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St Maria in Cosmedin

The eastern side of Rome

Thousands of tourists every day undergo kilometric lines to take pictures in front of the threatening Mouth that is on the porch.

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Hardly anyone enters the beautiful church still officiated today with the Greek-Melkite Catholic rite as evidence of the area's ancient eastern origins.

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Important temples and public offices are in this area that used to belong to the Foro Olitorio (vegetable market) and the Foro Boario (livestock market).

Bankers and money changers carried out their activities in Velabro, where the Arco degli Argentari can still be admired.

With the fall of the empire 476 DC and the city in the phase of Byzantine influence, this was the center of the Greek colony, with a flourishing culture that manifested itself above all in the decorative arts: the so-called "Schola Graeca". Not only that: a series of diaconias flourished, real centers of assistance to the poor, born on the example of those of the Church in the East. With the passage of time, near or above the deaconries, churches were erected, named after Eastern saints:

San Teodoro, San Giorgio al Velabro, San Nicola in Carcere, Sant’Anastasia.

And Santa Maria in Cosmedin, a very important basilica, known unfortunately mainly for the so-called Bocca della Verità, that is the aforementioned manhole cover.

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The interior is presented in the form that it assumed in its moment of greatest splendor in the 12th century; finally, with its name it recalls, as it has already been written, a particular period of Roman history, held under a prevailing Byzantine influence, with a consistent eastern colony that gravitated in this area. This was especially important in the centuries between the 7th and 9th centuries, first due to the decisive political predominance of Byzantium which had its governors settled in the palaces of the Palatine, and then for the influx of refugees escaped from iconoclastic persecutions.

The corresponding Tiber shore was called "ripa graeca"; dedications to Greek saints had all the churches in the surroundings and finally this church probably derived its name from the celebrated monastery of Constantinople, called the "cosmidìon".

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Today the Melkites officiate in this Basilica their catholic eastern ritual, thanks the permission of Pope Paul VI.

Who are they? Father Chihade Abbud , the new rector of S Maria in Cosmedin, tell us that more about them. It's an eastern catholic church who accepted the Council of Chalcedon and, consequently, the official directives of the court of Constantinople, believing the double nature of God and Jesus, human and divine at the same time and the Immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, before during and after her life.

This term derives from the Syriac malka, or king, sovereign who was the first in believing that.

Today their community count 450 families and the ritual usually is in 3 different ones, Arabic, Greek, since it's the language of the educated ones and and the local one, Italian.


Susannetta Concierge

di Susanna Milani, P.I.11676951004