Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesù)

"Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesù)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 9th May 2011

inside interior of Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesù), Rome

The full name of this principal Jesuit church in Rome is Chiesa del SS.Nome di Gesu'. The Gesù was conceived in 1551 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits Society of Jesus. At its dedication in 1584, it was the largest and first completely new church built in Rome since the sack of 1527. It was built in 1568-1584 on the site of some demolished buildings and Chiesetta di S.Maria della Strada, on expenses of cardinal Alessandro Farnese. The project of interior was by Vignola, and of the facade and dome by G.Della Porta. The main entrance is surmounted by a big coat-of-arms with the Jesuits monogram. This church served as an example for the other Jesuits churches of Europe.
Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesù) at Piazza del Gesù, Via degli Astalli, Rome

The interior is heavily decorated and has no aisles. On either side of the nave are three chapels. The vault fresco "Triumph of the Name of Jesus", the frescoes of the dome and the tribune are by Baciccia. He also designed the stucco decoration, executed by A.Raggi and Leonardo Retti. The marble decoration of the nave dates from 1858-61.

The church, officially the "Chiesa del Gesù," is pure Baroque. Architectural historians reluctant to recognise it as pure "Sicilian Baroque" nevertheless concede that it is one of the most remarkable churches of its kind south of Rome, rivalled in the central Mediterranean only by the cathedral of Saint John in Valletta, Malta. Casa Professa was the Jesuits' conventual seat in western Sicily, and they had several other monasteries around the island and in the city of Palermo.

The first chapel on the right has an altarpiece and frescoes by Agostino Ciampelli. In the 3rd chapel on the right the altarpiece, vault and walls were all painted by F.Zuccari. The first chapel on the left has vault frescoes by Pomarancio and two paintings by F.Mola. The second chapel on the left has vault frescoes also by Pomarancio and 17th century paintings by G.F.Romanelli.

The church of the Gesù was conceived as a single hall without aisles to allow for large congregations and provide good acoustics for preaching. Its plan and decoration, variously described as late Renaissance or early Baroque, would have a tremendous influence on church design in Italy and around the world in subsequent centuries, even inspiring the now-contested term, "the Jesuit style".

The elegant sacristy is by G.Rainaldi. The altarpiece of the altar of S.Francesco Saverio in the right transept was designed by P.da Cortona and executed by C.Maratta; it has a hand of the saint. The high altar and presbytery were redesigned in 1843 by A.Sarti from the previous by G.Della Porta. The high altarpiece is by Alessandro Capalti (1842). On the left is a bust of cardinal Roberto Bellarmine by G.L.Bernini and a bust of blessed Giuseppe Pignatelli.

The left transept has an altar-tomb of St Ignatius, by A.Pozzo (1700), made of marble and bronze; the statue of St Ignatius is a copy by A.Tadolini of the original by P.Legros the Y. Above is a group of the Trinity by Leonardo Retti. In front of the altar is a magnificent balustrade with the groups "Religion Triumphing over Heresy", by Legros, and "Barbarians Adorning the Faith", by J.B.Theodon.

Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesù)
Piazza del Gesù, Via degli Astalli, 16
00186, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Pigna (Torre Argentina) (Roma centro)
Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesù) is Shown By "Map E Zone" As "128"
Hours: Every day 07.00am-12.30pm 04pm-07.45pm. Masses: Weekdays 07.00am, 08.00am, 09.00am, 10.00am, 12.00am, 07..00pm.,
Sunday and Holidays 08:00am, 09.00am, 10.00am, 11.00am, 12.30pm, 07.00pm
Telephone: 0039 06 697001, +39 345 441 65 45 (emergency only)
Fax: 0039 06 69700263

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