Discovering the Artistic Charm of Painted Church Kona

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Aloha! | E Komo Mai

Ever felt the mystique of stepping into a living canvas? Picture this: painted church Kona, nestled on Hawaii’s Big Island, is more than just an architectural marvel. It’s a testament to faith, resilience and creativity.

A labor of love by Father John Velghe in 1899 using house paint and wood as his medium; St. Benedict’s Painted Church offers vibrant biblical narratives painted across its interior walls – captivating visitors for over a century now!

This journey we’re embarking on isn’t simply one of tourism but discovery – uncovering hidden stories within each brushstroke, exploring the surrounding wonders like Kealakekua Bay or even understanding how these artworks serve as teaching tools.

The History and Origins of Painted Church Kona

Located in the scenic South Kona district, St. Benedict’s Painted Church stands as a testament to faith, artistry, and resilience against natural disasters like lava flow from Mauna Loa. Its history is intertwined with Father John Velghe’s life journey.

The Role of Father John Velghe

This industrious Belgian priest was not just a spiritual leader but also an artist. He brought his artistic skills to bear on this Roman Catholic church, using ordinary house paint on wood panels for his paintings that depicted biblical stories and lives of saints.

Father John Berchmans Velghe arrived in Hawaii during the late 19th century when literacy rates were low among local communities due to lack of professional training facilities. His vivid illustrations served as teaching tools – they told religious tales visually for those who couldn’t read or write.

Influence Of St Benedict

Named after Saint Benedict, founder of the Western Monasticism order which follows ‘The Rule Of Saint Benedict,’ this painted church reflects much about its patron saint’s principles too. This structure carries forward the teachings and legacy associated with him through visual depictions inside it.

Biblical Stories Illustrated Through Art

Despite having limited resources at hand like basic house paints used on wooden surfaces, Father Velghe’s paintings are nothing short of masterpieces. They portray 3D depictions from the Bible and lives of saints which further strengthened their spiritual connection.

The striking visuals didn’t just catch the eye in South Kona district, they also played a big role as teaching tools. With many folks unable to read or write, these illustrations became an invaluable way of breaking down language barriers. They rendered the Christian teachings more comprehensible, connecting them to people’s feelings and thoughts.

Key Takeaway:

The legacy of Father John Velghe is beautifully encapsulated in St. Benedict’s Painted Church in South Kona. More than just a historic monument, this church serves as an artistic and spiritual testament to his efforts. With simple house paint and wooden panels, he brought biblical stories to life for the locals who couldn’t read or write. These vivid illustrations continue to echo St.Benedict’s teachings today.

Architectural Highlights and Artwork Inside Painted Church Kona

The magic of St. Benedict’s Painted Church isn’t just found in its history or the tranquility that surrounds it, but within its very walls. Upon entering you’re exposed to a realm of vibrancy and imagination.

Unconventional Materials Used for Artwork

Father Jean Berchmans Velghe, an industrious Belgian priest who served at the church during the late 19th century, brought to life biblical stories using ordinary wood as his canvas and house paint as his medium. You might wonder how such humble materials could give birth to awe-inspiring artwork.

This unique choice was not due to lack of resources; rather it showcases Father Velghe’s genius in turning everyday objects into timeless masterpieces. His use of perspective painting techniques created three-dimensional images that look like carved statues when viewed from certain angles – an innovative approach during those times.

Biblical Stories Illustrated Through Art

Around this time on Big Island Hawaii literacy wasn’t widespread among local community members so these paintings served more than decorative purposes – they were effective teaching tools too. Each vibrant depiction narrates scenes from both Old Testament events and lives of saints without needing written words.

Whether you’re admiring Moses parting the Red Sea painted right above your head or looking upon Last Judgment covering the entire side wall, each scene holds a story waiting to be told.

