The interior of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, most famous as the church where the Bocca della Verita is kept. The church itself dates to the eighth century, built during the Byzantine Papacy, which explains the interior décor, which is very Eastern Mediterranean in appearance! It was built over the ruins of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani in the Forum Boarium, and allegedly also the Statio Annonae, a food distribution center, which may have carried forward in that charitable distributions may have continued at this location in the Christian era. It was known as the Schola Graeca in the 7th century, from the presence of Greek monks fleeing iconoclastic persecutions. The name cosmedin, from the Greek, means ornate. A sacristy and oratory were dedicated to St. Nicholas in the 9th century, so there have been several additions over the centuries. It was extensively renovated in the 12th century, and updated again in the early 18th century, but baroque additions were later removed, restoring it to its former appearance. Some of the columns and other fragments of earlier structures can still be seen here, and a mosaic fragment from the Old St. Peter's Basilica is kept in the sacristy. In a side altar on the left is a flower-adorned skull, reportedly that of St. Valentine.