Early during our trip to the Big Island, we visited St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church on the Kona coast. The exterior of this small church is charming but unimposing.
It's the interior that is notable. The church was built by Father John Berchmans Velge around the turn of the 20th century. The priest, who was totally untutored in painting, decided to cover the interior of the church with religious paintings and local color (literally), educating himself in painting techniques as he went along. Here are some shots of the interior, including a "traditional" one from the rear of the "nave."
Here are a few other views of the interior, including one of the ceiling, difficult to capture because of the relatively low height of the ceiling.
One of the parishioners, Bill Myers, gave us background on the history of the church, including some of the hidden messages that the pastor had included in his art. Below is a portrait of Jesus, half-hidden behind the altar piece at the front of the sanctuary.
The church grounds include a cemetery, that is still "active" in the sense that former parishioners are still being buried there. As Bill explained, burial is a problem because of the volcanic rock that lies two to three feet below the surface, explaining why some of the graves are capped with concrete, though I took the photo for the scattering of crosses rather than for the concrete.
Finally, is a shot of the rear of the church, which shows that it faces the ocean, a few hundred yards down a slope.
Bill explained that, although the church's exterior has seen some restoration over the years, the interior artwork has not, though it remains in good shape.
If you are ever in the neighborhood, St. Benedict's is a gem.