The Church of St.Maria del Popolo in Carpineto Romano is cared for by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Building of the church began in 12th century as a votive church and was completed by Pope Sixtus IV in 1483. The Church was named a national monument.
A Latin inscription explains: In the wise and omnipotent greatness of God, the people of Carpineto, freed from the plague by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded this church with the help of benefactors and at their own expense – 1483 – Sixtus IV.
The small Church, Romanesque and Gothic, is not very big but has classic architectural lines. The portico has five arches. The entrance portal is a 15th century jewel from its perfect pearl colour to the soft laurel draped around and the garlands of entwined flowers and fruit which elegantly run throughout the entablature beneath a triangular pediment with The Virgin holding the Child. To one side, under a stone arch supported by little ornate acanthus corbels, is a rectangle framing a Virgin holding the Child on his feet, he holds his mother with one hand and with the other clutches a fruit to his chest. This is attributed to Mino da Fiesole.
In 1807, the church was owned by the State. Pope Leo XIII commissioned the renovation of the pitched roof and ceiling, supported by two jack arches, which replaced the previous wood and bricks. The walls were frescoed with ornamental motifs in the Byzantine style. The fresco in the apse, depicting a Biblical story, is by Cingolani, pupil of Gagliardi. The staircase that circled the apse, similar to the one built by Vanvitelli at St. Mary Major in Rome, was removed during the renovation work, as was the portal with arches and columns supported by lions. The bell tower was also sacrificed and the four mullioned windows were adapted to the St. John bell tower. The stone pulpit was destroyed to make the bulwark for the entrance staircase.
The architecture of the church is divinely symmetrical, simple and pure. In the nave, the small apse holds the classical altar, made of local stone, with a single step and four graduated columns attributed to the school of Andrea dell'Aquila.
To the right of the entrance is a fresco of Our Lady of the Rosary with the fifteen mysteries, that some attribute to Filippo Lippi and others to an unknown 18th century artist. In the 16th century, two chapels were added (which removed the symmetry of the lancet windows). One was consecrated to the wooden Crucifix, the other to St. Roche who dominates the centre of the votive altar. There are fourteen figures of angels, apostles, the annunciation in the lunettes and tambour and the Virgin and Child. The roses that adorn the capitals of the niches are reminiscent of the Palace of the Cancelleria in Rome. The holy water font and fountains (sacresty) are made from local stone. The windows are ogival, narrow and small, severe and decorous, similar to the ones in Abbeys of Fossanova and Casamari. There is a characteristic medieval window in the apse.
There is a horse head and a camel head on the façade, to each side of the staircase. Above them, positioned centrally beneath the flat tympanum, a Basilian oriental cross in opus rusticum dominates the façade, a link to the medieval decoration and a possible indication that the church may have been officiated by the Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata at some time. In 1657, the town council made a promise to the Virgin during an outbreak of the plague, following which a chapel was created on the right side allowing for the placement of a grandiose votive painting of the Virgin. The chapel has since been demolished to allow for the street to be widened.