Thinking of France when in Rome.
The first thing I did in this morning was to check the news of Notre Dame… sadly the historical church was on fire yesterday, I am shocked still, what a devastating to happen to art and history…deeply mourning here. on the other hand, the good news is they promise to rebuild it at all costs. We are with you France!
Today’s sharing is related to France. After the iconic Pantheon, we get around in the Piazza Navona, thinking of getting to the next attraction Largo di Torre Argentina, but we didn’t have wifi, so we ended up wandering on the street trying to figure out the map, and suddenly we saw the dragon carving on the wall. It was so interesting, we came closer, then realized it’s San Luigi dei Francesi (Church of St. Louis of the French)!
First of all, let’s learn the background of St. Louis:
Louis IX was a reformer and developed French royal justice, in which the king was the supreme judge to whom anyone could appeal to seek the amendment of a judgment. He banned trials by ordeal, tried to prevent the private wars that were plaguing the country, and introduced the presumption of innocence in criminal procedure.
He is the only French king to be declared a saint. Louis IX is often considered the model of the ideal Christian monarch. The impact of his canonization was so great that many of his successors were named Louis.
The church is built in the 16th century, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St. Denis the Areopagite and St. Louis for the French community in Rome.
It’s a beautiful church indeed, but what it truly impressed me is the paintings by Caravaggio. one of the four greatest masters of Italian art history.
The chapel of the left side of the main altar – Contarelli Chapel the life of St. Matthew. This includes the three world-renowned canvases of The Calling of St Matthew (on the left wall), The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (above the altar), and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (on the right wall).
Great treasure found of these three artworks, the light and dark contrast with incredible composition and storytelling. I like The Calling of St Matthew mostly, which immediately draw the attention of the viewer into the story. It is like he is saying “ME?” I found it really is an amazing job. Here are the story behind it:
Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. It is never a fun job (somethings never change!), and of course, he was hated by the people. The Pharisees lumped tax collectors with “sinners” (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. You can see the doubt and surprise all in the painting!
People asked Jesus why to summon Matthew, and he answered: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13).
Another little treasure in the church is Joan of Arc statue standing at the end of the church, it’s believed to touch the foot of Joan is a sign of respect, I love that little touch of at the end of the visit, parfait!
I highly recommend that visit the Church of St. Louis of the French, the time we visit is not crowded but only some small tour and school tour groups. to be able to get so close to the masterpieces is incredibly joyful. not to miss here, you will like it a lot!
Tips for visiting Church of St. Louis of the French:
- Timing! The church closes for lunch each day from 12:30 to 3 p.m. On Thursday, the church closes after lunch for the rest of the day.
- there is little donate box on the wall beside the Caravaggio’s works, it requires a small amount of coin to light up the chapel, so don’t be surprised if the light is off.
- always respect the church by talk and walk with lower volume.
Such a treasure found from day 1, are you intrigued by this post to see Rome yourself soon? follow me ＠gabbie_arciniegas & @betterthanauthentic on Instagram or sign up the newsletter of the blog! you will get notification of new post here! Ciao!
This post is one of the attractions from our Ultimate Rome 6 day trip itinerary Day 1, you can click each of the names to see the full post.
Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)→ Pantheon & Fontana del Pantheon→ Obelisco Della Minerva (Elephant and Obelisk)→ Church of St. Louis of the French (San Luigi dei Francesi) → Largo di Torre Argentina→ Capitoline Museums