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."

Congregation of Clerics Regular of the Divine Providence
Saint Cajetan (1480-1547), the founder of the Theatines.
Formationc. AD 1524
FounderSaint Cajetan
TypeCatholic religious order


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.

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.

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.


Sant'Andrea della Valle.inside
Sant'Andrea della Valle, Theatine church in Rome.

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.

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.

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.

Andreas Avellino
Andrew Avellino (1521-1608).

Prominent members

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


  • Bartolommeo Ferro, Istoria delle missioni de chierici regolari teatini 2 vols. (Roma 1705).
  • Domenico Sangiacomo, Cenno storico sulla fondazione dell'ordine de' cc. rr. Teatini scritto in occasione di celebrarsi nella chiesa di S. Paolo di Napoli il terzo centenario dalla fondazione medesima (Napoli 1824).
  • Gaetano Magenis, Vita di s. Gaetano Tiene fondatore de' chierici regolari e patriarca di tutto il regolare chiericato (Napoli 1845).
  • Giuseppe Maria Ginelli, Memorie istoriche della vita di S. Gaetano Tiene, fondatore e patriarca de' Cherici (Venezia 1753).
  • Herbert Vaughan, The Life of St. Cajetan: Count of Tiene, Founder of the Theatines (London : T. Richardson, 1888).
  • Paul A. Kunkel, The Theatines in the History of Catholic Reform Before the Establishment of Lutheranism (Washington DC 1941).

External links

Antonio Francesco Vezzosi

Antonio Francesco Vezzosi (born at Arezzo, Italy, 4 October 1708; died in Rome, 29 May 1783) was an Italian Theatine and biographical writer.

Antonius Agellius

Antonius Agellius, C.R. or Antonio Agellio (1532–1608) was bishop of Acerno and a member of the Theatines, born in Sorrento. He was an editor of the Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate.

Church of Theatines, Ferrara

The Church of the Theatines (Teatini), also known as Santa Maria della Pietà is a Roman Catholic, Baroque-style church and monastery located on Corso della Giovecca, in central Ferrara, region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

In 1618, prompted by Laura Sighizzi, along with Cardinal Carlo Emanuel Pio of Savoy bought a house in the neighborhood of Giovecca to open an oratory for the Theatine Order dedicated to the Madonna della Pieta. The architect Luca Danese was commissioned to design the church, which was completed in 1653 and decorated in Baroque fashion.

The facade remains incomplete in brick. The interiors are highly decorated according to an inventory from the late 18th century. In the choir were paintings depicting the Life of San Gaetano by Clemente Maiola. Maiola also frescoed angels in a ceiling for the chapel near the presbytery, which also has works by Scarsellino. The canvas depicting John the Baptist to the right of the main chapel was painted by Andrea Sacchi. The main chapel has a Mary at the Temple by Guercino. A Sant'Andrea Avellino was painted by Camillo Ricci. The ceiling of the sacristy is frescoed with a Glory of San Gaetano by Alessandro Naselli. In the first chapel is a San Gregorio Taumaturgo by Costanzo Cattanio. Another chapel has a San Gaetano and a Resurrection by Alfonso Rivarola known as il Chenda.

Among the columns and pilasters, are canvases depicting the

Life of San Gaetano by Cesare Mezzogori. He also painted friezes of angels in chiaroscuro on the ceiling and canvases around the Altar of the Purification of the Virgin. The latter work was completed along with Giovanni Battista Felletti, who painted a San Gaetano and the Jesus Child.

Under the altar of St John the Baptist is the body of the San Secondino, Bishop and Martyr; and in chapel of the Virgin of the Graces, the relics of San Faustino Martire, both transported here supposedly from the Cemetery of Santa Lucina in Via Aurelia outside of Rome. The General Antonio Domenico Balbiani is buried in the last chapel. The general defended Ferrara for Pope Clement XI. He was named Grand Prior of Armenia and Grand Admiral of Malta.The oratory of the Theatines adjacent to the church is also decorated with painted artworks. The main altarpiece was a Santissima Virgin by Costanzo Cattani. In the walls of the oratory were canvases depicting an Annunciation by Giovanni Braccioli; a Purification at the Temple by Camillo Setti; a Flight to Egypt by Alessandro Naselli, and others by Tommaso Capitanelli. The ceiling was painted by Francesco Ferrari.

