Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Il Gesù, a Glass of Wine and The World Most Awesome Ceiling

There are a lot of amazing, incredible, magnificent (insert adjective here) ceilings in Rome. The Sistine Chapel, for instance. This one, at Il Gesù, I had to see. The only problem is that when I got to the church, it was closed and would be closed, for another hour. Oy. 

Il Gesù
Consecrated in 1584

Oh look, a place where I can have a glass of wine! As I sat there, right across from the church, taking a load off and writing in my travel journal, I also watched, as other people tried to open the door to Il Gesù. A lady, in front of a side door, over and over, would tell people to come back later. I don't really think she worked there. She just looked like she enjoyed being the one to tell people what to do.

Most of the churches reopen around 3 o'clock or 3:30, but not all. So, check the websites, if you are on a time constraint. The website for Il Gesù says it reopens at 4:00 but recommends visiting between 4:30 and 7:00 pm. Maybe they turn the lights on at some point, because when I was there, nowhere near 7, it was already getting pretty dark, as you'll see.

Wine and Il Gesù...

Here is an absolutely gorgeous Vivaldi violin concerto, for your visit to Il Gesù ...

When the church opened, this masterpiece of the Baroque, did not disappoint.

There are painted wood and stucco figures, that were added to the ceiling fresco, extending out beyond the frame, and over the gold guilt coffered ceiling. The effect is stunning! 

Triumph of the Holy Name of Jesus 
Giovanni Battista Gaulli, called Bacaccia 

A glaze of painted shadow were even painted, on the coffered ceiling, to make it look even more three dimensional. Absolutely magnificent.

Central dome with fresco  by Baccacia

As with many churches, in Rome, you put coins in a little box, to make the lights go on, so you can see the masterpieces. 

I loved the mirror, they had put on the ground, so that you could look at the frescoes without ending up with a pinched nerve, or a slipped disc. Great idea, huh?

Il Gesu, is the mother church of Jesuits. In 1540, Pope PauI III recognized the Jesuits, and St. Ignatius, who founded the order, started fundraising. When the church was first conceived, and the foundation was laid during the Renaissance (1550s) it was much more simple and austere. 

Then along came the Counter-Reformation, in the 1600s, with the drama of the Baroque, and you can see that the whole "austere" thing, went out the window. 

It was so dark, I felt like I should be carrying around a torch. I'm sure it didn't help that it was cloudy  and late in the day.

Shafts of light, from the setting sun ...

Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I lit candles, here, for my friends and family. It was so beautiful! Often, I love simplicity (believe it or not) but there was something so beautiful about this little, ornate chapel, that made you feel like you were praying inside a delicate, Fabergé egg. And, it was almost perfectly silent.

True prayer is an expression of the soul,
an urge from the soul.
It is a hunger for God that arises from within,
expressing itself to Him 
~Paramahansa Yogananda

More photographs of the ceiling. Next time ... a telephoto lens and a camera with higher speeds, for dim light. (Always looking for a reason to go back!)

talk to Him;
Then He cannot remain away from you.

Capella della Madonna della strada

With the light (or lack of it) you can either get a photo of the little painting or the interior space. Well, sort of. It's a lovely little icon of the Madonna and child, and there was something about the beautiful warm stonework and the slender, graceful candles, that I just loved. 

Cappella di San Francesco Saverio

I brought up the light on these photos, on my computer, but alas ... still very dark. At least you get a little of it.

The secret of effective prayer
is to change your status
from beggar, to child of God;
When you appeal to Him from that consciousness,
your prayer will have both power and wisdom.
~Paramahansa Yogananda 

It was worth the wait.

Façade of Il Gesù by Giacomo della Porta

Notice the light, in the photo above, top right?

Here's a video from "Smart History" with great information and wonderful shots of the church.

It was time to work my way back up to my neighborhood, East of the Spanish Steps. I was south of the Pantheon, and it was starting to get a little dark outside ...

Heading east, I looked to the South to a view of Piazza Venezia and Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emmanuel II (the first king of a unified Italy.) Romans refer to it as "the typewriter."

I passed many more churches. as I began to head north ...

San Marcello al Corso

And before heading back to my cozy room, I thought I'd better throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain. (It's worked so far!)

Here I am, after throwing a coin in the fountain, to assure my return to Rome!

Check out the Sacred Destinations page on Il Gesù here, for some great info and pictures that were taken, with the lights on! Clearly the photographer had some pull!

Official website of Il Gesù

A few more posts of Rome to come, before moving on to Umbria, though I may have to share some of my recent adventures in Southern California, as well! 

I had a lovely day in Santa Barbara with my Mom, a gorgeous trip to the L.A. Arboretum, and was a guest at the season 1 wrap party of the TV show Las Vegas. (Yes I met Dennis Quaid, and yes, he is still sexy. ;)

Hope you are all enjoying a lovely April, and finding adventures, 
in your own backyard and beyond!

Blessings and light!


Merisi said...


I walked by the church often (I lived close-by). Remember hot summer afternoons and entering the church, the cool air after the hot pavement outside, the quiet, incense lingering, breath-taking experience every time. I feel very homesick when I look at your pictures.

Merisi said...


I walked by the church often (I lived close-by). Remember hot summer afternoons and entering the church, the cool air after the hot pavement outside, the quiet, incense lingering, breath-taking experience every time. I feel very homesick when I look at your pictures.

veredit - isabella kramer said...


I really enjoy to walk with you, side by side through this very impressive church (and to drink a very good glass red wine with you ;)

thanks for this awesome post - you lucky one!

ciao, ciao

Kerry O'Gorman said...

I think that's the most incredible cieling I've ever seen! I can imagine seeing it for real must be quite a spiritual experience, both for the art aspect as well as the building which houses it. Oh, and you had me at "glass of wine"!

donna baker said...

No, I can't top that. My friend was staying at the Bel Air Hotel not long ago and Meg Ryan was staying next door to her. She saw her driving herself around in a VW convertible. Are you watching the new season of The Borgia's? Can't wait for Umbria posts as I haven't made it there.

Candy said...

Oh, man, Lucinda! First Rome and then you get to meet Dennis Quaid! Life is very, very good, isn't it?

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Did you have the chance to get to St. Ignatius' room? The Gesù and St. Ignatius's room were the first places I went to in Rome this past February.


I also have a large number of photos from Rome and Assisi on my flickr pages:

Cobalt Violet said...

Thanks for the visits Peeps, and your comments. It's always great to hear from you and get feedback! Grazie, grasias and merci!

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