The church of Santi Luca e Martina, which overlooks the Forum, was founded in the early 7th century, when it was dedicated simply to Saint Martina. In 1577 the Accademia di San Luca, the academy of painters, sculptors and architects, was created, and in 1588 it was given the church, which was re-dedicated to both St Luke (patron saint of artists) and St Martina.
In 1634, the painter Pietro Berrettini (1596-1669) was elected president of the academy. Pietro da Cortona, as he was better known, immediately embarked on rebuilding the church. Funding came from Cardinal Francesco Barberini, the nephew of Pope Urban VIII (r. 1623-44). It was completed in 1679, ten years after Cortona's death.
The design of Santi Luca e Martina follows a Greek-cross plan, the centre of which is crowned by a beautiful dome. The interior decoration of the dome has been attributed to Cortona's pupil and collaborator, Ciro Ferri (1634-89). The stucco reliefs on the four pendentives were added in the 18th century.
The marble effigy of St Martina, under the high altar, is the work of the Roman sculptor Niccolò Menghini (1610-65). The work is clearly influenced by Stefano Maderno's sculpture of St Cecilia in Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
Pietro da Cortona is interred in the 'lower church'. The bust on his funerary monument is by Bernardo Fioriti.