San Luigi dei Francesi
The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi (St. Louis of the French), in the neighbourhood of Piazza Navona in Rome, was designed by Giacomo della Porta and then built by the architect Domenico Fontana between 1518 and 1589; vital was the intervention of Catherine de’ Medici, who gave some lands in that area. Ever since, it has been the National Church of France in Rome, dedicated to the Virgin, St. Dionigi Areopagita and St. Luis IX.
The church is world-wide famous for the internal decorations: it boast several paintings by artists of high calibre like Domenichino (author of a beautiful fresco cycle dedicated to Saint Cecilia), Girolamo Muziano, Cavalier d’Arpino and Siciolante da Sermoneta.
Last but not least, the church preserved a Caravaggio’s masterpieces, the cycle of paintings dedicated to St. Matthew decorating the Contarelli Chapel. The chapel, ordered by the French Cardinal Matteo Contarelli (Matthieu Cointrel) houses three paintings: The Calling of Saint Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, realised by the Great Master between the 1599 and 1602. The first version of the Calling of Saint Matthew was refused by the purchaser because of its extreme realism, and unfortunately it has been destroyed during a bombing in the Second World War.