The undisputed headliners of the sumptuous 16th-century Church of Saint Louis the French (Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi), commissioned by the Medici family and located near Rome’s elegant Piazza Navona, are three magnificent masterpieces by Caravaggio, among the baroque artist’s few surviving works that can be viewed in their original location.The Basics
The Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi was built by Domenico Fontana and Giacomo della Porta and houses Caravaggio’s spectacular Saint Matthew series, among the artist’s most important paintings in Rome. Join a themed tour that focuses specifically on Caravaggio’s life and work to view his The Calling of Saint Matthew (Vocazione di San Matteo)
, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (San Matteo e Angelo)
, and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (Martirio di San Matteo)
In addition to the Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi, tours of Rome’s top baroque monuments and artists also include stops at the Church of St. Andrew of the Thickets (Chiesa di Sant'Andrea della Valle) and the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola) to see additional works by Bernini, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Things to Know Before You Go
- Remember to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees to enter the church.
- Tours of Rome's baroque churches and monuments require quite a bit of time on your feet, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Due to the stairs at the entrance to the church, it is not accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
- Photography without a flash is allowed inside the church.
- The church is free to enter, but bring some coins to light up the Contarelli Chapel, where the Caravaggio paintings are located.
How to Get There
The Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi is set on the square of the same name right in the center of Rome. It’s a quick walk from Piazza Navona, where many buses stop.When to Get There
Rome is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and its main churches can be crowded during the busy summer months. Try to visit first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon to enjoy the stunning Caravaggios in relative peace.
The Medicis in Rome
The Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi was commissioned in the early 16th century by the Medici cardinal who later became Pope Clement VII. Catherine de Medici had married the French king, and the connection between Rome and France was cemented by Catherine’s donation of some of the land on which the church was built. San Luigi dei Francesi has been the national church of France in Rome since it was consecrated in 1589.