The Chiesa del Gesù is a church in Viterbo. It is located on the Colle del Duomo, the hill where the first settlement that would eventually lead to the foundation of the city was located. An English nobleman found his death there. It is also known as the San Silvestro Church.
Chiesa del Gesù Viterbo
Address, Opening Hours and Admission Price
The address of the Chiesa del Gesù is Piazza del Gesù – Viterbo. Opening hours: Unknown. Entrance: Free.
History and description
The Church of Jesus is particularly famous because the English nobleman Henry of Cornwall was murdered there, on his way back from a crusade in 1271. The murderers were two brothers, Guido and Simone di Monfort. They wanted to avenge their father, who had been murdered by order of the English royal family. The event is even mentioned in Dante‘s “Divina Commedia”.
Henry had fled to the altar thinking his enemies would not attack him there, but he was killed anyway and dragged to the door. Two companions who tried to protect him were also killed.
Two inscriptions on the rear wall of the church refer to the murder. One is in Latin, the other one in Italian.
The church was built in the early 11th century and was then called Chiesa di San Silvestro. The Romanesque façade is characterized by a bell gable and two (in Viterbo almost inevitable) lion statues.
In the 15th century, the Chiesa del Gesù was the church owned by the Arte degli Ortolani (“Guild of Fruit and Vegetable Sellers”) and that of the Calzolai (“Shoemakers”).
In the 16th century the Carmelite Monastic Order took over the church and in 1643 Cardinal Brancaccio entrusted it to the Confraternita del Santissimo Nome di Gesù e di Sant’Anna.
What to see
The interior is graced by a 1450 fresco depicting, among other things, the “Noli mi Tangere“, between “Saints Andrea and San Silvestro” and the “Eternity between Musing Angels.”
Other frescoes in the Chiesa del Gesù have unfortunately been painted over.
The wooden crucifix dates back to the 17th century.