The first church in Hawaiʻi was built by the New England Protestant missionaries who arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1820. However, Western religious services had been held in the islands prior to that.
Some would suggest that Catholicism started in Hawaiʻi with the arrival of Don Francisco de Paula Marin (Manini) to the Hawaiian Islands in 1793 or 1794 (at about the age of 20.)
While Marin was reportedly a Spanish Catholic, he did live a polygamous life while in Hawaiʻi. Never-the-less, there are several reports of him baptizing Hawaiian chiefs and others (over three hundred) into the Catholic religion.
In 1819, Kalanimōkū was the first Hawaiian Chief to be formally baptized a Catholic, aboard the French ship Uranie. “The captain and the clergyman asked Young what Ka-lani-moku’s rank was, and upon being told that he was the chief counselor (kuhina nui) and a wise, kind, and careful man, they baptized him into the Catholic Church” (Kamakau). Shortly thereafter, Boki, Kalanimoku’s brother (and Governor of Oʻahu) was baptized.
It wasn’t until July 7, 1827, however, when the pioneer French Catholic mission arrived in Honolulu. It consisted of three priests of the Order of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; Father Alexis Bachelot, Abraham Armand and Patrick Short. They were supported by a half dozen other Frenchmen.
Their first mass was celebrated a week later on Bastille Day, July 14, and a baptism was given on November 30, to a child of Marin.
The American Protestant missionaries and the French Catholics did not get along.
The Congregationalists encouraged a policy preventing the establishment of a Catholic presence in Hawaiʻi. Catholic priests were forcibly expelled from the country in 1831. Native Hawaiian Catholics accused King Kamehameha III and his government of imprisoning, beating and torturing them.
Later that year, Commodore John Downes, of the American frigate Potomac, made a plea for freedom of religion, telling the Hawaiian court that civilized nations did not persecute people for their religion.
While his intervention brought about a brief let-up, the king continued to forbid the presence of Catholic priests.
Finally, on September 30, 1836, the captain of the French Navy ship La Bonté persuaded the king to allow a Catholic priest to disembark in Honolulu. The king restricted the priest’s ministry to foreign Catholics, forbidding him to work with Native Hawaiians.
On April 17, 1837, two other Catholic priests arrived. However the Hawaiian government forced them back onto a ship on April 30. American, British and French officials in Hawaii intervened and persuaded the king to allow the priests to return to shore.
France, historically a Catholic nation, used its government representatives in Hawaiʻi to protest the mistreatment of Catholic Native Hawaiians. Captain Cyrille-Pierre Théodore Laplace, of the French Navy frigate “Artémise”, sailed into Honolulu Harbor in 1839 to convince the Hawaiian leadership to get along with the Catholics – and the French.
King Kamehameha III feared a French attack on his kingdom and on June 17, 1839 issued the Edict of Toleration (173-years ago today) permitting religious freedom for Catholics in the same way as it had been granted to the Protestants.
The King also donated land where the first permanent Catholic Church would be constructed, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace; the Catholic mission was finally established on May 15, 1840 when the Vicar Apostolic of the Pacific arrived with three other priests – one of whom, Rev. Louis Maigret, had been refused a landing at Honolulu in 1837.
On July 9, 1840, ground was broken for the foundation of the present Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, and schools and churches were erected on other islands to advance the mission.
On August 15, 1843, the newly-finished cathedral of Honolulu was solemnly dedicated and 800 Catholics received Holy Communion.
From the very start, the Catholic mission also established, wherever feasible, independent schools in charge, or under the supervision, of the priest.
In 1859 the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary arrived at Honolulu to take charge of a boarding and day-school for girls. In 1883-84 the Brothers of Mary, from Dayton, Ohio, took charge of three schools for boys: St. Louis’s College at Honolulu, St. Mary’s School at Hilo and St. Anthony’s School at Wailuku.
In 1882, the mission received a considerable increase by the immigration of Portuguese imported from the Azores as laborers for the plantations.
By 1911, Hawaiʻi had 85 priests, 30 churches and 55 chapels. The Catholic population was 35,000; there were 4 academies, a college and 9 parochial schools established by the mission, and the total number of pupils was 2,200.
