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50. The wonderful fresco of Saint Ignatius' church

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

By - Giulio D'Ercole

During our Rome by Day tours, being them the "Beauty and History" one or "Churches, Angels, and Art", we will surely walk from the amazing Pantheon towards Piazza Venezia, and on our path, we will come across the beautiful Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius. This is a Roman Catholic titular church, dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, and it was built in the typical Baroque style, between 1626 and 1650. Initially, the church functioned as the chapel of the adjacent Roman College, which moved in 1584 to a new larger building and was renamed the Pontifical Gregorian University, one of the most prestigious universities in the Catholic world.

When we will enter the church, we will be immediately be charmed by its beauty, but what will really amaze us will be the fresco above our heads.

Painted by a Jesuit lay brother, that went by the name of Andrea Pozzo, the fresco celebrates the work of Saint Ignatius and the Society of Jesus in the world, presenting the saint welcomed into paradise by Christ and the Virgin Mary and surrounded by allegorical representations of all four continents. In perfect line with the Baroque style of those times, which loved to play with perspectives and "tromp l'oeil", Pozzo worked to open up, even dissolve the surface of the nave's barrel vault through an optical illusion, so to make an observer see a huge and lofty cupola by opening it to the bright sky, which was filled with upward floating figures. The perfect spot to watch this amazing fresco is a marble disk set into the middle of the nave floor.

Placed on a stand on the floor, a magnifying mirror will allow us to see, reflected on it, all details of the fresco.

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