Directions to Painted Church Kona

If you’re starting from downtown Kona, getting to St. Benedict’s Painted Church is quite straightforward and will take around 40 to 45 minutes by car. Here’s a quick guide on how you can reach this historical marvel nestled in the South Kona district.

Start your journey along Hawaii Belt Road or Highway 11 heading south towards Captain Cook, named after the famed British explorer. As you drive through lush landscapes of Big Island Hawaii, keep an eye out for mile markers as they’ll be your best navigation friends here.

Around Mile Marker 103, make a left turn onto Painted Church Road – yes, it’s that simple. This winding road offers some lovely scenic views but remember to stay focused as it can get narrow at places.

The church is situated about two miles up the hill and should be an easy enough spot with its distinctive white structure surrounded by tropical flora. You might want more than just one visit once you witness the stunning vistas over Kealakekua Bay from this elevated location.

Parking Details

Parking near St. Benedict’s isn’t usually an issue since there’s ample space by the church grounds. But it can get busy during Mass timings, so arriving a bit early might be wise.

As for accessibility, there are spots available for disabled visitors too, making it convenient for everyone to explore this historic site.

Around Painted Church Kona

The area around the painted church is not only historically rich but also teeming with natural beauty.

Exploring the Surrounding Area of Painted Church Kona

The painted church isn’t just a destination. Painted church serves as a gateway to other fun and equally as enjoyable experiences like snorkeling, coffee farm tours and treats. 

The Beauty of Kealakekua Bay

A short distance away is Kealakekua Bay, where history and natural beauty meet. Best known for being the landing site of Captain Cook, but also serves as one of the best locations to snorkel on the island. 

The underwater landscape here teems with vibrant marine life that you can explore firsthand. The painted church overlooks this stunning location, making it an ideal pit stop during your day out exploring South Kona district.

Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park

Closer still lies another gem: Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park. Known as a place of refuge in ancient times, today it serves as an open window into Hawaii’s past. Here you can walk amidst restored temples and fishponds – evidence that tells tales of islanders who lived centuries ago.

The Allure Of Kona Coffee

No trip to this region would be complete without experiencing its legendary java – yes we’re talking about Kona coffee. The South Kona district is home to numerous coffee farms where you can learn about the cultivation process, from bean to brew.

These farms offer a great chance to dive into a rich, cultural journey. Explore professional training techniques and enjoy the freshest brews. Don’t miss this unique opportunity—it might just be your perfect adventure.

Mass Timings at Painted Church Kona

If you’re planning a visit to St. Benedict’s Painted Church in South Kona, you might want to time it right so that you can experience the unique charm of a Mass service. The church offers both weekend and weekday masses, making it easy for visitors with varying schedules.

The weekend schedule is particularly convenient if your Big Island adventure mostly involves weekdays filled with snorkeling spots or exploring local coffee farms around Captain Cook, Hawaii. On Saturdays, there’s an afternoon Mass at 4pm – perfect for ending a day full of sightseeing on a peaceful note. Sundays offer an early morning service starting at 8am – great if you prefer getting an early start before diving into your island itinerary.

Weekday services are held thrice weekly: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays all have their Masses beginning bright and early at 7am. Whether this coincides perfectly with your sunrise viewing over Mauna Loa or provides some calm before embarking on the scenic drive through South Kona district doesn’t matter; what matters is that no matter when you plan to explore St.Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church (or other painted churches in the region), there will be mass timings suited just for your schedule.

This historic church isn’t just known as one of Big Island’s top attractions because of its Belgian priest Father John Berchmans Velghe who hand-painted these beautiful murals onto ordinary wood using house paint – but also because they continue upholding regular religious services amidst tourism visits which gives everyone who steps foot here a chance to witness how deeply ingrained faith remains within this community today.

Please remember though. While tourists are more than welcome during these time slots mentioned above, make sure we respect their sacred traditions by observing silence during services unless participating, and dressing modestly to respect their norms.

