Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi

Top choice church in Centro Storico

Church to Rome’s French community since 1589, this opulent baroque chiesa is home to a celebrated trio of Caravaggio paintings: the Vocazione di San Matteo (The Calling of Saint Matthew), the Martirio di San Matteo (The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew) and San Matteo e l’angelo (Saint Matthew and the Angel), known collectively as the St Matthew cycle.

These three canvases, housed in the Cappella Contarelli to the left of the main altar, are among the earliest of Caravaggio's religious works, painted between 1600 and 1602, but they are inescapably his, featuring a down-to-earth realism and the stunning use of chiaroscuro (the bold contrast of light and dark).

Before you leave the church, take a moment to enjoy Domenichino’s faded 17th-century frescoes of St Cecilia in the second chapel on the right. St Cecilia is also depicted in the altarpiece by Guido Reni, which is a copy of a work by Raphael.


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