The church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin is located in Piazza della Bocca della verita, in the area known as the Forum Boarium, the cattle market in the ancient Rome. By taking advantage of the existing Roman structures that existed on this place in the 6th century AD, the diakonia (a religious center made to help poors and homeless) was called Santa Maria de Schola Graeca, the name had been taken from the Greek community who resided near the building.
The Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin was built in the 8th century by Pope Adrian I by taking advantage from the surviving structures of two great Roman buildings in the ancient Forum Boarium. The first setting which was reused became the great atmosphere known as the “Loggia”, also called as “Loggia dei Mercanti”, which is usually identified with the statio annonae; this is the building where the offices were set for the food supply administration of ancient Rome.
Here in the 6th century AD was inserted the diaconate of St. Mary de schola graeca, and in the 8th century AD the old building hosted the front part of the new church of St. Maria in Cosmedin. It was a large rectangular room, which was supposed to be built between the 2nd and 4th century AD and was open on three sides with marble fluted columns, while the fourth side was constituted by a wall in blocks of the left aisle of the church, in the counter of the central nave and in the sacristy settings.
In the 8th century AD Adrian decided to expand the original diakonia in schola graeca to create the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. He was forced to demolish the walls of travertine of the “Loggia” to build the presbytery, the apses and the crypt and, behind it, a great podium in tufa Aniene, higher than 4 meters and which measured overall 21.7 x 31.5m.
Today, we attribute these remains to Ara Maxima Herculis Invicti, but the building was identified in the past with the Temple of Ceres, or the Temple of Hercules Pompeiano
This structure was built exploiting a building from the Roman age whose high fluted marble columns are still visible in walls of the front part of today’s church. The diaconate was followed, in the 8th century, by the church, and it was built by Pope Adrian I (772-795) and because of the splendid decoration it was renamed Santa Maria in Cosmedin (from the Greek kosmidion, which means ornamental).
👇👍Our Friends Service👍👇
The subsequent work was carried out by Popes Nicholas I (857-867), Calistus II (1119-1124) and Boniface VIII (1294-1303). Under Clement XI, between 1715 and 1719, it was carried out the requalification work of the whole area in the ancient Forum Boarium, and in recent years also Cardinal Alessandro Albani remane the baroque facade of the church (by the architect Giuseppe Sardi) and in 1717 he opened the crypt under the altar, created in the first church of Adrian I, which had been forgotten by time in the following centuries.
The last substantial work which involved the exterior and interior of the church go back to the 1894-1899
The small underground crypt was created by Pope Adrian I (772-795) under the presbytery of Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, by digging the basement of a Roman building identified with the Ara Maximum of Hercules. We can recognize the limestone blocks made up of the core of the Ara immediately outside the front door of the crypt, at the end of stairway to the inderground, and in the ceiling of ipogeo.
The crypt reminds a small basilica, divided into three naves by six columns, which were probably recycled. These colmns are baseless, in fact they are directly inserted into the pavement, and there are small travertine capitals on their top. On the bottom of the crypt there is a small apse preceded by an altar which used to be a Roman milestone, where the relics of St. Cirilla should be kept. The crypt certainly hosted many other relics, as prove the sixteen niches, divided into two parts by shelves, arranged along the side walls and on the inner side of the entrance wall of the crypt.
We know some of these martyrs’ names from the inventoris of the relics, like the already mentioned Cirilla, Adauctus, Valentino (the skull ofthe latter is now venerated in the leftaisle of the chapel of the church), Adriano, Amelia, Antonino Clemenza, Generous, Ottavio, Patrick, Olympia and St. John Baptist de Rossi.
Right near the entrance to the basilica you will see famous The Mouth of Truth (Italian: Bocca della Verità). It is an ancient image, carved in a round Pavonazzo marble (Italian: marmo pavonazzetto) slab. Gloomy face of unknown god is set in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The church is located on the left bank of the Tiber river, contemporary area of ancient Roman buildings.
Scientists believe that the place has an age of about 2,200 years, and the Romans are convinced that it is impossible to tell a lie under a stern gaze of the mask!
The cheapest way to get from Colosseum to Santa Maria in Cosmedin is to line 81 bus which costs 1.5 euro and takes 15 min or just go by foot.
Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 6 years I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is to share my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
Rome.us © 2020. All Rights Reserved