The church is entered via a double staircase positioned along the façade, which appears majestically, split vertically and horizontally in three parts by pilasters and cornices, concluding with a curvilinear tympanum. Rising up on the left is a square-shaped bell tower, topped by a small dome that recalls styles hailing from across the Alps. Sant’Ignazio di Loyola was erected in the historic centre of Oliena between the 17th and 18th centuries as part of a project by the master builder Domenico Spotorno on behalf of the Company of Jesus. The construction works of the Jesuit church and college lasted more than a century (1644-1758), hence the current structure is fundamentally of the 18th century. The vast interior space consists in a nave with three chapels on each side, separated by pillars supporting a jutting cornice, which serves as a barrel vault.
A triumphal arch leads to the raised presbytery, in Capilla Mayor style. At the centre is the neoclassical high altar with a niche holding the statue of St. Ignatius, completed in accordance with 17th-century iconographic models. In the niches of the minor altars are statues of the 17th and 18th centuries, including one of Saint Michael the Archangel by the sculptor Carena and the Saint Francis Xavier of Campania origin. On the walls are paintings by contemporary artists. On the sides of the presbytery are a number of rooms that connect to the former collegiate church, today being canonical, which houses a gallery full of artworks. Conserved therein is the retable of Saint Christopher, ascribed to the master of Oliena and dated as being from the mid-16th century, the Cristo del Rito de s’Iscravamentu (15th-16th century), perhaps by a Catalan sculptor, and beautiful wooden statues. In the adjoining convent, rather, tempera murals were found, some unfinished perhaps due to the sudden departure of the Jesuits, who left a lasting impact upon the culture and economy of the Oliena locals, favouring the widespread dissemination of education and bearing the culture of the mulberry, silkworm breeding and new irrigation techniques.
From 1791, the former Jesuit church has been the parish church of Oliena and Saint Ignatius of Loyola, its patron saint celebrated on 31st July. Masses are officiated only here and in the equally-suggestive Chiesa di Santa Maria, inherited from the Pisan age (13th century) but which preserves the 15th-century Gothic-Aragonese features intact. In all, however, there are eleven Oliena churches. Not to be missed are those in the two countryside areas of Nostra Signora della Pietà and San Lussorio - a testimony to the profound religiosity and intense devotion of a community that lives in a jewel of a village, which excels thanks to its landscapes and natural monuments, archaeological and cultural attractions, artisan crafts, food and wine delicacies and its hospitality.