Visiting a church may not be the typical tourist activity on your Hawaii trip. But St. Benedict’s Painted Church isn’t just any ordinary Roman Catholic Church – it’s an integral part of Big Island history, teaching tools through its murals painted by Father Velghe that continue inspiring locals and tourists alike today. So, keep these mass timings in mind when you’re planning your visit to this remarkable piece of Hawaiian heritage.

Key Takeaway:

St. Benedict’s Painted Church in South Kona is more than a sightseeing stop, it’s an opportunity to experience a Mass service amidst breathtaking murals painted by Father Velghe. With weekend and weekday services, you can easily fit this spiritual adventure into your Big Island itinerary. But remember to respect the sacred traditions of this vibrant community during your visit.

The Other Painted Church on the Big Island

While St. Benedict’s Painted Church in Kona may be well-known, there is another painted church on the Big Island that also holds a significant charm. This lesser-known treasure is called “Star of the Sea Painted Church,” and it sits proudly in Kalapana.

Father Evarist Gielen, a Belgian priest just like Father John Velghe who painted St. Benedict’s, started to build this church back in 1927-1928 using wood from ohia trees and walls made from lava rock.

A Moving History

This Roman Catholic Church has an astonishing history. In 1990, Mauna Loa erupted and threatened to engulf Star of The Sea with advancing lava flow; but thanks to some industrious local community members who came together for their beloved sanctuary – they moved it.

In an extraordinary feat over two days, volunteers managed to transport this historic structure out of harm’s way on the bed of a truck while hot molten lava flowed behind them.

Vibrant Artwork Inside

If you think its exterior story was fascinating, wait until you step inside. Just like at St.Benedict’s painted church, Big Island Hawaii residents are greeted by vibrant murals depicting biblical scenes – but here comes another surprise: These were not created by any professional training artist or priest father.

Rather these paintings are believed to have been done by parishioners themselves as teaching tools for those unable to read or write English during plantation times.

How To Get There

The church’s location offers a scenic drive through the South Kona district. To find it, you need to head towards the southeastern tip of Big Island Hawaii. You’ll pass by beautiful snorkeling spots and have an opportunity to sample some local flavors at roadside stands along your journey.

End Note

To wrap it up, both St Benedict’s Painted Church in Kona and Star of The Sea in Kalapana are not just architectural marvels. They give us a deep dive into the island’s history and culture beyond their exquisite murals. These churches stand as strong symbols of resilience.

Key Takeaway:

by Father Gielen himself. These breathtaking works of art depict scenes from the Bible, bringing to life its stories with a touch of local flair. It’s an offbeat attraction that truly encapsulates the spirit and resilience of Kalapana’s community.


Our journey through the painted church Kona has been an enlightening one. Seeing how faith, and creativity intertwine to create a spiritual masterpiece.

We discovered Father John Velghe’s inspiring story – a Belgian priest with no professional training who painted biblical narratives on wooden walls using house paint. These murals served as educational tools in a time when many couldn’t read or write in English.

The scenic drive to historic Kealakekua Bay was another highlight of our exploration around South Kona district. The allure of locally grown Kona coffee only added more charm to this enriching experience.

In essence, St. Benedict’s Painted Church is not just about religion; it’s also about resilience, culture and community spirit embedded in its history and artwork!

Frequently Asked Questions

How old is the painted church in Kona?

The Painted Church, also known as St. Benedict’s Church, was built back in 1899 by Father John Velghe.

What island is the painted church on?

You’ll find St. Benedict’s Painted Church gracing Hawaii’s Big Island, specifically nestled in South Kona.

What is the smallest church in Kona?

The Little Blue Church or The Eucharistic Chapel of St. Peter’s Catholic Mission claims to be one of the smallest churches worldwide and it’s right here in Kona.

What are the painted churches in Hill Country?

Hill Country boasts several beautiful Texas “Painted Churches” such as Saints Cyril & Methodius Church (Dubina), Nativity of Mary (High Hill), and Saint John Baptist (Ammannsville).