Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome
On the south side of the Piazza Bocca della Verità, overlooking the Tempio di Fortuna Virile, the Arco di Giano and the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, is the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (probably given this name by Byzantines after a square in their city). This is one of the finest examples of medieval church architecture in Rome. Begun in 772, during the reign of Pope Adrian I, and completed in its present form in about 1124 under Calixtus II, it is an architectural gem (suggesting an alternative derivation of the name Cosmedin from the Greek cosmos, which means "perfect order" or "ornament"). The noble harmony of the church's proportions begins with the seven-story campanile and is continued in the wide two-story porch with its projecting canopy; it reaches even sublimer heights in the interior, with its tall nave and carefully structured layout to meet liturgical needs, and is infinitely repeated in the intarsia (inlaid marble) work by the Cosmati.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin Map
Address: Piazza della Bocca della Verita 18, I-00186 Rome, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-1pm, 2:30pm-7pm
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Transit: Bus: 15, 23, 57, 90, 90b, 94, 716.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin Highlight
Mouth of Truth
At the left-hand end of the porch is the large stone mask known as the Bocca della Verità, the "Mouth of Truth". According to popular belief the Romans, when taking an oath, would put their right hand into the mouth of the mask, which would then close and hold them fast if they perjured themselves. (Nowadays the "Mouth of Truth" serves only as a threat to troublesome children.)