The Church of St Mary of Gesu, often referred to as the Jesuit Church, is one of the most important Baroque churches in Palermo. Tucked away in the network of narrow streets and alleyways between Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda, it is well worth finding.
It was the first church to be built in Sicily by the Jesuits and dates from the late C16th. The glorious C17th Baroque interior has been magnificently restored after bomb damage in the Second World War, which destroyed the dome, surrounding walls and the paintings in the chancel and transepts.
Unlike the Cathedral and St Dominico’s the facade is relatively plain. Above the doorway is a statue of the Virgin and Child. On either side are statues of St Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, founding members of the Society of Jesus. At the top is the emblem of the Jesuits.
The interior is absolutely stunning with every surface of the inside covered with marble, stucco reliefs and paintings. It is glorious.
There is a small charge to enter the church, although it is possible to stand and admire from the doorway without paying.