Chiesa del Gesù
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Piazza del Gesù · interesting places nearby
Chiesa del Gesù information
An imposing example of Counter-Reformation architecture, Rome's most important Jesuit church is a treasure trove of baroque art. Headline works include a swirling vault fresco by Giovanni Battista Gaulli (aka Il Baciccia), and Andrea del Pozzo’s opulent tomb for Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola. The Spanish saint lived in the church from 1544 until his death in 1556 and you can visit his private rooms to the right of the main building.
The church, which was consecrated in 1584, is fronted by an impressive and much-copied facade by Giacomo della Porta. But more than the masonry, the real draw here is the church's lavish interior. The cupola frescoes and stucco decoration were designed by Baciccia, who also painted the hynotic ceiling fresco, the Trionfo del Nome di Gesù (Triumph of the Name of Jesus).
In the northern transept, the Cappella di Sant’Ignazio houses the tomb of Ignatius Loyola, the Spanish soldier and saint who founded the Jesuits in 1540. The altar-tomb, designed by baroque maestro Andrea Pozzo, is an opulent marble-and-bronze affair with lapis lazuli–encrusted columns, and, on top, a lapis lazuli globe representing the Trinity. On either side are sculptures whose titles neatly encapsulate the Jesuit ethos: to the left, Fede che vince l'Idolatria (Faith Defeats Idolatry); and on the right, Religione che flagella l'Eresia (Religion Lashing Heresy).