History By Pictures – 5. The Church Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

Almost everyone knows this church because in its porch there is the famous Mouth of Truth. Very few people enter the church and visit it. Tourists prefer to be photographed while shoving their hands into the most famous detector of lies in Rome.


A tourist and the Mouth of Truth (Credits: tripadvisor.it).


Yet this church is a real masterpiece!

Born behind the ancient Forum Boarium (the oxen market of ancient Rome), was transformed by Pope Hadrian I in the eighth century AD and delivered to the Greeks escaped from persecution of the East. And it was they who called it “Schola graeca” or “Santa Maria in Cosmedin” (cosmedin = ornament).


The area of the Forum Boarium, whose remains are located in front of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Credits: capitolivm.it).

Don’t miss a visit to the underground crypt.

“Hidden” under the floor of the presbytery of the church, was built by Pope Hadrian I (772-795 AD) by digging the large tufa base of an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Ceres.


The crypt of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.


The central nave ends in a small apse with an altar carved into a Roman stone that contained the relics of St. Cyril.

The crypt also housed other relics, as evidenced by the sixteen niches arranged along the side walls and on the inside of the entrance wall.


Some of the niches that open along the aisles of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.


All you have to do is come to Rome and admire this splendid masterpiece of medieval art!



See you next Tuesday with a new episode of History by Pictures!


Posted by Sara Pandozzi

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