The Painted Church – Captain Cook, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

The Painted Church

A priest with no formal artistic training used basic house paint to create gorgeous religious scenes inside this historic church.  


St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Captain Cook, Hawaii, dates back to 1899, and along with its churchyard cemetery is an important historical site. The exterior of the building is white and quite traditional, but step inside and behold a prism of color.

Within the church hide incredible paintings depicting scenes from the Bible and the lives of saints. What makes these frescos unique, however, is that Father John Velghe, a priest with no formal artistic training, used regular house paint to complete the remarkable artworks. 

St. Benedict’s—also known as “the Painted Church”—continues to hold mass, but regardless of whether you practice the religion, the art alone makes this place a valuable destination. The Painted Church is a 5-minute drive from Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Park and Two Step Beach, one of Hawaii’s best snorkeling spots.

Know Before You Go

The church is small, but parking is plentiful. Admission is free, but consider picking up a bracelet, avocado, or papaya at an honor-system table by the parking lot.

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