Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Rooms of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

For this post I'd like to introduce you to one of those less known spots in Rome where you can breath some intriguing historical and religious vibe.
Nicknamed "The Rooms of Saint Ignatius" it's the tiny appartment where the Saint lived and died during his stay in Rome in the casa professa ("mother house") of the Society of Jesus.

To access the rooms you have to enter the building next to the Church of the Gesù and follow the course there. The path is covered with interesting portraits, documents and prints that work as a sort of introduction to the place.
The order of the Society of Jesus was founded on 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III Farnese.
The mother church of The Gesù was first conceived during 1551 by Ignatius himself, funded by Cardinal-Nephew Alessandro Farnese who imposed The Vignola and Giacomo della Porta as its architects, but consecrated only on 1584.
Meanwhile the Jesuits occupied the nearby mother house on 1544 as the first installment of their order. This is the same place where Saint Ignatius lived himself and died on 1556.
The building was then destroyed by a flood on 1598 and then rebuilt from the 1599 to 1623, the job funded by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, the nephew of the above mentioned Alessandro.
On this occasion the Rooms, that were left in their original state (and it was quite the achitectural feat!), where enriched by beautiful frescoes that decorated their entrance and corridor. The main author is the Jesuit painter Andrea Pozzo, who's the mastermind behind the beautiful trompe l'oeil effect, even if the job was started by The Borgognone, who was hand-picked by the Superior General of the time, Claudio Acquaviva.

The frescoes are definitely the main attraction of the site, making it worth a visit even if you're not Catholic or religious, just for their beautiful execution.

They obviously portray scenes, miracles and events connected to the life of Saint Ignatius. Finally the ceiling shows "Saint Ignatius ascends Heaven". To appreciate the whole perspective effect you have to look at the corridor from the spot signed by a rose on the floor.

The windows are decorated by beautiful stained glasses whose author I couldn't find, but in my opinion are still worth a good look.
--Once you're done with the corridor, on the left you can access the apartment of the Saint by some tiny stairs.

Besides the original furnitures and relics, I was very amused by the various documents and belonging of the Saint! Here you can see the formal request to the Pope to recognize the Society of Jesus, and a copy of his "Spiritual Exercises".

It's free, interesting and well-organized... Definitely worth a visit, isn't it?