieti; Chieti (Theate) is a city of the Abruzzi in Central Italy, from which the congregation adopted its specific name, to distinguish it from other congregations (Barnabites, Somaschi, Caracciolini, etc.) modelled upon it. [1] The Theatines combined the pursuit of evangelical perfection traditional among religious orders with apostolic service generally expected of diocesan clergy. It was Caraffa who wrote the constitutions of the order.

Saint Cajetan

Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene, known as Saint Cajetan, was an Italian Catholic priest and religious reformer, co-founder of the Theatines. He is recognised as a saint in the Catholic Church, and his feast day is 7 August.

Pope Paul IV 16th-century Catholic pope

Pope Paul IV, C.R., born Gian Pietro Carafa, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 23 May 1555 to his death in 1559. While serving as papal nuncio in Spain, he developed an anti-Spanish outlook that later coloured his papacy. A part of Papal States was invaded by Spain during his papacy and in response to this, he called for a French military intervention. To avoid a conflict at the same time of the Italian War of 1551–1559, the Papacy and Spain reached a compromise with the Treaty of Cave: French and Spanish forces left the Papal States and the Pope adopted a neutral stance between France and Spain.

Chieti Comune in Abruzzo, Italy

Chieti is a city and comune (municipality) in Southern Italy, 200 kilometres east by northeast of Rome. It is the capital of the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region.

Cajetan consecrated his order to the Cross, which he adopted as its emblem, and the foundation took place on the feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross, May 3, 1524. It was approved on June 24 of that year, by Pope Clement VII in the Brief Exponi Nobis. On September 14, feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Cajetan and his companions made solemn profession before the papal altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, in the presence of Mgr. Giovanni Battista Bonziano, Bishop of Caserta, a special papal delegate. [1] Caraffa was chosen the first General.

Cross geometrical figure

A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed a saltire in heraldic terminology.

Pope Clement VII

Pope Clement VII, born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 19 November 1523 to his death on 25 September 1534. “The most unfortunate of the Popes,” Clement VII’s reign was marked by a rapid succession of political, military, and religious struggles — many long in the making — which had far-reaching consequences for Christianity and world politics.

St. Peters Basilica Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or simply St. Peter's Basilica, is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.

The chief object of the order was to recall the clergy to an edifying life and the laity to the practice of virtue. They founded oratories (among them the celebrated Divino Amore) and hospitals, devoted themselves to preaching the Gospel, and reformed lax morals. [1] They were exclusive, aristocratic, and formidably austere. [2] They wore the simple black cassock of the local clergy and maintained a modest lifestyle.

In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy, usually including any non-ordained members of religious institutes, e.g. a nun or lay brother.

Virtue Positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good

Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards. Doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. The opposite of virtue is vice.

In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an oratory is a place which is set aside by permission of an ordinary for divine worship, for the convenience of some community or group of the faithful who assemble there, but to which other members of the faithful may have access with the consent of the competent superior. The word "oratory" comes from the Latin verb orare, to pray.


Sant'Andrea della Valle, Theatine church in Rome. Sant'Andrea della Valle.inside.JPG
Sant'Andrea della Valle, Theatine church in Rome.
Theatine Church, Munich. Munchen Theatinerkirche 3.jpg
Theatine Church, Munich.

The prohibition on both owning property and soliciting alms tended to limit applicants to members of the aristocracy, and so they remained relatively few in number. In 1546 they were briefly joined with the Somaschi Fathers, but as the object of the respective orders differed, they separated in 1555. [3] In 1527 their house in Rome was sacked by the army of Charles V, and the Roman community sought refuge in Venice.

Somaschi Fathers

The Somascan Fathers are a charitable religious congregation of priests and brothers, founded in Italy in the 16th century by Saint Jerome Emiliani and named after the motherhouse at Somasca. They are often called Somascans for short. Their formal name is Ordo Clericorum Regularium a Somascha, abbreviated as C.R.S. after members' names. There are currently about 500 Somascans serving around the world. They provide staff for boys' homes, serve in 95 parishes, and engage in other ministries.

