St. Cajetan Thiene with the Baby Jesus and the Madonna

Circa 1740
Oil on canvas
Church of St. Mary of the Rosary, Ginosa, Italy

The painting illustrates St. Cajetan's vision of 1517. On Christmas Eve, while he was praying at a crèche in Rome, the Virgin Mary placed the Christ Child into his arms. As usual, the saint is pictured in his black Theatine cassock with the high collar. In the lower left corner are the book and lily stalk often seen in his images. Also traditional are Mary's red robe and blue mantle.

St. Cajetan was the son of the Count of Thiene, of a family that claimed noble antecedents as far back as the 5th century (Acta Sanctorum, August vol. 2, 240). One would think that the crown at his knee would refer to an act of renouncing the position of count. This is certainly what crowns or mitres on the floor symbolize in many other images. But no such act is recorded in the sources surveyed in Cajetan's article in the Acta Sanctorum, nor do they make clear whether he was the first of the count's three sons. Another image of the saint shows a crown descending upon his head from Heaven, which can be interpreted as a sign of divine favor, so perhaps the crown in this painting has the same significance.

Read more about images of St. Cajetan.

Source: this page at Wikimedia Commons.