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Church of Saint Yves at La Sapienza
Chiesa di Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza (Italian)

Sant'Ivo, embraced by the wings of the Palazzo alla Sapienza

Basic information
Location Italy Rome, Italy
Geographic coordinates 41°53′54″N 12°28′28″E / 41.89833°N 12.47444°E / 41.89833; 12.47444Coordinates: 41°53′54″N 12°28′28″E / 41.89833°N 12.47444°E / 41.89833; 12.47444
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Year consecrated 1660
Ecclesiastical status Rectory Church
Leadership Msgr. Agostino de Angelis
Website Official website
Architectural description
Architect(s) Francesco Borromini
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Baroque
Direction of facade ENE
Groundbreaking 1642
Year completed 1660
Length 27 metres (89 ft)
Width 26 metres (85 ft)

The Church of Saint Yves at La Sapienza (Italian: Chiesa di Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza) is a Roman Catholic church in Rome. The church is considered a masterpiece of Roman Baroque church architecture, built in 1642-1660 by the architect Francesco Borromini.

The lantern.
Interior view.


The church started out, around the 14th century, as a chapel of the palace of the University of Rome. The University is called La Sapienza, and the church is devoted to Saint Yves (patron saint of the jurists), giving the church its name. Borromini was forced to adapt his design to the already existing palace. He choose a plan resembling a star of David, and merged the facade of the church with the courtyard of the palace. The dome, with its corkscrew lantern, is remarkable in its novelty. The complex rhythms of the interior have a dazzling geometry to them. It is a rational architecture- intricate to view, but on paper the overlap of a circle on two superimposed equilateral triangles creates a basis for a hexagonal array of chapels and altar in a centralized church. The undulations, both concave and convex of the interiors, create a jarring yet stunning appeal. The decoration is a mixture of novel organic (six-winged cherubic heads) and geometric (stars), more platonic than the contemporary gilded and plaster excesses of Bernini. Rising along the base of three of the dome's pillars are the symbol of the papal Chigi family, the "six mountain beneath a star".

The main artwork of the interior is the altarpiece by Pietro da Cortona, portraying St. Yves.


The corkscrew lantern of the church is the direct inspiration for the also spiralling spire of Vor Frelsers Kirke in Copenhagen, Denmark.




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