Situated on a hill overlooking Kealakekua Bay, St. Benedict’s Painted Church is a small yet beautiful church known for its lavishly painted interior. An active Roman Catholic parish, the church welcomes visitors and is also listed on the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
Enter the unassuming white building and admire the artwork within. The vaulted nave was inspired by Burgos Cathedral in Spain, while the six main murals reflect scenes from the Bible and religious life. All of this was painted by Father Velghe, a self-taught folk artist who moved the church to its current location in 1899. Time permitting, stop by the adjoining cemetery and stroll up the mountain, where you will find a replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Visit the church independently or as part of a guided tour of Kona highlights, such as Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (the Place of Refuge at Honaunau) and a coffee plantation. It’s also possible to visit as part of a shore excursion.
Things to Know Before You Go
- It’s free to enter St. Benedict’s Painted Church, but donations are welcome.
- This is an active place of worship; be respectful and refrain from taking photos during a service.
- Use the honor box to pay for handcrafted ornaments, rosaries, and fruit found in front of the church.
How to Get There
St. Benedict’s Painted Church is located about 45 minutes from downtown Kona. From the intersection of Highway 11 and Highway 160, turn towards the ocean and follow Highway 160 for about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers), then turn on Painted Church Road and head up the hill.
When to Get There
St. Benedict’s Painted Church is open to visitors daily, and Mass is celebrated every day except Monday. The second Sunday of each month is the Hawaiian Mass, with readings and music in Hawaiian.
The Other Painted Church
There is another painted church on the Big Island, the Star of the Sea Painted Church in Kalapana. It was moved in 1990 to save it from lava flow and can now be found on Highway 180, between mile markers 19 and 20.