The Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi is the French national church in Rome. It was founded in 1518 by the then Cardinal Giulio dei Medici (later Pope Clement VII) and completed in 1589 by Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana.
San Luigi dei Francesi Church Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza di San Luigi de’ Francesi, 5 – Rome (tel. +39 06 688271). Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9.30 till 12.45 and from 14.30 till 18.30; Saturdays from 09.30 till 12.15 and from 14.30 till 18.30; Sundays from 11.30 till 12.45 and from 14.30 till 18.30. Admission: Free.
History and description
The salamander carved into the facade of the church was the symbol of the French King Francis I. The statues on the facade also refer to French history as, apart from Saint Louis himself, famous Frenchmen such as Charlemagne are represented.
The church, which clearly embodies a baroque style, is especially famous because of the three paintings by Caravaggio dedicated to “Saint Matthew” and because of the frescoes by Domenichino, known as the “Histories of Saint Cecilia”.
The three paintings by Caravaggio are in the last chapel on the left, namely the “Calling of St. Matthew”, “St. Matthew and the Angel” and the “Martyrdom of Saint Matthew”. This chapel is called the Contarelli Chapel.
The broad, late Renaissance, facade can probably be attributed to Giacomo della Porta. Pilaster strips divide it into five arches, with three portals and two niches containing sculptures by LestacheÂ (1759).
The interior consists of three naves with five chapels on either side and a richly decorated marble altar.