Hawaii’s Painted Church

As you make your way from Hawaii’s remarkable Place of Refuge, don’t miss this hidden gem just up the hill: St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, better known as The Painted Church. It is a charming tiny building, embraced by lush foliage.

Outside view of Painted Church, Big Island, Hawaii

Father John Velge, Painted Church, Big Island, Hawaii The church dates back to the mid-1800s, when foreign missionaries were allowed to operate on the islands after the fall of the kapu system, an extensive set of taboos that governed the Hawaiian islands for generations.

As the 20th century dawned, Father John Velge, a transplant from Belgium with no formal art training, picked up some house paint and set off to transform his modest church into a miniature cathedral. A number of his parishioners could not read, so Father John had the walls tell the stories. The end result is fascinating: quaint but undeniably beautiful.

Walls and Ceiling of Painted Church, Hawaii

Walls and ceiling, Painted Church, Hawaii

Good Death mural, Painted Church, Hawaii

“Good Death” – notice rays of light

Temptation of Jesus, Painted Church, Big Island, Hawaii

“Temptation of Jesus”: The devil is being cast down, with a crown, a scepter, and bags of money

Like the Place of Refuge, the Painted Church has a certain presence. Among all the extraordinary, charismatic spots on this island, it manages to hold its own. Do linger here.

Asking for money, Painted Church, Big Island, Hawaii

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6 thoughts on “Hawaii’s Painted Church

  1. Pingback: Hawaii’s Place of Refuge | Transplanted Tatar

  2. Beautiful. So interesting to see church art with palm trees. Every time I hear about “taboo,” I think about the episode of the Brady Bunch when they went to Hawaii. Guess they had some basis in fact.

    • I haven’t seen that episode — I’ll have to find it online some place. I loved the aesthetics of the Painted Church: you could see the “European cathedral” origin, but this was very much painted FOR this place, to be a part of it.

  3. Pingback: In Pele’s Realm: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park | Transplanted Tatar

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