Hawaii’s Painted Church

St Benedict Painted Church, Kona, Hawaii

(click to enlarge)

Tucked deep within the jungles of Kona, Hawaii, this simple wooden chapel is hard to find and even easier to overlook. There is nothing about its exterior that commands attention, except maybe for the stunning views of Kealakekua Bay that are seen from just about everywhere in the area. To understand why travelers go out of their way to get here, you have to step inside.

Once you do, the reason the officially titled St. Benedict’s is more commonly known as “The Painted Church” becomes clear. Colorful murals, depicting both biblical scenes and architectural elements mimicking grander cathedrals, canvas the interior of this humble church from floor to ceiling.

St Benedict Painted Church Exterior, Kona, Hawaii

St Benedict’s Painted Church, Kona, Hawaii

It is said that the self-taught artist and priest John Berchmans painted the murals with ordinary house paint to help teach biblical stories to his illiterate congregation. Translated bibles and Hawaiian newspapers, however, predated Berchman’s arrival on the island by 70-odd years, indicating the paintings were done at least as much for their aesthetics as for their utility. And if beauty was reason enough for him to spend years painting it, it’s more than enough reason for us to go out of our way a bit to see it.

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16 Comments on “Hawaii’s Painted Church”

  1. lyonsroarforgod November 6, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  2. Tom November 6, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    I clicked on the picture and it filled my screen with amazing color! Great panorama (or lens). Thanks for sharing.


    • Brian November 8, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      It’s a panorama. I like to travel light and am increasingly trying to do things in post-production that would otherwise require me to lug extra gear – like stitching together wide angle shots instead of carrying a special lens. This one came out nice, I think.


  3. Kelly FlatEleven November 6, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    This is such a beautiful place, I visited here several years ago. Would love to head back to Hawaii soon!


    • Brian November 8, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      Hawaii is one of those places that always seems to call us back.


  4. brissioni November 6, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    well, that’s a little treasure, isn’t it?


  5. Heather November 6, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    what a beautiful place!


    • Brian November 8, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      And it’s amazing that it was painted by an untrained artist.


  6. Anne-Marie November 7, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    Wow, I totally missed that one when living there. Beautiful colors and paintings. Thanks for sharing.


    • Brian November 8, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      It’s easy to miss. We’re lucky to have found it.


  7. Bijit Dutta November 7, 2013 at 7:44 am #



  8. Bijit Dutta November 7, 2013 at 7:44 am #



  9. vivajean December 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Please tell me this is the church I’ve been looking for! I went to the Big Island to visit my daughter,and while she was in school I took a drive and stopped every Beautiful place
    that I could find,when I happened upon “This Painted Church” I believe?Three questions: 1) Is there a modern building to the left? 2) This church does not have electricity true?
    3) Is it overlooking the water kid of on a hill? I stayed until the sun was setting and got the most beautiful pictures of the sunset at each moment it faded but I lost my pictures! So now I want to go back to see what I saw!
    P.S. My daughter and I walked to the Green Sand beaches that was amazing as well!


    • Brian December 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      This church is definitely on a hill overlooking the bay. I don’t recall a modern building to the left, and I honestly don’t know if it has electricity. So it’s definitely, maybe, the church you’re looking for. 😐


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