No trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church, otherwise known as “The Painted Church.”
Minutes from the Bali Tree Cottage near Kealakekua Bay, we decided to attend mass in remembrance of a special family member who had recently passed.
Upon entering, we were overwhelmed by not only the warmth and hospitality of the priest and parishioners, but with the intricate and masterfully painted artwork depicting biblical scenes and lives of the saints.
Since 1842, the Catholic church was an important part of South Kona. This wasn’t always its present location or its original name for that matter. The first church was actually located near the beaches of the City of Refuge and called St. Francis Regis chapel. Seeking a cooler climate with more fertile soil in the 1880s, the locals started moving to higher ground. Father John Velghe, a Sacred Hearts Father from Belgium, decided to follow his many parishioners, and with their help, the church was dismantled and moved up the hill to its current location.
In August 1902, the church was consecrated and renamed in honor of St. Benedict.
This small Catholic church became “The Painted Church” after Father Velge, a self-taught artist, skillfully painted its interior between 1899-1904 to communicate Bible stories to non-English-speaking Hawaiians.
Today Saint Benedict’s Church is listed in the Hawaii State Register of Historic places and the National Register of Historic Places.
St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church is located at:
84-5140 Painted Church Road
Captain Cook, Hawaii (HI) 96704