The Mouth of Truth, a classic of Rome

Roma It is a beautiful city. I love it because you can walk around it all day and every moment marvel at a square, charming streets, Roman ruins, medieval buildings or old and hidden churches. I love Rome!

A classic is the call Mouth of truth which is precisely in an old church, the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The cinema has made it a classic so there are no shortage of tourists who take a walk around here to put their hand in that mouth with some fear….

Mouth of Truth

La Horse's Mouth it's in the pronaos of a church. But what is it? It is simply a pavonazzetto marble mask that is placed in the pronaos, that is, in the front part of the temple. It is a typical space that is seen in the Greek and Roman temples and it would come to be the lobby or the entrance.

The Mouth of Truth It is inside the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This church is in Ripa and originally dates from XV century. The church was built, like many others, on the remains of a Roman temple, the Templum Herculis Pompeiani, in the Boario Forum and near the Statio annonae, the place where food was once distributed.

By the seventeenth century the church had been surrounded by Byzantine-style buildings, so it began to be called Schola Graeca. Later, Greek monks who had fled iconoclastic persecutions rebuilt and decorated it in the late XNUMXth century. By then it changed form and gained a portico and three naves. A century later an oratory and a sacristy were built.

This church has its place in history since here three popes were chosen, Gelasius II, Celestine III and Benedict XIII. Two of them had been cardinals of the same church. Later, history tells us that it was completely restored in the XNUMXth century, it passed through Benedictine hands and was briefly decorated in the Baroque style. In other words, the church has its own history and its own wealth beyond the famous Boca de la Verdad.

You can see the closing of the choir dating from the High Middle Ages, its Cosmatesque pavement, a typical style of Italy in the Middle Ages, especially in Rome, made of marble that was often taken from Roman ruins and placed forming geometries beautiful. There are also beautiful paintings before and after the 1123th century, on the altar there is a piece of red granite from XNUMX and in the sacristy part of a mosaic from the old St. Peter's Basilica.

The Mouth of the Truth, as I said above, It is a pavonazzetto marble mask. This marble is white, sometimes brown with golden overtones, and the name comes from the colors of the peacock's tail. It was obtained from the quarries of Phrygia, in Turkey, and was very popular in ancient Rome, especially when it came to making ornaments or columns.

This mask is a round piece that has been dated as belonging to the XNUMXst century. 1 meters in diameter and has carved a bearded male face. The holes in the nose, eyes and mouth are perforated. Weighs around 1300 kilos and it is believed that the carved face is probably that of the god Ocean.

Actually it is not known for sure what its function originally was, if water came out of its orifices and was part of a fountain, if it was a sewer cover, even, since the temple of Hercules Victori is nearby. The name by which it is known begins to circulate in 1485 and since then more or less it can be traced and thus it is known that in the beginning I was outside, in the porch of the churchand that later it was transferred to the interior, around 1631.

But where does the habit of fearfully placing your hand inside your mouth come from? It seems from different German texts. One of them, the XNUMXth century, says that behind the mouth is the devil and that one day he grabbed the hand of Julian, the Apostate, who we remember had cheated on his wife and had sworn to clean his reputation and hand over his fortune for the return of paganism. In another legend, a couple of centuries later, the story of the mouth that bites the hand of an adulterous woman appears.

One thing and the other and there we have the birth of a legend. For a change, it seems that it was ideal for detecting female adultery... Anyway, the Mouth of Truth became popular among all those who traveled to Rome and the popularity was increased with the cinema.

Hand in hand Holidays in Rome, a 1953 classic starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, the Bocca della Verità became undoubtedly known. If you did not see the film you can see it before traveling to Rome. Of course, hope that there are people lining up well, really it is a very popular site.

The Mouth of Truth it is close to the Circo Massimo. You walk down the street of this name, which at a certain point becomes Via della Greca and there you can already see the church and the crowded people waiting to reach into the old piece of marble waiting for their turn.

Hours are from 9 am to 6 pm and admission is free. In winter there are fewer people and the hours are split, from 10 am to 12 pm and from 3 to 5 pm. It is the same time as the church so do not forget to take a walk around the church to see all the charms that I told you about before.

Are you not going to Italy? Then maybe you can see one of its replicas: there is one in the Luxembourg Gardens, in Paris, another in the Alta Vista Gardens, in California, and if you visit a casino you may find it in the slot machines. Yes!

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