They founded many beautiful churches, among them that of Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome, a gift of Costanza Piccolomini D'Aragona, Duchess of Amalfi. This church is a masterpiece of Carlo Maderno and contains several paintings by Domenichino. The Theatines still operate the church.

SantAndrea della Valle church

Sant'Andrea della Valle is a minor basilica in the rione of Sant'Eustachio of the city of Rome, Italy. The basilica is the general seat for the religious order of the Theatines. It is located at Piazza Vidoni, 6 at the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Rinascimento.

Amalfi Comune in Campania, Italy

Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The town of Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.

Carlo Maderno Swiss-Italian architect

Carlo Maderno (Maderna) was an Italian architect, born in today's Ticino, who is remembered as one of the fathers of Baroque architecture. His façades of Santa Susanna, St. Peter's Basilica and Sant'Andrea della Valle were of key importance in the evolution of the Italian Baroque. He is often referred to as the brother of sculptor Stefano Maderno, but this is not universally agreed upon.

In France, through the efforts of Cardinal Mazarin, they built the Church of St. Anne la Royale opposite the Louvre in 1644. [3] In Spain, under Philip II, the Theatine Cardinal Paolo Burali d'Arezzo, filled various embassies at the command of the viceroy of Naples. In Portugal, John IV, in 1648, gave the Theatines a splendid house and college for the education of noble youth. In England, under Henry VIII, Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St. Asaph, entered the order of Theatines. In Bavaria, the Theatine Church St. Kajetan was built from 1663 to 1690, founded by Elector Ferdinand Maria.

The Theatines were the first to found papal missions in: Golconda (in present-day India), Ava (Burma), Peru, [2] Mingrelia (Georgia), founded by Andrea Borromeo, [3] the East Indies, (the history of which was written by the Theatine Bartolomeo Ferro - "Missioni Teatine nelle Indie Orientali"), Arabia, and Armenia. In 1626 Theatines went to Persia.

Theatine manuscripts dating from 1530 until the end of the 18th century show there were missions established in a number of other countries also. By 1700 the Theatines numbered 1400.

Decline of the Order

By the end of the eighteenth century, decline had set in, exacerbated by political upheavals. General suppression of religious orders affected the Theatines more significantly because the order historically acquired no possessions and so had no institutional infrastructure.

Pope Pius X had a hand in attempts at revival, calling upon the services of Cardinal José de Calasanz Félix Santiago Vives y Tutó. The papal Motu Proprio Auspicato, of December 15, 1909, decreed the union of the Congregation of the Regular Theatine Clergy with the youthful Spanish Congregation of the Holy Family founded at Barcelona by Josep Manyanet y Vives, but the two groups were separated again in 1916. In 1910, the Theatines were amalgamated with the Congregation of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, which had been founded in Mallorca in 1867.


According to the Annuario Pontificio, as of 31 December 2014, the Theatines had 34 houses and numbered 170 members, of whom 139 were priests. The Theatines are present in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States of America, where they maintain a flourishing mission at Durango, Colorado.

Andrew Avellino (1521-1608). Andreas Avellino.jpg
Andrew Avellino (1521-1608).

Prominent members

Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (1649-1713). Giuseppe maria tomasi.jpg
Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (1649-1713).

The Order has numbered among its members

It has also furnished one pope, Paul IV (Giovanni Pietro Carafa), 250 bishops, archbishops, and papal legates, and several cardinals.

Among noted nineteenth-century Theatines was the Sicilian Father Gioacchino Ventura dei baroni di Raulica, a philosopher, littérateur, and orator. One of his most celebrated works being his funeral oration on the death of Daniel O'Connell. The astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi (1746-1826), professor of mathematics and astronomy in Palermo, Sicily, discoverer of the first asteroid, Ceres, in 1801, became a Theatine at the age of 19.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Ragonesi, Franciscus. "Theatines." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 21 Dec. 2014
  2. 1 2 Mullet, Michael. The Catholic Reformation, Routledge, 2002 ISBN   9781134658534
  3. 1 2 3 Currier, Charles Warren. "The Theatines", History of religious orders, p.354, Murphy & McCarthy, New York, 1898


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