Church of Santa Maria del Carmine

Piazza del Carmine. (Open Map)


Construction of the church and the monastery alongside was begun by the Carmelite Order, and the first Mass was celebrated there on 25 May 1268 even before the church had been completed.
The buildings underwent a long series of changes that radically modified their appearance. In 1330 the church was almost completely destroyed by a fire and partially rebuilt, before being abandoned by the Carmelites who moved elsewhere. Plans for rebuilding began in 1400, and work started under Gian Galeazzo Visconti’s rule, but in 1446, when the buildings were at an advanced stage of completion, both church and monastery collapsed.
The architect Pietro Antonio Solari was commissioned with rebuilding in 1449, and the vaulting and the external parts of the transept visible today are can be ascribed to this period. In 1654, extensive refurbishment began, on the floor, tower and main door.
The church was initially dedicated to the Annunciation, as indicated by the two bas-reliefs alongside the main door. It later took the name of Church of the Purification, before being dedicated to Santa Maria del Carmine.For a long period it was a point of reference for some important orders, such as the famous and powerful “School of the Garment of Carmel,” which in the earliest period (up until 1391) vied for primacy with the “Arch-confraternity of the Devotees of the Purification.” The belltower, initiated in 1664 by Sandrini, was reduced in height by the Austrians in the 18th century.Sunday Mass includes three services in English, at 8.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. On Thursday at 5 p.m. there is Mass in English and Tagalog, the latter being the most important language spoken in the Philippine Republic.The façade is a fine example of Lombard Neo-Gothic art, entirely in brick and terra cotta.Its construction began in 1673, and it was completed only in 1883, to a design by Antonio Pozzone. Carlo Maciachini modified it considerably, and these changes have received severe criticism from contemporary scholars.