The image shows Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in 1843 (it’s still in downtown Honolulu.) It is said to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States and one of the oldest existing buildings in the downtown area.
In addition, I have included other images of the Cathedral in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page..
Likewise, I previously posted on Facebook images of the area as viewed from the top of the cathedral; it’s in a folder titles Images of Old Hawaiʻi – Emmert, Paul (1854.)
Kalanimōkū was a trusted and loyal advisor to Kamehameha I, Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III.)
Kalanimōkū was born at Ka‘uiki, Hāna, Maui, around 1768. His father was Kekuamanohā and his mother was Kamakahukilani. Through his father, he was a grandson of Kekaulike, the King Maui. He was a cousin of Kaʻahumanu, Kamehameha’s wife.
In various written documents Kalanimōkū’s name appears with various spelling. Sometimes he is called Kalaimoku, Crymokoo, Craymoku, Craimoku and Krimokoo. In documents personally signed by him, he spelled his name Karaimoku.
Kalanimōkū was made Prime Minister for Kamehameha I and held the same position during the reign of Liholiho and of Kauikeaouli, until his death.
He adopted the name William Pitt, because of his great admiration for the British Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger. He was frequently addressed as Mr. Pitt or Billy Pitt.
He had great natural abilities in both governmental and business affairs. He was well liked and respected by foreigners, who learned from experience to rely on his words.
Captain George Vancouver described Kalanimōkū as someone possessing “vivacity, and sensibility of countenance, modest behavior, evenness of temper, quick conception.”
However, in his earlier years, Kalanimōkū was known for excessive drinking, and according to Kamakau, was the first Hawaiian chief to buy rum. This behavior appears to have stopped after his acceptance of the Christian faith.
In 1819, Kalanimōkū was the first Hawaiian Chief to be baptized a Roman Catholic, aboard the French ship Uranie, in the presence of Kuhina Nui (Premier) Kaʻahumanu and King Kamehameha II. Kalanimōkū had a passion for Christianity and later regularly attended services at Kawaiahaʻo Church.
Kalanimōkū witnessed and participated in some of the significant historic moments in Hawai‘i.
When Kamehameha set out to conquer O‘ahu in 1795, Kalanimōkū commanded a large segment of Kamehameha’s invading army.
In 1816, Kalanimōkū, with a group of warriors, found that the Russians had begun construction of a trading post/fort at the entrance of Honolulu Harbor and were flying the Russian flag. However, when confronted by Kalanimōkū’s warriors, they quickly departed and no hostilities took place.
Realizing the advantage of a fortification at the harbor’s entrance, Kalanimōkū issued a proclamation ordering people throughout the island to assist in the construction of a fort.
As Kamehameha’s health slowly declined, Kalanimōkū’s role increased; as treasurer of the kingdom, he supervised the collection of taxes and oversaw the lucrative sandalwood trade.
Kalanimōkū was one of several chiefs who treated Kamehameha as his illness worsened, and was present when Kamehameha died.
Following the wishes of Kamehameha’s sacred wife, Keōpūolani, Kalanimōkū took charge of matters, deciding who might remain with the body, and dispatching messengers to spread the news to all islands.
For his strong leadership and strength in a time of great turmoil, Keōpūolani declared Kalanimōkū the “iwikuamo‘o” (literally the spine or backbone,) defined as “a near and trusted relative of a chief who attended to his personal needs and possessions and executed private orders.”
Kalanimōkū, following ancient custom, offered himself as a death companion to the great chief he so idolized; he was prevented from carrying out his desire by other chiefs.
In 1819, when Liholiho proclaimed an end to the kapu system and Kekuaokalani and his wife Manono refused to accept the new order and vowed to go to war rather than abandon the ancient system, Kalanimōkū led an army against the revolt of Kekuaokalani in December 1819, in the successful battle of Kuamoʻo.
When the missionaries first anchored at Kawaihae, they invited some of the highest chiefs of the nation; Kalanimōkū was the first person of distinction that came to greet them.
