San Luigi dei Francesi

Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

In 1589, the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi became the official church of Rome’s French community, and with true Bourbon flair, the church’s decorations are a celebration of France’s power and wealth, with gilded stucco, lavish marbles, and detailed ornament. But it can feel as though no one is noticing, since visitors usually head directly to the Contarelli Chapel in the transept to the left of the main altar, where three incredible Caravaggio paintings reside: The Calling of Saint Matthew, The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, and Saint Matthew and the Angel. Known as the Matthew Cycle, the beautifully detailed and dark oil paintings show off the best of the baroque painter.

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San Luigi dei Francesi

This church was built centuries ago as France’s key liaison to the Vatican, and the surrounding buildings still host French-affiliated religious and cultural associations. Upon entering, head straight for the chapel in the left aisle close to the altar. There, three Caravaggio paintings depicting scenes from the life of Matthew the Evangelist hang in the chapel of a French cardinal. Drop a coin in the adjacent box to illuminate the moody images.

See the St. Matthew Cycle at San Luigi dei Francesi

San Luigi dei Francesi is a lavishly decorated church in Rome near to the Pantheon, and is the seat of the cardinal of Paris in Rome. It contains three of the world’s most famous and most important paintings: The epically dark St. Matthew Cycle, by Caravaggio.

San Luigi dei Francesi

See the works of the late Renaissance bad-boy artist Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio in the church that they were originally designed for. The Contarelli Chapel in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi holds three magnificent paintings, located in the back lefthand corner of the church. Note that these artworks were meant to be seen by candlelight, so take a moment to let your eyes adjust when the bright light switches off.

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