Chiesa del Gesù

sights / Religious

Chiesa del Gesù information

Rome , Italy
Piazza del Gesù
Getting there
Bus: Largo di Torre Argentina
More information
rooms admission free
Opening hours
7am-12.30pm & 4-7.45pm, St Ignatius rooms 4-6pm Mon-Sat, 10am-noon Sun
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Rome's most important Jesuit church is a Counter-Reformation treasure trove, starring a swirling vault fresco by Giovanni Battista Gaulli (aka Il Baciccia). Equally opulent is Andrea del Pozzo’s tomb for Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola who lived in the church from 1544 until his death in 1556 – his private rooms are to the right of the main church.

The church is an imposing example of late-16th-century architecture and Giacomo della Porta's harmonious facade has been much copied over the centuries. But more than the masonry, it's the awesome gold and marble interior that sticks in the memory. The cupola frescoes and stucco decoration were designed by Baciccia, the creative force behind the hynotic ceiling masterpiece, the Trionfo del Nome di Gesù (Triumph of the Name of Jesus).

Baroque master Andrea Pozzo designed the Cappella di Sant'Ignazio in the northern transept. Here you'll find the tomb of Ignatius Loyola, the Spanish soldier and saint who founded the Jesuits in 1540. The altar-tomb is an opulent marble-and-bronze affair with columns encrusted with lapis lazuli. On top, the terrestrial globe, representing the Trinity, is the largest solid piece of lapis lazuli in the world. On either side are a couple of 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).

The Spanish saint lived in the church for 12 years until his death in 1556. You can visit his rooms, which contain a masterful trompe l'œil by Andrea del Pozzo, to the right of the church entrance.