Bocca della Verita – Mouth of Truth - in Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome

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Piazza della Bocca della Verita

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  • by the Mouth of Truth
    by the Mouth of Truth
    by monica71
  • Bocca della Verità, Rome
    Bocca della Verità, Rome
    by iblatt
  • The Church of Saint Maria of Cosmedin.
    The Church of Saint Maria of Cosmedin.
    by IreneMcKay
  • solopes's Profile Photo

    Bocca de la Verita

    by solopes Updated Jan 25, 2013

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    The legend says (in www.italyguides.it):

    "This legend probably originates from Roman times. It is said that the rich wife of a Roman noble was accused of adultery. The woman denied the accusations, but her husband wanted to put her to the test by making her hand inside the stone mouth.

    Knowing perfectly well that she was lying, the woman used a very clever strategy. In front of a group of curious bystanders who had gathered around the Mouth of Truth, the man who was actually her lover embraced her and kissed her. She pretended that she didn't know him and accused him of being a madman and the crowd chased him away.

    When she put her hand into the mouth, the woman declared that she had never kissed any other man apart from her husband and the poor madman who had just kissed her.

    In this way she was certain that she hadn't lied and her hand was saved. The betrayed husband saved her honour, but the Mouth of Truth lost its credibility and it is said that since that day it no longer carried out its function as a right and unappeasable judge."

    Of course, everybody knows that the story is just a curiosity, but who doesn't put the hand inside the mouth?

    Be prepared for a long line.

    Bocca de la Verita - Rome - Italy
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  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo

    The Mouth of Truth.

    by IreneMcKay Updated Jan 5, 2013

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    This sculpture is located in the courtyard of the Church of Saint Maria of Cosmedin. It is near the foot of the Circe Maximus. Legend states that the statue will bite the hand of a liar. When we got to the statue, there was a queue of people waiting to have their photo taken with it. Being of an impatient frame of mind I just leaned through through the bars and took a photo between other people's shots. We also looked inside the church. It was OK, but not one of the more spectacular ones.

    The Mouth of Truth. The Church of Saint Maria of Cosmedin.
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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    Bocca della Verita

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jul 1, 2012

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    When a boy I loved well-known film "Roman Holiday". The film uses the Mouth of Truth as a storytelling device since both Hepburn's and Peck's characters are not initially truthful with each other. Could I think that I would see the Mouth of Truth with my own eyes…
    La Bocca della Verita ("the Mouth of Truth") is an image, carved from Pavonazzetto marble, of a man-like face, located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The sculpture is thought to be part of a 1st century ancient Roman fountain, or perhaps a manhole cover, portraying one of several possible pagan gods, probably Oceanus. Most Romans believe that the 'Bocca' represents the ancient god of the river Tiber.
    The most famous characteristic of the Mouth, however, is its role as a lie detector. Starting from the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with one's hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. The piece was placed in the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin in the 17th century. This church is also home to the supposed relics of Saint Valentine.

    Bocca della Verita Santa Maria in Cosmedin
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  • iblatt's Profile Photo

    Roman-Style Lie Detector

    by iblatt Updated Oct 19, 2011

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    Do you want to know if your girlfriend is truthful?
    Take her to the Bocca della Verità ("Mouth of Truth"), Rome's ancient lie detector. According to popular tradition, when you insert your hand into the "mouth" in the wall, it will be bitten off if you tell a lie!

    Bocca della Verità is actually a round face carved from marble, now incorporated into the portico wall of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. Some say it was part of an ancient Roman fountain, some that it used to be a manhole cover, but who cares! The legend makes it the tourist attraction that it is today.

    Bocca della Verit��, Rome
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  • Maria81's Profile Photo

    Are You Speaking the Truth?

    by Maria81 Updated Aug 19, 2011

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    Where?

    In the portico of Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on Piazza Bocca della Verita

    What?

    Bocca della Verita, or 'the mouth of truth', is a depiction of a mask with an open mouth. According to an old legend, if you put your hand in the mouth when you are telling a lie it will snap your hand off.

