Region #6: Piazza Navona

A Guide For The Pilgrim in Rome

Region #6
Piazza Navona

The area around Piazza Navona is known for its charming streets, its beautiful architecture, and its delightful shops. A sense of mystery envelops the area. Therefore, do not be alarmed if you suddenly get off course and lose a sense of where you are. In fact this is to be expected. A few wrong turns will no doubt only allow you to see more of this beautiful area!

The Route

Start your excursion at Sant’Agnese in Agone. From here head south on Via della Cuccagna until you reach San Pantaleo. After visiting this church continue along the busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele until you reach Chiesa Nuova. If you feel confident you can also walk along the more picturesque street of Via del Governo Vecchio to reach Chiesa Nuova. From here cut across as the map indicates until you get to Via dei Coronari and the church of San Salvatore in Lauro. Finally, walk back towards Piazza Navona to visit both Sant’Agostino and San Luigi dei Francesi.

The following churches are listed according to the order of the suggested route.  The total distance is about 1 mile. To walk will probably take about 2.5 hours when one stops at each of the churches. The churches are generally open from 7AM-1PM and from 4PM-7PM.

Sant’Agnese in Agone
(Saint Agnes in Agone)
Piazza Navona
Rome, Italy
*According to tradition St Agnes was martyred at this location in 304 AD. A relic of her skull is present in a chapel located to the left of the main sanctuary.

San Pantaleo
(Saint Pantaleon)
Piazza San Pantaleo
Piazza dei Massimi 4
Rome, Italy
*This church is located along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
*The relics of St Joseph Calasanz (d. 1648) rest under the main altar of this church. His rooms can be visited in the adjacent convent.
*St Joseph Calasanz is uniquely known for setting up the first free public school in modern Europe. During his lifetime it was highly controversial to educate the poor. Some thought that it would only leave the poor more dissatisfied with their lowly tasks in society. Education was not seen as an opportunity for advancement. St Joseph Calasanz nevertheless persevered and was eventually appreciated and honored for his work.

Chiesa Nuova
(The New Church)
Via del Governo Vecchio 134
Rome, Italy
*This church is located along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
*The body of St Philip Neri (d. 1595) is enshrined in the left transept. His private rooms can be visited on certain days of the week. They are located in the right wall of the left transept. St Philip Neri spent the last 12 years of his life at Chiesa Nuova.
*In 1597 this church received the skulls of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. They rest within reliquaries in the sacristy and are sometimes brought out for public veneration on May 12th.
*The additional remains of Saints Nereus and Achilleus are said to rest within a porphyry urn under the main altar of this church. In 1870 they were stolen from the church of Santi Nereo e Achilleo; however, they were later recovered and are now said to rest here.

San Salvatore in Lauro
(Holy Savior in Lauro)
Piazza San Salvatore in Lauro 15
Rome, Italy
*This church is west of Piazza Navona.
*Some relics of St Padre Pio (d. 1968) are kept within a side chapel in this church. This includes both a vial of blood from his stigmata and a stole. A second chapel contains a small bone fragment from an arm of St Jude the Apostle.

(Saint Augustine)
Piazza Sant'Agostino
Rome, Italy
*This church is near Piazza Navona.
*Relics of St Monica (d. 387), the mother of St Augustine, rest within the Blessed Sacrament Chapel just to the left of the main sanctuary.
*Near the entrance of the church is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary called Madonna del Parto which literally means Our Lady of Childbirth. Expectant mothers often come to pray in front of this statue to ask for Mary’s intercession for a safe pregnancy. So great has the devotion been over the years that the silver foot of the statue has begun to wear away. (This is also a wonderful statue to visit on Mother’s Day in order to give thanks to our own mothers.)
*Also in the first chapel on the left side of the nave is a painting by Caravaggio entitled Madonna dei Pellegrini which means Our Lady of the Pilgrims.
San Luigi dei Francesi
(Saint Louis of the French)
Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi 5
Rome, Italy
*This church is near Piazza Navona.
*This church is known for its paintings. The most famous being The Calling of St Matthew by Caravaggio located in the Contarelli Chapel. This is the last chapel on the left side of the nave. The other two paintings in this chapel are also attributed to Caravaggio and are entitled The Martyrdom of St Matthew and The Inspiration of St Matthew.