Francesco Grimaldi (architect)

Francesco Grimaldi (Oppido Lucano, 1543 – Naples, August 1, 1613) was an Italian Theatine Order priest and architect, working mainly in Naples.

Among his designs are works for:

Covent of the Theatine Order (1590) at the church of Santi Apostoli.

Church of Santi Apostoli, which resembles Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome.

Cappella del Tesoro (1608) in the Cathedral of Naples

Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli a Pizzo-Falcone.

Church of the Trinità delle Monache.

Church of the San Paolo.

Sant'Andrea delle Dame, Naples

Francesco Marinoni

Francesco Marinoni (25 December 1490 – 13 December 1562) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest who was a member of the Theatines. He assumed the name Giovanni upon admittance into the order.

His cult was confirmed and acted as his formal beatification in 1764 under Pope Clement XIII. His life of heroic virtue was approved and Pope Benedict XVI added the title of Venerable to him despite the fact he was beatified. A miracle - now under investigation - is needed for his canonization.

Francesco Pignatelli

Francesco Pignatelli (6 February 1652 – 15 December 1734) was an Italian cardinal.

Gioacchino Ventura di Raulica

Gioacchino Ventura (dei Baroni) di Raulica (8 December 1792 in Palermo – 2 August 1861 in Versailles), was an Italian Roman Catholic pulpit orator, patriot, philosopher and writer.

He entered the Society of Jesus in 1808, and in 1817, when the Society was suppressed in Sicily, joined the Theatines. Ordained a priest, he distinguished himself as a Catholic journalist and apologist, as a preacher, especially by his "Funeral Oration of Pius VII" (1823), and as an exponent of the counter-revolutionary worldview of Hughes Felicité Robert de Lamennais, Joseph de Maistre and Louis Gabriel Ambroise de Bonald.

He was appointed by Leo XII professor of canon law at the Sapienza, and in 1830 was elected Superior-General of the Theatines. He published his "De methodo philosophandi" in 1828 and "Bellezze della Fede" in 1839. After his generalship (1830–33) he preached in Rome. His eloquence, though somewhat exaggerated and prolix, was vehement and direct, with a noble bearing, a magnificent voice and an affecting delivery, and it won him great renown. In Paris, though not perfectly master of French, he was said to almost rival the famous Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire.

With the accession of Pope Pius IX, Ventura became politically prominent. His "Funeral Oration of O'Connell" (1847) glorified the union of religion and liberty. His eulogy of liberty on the "Morti di Vienna" sounded almost like a diatribe against kings in general. It was put on the Index of Prohibited Books.

Ventura maintained the lawfulness of the Sicilian Revolution (cfr. his "Sul riconoscimento della Sicilia, etc.", Palermo, 1848; "Menzogne diplomatiche", etc.). His political ideal was an Italian Confederation under the presidency of the pope. During the exile of Pius IX at Gaeta, Ventura's position in Rome was delicate. Though refusing a seat in the Roman Assembly, he advocated the separation of the ecclesiastical and temporal powers, and in the name of the Sicilians recognized the Roman Republic. As commissioner from Sicily, he was present at a controversial politico-religious ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, but took no active part in the services. He opposed French intervention in behalf of the pope and when Marshal Oudinot attacked Rome, spoke of Pius IX in words which he bitterly regretted.

On the downfall of the Triumvirs (1849), he went to Montpellier and then to Paris (1851). Here he made an ineffectual attempt to convert his former friend de Lamennais. His Conferences at the "Madeleine" etc. were published as "La raison philosophique et la raison catholique" (1852---). In 1857 he gave the Lenten Sermons at the Tuileries before Napoleon III; these appeared as "Le pouvoir politique chrétien".

Ventura's philosophical views received final expression in "La tradizione e semi-pelagiani della philosophia", "Saggio sull' origine dell' idee", "Philosophie chrétienne" (Paris, 1861). He is a moderate Traditionalist of the Bonald-Bonnetty School. Ventura's private life was irreproachable. He remained a loyal Catholic the rest of his life.

His works were published as: "Opere Complete" (31 volumes, Milan, 1854–64); "Opere Postume", (Venice, 1863).

