Star of the Sea Church AKA Kalapana “Painted Church” was built in 1928 by a Belgian Catholic priest, Father Evarist Matthias Gielen.
Although fairly plain on the outside, the interior of the church is completely covered with vibrant and colorful murals. In fact, Father Gielen is responsible for all the detailed paintings on the domed ceiling. It is said he painted those at night by the light of an oil lantern. Two other artists are responsible for the rest of the murals.
The church has had an interesting history. Originally built on the shoreline of Kaimu Black Sand Beach, it was moved in 1990 to save it from advancing lava flow. It ended up abandoned and sat on wooden blocks for six years until a new permanent location could be found. During that time, the paintings suffered damage by weather and termites. It finally found its new home in 1996, but attempts to repair the church were too costly. It was finally placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 in order to save it.
Copyright 2017 Susan Rissi Tregoning
October 15th, 2017
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