The church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin was built by Pope Adrian I (r. 772-95). It was substantially restored in the early 12th century and 600 years later it was given a Baroque makeover, including a new facade, by the architect Giuseppe Sardi (1680-1768). The Baroque additions were removed at the end of the 19th century.
Cosmedin comes from the Greek word kosmidion, which means ornamental, and refers to the splendid decoration of the 8th century church. The English word cosmetic has the same origin.
The enclosed choir (schola cantorum) and the beautiful cosmatesque pavement survive from the early 12th century.
The church preserves in its portico a much photographed ancient Roman drain-cover, known as the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita).
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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