    Not as useful for detecting off-site lies though :)

    To keep in mind

    As with all popular locations, the queues are huge. Also, once you're there and are about to put your hand into the Bocca, remember that you're only allowed one photo.

    Bocca della Verita'
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  • DAO's Profile Photo

    TRUTH AND DARE !

    by DAO Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Want to try the world’s oldest lie detector? You may not when you find out that it bites. ‘The Mouth of Truth’ is 1.6 meters in diameter and weighs about 1300 kilograms. You place your hand in its mouth and tell the truth.

    If you lie, it bites your hand off. Ouch!

    Still feel brave? This fantastic large face is made from solid marble and has been dated back to about the 4th century BC. This huge Pagan symbol combines several gods and myths and was always intended, despite it great weight, to be displayed vertically (there are holes in the sides for attachments). It seems to be a blend of the gods Faunus and Silvanus. Faunus was a local Italian god similar to Pan (Greek mythology) who was a king who became divine after his death. He was the son of Saturn and the nymph Canens as is the god of fields and herds. His most important tribute the gifts of FERTILITY and PROPHESY. Silvanus was a god of forest and bush.

    Because of his ability to Prophesize, the image of Faunus is included in the Baccchanalia and other feasts honouring Bacchus, Janus, Dianna, Saturn and Mars.

    Some other characteristics of the face include the round shape which represents the sun – vital for agriculture. Fertility is represented by the scrota and horns (so leaflet tells me that I bought). There is also the heads of 2 wolves in profile on the sides that are a reference to the god Lupercalia. This protector keeps wolves away from the herds, brings good harvests to farmers, game to hunters and fish to fishermen. The Romans probably placed this huge face in the temple of Ceres in the area where Rome was born. Because of its size and strength the face has been passed down the centuries and now finds itself inside a Christian Church.

    SO GO ON! Stick your hand and the better arm in. Look at who you came on holiday with. Tell them you love them……

    DON'T BE AFRAID THE QUEQUE THE FACE ????? THIS IS TO THE SIDE OF THE FACE
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  • mindcrime's Profile Photo

    La Bocca Della Verita

    by mindcrime Updated Mar 21, 2011

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    La Bocca della Verita(mouth of truth) is a man-like face carved on marble probably part of ancient fountain showing god Oceanus. So, why all these tourists wait in a long line outside the church to get close to it?! Because it is a lie detector and if one tells a like with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture it would be bitten off!! So, ask your husband/wife if he/she still loves you and check it out like Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck did on the movie “Roman Holiday”(1953).

    The funny thing was that 90% of the people can wait in line for an hour but none of them entered the church to see inside!! (the mouth of truth lies in front of the church).

    We did go inside, the roman catholic church Santa Maria In Cosmedin has a medieval façade, a tall tower (the tallest medieval belfry in Rome) and a simple but nice interior. It’s a minor basilica that was built in the 6th century over an ancient temple that was part of the Forum Boarium. We really enjoyed the interior because as I said most of the visitors come here just for the mouth of truth! The church was decorated by greek monks that escaped iconoclastic persecutions at the end of 8th century but later a lot of additions (even a baroque façade) were made. You can see paintings from 8 to 12th century.

    It’s open daily 9.00-20.00 (off season until 17.00) There’s no entrance fee

    Santa Maria In Cosmedin La Bocca della Verita candles in Santa Maria In Cosmedin inside Santa Maria In Cosmedin interior of Santa Maria In Cosmedin
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  • Mmasarech's Profile Photo

    Take a Fun Photo at the Mouth of Truth

    by Mmasarech Written Feb 21, 2009

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    One of the few places we needed to actually stand on line during our off-season trip was the Mouth of Truth. Legend is that if you are a liar and stick your hand in the stone mouth your hand will be bitten off. Don't leave this site without checking out the skull of St. Valentine! It's worth the donation of .50 euro.

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  • monica71's Profile Photo

    The Mouth of Truth

    by monica71 Updated Jan 29, 2009

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    If you come to Rome, you have to stop by it! I think a trip to Rome is not complete without taking a picture here. The Mouth of Truth is located in the atrium of Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. The mask is believed to be part of a 1st century Roman fountain that was portraying several pagan Gods.

