The 900 Churches of Rome – Starting with the Church of the Gesu

By Joanne Natale Spigonardo

On one of my trips to Rome, I was amazed to find 12 churches in a two-block radius. It was a beautiful October day, perfect for leisurely exploration. I though that if I took a full day that I could explore all of those 12 particular churches. I was looking to find how rich they were in history and in art. It was a revelation to know that so many renowned sculptors and painters were to be admired free of charge. I thought that I would start with the Church of the Gesu. I particularly wanted to visit this church because I so admire the Gesu Church on the campus of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia.

The Church of the Gesu on Via degli Astalli in Rome, is an amazing work of art in its entirity, from its façade to the tremendous paintings and altar pieces inside the church. It is of the Baroque style and was designed by Giacomo da Vignola in 1568. It is the mother church of the Jesuit Order. Jesuits are known for their devotion to education, beauty, and art. The ceiling is a masterpiece by Giovanni Battista Gaulli and is called The Triumph of the Name of Jesus. It was inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola and his teachings.

Many of the tapestries, sculptures, and paintings have been on exhibition in the past years in various museums globally. I hope you get a chance to visit the Church of the Gesu on your next trip to Rome. It is one of the hidden treasures of Italy.

I didn’t get a chance to visit any other churches that day, as it took hours to fully enjoy the wonders of the Church of the Gesu.

About the Author:

Joanne Natale Spigonardo is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has a long history of travel experience. Joanne admires the Renaissance, art-history, and women’s studies. She is also the author of the novel, White Widow, available on Amazon.

Photo by Oleg Magni on

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants.

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