St. Benedict: The Painted Church of Hawaii
Overlooking the beautiful Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s Big Island, St. Benedict’s Catholic Church (also known as The Painted Church) is a delight to visit and enjoy. As a part of the famous Kona coffee growing region since 1842, this fascinating church building and friendly parish are an important part of the community.
The first church building, located near the shore of the City of Refuge, was dismantled in 1899 and brought up the mountain slopes to take advantage of the cooler breezes. In August of 1902, Bishop Robert from Honolulu visited the relocated church, consecrated it, and named it in honor of St. Benedict, the father of Western monasticism.
The interior walls of the church were painted by Father Velghe, a self-taught artist. His inspiration was the gothic cathedral of Burgos in Spain. His painting of scenes from the Bible and lives of the saints were very important teaching tools at a time when many people could not read or write.
Father Velghe used ordinary house paint and building lumber to depict stories from the Old and New Testaments and about the lives of heroes from both Hebrew and Christian traditions. Even with no formal training as an artist, Fr. Velghe’s natural talent and passion shines through his paintings.
Mass is celebrated most days at St. Benedict’s. The second Sunday of each month is the Hawaiian Mass when all of the readings and music are in the native language. After the Mass, everyone shares a breakfast and fellowship together.
After enjoying the magnificent chapel interior, take a stroll up the hill and walk the Stations of the Cross to a replica of Michelangelo’s “Pieta”. It is truly a beautiful worship space and a great benefit to the community of South Kona in Honaunau.