Like most of the many churches throughout Rome, Chiesa di Santa Maria in Comedian has an ancient past and a fascinating story. Built on an ancient worship site that was once a great temple of Hercules, it became under care of the Byzantine Papacy. Its name “Cosmedin” is the Greek word for “beautiful decoration.”
The beautiful decorations remain — with its unique characteristics including a pre-Roman crypt, a massive bell tower, marble inlaid floors, architecture and designed by the Cosmati brothers, a beautiful altar with a rare 8th century mosaic, and frescoed walls.
The famous ‘Mouth of Truth’ or Bocca della Verità can be found in the portico of the church. The face of an unknown man or god is believed to be part of an ancient Roman temple, and is said to have once functioned as a lie detector — as it would bite off the hand of a man who did not speak the truth.
The church is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and can be found at Piazza della Bocca della Verità 18. While there can be a line to see the Mouth of Truth, it is often possible to walk around this crowd to enter the church.