Monday, March 25, 2019


Sixth century AD over the ARA MAXIMA OF HERCULES (Hercules' High Altar) an extremely ancient temple, rebuilt in the second century BC
Enlarged in 782 by Adrian I (772/795) and called Kosmidion (adorned) for the beautiful decorations: to make building material for the extension, a large marble temple, which used to be behind the church, was burned for an entire year
Restored in about 860 by Nicholas I (858/867), who also built the adjacent building known as the PALACE OF NICHOLAS I which he used occasionally as his dwelling
“He built it as a large and spacious house where, when necessary, the popes could take refuge and settle comfortably with their families. He fortified it and supplied it with ramparts and with a ring of walls and battlements. It was built over previous constructions by Hadrian and over the Ara Massima” (Giuseppe Massimi)
Restored further in about 1119 by Gelasius II (1118/19), who raised up to two meters the floor level, and in 1123 by Callistus II (1119/24) who consecrated it and transformed the Palace of Nicholas I in PALAZZO DIACONALE (Diaconate Palace). It was later changed profoundly and it is currently known as PALAZZO DELLA PANTANELLA
In 1719 the FAÇADE of the church was rebuilt by Giuseppe Sardi (1680/1753)
In the years 1893/99 it was restored to the Romanesque style by G.B. Giovenale (1849/1934)
It is officiated with the Greek-Melkite Rite

Twelfth century. Bell dating back to 1289 still working

“Monument of the prelate Alfano” about 1120, camerarius (assistant of the pope and administrator of the church's assets) of Callistus II, perhaps the promoter of the renewed Roman classicism of the early twelfth century
In an ARCH there are traces of paintings with “Annunciation” and “Nativity” of the fifteenth century
Opposite the main door two fragments of a jaw of a large toothed whale are hung, maybe a sperm whale
“Nothing can be said for sure about their provenance. They are well preserved and not fossilized. It will not be out of place to mention here that close by there was the large inland port of the Emporium and the Forum Piscatorium (fish market), and that in the latter, precisely in the walls of the church of S. Angelo in Pescheria, is still stuck a Roman tombstone which reads in Latin: 'The heads of fish longer than this marble are given to the Conservatives until the wee fins'. Will there be any relation between these facts and the bones?” (Giuseppe Massimi)
Famous “Mouth of Truth” placed here in 1632
It weighs about 1,300 kg (1.4 tons)
It is a marble manhole cover of the classical age representing the face maybe of a river god or of Okéanos (ocean). It is connected to the famous legend according to which the hand would be cut to the liars who would introduce it into the slot representing the mouth
Recently it has been convincingly suggested that this famous manhole cover was originally placed in the center of the floor of the Pantheon. Others believe it comes from the nearby Temple of Hercules Victor or Olivarius

Maybe of the ninth century with sculptures “Evangelists and decoration with plants and animals” signed by Johannes de Venetia

Eighth century in opus sectile (inlaid marble), one of the best preserved in all of Rome

Remains of frescos of the centuries VIII, IX and XII
“The cycle of the twelfth century overlaps a previous decoration, comprising heads of prophets within medallions, which appear also on the right wall, dated by G.B. Giovanale at the time of Nicholas I (858/867). Hélène Toubert, in her fundamental study of the early Christian revival in Roman painting of the twelfth century, judged the cycle of S. Maria in Cosmedin as the most extraordinary demonstration of the ability of Roman workshops to borrow from the classical repertoire: this is revealed especially in the compositional idea that unifies the levels and the individual stories in an ornamental texture of an absolutely antique flavor” (Serena Romano)
“Ten columns” of the Flavian period (69/96) inserted into the central and left naves, believed to have belonged to the Statio Annonae (the seat of the prefect), but more likely to a SHRINE IN CONNECTION WITH THE ALTAR OF HERCULES

In a glass case is visible a “Skull attributed to St. Valentine”, a Roman priest, who was martyred in Rome, not to be confused with the patron saint of lovers, who lived during the same period and whose relics are kept in the city of Terni 
In the church there are plenty of other bones believed to be relics of saints

1294 by Deodato Cosma the Younger, signed Deodatus me fecit on the left side of the base of the front pediment
1123 in red granite
Dedication to the Virgin Mary, engraved for camerarius Alfano
Frescoes of the eleventh century, much restored

1687 Tommaso Mattei
“Madonna and Child” fifteenth century, known as Theotókos (Mother of God), much restored

“Epiphany” one of the fragments of mosaic with gold background of about 705 from the destroyed chapel of Pope John VII (705/707)
The Chapel of John VII was also known as Oratory of the Virgin Mary and it used to be in the right part of the ancient Basilica of St. Peter, near the entrance
This is the best preserved fragment. The others are in the Vatican Grottoes, in the church of S. Marco in Florence and in the Duomo of Orte
“It survives in it all the finesse and excellence of Roman art from the best times of the empire. This finesse and excellence survived the centuries and ignoring the rigidity of Byzantine forms, in the heydays of that stiff style, it gave us this masterpiece” (G.B. Giovenale)

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