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San Luigi dei Francesi

Attractions, Religious buildings and sites
San Luigi dei Francesi

Completed in 1589, San Luigi (St Louis) is the church of Rome’s French community.

Completed in 1589, San Luigi (St Louis) is the church of Rome’s French community. Most visitors ignore the gaudily lavish interior, and make a beeline for Caravaggio’s spectacular scenes from the life of St Matthew in the last chapel on the left, the funerary chapel of Matheiu Cointrel. Italianised as the Contarelli Chapel, it was the first of Caravaggio’s major church commissions. He was awarded the contract thanks to the intervention of his patron, the Cardinal del Monte, a retainer of the Medici whose Rome palace, the Palazzo Madama (now the Italian Senate), was next to the French church.

Painted in 1600-02, the scenes depict Christ singling out a very reluctant Matthew in a contemporary tavern setting (left), Matthew attacked by his assassins, clearly reluctant to succumb to martyrdom (right) and an angel briefing the evangelist about what he should write in his gospel (over the altar).

Don’t let Caravaggio’s brooding brilliance and dramatic effects of light and shade blind you to the lovely frescoes of scenes from the life of St Cecilia by Domenichino (1615-17), which are in the second chapel on the right. Take a few coins for instant meter- operated illumination.

By: Time Out editors


Venue name: San Luigi dei Francesi
Address: Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi
00186 Roma RM
Opening hours: 9.30am-12.45pm Mon-Fri; 9.30am-12.15pm, Sat; 11.30am-12.45pm Mon-Fri.
Transport: Metro Spagna
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