Giuseppe Capece Zurlo

Giuseppe Maria Capece Zurlo, Theat. (3 January 1711, Monteroni di Lecce, Apulia – 31 December 1801) was an Italian cardinal who served as Archbishop of Naples.

Capece Zurlo was born in Monteroni di Lecce, Apulia, into the noble family of the princes of Zurlo. He was the son of Prince Giacomo Capece Zurlo and Ippolita Sambiase, of the princes of Campana di Portanova.

Giuseppe Maria Tomasi

Saint Joseph Mary Tomasi, C.R. (Italian: Giuseppe Maria Tomasi di Lampedusa)(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.

Giuseppe Piazzi

Giuseppe Piazzi (Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe ˈpjattsi]; 16 July 1746 – 22 July 1826) was an Italian Catholic priest of the Theatine order, mathematician, and astronomer. He was born in Ponte in Valtellina, and died in Naples. He established an observatory at Palermo, now the Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo – Giuseppe S. Vaiana. Perhaps his most famous discovery was the first dwarf planet, Ceres.

Guarino Guarini

Camillo-Guarino Guarini (17 January 1624 – 6 March 1683) was an Italian architect of the Piedmontese Baroque, active in Turin as well as Sicily, France, and Portugal. He was a Theatine priest, mathematician, and writer.

Lorenzo Scupoli

Lorenzo (Lawrence) Scupoli (ca. 1530 – 28 November 1610) was the author of Il combattimento spirituale (The Spiritual Combat), one of the most important works of Catholic spirituality.

Saint Cajetan

Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene (October 1, 1480 – August 7, 1547), 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 August 7.

San Giuseppe dei Teatini

San Giuseppe dei Teatini is a church in the Sicilian city of Palermo. It is located near the Quattro Canti, and is considered one of the most outstanding examples of the Sicilian Baroque in Palermo.

The church was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Giacomo Besio, a Genoese member of the Theatines order. It has a majestic though simple façade. In the centre niche is housed a statue of San Gaetano, founder of the Theatines order. Another striking feature is the large dome with a blue and yellow majolica covering. The tambour decorated with double columns, and was designed by Giuseppe Mariani. The belfry tower was designed by Paolo Amato.

The interior has a Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles, divided by marble columns of variable height. The inner decoration is an overwhelming parade of Baroque art, with stuccoes by Paolo Corso and Giuseppe Serpotta. Great frescoes can be seen in the nave, in the vault of the transept: these were painted by Filippo Tancredi, Guglielmo Borremans and Giuseppe Velasquez. The frescoes were severely damaged during World War II, but have been accurately restored. The most important piece of art is however a wood crucifix by Fra' Umile of Petralia.

The crypt houses remains of a former church, dedicated to Madonna of Providence.

San Paolo Maggiore

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 (or Theatines). It is located on Piazza Gaetano, about 1-2 blocks north of Via dei Tribunali.

Sant'Andrea della Valle

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 (facing facade) and Corso Rinascimento.

Teramo Castelli

Teramo Cristoforo Castelli (1597 – 3 October 1659) was an Italian Theatine missionary, born of a noble family, who spent twenty-two years in Georgia from 1632 to 1654. He left seven volumes of travel notes and pen-and-ink sketches and other illustrations, mainly of the people and landscapes of Georgia. This manuscript was discovered and delivered to the municipal library of Palermo by the priest Gioacchino di Marzo in 1878 and brought to the attention of scholars of Georgia by Michel Tamarati in 1910.

Thomas de Castro

Dom Thomas de Castro (c.1621-1684) was a native of Divar in Goa, Portuguese India. The Holy See appointed him Vicar Apostolic of Canara on 30 August 1675. He later founded the famous Milagres Church in Mangalore, South Canara, Karnataka. He was the nephew of Dom Matheus de Castro (c.1594−1677), the first Indian Bishop of The Catholic Church.

Toussaint Bertin de la Doué

Toussaint Bertin de la Doué (or Thomas Bertin de la Doué) (1680 – 6 February 1743) was a French composer of the Baroque era. He worked as an organist for the Theatines, as a musician for the Duc d'Orléans and as a violinist and harpsichordist at the Paris Opéra (between 1714 and 1734). He wrote sacred music, songs, trios for two violins and basso continuo, and several operas.

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