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"A Roman Church with Greek Foundations, Part I" Top 5 Page for this destination Basilica Santa Maria in Cosmedin Tip by von.otter

Basilica Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome: 15 reviews and 36 photos

  Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma, May 2007
by von.otter
  • Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma, May 2007 - Rome
      Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma, May 2007
    by von.otter
  • Bell Tower, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma, 05/07 - Rome
      Bell Tower, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma, 05/07
    by von.otter

Here is how the basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin got its name.

The pope gave this church to Greek refugees who had fled the iconoclastic persecutions in the Eastern Roman Empire. First the church was called the aecclesia Grecorum, “of the Greek church,” or schola Graeca, “the Greek community.” Because of the church’s rich decoration, by the early nineth century, the Greek congregation was calling it Mariae in Cosmedi, Maria in Cosmedin. Cosmedin, the Latin version of the Greek word kosmidion, meaning beautiful, was attached to it. A Greek community had been present in the Forum Boarium for many years, explaining the presence of the Temple to Hercules. This Greek connection continues; the church is maintained by a Greek order of clerics today.

Built upon the foundations of the Temple of Hercules Invictus in the Forum Boarium, the cattle market of Ancient Rome, originally Santa Maria in Cosmedin was a deaconry engaged in charity distribution to the poor. Two popes were elected here, Gelasius II (who had been Cardinal Deacon of Titulus S. Mariae in Cosmedin) and Celestine III. An antipope, Benedict XIII, was elected here too.

At the left end of the church’s portico stands, what for many visitors is the main draw at Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Bocca della Verità. This ancient circular marble sculpture, in the form of a human face, is thought to have been a drain covering at the Temple of Hercules. Another explanation of its origins is that it was part of a wall fountain at a villa on the near-by Aventine Hill.

The facade of the church has a severe Mediaeval appearance. When the Normans sacked Rome in 1084, the church was damaged; it was rebuilt and the marvelous slender bell tower was added, the tallest Romanesque-style belfry in the Eternal City.

Opening hours are Monday through Sunday the church opens at 09:00 and closes at 19:00. It closes at 13:00 and re-opens at 14:30.

Address: Piazza della Bocca della Verita, 18
Directions: By the Circus Maximus in the valley between the Palatine, Aventine and Capitoline Hills

Metro: Circo Massimo

Bus: 15, 23, 57, 90, 90b, 94, 716.

Phone: 06-6781419

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 3, 2008
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