    Sign on the church wall Mouth of Truth by the Mouth of Truth
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  • Liars Beware!!!

    by KLowe1123 Written Apr 25, 2007

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    This church is perhaps best known for being the place to find the "Bocca Della Verita" (sp?) or the Mouth of Truth. It was reportedly a drain cover in Roman times (which if it is true, shows you how artistic and creative they were back then) then at some point a legend spun out of it saying liars (specially husband or wife who cheated on their better half) will get their hands bitten off by the mouth...thus centuries later it became a tourist attraction in Rome. We had heard of the legend but never knew that the real thing lies in Rome so when we saw fridge magnets in every souvenir store we asked around and visited it. There's always a long queue outside of Bocca Della Verita you will not have any difficulty finding this church. An old man takes pictures for you when asked to and it is nice to drop a Euro or 2 in donation before taking pics. Inside the church also lies part of St. Valentine''s remains so worth checking out as well! The place is otherwise free for entrance

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  • londonlover's Profile Photo

    Cliche but fun

    by londonlover Updated Mar 17, 2007

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    La Bocca della Verita, or "The Mouth of Truth," is one of those stops everybody should see in Rome, but it's also an obvious tourist trap. But at least there's no admission. The only trick is seeing when it's open. I went to see it when it was supposed to be open, but the gate was locked when we arrived, so we had to view it through metal bars. However, as such a huge fan of the movie Roman Holiday, I had to see it nonetheless.

    Dare you put your hand in there? :)
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  • uglyscot's Profile Photo

    Lie Detector

    by uglyscot Updated Dec 10, 2006

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    See the Bocca della Verita in the annex to Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This ancient drain cover stands against a wall. People believed that if you put your hand into the slit, and told a lie it would bite your hand off.
    It's a bit of fun.

    La Bocca della Verita

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  • icunme's Profile Photo

    Mouth of Truth tells its own story

    by icunme Updated Sep 11, 2006

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    Located near the Circus Maximus under the portico of the Church Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Mouth of Truth (La Bocca della Verità) is a popular destination. Some of us are old enough to have been introduced to this large marble face along with Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday" with Gregory Peck doing the honors.

    If the mouth that has tolerated so many probing hands could tell its own truth, who knows what that might be? Take your choice from these possibilities: Among the many legends associated with our large mouthed tattle-tale is that it was created to receive donations through its mouth - or, if you prefer, it was originally a cistern cover - yet another story places a priest behind the mouth with a scorpion that would bite the hand of those he thought were untruthful.

    We do know that it was a especially popular in medieval times with husbands who wanted to test the faithfulness of their wives - those wives who refused to subject their hands were not so popular.

    Almost lost an arm there!!
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  • Kikitriky's Profile Photo

    The Mouth of Truth

    by Kikitriky Updated Jul 14, 2006

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    Hey men, enjoy the visit with your beloved ones! To the left of the very entrance of the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin you can check whether your lover's heart belongs only to you. Just ask her to put her hand in tne mouth of Neptune and if he doesn't bite it off - sleep tight! If the mouth bites the hand off that would mean that your lady was unfaithful to you. No joke - it is a local superstition dating back from Antiquity. Such a pity it only checks woman's faithfulness, not man's... Another legend says that any liar would lose his hand, but I like the first story more!

    The Mouth of Truth /Boca della Verita/
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  • Gypsystravels's Profile Photo

    La Boca della Verita

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jun 23, 2006

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    Santa Maria in Cosmedin is better know for its portico where the famous Bocca della Verita, or mouth of the truth is found.

    The Bocca della Verita is an ancient drain cover in the shape of the mask of a fluvial divinity and according to legend "its mouth will close upon the hand of any liar who places it inside the opening".

    The church was built on the ruins of temples devoted to Hercules and to Ceres. The original church was transformed by Pope Hadrian I in the 8th century and consigned to Greeks who had sought refuge from persecution in Constantinople. Even today the Byzantine mass is celebrated here on Sunday. “Cosmedin” is a Greek word for ornament.

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