The salamanders of St. Louis of the French

You are along the route: THE ZOO OF WONDERS. STONE ANIMALS

Piazza S. Luigi dei Francesi, 5
Visible on the outside.

The French National Church has a large entrance door flanked by another two smaller entrances and niches with statues of Charlemagne and St. Louis. Underneath the two statues are two round stone forms with a salamander surrounded by fire depicted inside them; these animals were reputed to be immune to fire. This is why it had been chosen by King Francis I of France as a personal emblem with the motto “Nutrisco et Extinguo”, meaning a feed (the good fire) and extinguish (the evil fire). This ambivalence of fire, a purifier and a destroyer, evokes the fight of justice against evil: a symbolism which was to garner significant favour throughout the Renaissance period. In Medieval Christian iconography, this curious animal also represented the “right that never loses its peace of mind and its trust in God, although in the middle of tribulation”.

How to get the step: The salamanders of St. Louis of the French

Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi, 00186 Roma, Italia


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