Saint Gaetano

Anonymous work

Saint Cajetan by Quiteño anonymousColonial Museum

Saint Gaetano was born in 1480 in Vicenza, Italy, and died in Rome, in 1547. As a young man, he held various positions at the papal court. From 1513, he renounced to his life at court and began his evangelical work by founding several oratories.

This saint is recognized as co-founder of the Congregation of Clerics Regular, also called Theatines, who were characterized by their faith in Divine Providence. This is expressed in the inscription of the cartouche located at the bottom of the painting.

The images of Saint Gaetano were very popular in colonial America. In most of his representations he is seen holding the Child Jesus in his arms, who in this case, places his feet on cherubs and holds a lily in his right hand.

The saint is commonly depicted adorned with jewels. In the image, he wears a necklace made of gold and gemstones. Contrary to what might be thought, these ornaments are symbols of Gaetano’s sanctity and not of the earthly riches which he possessed due to his noble origin.

To the right of the image, is seen an angel with a phylactery that says: Respicite volatilia cæli, ‘Look at the birds of the sky’. Two white birds fly above the angelic figure, reinforcing the message.

On the left, an angel states: Respicite lilia agri, ‘Look at the lilies of the field’. The flowery rod that the Child holds refers to this expression.

The allusions to birds and lilies come from chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus speaks of the Divine Providence, a concept according to which God governs the Universe and protects his creations in favor of men.

The image is complemented by a dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and a cross adorned with white and red roses, which represents the martyrdom of Christ.

Credits: Story

Museum Director
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo
Manuel Amaya Quintero
Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares
Collection Management
Paula Ximena Guzmán López
Tanit Barragán Montilla
Andrea Valentina Bastidas Cano

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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