The first church on the site, Sant'Andrea in Monte Cavallo, was a parish church. It was donated to the General of the
Jesuits, St Francis Borgia, by Andrea Croce, Bishop of Tivoli, in the 16th century, and became the church of the Society's
The present church for the Jesuit seminary on the Quirinal was begun in 1658 with funds provided by Cardinal Camillo Pamphilj
The project was conceived and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
who, together with his pupil Mattia De Rossi
supervised the construction of the church. It took twenty years to build (1658-1678). Almost immediately there were problems.
The small site chosen for the new church restricted the design. Bernini
resolved the problem, as his rival Borromini
further along the road at San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
, by designing an oval church.
The church is considered one of the finest examples of Roman Baroque with its superb balance and harmony in the choice of
materials and the flow of light. It is said that Bernini
did not charge a fee for designing this church, and his only payment
was a daily donation of bread from the noviciate's oven. Bernini
considered it as his only perfect work.
Among those who worshipped here are St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Stanislaus Kostka and St Robert Bellarmine. Bernini
came to this church for Mass in his old age.