San Luigi dei Francesi Church in Rome is the national church of the French. It is dedicated to St. Louis IX, King of France from 1226-1270. The church was designed by Giacomo della Porta and built by Domenico Fontana between 1518 and 1589. It was completed with the assistance of funding from Catherine de’ Medici who donated some property in the area.
In 1518, Pope Leo X gave permission for the French community to erect a church in Rome. The facade is by Giocomo Della Porta. The left niche has a statue of Charlemagne and the right niche has a statue of Louis IX. The coat of arms of France is in the tympanum.
The Chapel of Saint Cecelia has magnificent frescoes by Domenichino. These frescoes depict the Life of Saint Cecilia and include: St. Cecelia Distributes Clothing to the Poor, the Martydom of St. Cecelia and St. Cecelia in Glory.
Some of the other artists represented in the church are: Muziano who painted St. Nicholas of Bari and Antoine Derizet who decorated the ornate cupola. Massei painted St. Sebastian. The beautiful “Nativity” was done by Charles Mellin.
The church’s most famous cycle of paintings are in the Contarelli Chapel with tree paintings by Caravaggio depicting the life of St. Matthew: The Calling of St Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. The Calling of St. Matthew shows Christ with his extended hand showing Matthew as his choice. The Martyrdom of St. Matthew shows the apostle being dragged from the altar. The last painting was the altarpiece, St. Matthew and the Angel.
To see more of Caravaggio, visit the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Piazza del Popolo. You will find: The Conversion of St. Paul and the Martyrdom of St. Peter where he is being crucified upwide down. Then go to the Church of St. Augustine to see the “Madonna of the Pilgrims.”
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com
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