The Church of St. Louis of the French (Italian: San Luigi dei Francesi, French: Saint Louis des Français, Latin: S. Ludovici Francorum de Urbe) is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, not far from Piazza Navona. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St. Denis the Areopagite and St. Louis IX, king of France. The church was designed by Giacomo della Porta and built by Domenico Fontana between 1518 and 1589, and completed through the personal intervention of Catherine de' Medici, who donated to it some property in the area. It is the national church in Rome of France. It is a titular church. The current Cardinal-Priest of the title is André Vingt-Trois, former Archbishop of Paris.
When the Saracens burned the Abbey of Farfa in 898, a group of refugees settled in Rome. Some monks remained in Rome even after their abbot Ratfredus (934–936) rebuilt the abbey. By the end of the tenth century, the Abbey of Farfa owned in Rome churches, houses, windmills and vineyards. A bull of Holy Roman Emperor Otto III in 998 confirms the property of three churches: Santa Maria, San Benedetto and the oratorio of San Salvatore. When they ceded their property to the Medici family in 1480, the church of Santa Maria became the church of Saint Louis of the French. Cardinal Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici commissioned Jean de Chenevières to build a church for the French community in 1518. Chenevières' design was for an octagonal, centrally planned edifice. Building was halted when Rome was sacked in 1527, and the church was finally completed in 1589 by Domenico Fontana and Giacomo della Porta, who designed the façade, according to an entirely different design. The church was consecrated by the Cardinal François de Joyeuse, Protector of France before the Holy See, on 8 October 1589. The interior was restored by Antoine Dérizet between 1749 and 1756.
Jessica Arner | Feb 24, 2018
This site pleasantly surprised me. It is easily one of my favorite places in the city. Such a beautiful church! I went to see the Caravaggios and stopped at Giolittis Gelateria (very nearby) for gelato on my way out. Worth your time ;)
Carla Gabrielli | Dec 10, 2017
Beautiful church and a great opportunity to see the paintings of Caravaggio outside of a museum. Only in Rome would paintings of such splendor be in a little church that most of the crowds a block away in Piazza Navona have never heard
Tom Malling | Oct 21, 2017
Nice church to rest your tired legs, listening to engel songs and looking at golden artwork all around the beautiful room with lit candles.
Brian Mitchell | Dec 15, 2017
Beautiful cathedral we found walking the back streets of Rome between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
Marta Ćwiklińska | Nov 12, 2017
Frédéric Bastiat is buried here so you definitely must come here.
Martha Waning | Mar 23, 2018
Probably the most beautiful Cathedral I have ever been to. The building and the painting are a work of art! A must if you are around.
Jeff Taylor | Mar 11, 2018
Astonishing church interior. Go just for the Caravaggio paintings but you'll be amazed by everything else.
Jennifer Hart | Apr 8, 2018
One of my favourite churches in Rome. It is definitely worth the trip for the three fantastic Caravaggio paintings. Head straight in, you'll find them to the left of the alter depicting St. Matthew. It's also a great opportunity to get out of the hustle and bustle of the centre. Pop in for ten minutes for a moment of calm - it's definitely worth it.
Alan Milligan | May 29, 2018
The best place to see Carravaggio, in situ. Bring 2 euros to light the paintings. The most beautiful paintings in the most obscure setting imaginable :)
Yao L | Jun 7, 2018
A smaller church than the other ones I visited. Trying to figure out what makes it special. Probably the little angles. Is Cupid here?
Cymro Catholig | May 19, 2018
Beautiful church, especially the Vocation of St Matthew. If you do come, please try to remember that it is a working church and therefore a sacred space to Catholics, and not just a museum.
Jim Hurley | May 17, 2018
Fabulous church you must see. The caravaggio paintings, old time atmosphere and solemnity are worth a visit.
P. Kowalski | Jun 17, 2018
The church might be beautiful, but there are lots of beautiful churches in Rome; it is for the Caravaggios you should put this place on your absolute must-see list. And they are truly remarkable.
Leyla Misono | Jun 29, 2018
This is my second favourite church in Rome (first is Saint'Ignazio di Loyola), that I keep revisiting over and over again, and not because of the Caravaggio painting but for its grand, majestic beauty.
alberto emiliani | Aug 8, 2018
Ogni volta che vado a Roma, devo passare da San Luigi dei Francesi. I tre dipinti di Caravaggio tolgono il respiro, lasciano senza parole. Dopo averli guardati -- e si resta lì un bel po' di tempo, continuando a mettere monetine per avere la luce -- tutti gli altri dipinti della chiesa sembrano piatti, privi di profondità. E la luce di Caravaggio ha una tale intensità che pare uscire dal dipinto.
Mike Lanigan | Aug 6, 2018
If you’ve never seen a real Caravaggio or if you’re a fan of his work then you’re in for a treat here! Not one but three paintings by Caravaggio, together in one place, in a tiny chapel inside the already artistically impressive church. There are three Caravaggios all about Matthew the disciple, and my favourite one of the three is “The Calling of Matthew”. You don’t have to be an art aficionado to appreciate the skill and vision of this artist and his creations. Located near enough to the Piazza Navona and on the tourist trail from the Pantheon so you should really try visit if you’re in this area. Try to get a guided tour (free!) which are available in a number of languages. Any tips are donated and appreciated. The young people conducting these free tours work part of the summer there and come from different countries. When I visited I met a girl from Romania who spoke excellent English and who was very knowledgable about the church and especially the Caravaggios. NB: This church is sovereign French territory and is also a fully functioning church so endeavour to be respectful of this fact when visiting - it’s a church not a museum - you will be shushed if you’re too loud (you have been warned!) and also prayed for by those present who are praying! Just try to remember it’s not a museum and you’ll be fine!
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