Rome Travel Guide

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San Luigi dei Francesi

  • Piazza di San Luigi dei Francesi Map It
  • Piazza Navona
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 06/20/2007

Fodor's Review

A pilgrimage spot for art lovers, San Luigi's Contarelli Chapel (the fifth and last chapel on the left, toward the main altar) is adorned with three stunningly dramatic works by Caravaggio (1571–1610), the Baroque master of the heightened approach to light and dark. They were commissioned for the tomb of Mattheiu Cointerel in one of Rome's French churches (San Luigi is St. Louis, patron saint of France). The inevitable coin machine will light up his Calling of Saint Matthew, Saint Matthew and the Angel, and Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (seen from left to right), and Caravaggio's mastery of light takes it from there. When painted, they caused considerable consternation to the clergy of San Luigi, who thought the artist's dramatically realistic approach was scandalously disrespectful. A first version of the altarpiece was rejected; the priests were not particularly happy with the other two, either. Time has fully vindicated Caravaggio's patron, Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who secured the commission for these works and stoutly defended them.

Sight Information


Piazza di San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Latium, 00186, Italy

Map It



Published 06/20/2007


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