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The Painted Church

St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church
84-5140 Painted Church Road
Captain Cook, Hawaii (HI) 96704

Overlooking Kealakekua Bay, on The Island of Hawaii – the Big Island – St. Benedict's Painted Church is a fascinating place to visit. The church is the jewel of South Kona, at a place called Honaunau in the Kona coffee-growing region.


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On the shore near the City of Refuge in Honaunau on Hawaii Island – the Big Island, the church of St. Benedict’s was first built…only at that time it was known as St. Francis Regis chapel. But, in the 1880’s, the tropical heat motivated most of the people to move further up onto the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano where the climate was cooler and the soil more fertile. Father John Berchmans Velghe, a Sacred Hearts father from Belgium who arrived on Hawaii Island in 1899, decided to follow the local residents to live at the higher elevation. The chapel was dismantled and moved, piece by piece on the backs of mules, to it’s present location.

Throughout church history. they were always adorned with paintings, stained glass windows and statuary that told stories from the old and new testaments and the lives of heroes from both Hebrew and Christian tradition. So, Father Velghe, who was also a self-taught artist set about to adorn the chapel. With inspiration from the gothic cathedral of Burgos in Spain, Father Velghe painted the interior walls of the church with the only paint available – wall paint. His painting of scenes from the bible and the lives of the saints were very important teaching tools in a time when many people couldn't read and write, and he added the colors and the fauna of Hawaii, including palms fronds reaching up to the blue sky on the inside roof. When Fr. Velghe's health deteriorated, he had to return to Belgium in 1904 and he was never able to finish the paintings as can be noted from the unadorned panels, still not completed.

Today, St. Benedict's Church, with its unique art work, is listed in the Hawaii State Register of Historic places and the National Register of Historic Places.

Weekend Masses

St Benedict
Sat: 4pm Sun: 7:15am

St John
Sat: 6pm Sun: 9:30am

St Peter
4th Sunday at 12 noon
Communion Service 10am 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday

Weekday Masses

St Benedict
Tues, Thurs, Fri 7:00am

St John
Wedsnesday 7:00am