The French National Church, founded by Cardinal Giulio dei Medici (future Pope Clement VII) in 1518, was completed in 1589 by Domenico Fontana, based on a design by Giacomo della Porta.
It stands on the square of the same name with its large late Renaissance facade, surmounted by a triangular tympanum with the coat of arms of France.
The facade, covered in travertine, is divided by pilasters into five spans, has three portals, and statues by Pierre Lestache (1758) depicting Charlemagne, Louis IX of France, Saint Clotilde and Saint Joan of Valois.
The interior has three naves, marked by massive arches separated by pillars, with five chapels on each side, a presbytery, and covered by an elaborate barrel vault. The second chapel of the right aisle is dedicated to Santa Cecilia and houses the frescoes with the stories of the life of the saint by Domenichino, and the altarpiece by Guido Reni.
In the last chapel of the left aisle, there is the Contarelli Chapel, named after the Italianized name of the French cardinal Mathieu Cointrel, which houses three paintings by Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, made between 1599 and 1602. In homage to the name of the client, the artworks are dedicated to St. Matthew and represent: the Calling of St. Matthew, St. Matthew and the Angel and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew. In the vault, frescoes by Cavalier d'Arpino.
On the choir above the entrance door, is the magnificent organ, built by Joseph Merklin in 1881.
The church also houses some tombs, including those of Pauline de Beaumont, built by her lover François-René de Chateaubriand, of cardinal François Joachin de Bernis, ambassador of the kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, and Frédéric Bastiat, 19th-century economist and liberal writer.
For the timetable of the masses and visiting conditions, please consult the contacts.
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