Reportedly, Kalanimōkū developed an immediate and sincere liking for the New England missionaries. Throughout his life, they turned to him for assistance and their requests invariably met with positive results.
He served as regent along with Queen Kaʻahumanu, while Kamehameha II traveled to London in 1823, and to Kamehameha III after Kamehameha II’s death in 1824.
Kalanimōkū died at Kamakahonu (the former home of Kamehameha I) in Kailua Kona, Hawai‘i Island on February 7, 1827. He had only one son, William Pitt Leleiohoku I, who married Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani.
His death was a great loss to the Hawaiian kingdom; he demonstrated loyalty and faithfulness toward Kamehameha I, his cousin Ka‘ahumanu, as well as Liholiho and Kauikeaouli.
For 4½ years, as Director of DLNR, my office was in the Kalanimōkū Building. At the time, I didn’t know of the profound positive impact Kalanimōkū had in Hawaiian history. I am glad I followed-up and learned a little more about him. (There is a lot more to tell about him; some bits have been added to other stories of his time and place.)
The image is Kalanimōkū, drawn by Alphonse Pellion in 1819. In addition, I have added a few more images of Kalanimōkū in a folder of like name in the Photos section of my Facebook page.
The Lyman Museum began as the Lyman Mission House, originally built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1839.
The original Lyman House was a “Cape Cod” type with a high, steep pitched thatched roof with dormers making up the second floor. The second floor was divided into sleeping quarters for some of the Lyman’s eight children.
The house kitchen was a semi-detached building at the rear of the house with an open fireplace and oven constructed out of rough stones, bricks being then unknown to Hawaii.
The majority of the first floor interior is hand hewn koa (Hawaiian Hardwood).
Major renovations in 1856 added a new wing to be used as a study and library for Rev. Lyman. A new second story was added at this time with an attic. Northwest pine was substituted for koa on the second floor.
Reverend David Belden Lyman and his wife, Sarah Joiner Lyman arrived in Hawaii in 1832, members of the fifth company of missionaries sent to the Islands by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
The Lymans lived in a variety of homes, from a Hawaiian style thatched house to a “Cape Cod” prefab, before they built their own house in 1838.
In the late 1830s they built the Lyman House as a family home. The Hilo Boarding School, a school for young Hawaiian men, founded by the Lymans, was built nearby.
Although Rev. Lyman spent the majority of his time working with and for the students of the Hilo Boarding School, he did substitute as pastor for Haili Church when Rev. Titus Coan was on extended tours.
The Rev. and Mrs. Lyman were also founding members of the First Foreign Church, a church established in 1868 for the foreign residents of Hilo.
Over the years, the house became a place to raise their children and host guests, including many of the Hawaiian Ali‘i (royalty) and other notables, such as Mark Twain and Isabella Bird.
The Lymans never returned to their native New England, but lived out their long lives in Hilo.
The Lyman Mission House is the oldest standing wood structure on the Island of Hawai`i and one of the oldest in the State.
Nearly 100 eventful years later, in 1931, the Museum was established by their descendants. Today, the restored Mission House is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and may be visited by guided tour.
The Lyman Museum building, next door to the Mission House, houses a superb collection of artifacts, fine art, and natural history exhibits, as well as an archives, special exhibitions and a gift shop.
Visitors touring the two facilities can see the old Mission House and life as it was 150 years ago, as well as state-of-the-art exhibits on many aspects of Hawaiian natural history and culture…a rare and well-rounded view of the real Hawai`i, as it was, as it is today, and where it may be in years to come.
Docent-guided tours of the Mission House convey a sense of what it meant to live 5,000-miles and a 6-month journey away from your original home and family in a house without electricity or running water, as well as the difficulty of a decidedly different language and culture from your own, while being driven by a sense of duty to bring Christianity and Western-style education to the Hawaiian people.
The Museum and Mission House are open Monday-Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm. House tours at 11 am and 2 pm. Closed Sundays, January 1, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and December 25.
Admission: Lyman Museum members are admitted free. Group rates, special tours and workshops must be arranged in advance. The current fee schedule is $10 Adults, $8 Seniors over 60, $3 Children 6-17, $21 Family (2 adults with children under 17), $5 University Student with current ID. Kama`aina rates available, please ask.
