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Rome: Church of Gesu ( The Jesuit Church )

 

​About the Gesu Church:

This Church, sometimes called the “Gesu Church” is the Mother Church the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit order), founded by Saint Ignantius of Loyola. It is perhaps a hidden gem in this city of over 800 Churches and well worth a visit.  It was built for the Society of Jesus by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and consecrated in 1584.  The church has served as model for hundreds of future Jesuit churches all over the world.

The church was consecrated by Cardinal Giulio Antonio Santorio, the delegate of pope Gregory XIII, on November 25, 1584.

Now that we have a Jesuit Pope, it will no doubt gain popularity among pilgrims.

The "dome" of the Gesu Church is an optical illusion..the ceiling is flat
The “dome” is an optical illusion..the ceiling is flat. Photo courtesy Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

The ceiling of the Church is an optical illusion: it looks like a dome, but it is not—it is painted to look like one and is a center of attention.

In addition to the magnificent frescoes on the ceiling and the wonderful architecture, it is also home to several interesting aspects of Catholic history.

 

As you enter the Church you will find the a reliquary containing the right arm of St. Francis Xavier, who was co-founder of the Jesuits (and with this arm baptized an estimated 300,000 people). He came here on foot after his missionary journeys to France and Spain, and ended up dying in the arms of Saint Ignatius. He was proclaimed a saint March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.   The rest of his body is entombed in Goa, India.

The largest of the chapels houses the tomb of Saint Ignatius and is naturally the main point of interest in the Church.

Many of those visiting the Gesu Church are unaware of the fact that the house next door is the where Saint Ignatius lived for 17 years and where wrote the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus (the original copy is on display here).

The desk where St Ignatius wrote his "Spiritual Exercises"
The room with his desk next door to the church

Only four rooms remain of the original building, built in 1543, since much of it was destroyed in a flood of the Tiber River in 1598. But you can tour these rooms which see some of his original furniture (the desk he used actually belonged to St. Francis Xavier), a bust of Saint Ignatius and some of his personal affects. The bust is what is called a “death mask”, taken especially of someone considered holy at the time of his death.

Connected to the room where he did his writing is a small chapel, built over the room where he died. If you are traveling with a priest you can also make arrangements to say Mass here in this small chapel, which contains the desk used by Saint Ignatius.

Another chapel, dedicated to Saint Joachim, has the tomb of Saint Robert Bellarmine.

Also entombed in the church is Saint Rose Venerini, M.P.V, who founded the Religious Teachers Venerini, and beginning in 1685, founded schools throughout Italy, receiving an important endorsement from Pope Clement XI in 1716. After that, many Bishops requested schools to be established by her order.

The Gesu Church is open daily from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and  4:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. We recommend that you contact them for exact times and also their Mass schedule.

Finding the Gesu Church in Rome:

Address: Chiesa del Gesù, Via degli Astalli, 16, 00186 Roma

GPS coordinates: 41° 53′ 45.3264” N, 12° 28′ 47.5032” E

Tel:   (+39)   06 69 70 0

email: use the contact form on their website

Click here for the official website of the Church of the Gesu in Rome.

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9 thoughts on “Rome: Church of Gesu (The Jesuit Church)”

  1. I am visiting Rome and would so love to visit the Church of Gesu and the rooms of Saint Ignatius. I am travelling with the Deacon from my Parish and his wife. Do we need to book to see the rooms? We will be there on the 28th February.
    Thank you for reading this.

    Reply
  2. Father Goswin Nickel the 10th Jesuit General was the brother of my direct ancestors. I know father Nickel died in Rome in 1664. Would you know where his thombe is and if I can visit it?

    Reply
    • Currently it is in the Fairfield University Art Museum. Here is their info:

      1073 North Benson Road
      Fairfield, Connecticut 06824
      (203) 254-4000

      Reply

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