Fairfield University’s Art of the Gesù Exhibition Features Historic Jesuit Treasures

February 26, 2018 — The Fairfield University Art Museum is presenting a major international exhibition, “The Holy Name—Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age,” which runs from February 2 through May 19, 2018.

The exhibit focuses on the Church of the Gesù, the principal or mother church of the Society of Jesus in Rome, and includes artistic treasures from the church never before seen in America. 


Painted Model for the Apse Fresco of the Gesù
Organized to commemorate Fairfield University’s 75th anniversary, the exhibition features Bernini’s bust of Robert Bellarmine, SJ (the patron saint of Fairfield University); a painted wood model of the apse by Bernini’s student Giovanni Battista Gaulli; a gilt bronze altar sculpture by painter, draftsman and sculptor Ciro Ferri; the three-piece jeweled cartegloria from the altar of St. Ignatius; and the embroidered chasuble of the church’s great benefactor, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.

More than 50 paintings, sculptures, rare books, precious objects, drawings, prints and historical documents have been lent for the exhibition from museums and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Princeton University Art Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Jesuit Father John O’Malley, professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., served on the exhibition planning committee and will give the keynote address at a related international scholarly symposium at Fairfield University on April 5.


Bust of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino
Guided tours and private group tours are offered, and an exhibition app with audio tour is available in the galleries and remotely through the museum website.

Finally, Fairfield University has filmed the “sound and light” spectacle enacted daily at 5 p.m. in the Gesù: The church’s monumental altarpiece by Andrea Pozzo is lowered to reveal a colossal silver sculpture of St. Ignatius in Ecstasy designed by Pierre Le Gros, accompanied by music by 18th-century Jesuit missionary Domenico Zipoli and readings from the Bible and the writings of St. Ignatius. The film will be screened in the museum throughout the run of the exhibition.

See the Fairfield University Art Museum website for more details on the exhibition and its lectures at fairfield.edu/museum/gesu. [Sources: Fairfield UniversityNortheast Province]





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