Last updated
Congregation of Clerics Regular
Latin: Ordo Clericorum Regularium
FormationSeptember 14, 1524;498 years ago (1524-09-14)
FoundersSaint Gaetano Thiene, CR
Archbishop Gian Pietro Carafa [1]
TypeOrder of clerics regular of pontifical right for men
HeadquartersPiazza Vidoni, 6
Rome, Italy [2]
Members (2020)
161 members (124 priests) [2]
Salvador Rodea González, CR [2]
Parent organization
Roman Catholic Church

The Theatines, officially named the Congregation of Clerics Regular (Latin : Ordo Clericorum Regularium; abbreviated CR), is a Catholic order of clerics regular of pontifical right for men founded by Archbishop Gian Pietro Carafa in 14 September 1524. [2]



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. [3] 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.

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. [3] Caraffa was chosen the first General.

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. [3] They were exclusive, aristocratic, and formidably austere. [4] They wore the simple black cassock of the local clergy and maintained a modest lifestyle.


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 from 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. [5] In 1527 their house in Rome was sacked by the army of Charles V, and the Roman community sought refuge in Venice.

They founded many beautiful churches, among them the 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.

In France, through the efforts of Cardinal Mazarin, they built the Church of St. Anne la Royale opposite the Louvre in 1644. [5] 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, [4] Mingrelia (Georgia), founded by Andrea Borromeo, [5] 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 mission at Durango, Colorado.

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

Prominent members

Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (1649-1713). Cardinale 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. "Has buscado History".
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Congregation of Clerics Regular (C.R.)".
  3. 1 2 3 Ragonesi, Franciscus. "Theatines." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 21 Dec. 2014
  4. 1 2 Mullet, Michael. The Catholic Reformation, Routledge, 2002 ISBN   9781134658534
  5. 1 2 3 WdJOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA439&dq=Somaschi+Fathers&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2pQNVYvxK8PIsASq44GgDw&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q= Somaschi%20Fathers&f=false Currier, Charles Warren. "The Theatines", History of religious orders, p.354, Murphy & McCarthy, New York, 1898


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope Paul IV</span> Head of the Catholic Church from 1555 to 1559

Pope Paul IV, born Gian Pietro Carafa, C.R. was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 23 May 1555 to his death in August 1559. While serving as papal nuncio in Spain, he developed an anti-Spanish outlook that later coloured his papacy. In response to an invasion of part of the Papal States by Spain during his papacy, he called for a French military intervention. After a defeat of the French and with Spanish troops at the edge of Rome, the Papacy and Spain reached a compromise: French and Spanish forces left the Papal States and the Pope thereafter adopted a neutral stance between France and Spain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saint Cajetan</span> Italian Catholic priest (1480–1547)

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sant'Andrea della Valle</span> Roman Catholic basilica, a landmark of Rome, Italy

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, at the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Corso Rinascimento.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Naples</span> Roman Catholic archdiocese in Italy

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Naples is a Roman Catholic Archdiocese in southern Italy, the see being in Naples. A Christian community was founded there in the 1st century AD and the diocese of Naples was raised to the level of an Archdiocese in the 10th century. Two Archbishops of Naples have been elected Pope, Paul IV and Innocent XII.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman Catholic Diocese of Aversa</span> Roman Catholic diocese in Italy

The Diocese of Aversa is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territory in Campania, southern Italy, created in 1053. It is situated in the Terra di Lavoro (Liburia), seven miles north of Naples, and eight miles south of Capua. It is suffragan of the Archdiocese of Naples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paolo Burali d'Arezzo</span>

Paolo Burali d'Arezzo was an Italian priest of the Theatine Order, a bishop, and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. His legal skills made him a prominent figure in the law courts of Naples, and then in the councils of government as a defender of the rights of citizens. He abandoned his career to pursue a calling to the religious state, where he became a leader in the Theatine Order. Pope Pius V elevated him to the cardinalate in 1570. He was considered as a candidate for the Papacy in 1572, but his stern character did not recommend him to the electors. The new Pope, Gregory XIII, then promoted him to be the Archbishop of Naples, where he served from 1576 to 1578. After his death he was recognized as beatified and worthy of official recognition by the Church.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carlo Gaetano Gaisruck</span>

Karl Kajetan von Gaisruck was an Austrian Cardinal and the archbishop of Milan from 1816 to 1846. He also held the title of Graf or Count.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Paolo Maggiore</span>

San Paolo Maggiore is a basilica church in Naples, southern Italy, and the burial place of Gaetano Thiene, known as Saint Cajetan, founder of the Order of Clerics Regular. It is located on Piazza Gaetano, about 1-2 blocks north of Via dei Tribunali.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto</span> Roman Catholic archdiocese in Italy

The Italian Catholic Archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto received that name in 1986. The historic Archdiocese of Chieti was elevated from a diocese in 1526.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">April 1555 papal conclave</span>

The April 1555 papal conclave was convoked after the death of Pope Julius III. Cardinals at the conclave generally grouped themselves into three major factions, according to their alignment with the French House of Valois, the Hapsburgs, or Italian states that remained independent of both major Catholic powers. After preparing a conclave capitulation that compelled whichever cardinal was elected pope to maintain neutrality in European wars, cardinals from the Holy Roman Empire joined in supporting the French faction's candidate, Cardinal Marcello Cervini. Cervini was elected Julius's successor, and chose to maintain his baptismal (birth) name as his papal name, becoming consecrated as Marcellus II.

Antonio Francesco Vezzosi was an Italian Theatine and biographical writer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giuseppe Maria Tomasi</span> 17th and 18th-century Italian Roman Catholic cardinal and saint

Joseph Mary Tomasi (12 September 1649 – 1 January 1713) was an Italian Theatine Catholic priest, scholar, reformer and cardinal. His scholarship was a significant source of the reforms in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church during the 20th century. He was beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1803, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierluigi Carafa</span>

Pierluigi Carafa, Junior was an Italian cardinal from the famous Neapolitan family of Italian nobles, clergy, and men of arts. He served the papacy as Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals and as Dean of same College. He is currently buried at Sant'Andrea delle Fratte in Rome.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Carafa</span> Index of articles associated with the same name

The House of Carafa or Caraffa is the name of an old and influential Neapolitan aristocratic family of Italian nobles, clergy, and men of arts, known from the 12th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Gaetano, Padua</span>

The Church of San Gaetano is found in the central district of Padua, and its facade was designed by the late Renaissance architect Vincenzo Scamozzi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santa Maria della Sapienza</span>

Santa Maria della Sapienza is a Roman Catholic church, located on Via Costantinopoli in central Naples, Italy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francesco Marinoni</span>

Francesco Marinoni was an Italian Roman Catholic priest who was a member of the Theatines. He assumed the name Giovanni upon his admittance into the order.

Bernardino Morra was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Aversa (1598–1605).

The Congregation of Pious Workers Rural Catechists or Ardorini Missionaries are a Roman Catholic religious order. They use the post-nominal initials P.O.C.R.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santa Cristina, Parma</span>

Santa Cristina is a Baroque-style, Roman Catholic church located on via Repubblica in Parma, region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy.