San Luigi dei Francesi

A place of such contrasts


I came for Caravaggio
in the Contarelli Chapel.
The cycle of St Matthew
in a French church
behind the Piazza Navona.

The ceiling caught my breath,
my attention held on tip-tœ.
My Calvinist vision
blurred by the vaulted arch of
a Holy Roman heaven.

Ancient cardinals sleep in marble,
stretched below gilded altars.
And I sighed
at the sight of art
that loves its own beauty.

But then
behind the crowd,
beyond the reach of
the frescœd firmament,
I saw sanctity articulate

A wordly cherub
entices an ageing Apostle;
Saint Matthew’s
frolicsome inspiration
in blazing, orange robes.

Outside the toilets,
behind the sacristy,
a wooden Christ hangs
from the tree;
His beauty lost on the visitors.

© franciman 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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I think this is splendid writing, I love the way you describe stuff, always have. The second verse, ‘ my attention held on tip-toe’ just perfection. As usual, too few comments, ah well

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