The church of the Madonna del Carmine, with the adjoining accommodation for either pilgrims, or used as a hospital, was erected in 1225 at the behest of Gentile di Gualtiero di Benedetto Pagano in an area outside the city, beyond Porta Salvatoris.
The church, originally dedicated to Sant'Agata, was sold initially by Pagano to the Chapter of St. Peter's in Rome and, later, it passed to the Chapter of the Cathedral of Sulmona for an annual fee.
It was last referred to as a hospital in the Land Registry of 1376. The church then took a parish and increased its wealth thanks to several acquisitions and donations that continued over the years. From the 13th century onwards, around it grew a new suburb south of Sulmona, which was at that time enclosed within the Medieval walls.
In 1634 the Carmelites, who had been housed since 1607 in the convent of Santa Maria Arabona, asked to be able to use the church. After permission was granted the following year, they changed its structure according to their own needs, and developed the convent next door.
Misunderstandings between the fathers and the pastor led eventually in 1710 to sole custody of the church and convent of Sant'Agata being granted to the Carmelites who pledged to make a financial contribution to the parish and to restore the statue of the titular saint.
The parish was then moved to the church of Santa Margherita - which has since changed its name to Sant'Agata within the Borgo Pacentrano. The Carmelites then rebuilt the church which had suffered a lot of damage in the earthquake of 1706 and they named it after the Madonna del Carmine.
Due to the suppression of religious orders in the second half of the 19th century, the Carmelites moved away and the sacred temple then came under the control of the church of Santa Maria della Tomba. The monastery was given to the city and, in the early 20th century, it became a Military Zone. In 1948 it was demolished following extensive bomb damage from World War II, and on the site was built the new post office building.
ExteriorThe façade, designed by the architect Carlo Faggi, is divided vertically into three by a double row of twin pilasters and divided horizontally by a high entablature, bearing the words: “GLORIA LIBANI DATE EST EI DECOR CARMELI ET SARON - ISAI(A) C. XXXV A.D. MDCCXXVI”
At the centre of the lower span, above a flight of five steps, there is a portal with a broken pediment and a medallion carved in bas-relief of the Madonna and Child in the middle.
In the architrave there is an inscription Novo Inalbatum Decore 1822 which without doubt refers to a particular restoration.
In the upper span, in line with the portal, there is a large rectangular window with a moulded cornice and side projections, topped by a broken triangular pediment with the coat of arms of the Carmelite Order.
The upper middle span is joined to the lower, wider span by dividing walls with a curved profile and pediments centrally placed on the entablature.
The crown features a large broken pediment featuring a stucco tablet with floral motifs in the middle.
InteriorThe interior, covered by a barrel vault with lunettes, is a single nave with three chapels on each side decorated with stucco and paintings on canvas.
On the wall of the apse there is an iconostasis with two side openings closed by grates, surmounted in the middle by a panel with the Madonna del Carmine, and flanked by statues of the prophets Elijah and Elisha clothed in the habit of the Order, where there is the main marble altar.
On the counter facade, in a masonry choir with a mixtilinear parapet, is an organ built in 1815 by master Quirico Gennari - a member of a family of organ builders from Veneto. Lower down, near the entrance on the left-hand wall, a carved wooden shrine holds the statue of the patron of the church.