Saint Louis of the French, some curiosities

interno della chiesa san luigi dei francesi a roma con affreschi di caravaggio

A few steps from our restaurant is the splendid San Luigi Dei Francesi church, a true architectural and artistic jewel, which houses some of the Maestro's most beautiful works Caravaggio. Precisely for this reason, the church is well known both to Romans and to tourists who come there from all over the world.

Here we will try to tell you its lesser-known and more fascinating story.

Saint Louis of the French Rome, history

The history of this church is inextricably linked to that of French community who has resided in the capital for some time. In fact, it all began in 1478, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a small chapel near Sant'Andrea della Valle to the French Colony of Rome, which was then exchanged with other possessions due to the need to build a larger national church.

The works officially began in 1518, but ended many years later, in 1589 to be precise, under the guidance of Domenico Fontana. Over the years there were clearly renovation works, but the layout of the building always remained the same, as did its main function, that of being the parish intended to welcome the French residents of the capital.

The exaltation of France

From an artistic point of view, the entire church is a tribute to France and its history. As soon as you find yourself in front of the façade covered in travertine, it will not be difficult for you to recognize the statues that decorate it: they are Charlemagne, Saint Louis, Saint Clotilde and Saint Joan of Valois. Characters very dear to the French people.

In the same way, the internal space also hosts some important pictorial representations for France, such as theApotheosis of Saint Louis and Saint Denis, or the representation of Life of Clovis. There are also some tombs belonging to eminent people of the community, such as Tomb of Pauline de Beaumont, built here at the behest of the writer Chateaubriand. In short, everything here was designed as if it were a true exaltation of France, with the aim of making the members of the community who resided in our country feel at home.

Caravaggio and the San Luigi dei Francesi church

Although it is linked to the French Community, this church owes its fame above all to wonderful paintings by Caravaggio which it houses within it. Walking along the left nave and reaching the fifth chapel, otherwise known as the Contarelli Chapel, you will find some of the most beautiful works of the famous Milanese painter. These are three made between 1597 and 1602, which make up a pictorial cycle entirely dedicated to San Matteo: "The vocation of Saint Matthew“, “Saint Matthew and the Angel" And "The martyrdom of Saint Matthew“.

The works are known to everyone, and really everything has been written about them. Here we can tell you that you will notice for yourself that these belong to the full artistic maturity of Caravaggio, which reached the highest moment of his entire production here. In front of these canvases it will be clear to you that the luminism, that is, the dramatic and intense use of light and shadow that characterizes the Milanese painter, has reached its peak and has materialized in the splendid canvas of "The Vocation of Saint Matthew", where the balance between light and shadow is absolutely Perfect.

If you want to admire the works of Caravaggio and then treat yourself to a lunch break or a dinner at Taste, we suggest you check San Luigi dei Francesi Rome timetables. The Church remains open every day except Thursday in two time slots: from 10:00 to 12.30, and from 15:00 to 19:00. Perfect times to combine your artistic destination with a delicious culinary stop.