Church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale
A lovely chapel sits inauspiciously in the heart of Rome, a small church with a big effect in its genius. Designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini, it is a masterpiece of Baroque construction, and the building that the architect himself considered his best work and that art historians call the Pearl of the Baroque.
It is located near the Quirinale Palace, next to its garden which had served as the convent's vegetable garden and contemplative space. Bernini was challenged by the project as he commissioned by Camillo Pamphili to rebuild an existing church on the very small piece of land. The elegant facade is simple and ordered, inspired by classical temples, with two columns and curved stairs to give depth and the illusion of a grander place. Inside, Bernini surprises with an elliptical plan that draws you immediately into the church, a welcoming feel. Pink marble columns outline the space and a low coffered dome rests on architectural molding. Playful cupids frolick and peer down. The design plays on light and shade to add depth.
The church was for the new order of Jesuits, of which Bernini was devoted. It is said, in fact, that he took no money for this commission but asked only for his daily meals as payment. The inlaid floor and more serious lower part are indicative of the world. The painting of Saint Andrew being crucified is called St. Andrew in Agony, not only in dedication to the apostle but also to symbolize the world. The white stucco of the saint above is symbolic of leaving the somber, darker world below for the light and joy of heaven above, further symbolized by the dove within the lantern of the dome.
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale is open from 8:30-12:00 and from 4:30-6:00 daily; closed Monday. Sunday Mass is at 10:30 AM, when you can enter for the service but not to visit the church. Guided visits by the Jesuits are available free, to better understand the building and its significance.
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Address in Rome:
Via del Quirinale, 29.