(Church of Saint Ignatius)
Location: Piazza Sant' Ignazio
p>By the beginning of the 17th century, the small church of S. Annunziata that Jesuit architects had designed and Jesuit students had built by hand to serve the needs of the Collegio Romano could no longer serve the 2,000 students of the college. Jesuits appealed to Gregory XV to help construct on a new and adequately large church on the site of the buildings donated to the Collegio by Marchesa della Tolfa. Endowed by the pope's nephew, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, and members of his family, the cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1626.
Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit professor of mathematics at the Collegio Romano, did the original design for the church, but he was replaced by another Jesuit, Antonio Sasso, who changed the design and became embroiled in controversy with the Dominicans who feared the new church would block the sunlight coming into their library because Sasso's design called for a large cupola. The conflict was resolved when the Jesuits ran out of money and could not afford the cupola. The final resolution was a cupola painted by Andrea Pozzo, a Jesuit famous for his mastery of perspective painting. The flat ceiling appears to soar into the heavens.
In the center on high is Jesus with His cross. A ray of light proceeds from the Heavenly Father to the Heart of Jesus. Saint Ignatius looks and points toward Jesus, from whose heart a ray of light shines upon Ignatius.
Above four pillars of the church are painted symbols of the four parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Saint Francis Xavier is appropriately associated with Asia. Thus the Founder and his companions join in spreading the burning love of Jesus throughout the world. The faithful are assisted to rise toward the central figure of Jesus: vice and heresy are turned down toward the abyss.
Construction of the church continued slowly until the structure was finally consecrated in 1722.