The Painted Church on the island of Hawaii

This small white church holds a big secret.  Known as the Painted Church, the interior walls and ceiling have been covered with scenes from the Bible, painted by a priest who was stationed here. 



Most of the people who were visiting here where looking at the church, but I found the grounds to be interesting, too.  This picture reflects a tradition that seems to be related to bringing flowers to a cemetery, or to the site where somone died.  I saw this at all the shrines and holy places that we visited.  Shell leis were left hanging on or laying on each object.  This is a child praying in front of a statue of Mary.  He/she was about 4 feet tall, an easy reach for the leis. 


Not only is Mary at least life size, she is also standing on a rock outcropping about 4 feet off the ground.  I don't know how anyone could place a lei or a rosary around her neck, but  they did. 


At the bottom of the cemetery, down by the road, were several rows of gravesites of young children.  There were a lot of simple white crosses there, too, like this one.  Even though it wasn't the peaceful expanse of green grass that we usually associate with a cemetery, there was a feeling of a sacred, holy place. 


There are a lot of these plants with yellow flowers growing in the cemetery, almost like wildflowers.  It is the foliage that is distinctive, almost fern like.  Each leaflet is deeply lobed. 


Up the hill, the cemetery looked like this.  Can anyone explain the pipe fences?


This is my favorite panel from the church interior.  Officially St. Benedict's Catholic Church, the Painted Church was built in the 1800s.  The frescos were painted between 1899 and 1904 by Father John Velge.  In our guidebook, it is listed as "A real gem". 


The elaborate cupola and steeple on the Painted Church.  As you can see, it had gotten quite cloudy but it didn't rain.  The Painted Church is located just off of Highway 11 south of Kona.  You exit onto 160 just south of the 104 mile marker.  There are no billboards on Hawaii, and very few signs.  The best way to find things is to watch for the mile markers. 

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About countrybydesign

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4 Responses to The Painted Church on the island of Hawaii

  1. How extraordinary and beautiful!! I love the paintings inside of the church. One would never guess by seeing the outside. I thought the elaborate cupola and steeple were quite unusual and ornate, very pretty, on top of the painted church! You found some very interesting things in the cemetery. The shell leis were amazing, on the tall Mary statue. What an unusual tradition.I found the cemetery and the church to be very original and interesting, a wonderful place to visit and take pictures! You certainly got some outstanding pictures there!

  2. Thank you! As you can tell, I spent a lot of time taking pictures of things that aren't going to show up in your typical Hawaii tour book! There were no tour buses here, although there were a number of people coming and going. I couldn't get a picture of the front of the church that didn't have people in it.
    I was impressed with the cupola and steeple, too. Very ornate for a rather plain building.
    I wasn't expecting to see the shell leis either. Another surprise! You will see more later when I do a set of sacred spaces and places. I still don't know how they got them up around Mary's shoulders.

  3. I wonder if they throw them? But I like the fact that you take pictures that are original and we see things we never would see otherwise. And, you have taken so many gorgeous pictures. I do believe you could publish a "Photographic Tour of Hawaii." I am really enjoying seeing the pictures you post!

  4. I'm glad you are enjoying them. I enjoyed taking them and I'm having fun posting them, too, because I get to share them with you! This blog may be as close as I come to getting published, but this is good enough for me.
    Thanks to help from my Vox neighbors, we think the yellow flowers are cosmos.

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