|English name:||Most Holy Name of Jesus|
|Dedication:||The name of Jesus Christ|
|Clergy:||Society of Jesus|
|Titular church||Eduardo Martinez Somalo|
|Architect(s):||Vignola, Giacomo della Porta|
|Address:|| 16 Via degli Astalli / Piazza del Gesù |
Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons. 
The first church of the Society of Jesus was Santa Maria della Strada, which soon became too small for the Jesuits' rapidly expanding congregation. It was decided to build a new church and planning started, but was halted in 1551. It started again, only to be suspended in 1554. After the death of St Ignatius of Loyola in 1556, Fr. Francis Borgia S.J. handed the project over to Vignola, and construction finally started in 1568. Funding was provided by Allessandro Cardinal Farnese. The design followed St Charles Borromeo's Instructions of religious building works. Gesù became the model for churches built between the Counter-Reformation and the Baroque period. After Vignola's death, in 1573, work was continued by Giacomo della Porta, who made no major changes to the design.
At first, Il Gesu had austere and simple decorations, but, in the second half of the 17th century, the Jesuits decided to use art to illustrate both the triumphs of the Church and those of its own Order. It was duly redecorated in the Baroque style.
The church was consecrated in 1584.
The current titular of the church is H.E. Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo .
The façade, designed in 1575 by della Porta, is the earliest example of Counter-Reformation architecture.
The church has a single-aisle nave, with short transepts, flanked by side chapels. Through Vignola's design, focus is set on the high altar, which is visible from all parts of the church. This is a result of a new way of thinking about sacred buildings, which put the liturgical needs before the personal wishes of the architect. The effect was lessened somewhat when Baroque decorations were added, as bare plaster was covered by frescoes.
The cupola was designed by Vignola and completed to his design by della Porta. It has frescoes depiticing persons from the Old Testament by il Baciccio.
The Chapel of St Ignatius in the left transept was designed by Andrea Pozzo, SJ, in 1695-1699. More than 100 artists have contributed to the chapel; among the most well-known are Pierre Legros, Bernardino Ludovisi, Il Lorenzone and Jean-Baptiste Théodon. A gilded bronze urn from 1637 by Alessandro Algardi underneath the altar holds his relics. The statue above the altar is by Pierre Legros, made in 1697. It was made entirely of silver, but, in 1797, it was damaged after the French invasion. There are two versions of waht happened: either it was damaged by French soldiers or Pope Pius VI had some of the silver melted down to satisfy Napoleon's greedy demands after the Treaty of Tolentino. It was later partly reconstructed by Canova, who used bronze. The monument is crowned by the Holy Trinity, and the globe held by the Father is a single piece of lapis lazuli. You should also note Pierre Le Gros the Younger's sculptural group,The Triumph of Faith over Heresy and Hatred (1695-99), which is an allegory of the ambitions of the Jesuit order.
The right transpet is home to the Chapel of St Francis Xavier, which was built between 1674 and 1678 by Giacomo della Porta. According to some sources it was built by Pietro da Cortona. As it was built after Cortona's death, in 1669, this is impossible, but della Porta may have based his work on a design left by the artist. A reliquary contains one of the saint's arms. Above the Baroque altar is a realistic painting of the Death of St Francis Xavier by Carlo Maratta, 17th century.
The chapel next to the Chapel of St Ignatius is dedicated to the Santa Maria degli Astalli. It holds the icon known as the Madonna della Strada, Madonna of the Road. The 15th century painting is connected to the early history of the Jesuits. It was kept in the church on this site that was demolished so that this church could be built, and illustrates the growth of the order. The name comes from its original position on a street leading to Capitol.
The Sacred Heart Chapel is attributed to Giacomo della Porta. The frescoes are by Baldassare Croce, 1599. The painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, well known from reproductions in many Catholic homes, was made by Pompeo Batoni in the 18th century.
St Ignatius' roomsEdit
Ignatius built the order's first Generalate next to the church. His rooms are incorporated in the present residence for Jesuit seminarians and may be visited. Ask at the main door, and follow the signs at the end of the corridor you're sent down. The rooms contain memorabilia of the Society and Jesuit saints. A painting shows a young Ignatius in a soldier's uniform. There are two altars, and the one with a painting of the Holy Family is the one at which Ignatius offered Mass on the day he died.
The feast of St Ignatius is celebrated on 31 July, and is kept with great solemnity in this church.
The Christmas Crib in Gesù is considered to be one of the finest in Rome.