The Calling of St. Matthew

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Church of San Luigi dei Francesi – Rome

Rome - St Luigi dei Francesi - interior
Rome - St Luigi dei Francesi - facadeRome - St Luigi dei Francesi - domeRome - St Luigi dei Francesi - ceiling

A quick walk from Piazza Navona will bring you to visit the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, France’s national church in Rome.

In 898 The Abbey of Farfa was burned down during a Saracen invasion; the monks escaped and settled in Rome. Here they built a church dedicated to St. Mary. In 1480 the property became part of the Medici’s estate. They commissioned the construction of a new church and changed the name in Saint Louis of the French. It was designed by Giacomo Della Porta and built by Domenico Fontana during the 16th century.

The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St. Denis and St. Louis IX, king of France.

For years the higher prelates and members of the French community of Rome were buried here.

Things to see

Designing the church’s exterior Della Porta used a method that later was much copied: the façade decoration is completely independent from the rest of the building.

Walking inside the church it is possible to admire Domenichino’s masterpieces: a series of frescoes representing the Histories of Saint Cecilia.

However St. Louis of the French is mostly famous for the cycle of paintings dedicated to St. Matthew’s life by the Baroque genius Caravaggio. Visitors from all around the world come here to contemplate the famous canvases of The Calling of St Matthew, The inspiration of St Matthew and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew.