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The Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin ( it, Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin or ''de Schola Graeca'') is a
minor basilica In the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by cou ...
church in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
, Italy. It is located in the
rione A (; plural: ) is a neighbourhood in several Italian cities. A is a territorial subdivision. The larger administrative subdivisions in Rome are the , with the being used only in the historic centre. The word derives from the Latin , the 14 sub ...
of
Ripa Ripa or RIPA may refer to: Places * Ripa (rione of Rome) Ripa is the 12th '' rione'' of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Ro ...
.


History

According to Byzantine historian Andrew Ekonomou, the church was founded in the 6th century during the Byzantine rule of the city and was placed in the centre of the Greek community in Rome. The Greek part of the city was referred to as the 'Schola Graeca'. The church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who was greatly venerated as Theotokos (Mother of God) in contemporary Constantinople. The name 'Cosmedin' came from the Latinization of the Greek word κοσμίδιον (kosmidion) that derives from the Greek word κόσμος, meaning "ornament, decoration". The church was built in the 8th century, during the
Byzantine Papacy The Byzantine Papacy was a period of Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, wh ...
, over the remains of the '' Templum Herculis Pompeiani'' in the
Forum Boarium The Forum Boarium (, it, Foro Boario) was the cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large s. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily and the mos ...

Forum Boarium
and of the ''Statio annonae'', one of the food distribution centres of ancient Rome (another is to be found at the
Theatre of Balbus Theatre of Balbus was an ancient Roman structure in the Campus Martius The Campus Martius (Latin for the "Field of Mars", Italian language, Italian ''Campo Marzio'') was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, ...

Theatre of Balbus
). A
deacon A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christianity, Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the C ...

deacon
ry was a place where charitable distributions were given to the poor, and it is appropriate that such an institution would have been built near or at a station of the Roman ''annona''. An eighth century inscription in the church records that Eustathius, the last Byzantine duke of Rome (ca. 752–756) gave a gift of extensive properties to the church's ministry to the poor. The same inscription also mentions a donation by someone named Georgios and his brother David Since it was located near many Byzantine structures, in 7th century this church was called ''de Schola Graeca'', and a close street is still called ''della Greca''. Greek monks escaping iconoclastic persecutions decorated the church around 782, when pope
Adrian I Pope Adrian I ( la, Hadrianus I; died 25 December 795) was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and ...
promoted its reconstruction; the church was built with a
nave The nave () is the central part of a church architecture, church, stretching from the (normally western) main entrance or rear wall, to the transepts, or in a church without transepts, to the chancel. When a church contains Aisle#Church archit ...

nave
and two aisles and a
portico A portico is a porch A porch (from Old French ''porche'', from Latin ''porticus'' "colonnade", from ''porta'' "passage") is a room or gallery located in front of an entrance of a building. A porch is placed in front of the facade of a bu ...

portico
. Because of its beauty, the church received the adjective ''cosmedin'' (from Greek ''kosmidion''), ornate. A
sacristy A sacristy, also known as a vestry or preparation room, is a room in Christianity, Christian churches for the keeping of vestments (such as the alb and chasuble) and other church furnishings, sacred vessels, and parish records. The sacristy is us ...

sacristy
and an oratory dedicated to
St. Nicholas Saint Nicholas of Myra, ; la, Sanctus Nicolaus (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom ...

St. Nicholas
were added in the 9th century, by order of
Pope Nicholas I Pope Nicholas I ( la, Nicolaus I; c. 800 – 13 November 867), called Nicholas the Great, was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted ...

Pope Nicholas I
, who also built a papal residence, but they were destroyed in the
Sack of Rome (1084) The Sack of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_capti ...
by
Robert Guiscard Robert Guiscard (; Modern ; – 17 July 1085) was a Normans, Norman adventurer remembered for the Norman conquest of southern Italy, conquest of southern Italy and Sicily. Robert was born into the Hauteville family in Normandy, went on to become ...

Robert Guiscard
's
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of Normandy, descended from ...
troops. Santa Maria in Cosmedin was the
titular church In the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is ...
of Popes
Gelasius II Pope Gelasius II (c. 1060/1064 – 29 January 1119), born Giovanni Caetani or Giovanni da Gaeta (also called ''Coniulo''), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 January 1118 to his death in 1119. A monk of Monte Cas ...

Gelasius II
and
Celestine III Pope Celestine III ( la, Caelestinus III; c. 1106 – 8 January 1198), born Giacinto Bobone, was the head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominati ...

Celestine III
, as well as
antipope An antipope ( la, antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the lawful pope, makes a significant attempt to occupy the position of Diocese of Rome, Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuri ...
Benedict XIII. Among the former titular cardinal deacons of the church was
Reginald Pole Reginald Pole (12 March 1500 – 17 November 1558) was an English cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church Cardinals ( la, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae cardinalis, literally "cardinal of the Holy Roman Church") are the most senior members of the ...

Reginald Pole
, the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury. The inscriptions found in S. Maria in Cosmedin, a valuable source illustrating the history of the Basilica, have been collected and published by Vincenzo Forcella. A substantial restoration was accomplished in 1118–1124 under Alfanus, ''camerarius'' of
Pope Callixtus II Pope Callixtus II or Callistus II (c. 1065 – 13 December 1124), born Guy of Burgundy, was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of ...

Pope Callixtus II
. After being acquired by
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
s and a period of decay, in 1718 the church was refurbished in the
Baroque The Baroque (, ; ) is a style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashi ...

Baroque
style, particularly by a new façade, by
Giuseppe Sardi Giuseppe Sardi (1680 – documented until 1768) was an Italian architect active in Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rom ...
. The Baroque additions, however, were removed in the restoration of 1894–1899, together with the coat-of-arms of
Pope Clement XI Pope Clement XI ( la, Clemens XI; 23 July 1649 – 19 March 1721), born Giovanni Francesco Albani, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 23 November 1700 to his death in 1721. Clement XI was a patron of the arts ...

Pope Clement XI
who had sponsored Sardi's work.


Architecture

In the portico of the church, on the north side, can be found La Bocca della Verità, an ancient sculpture thought to be a drain covering. A legend states that, if a person places his hand inside the mouth ("bocca") and then swears falsely, the mouth will close and sever the hand. There is no attested case of such an event taking place. The church's bell tower is the tallest medieval belfry in Rome. The current interior of S. Maria in Cosmedin has a nave with two aisles: these are divided by four pilasters and eighteen ancient columns. Built into the side walls, some of the old columns of the ''Statio Annonae'' are visible. Other fragments of the ancient building can be seen in the crypt. Paintings from the 8th-12th centuries, in three layers, are preserved in the upper part of the nave and in the triumphal arch. The church has a very fine Cosmatesque pavement. The ''Choir (architecture), schola cantorum'' is from the 13th century, while the main altar is a red granite piece from 1123. The Easter candle, Easter candelabrum is also from the 13th century. The sacristy houses a precious 8th-century mosaic fragment brought here from the Old St. Peter's Basilica. Of the 18th-century restoration, the Crucifix Chapel and the Baptistry can be seen today. In a side altar on the left of the church is kept the flower-crowned skull attributed to St Valentine.


In popular culture

A scene from the 1953 romantic comedy movie ''Roman Holiday'' was filmed in Santa Maria in Cosmedin. In the scene, Joe (played by Gregory Peck) shocks Princess Ann (played by Audrey Hepburn) by pretending to lose his hand in the Bocca della Verità. Likewise, it was depicted as the church inside the unnamed abbey in the 2019 mini-series adaptation of the novel Name of the Rose.


References


Bibliography

* Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, ''Stato della basilica diaconale, collegiate, e parrocchiale di S. Maria in Cosmedin di Roma'' (Roma: Antonio de' Rossi 1719). * G. B. Giovenale, ''La Basilica di S. Maria in Cosmedin'' (Roma: P. Sansaini, 1927) [Volume 2 of ''Monografie sulle chiese di Roma'']. * Richard Krautheimer, ''Corpus basilicarum christianarum Romae. The early Christian basilicas of Rome (IV-IX cent.).'' (Roma: Pontificio Istituto de archeologia cristiana, 1937) [Volume 2 of ''Monumenti dell'antichità Cristiana'']. * Federico Gizzi, ''Le chiese medievali di Roma'', Newton Compton. * Elio Fox, ''Santa Maria in Cosmedin'' (Trento, Italy: Eurographik, 1969). * Gemma Fusciello, ''Santa Maria in Cosmedin a Roma'' (Roma: Edizioni Quasar, 2011).


External links

*
"S. Maria in Cosmedin"
in Mariano Armellini, ''Le chiese di Roma dal secolo IV al XIX''. * Federico Gizzi, ''Le chiese medievali di Roma'', Newton Compton.


See also

* Roman Catholic Marian churches *High-resolution 360° Panoramas and Images o
Santa Maria in Cosmedin , Art Atlas
{{DEFAULTSORT:Santa Maria In Cosmedin 6th-century churches, Maria Cosmedin Basilica churches in Rome, Maria Cosmedin Titular churches, Maria Cosmedin Romanesque architecture in Lazio Churches of Rome (rione Ripa), Maria Cosmedin Churches completed in 1124 12th-century Roman Catholic church buildings in Italy