Thursday, April 16, 2020


Piazza Bocca della Verità

About 120 BC maybe by Hermodoros of Salamis (active in Rome during the second century BC) in Pentelic Greek marble for the merchant Marcus Octavius Herennus, perhaps enriched with the olive oil business

This temple is mistakenly believed to be the “Temple of Vesta”

On a block of stone that was found here, probably the base of the statue of worship, there is the name of the deity Hercules Olivarius, and the name of the sculptor of the statue Skopas Minor, Greek sculptor who also worked in the area of the Circus Flaminius
So the temple was dedicated to Hercules Olivarius and maybe not to Hercules Victor

It was restored under Tiberius (14/37), perhaps after the flood of the year 15 AD
On that occasion nine columns and eleven capitals of marble from Luni were rebuilt

It is the oldest marble building remained in Rome. The first to be built in marble was the Temple of Jupiter Stator in the Porticus of Octavia

It is a peripteral round temple (Tholos) with twenty columns (there is only one base and perhaps the missing column is the “Column of Phocas” of the Roman Forum) on a stepped plinth (crepidoma) with circular foundation of tuff from Grotta Oscura

It became a church in 1132 as S. Stefano delle Carrozze (St. Stephen of the Coaches) from the name of the nearby street Via delle Carrozze (Coahes Street) now disappeared
In 1560 the name was changed into S. Maria del Sole (S. Mary of the Sun) maybe because of a legend (a woman of 115 years emanated light after a picture of the Virgin Mary found in the Tiber River was taken in her house), or maybe because of the proximity of the Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus with the god Mithra represented as the Sun

The structures and the walls of the church were dismantled during the years 1809/14 by Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839)

Last renovation in 1996
Frescoes with “Scenes of the Virgin Mary and Saints” 1475 by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471/84) who wanted to place a commemorative plaque on the floor

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