The image shows the mission house; in addition, I have added a couple other images of the mission house and museum in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
In pre-contact Hawaii, the predominant form of dress for women was the pā‘ū.
This consisted of a rectangular piece of kapa (or tapa, which was fabricated from the inner bark of wauke (paper mulberry) trees) that was wrapped several times around the waist and extended from beneath the bust (for royalty) or the waistline (for commoners) to the knee (it looked like a hula skirt.)
After contact (and particularly in the early-1800s with the start of the sandalwood trade in 1810 and then the whaling industry,) fabrics made of silk, satin and gingham began to replace the kapa fabric for the pa‘u. This was especially true among the Ali’i.
An even more important change in dress began in the 1820s with the coming of the New England missionaries, who sought to cover the bodies of Hawaiian women, who traditionally wore nothing more than the skirt.
The missionary wives modified their New England-style dresses to adapt to the hot, humid environment. They replaced the high waistline of Western fashion with a yoke.
The end result was a basic design (referred to as a “Mother Hubbard”) which was simply a full, straight skirt attached to a yoke with a high neck and tight sleeves.
The missionaries established women’s societies that advanced the notion of modesty.
The diaries of missionary women report that Hawaiian women who had been Christianized adopted the holokū as daily dress by 1822 and it became standard dress of all Hawaiian women as early as 1838.
“All the women wore the native dress, the sack or holokū, many of which were black, blue, green, or bright rose color, some were bright yellow, a few were pure white, and others were a mixture of orange and scarlet.” Isabella Bird 1894
“At first the holokū, which is only a full, yoke nightgown, is not attractive, but I admire it heartily now, and the sagacity of those who devised it.”
“It conceals awkwardness, and befits grace of movement; it is fit for the climate, is equally adapted for walking and riding, and has that general appropriateness which is desirable in costume.” (Isabella Bird, 1894)
Various stories place the naming of the garment very early in its creation. According to one, the term holokū was created from two Hawaiian words, holo meaning to go, and kū meaning to stop.
Wearing the garment for the first time, the Hawaiian women are reported to have said “Holo! Kū!” Very roughly translated, this means “We can run in it – we can stand!”
The more commonly cited explanation for the term, holokū, suggest native seamstresses, when sewing their dresses, would say “holo!”(run) as they turned the wheel to operate the sewing machine, and “kū” (stop) when they wished to stop at the end of a seam. Consequently, these two words were connected and the term is explained.
The holokū was worn with a loose-fitting undergarment, the mu‘umu‘u (meaning cut-off, shortened.) Eventually, the mu‘umu‘u came to be worn as an outer garment, as well.
The muʻumuʻu in the early days was a dress for home wear. It was made full and unfitted with high or low neck and long or short sleeves
It is the more comfortable muʻumuʻu that has challenged the present day designers to create many variations for home, street and party wear.
Although it originated in Hawaii in the 1820s as a loose gown without a waistline or train and was worn for everyday wear, the holokū today is a long formal gown with a train.
For formal events, and other celebrations related to Hawaiian culture and ethnicity, the holokū is the quintessential Hawaiian gown.
While both holokū and mu‘umu‘u continue to be very important in Hawaii, it is the mu‘umu‘u that is regarded by most of the world as Hawaiian dress and the holokū that is practically unknown outside of Hawai’i.
The image shows Kīna‘u returning from church in a drawing by Louis-Jules Masselot, in 1837, wearing a holokū, as are others in attendance with her.
The history and growth of Christianity in Hawaiʻi include Henry Opukahaʻia, a native Hawaiian from the Island of Hawaiʻi.
In 1809, at the age of 16, after his parents had been killed, he boarded a sailing ship anchored in Kealakekua Bay and sailed to the continent.
On board, he developed a friendship with a Christian sailor who, using the Bible, began teaching Opukahaʻia how to read and write.
Once landed, he traveled throughout New England and continued to learn and study.
Opukahaʻia’s life in New England was greatly influenced by many young men with proven sincerity and religious fervor that were active in the Second Great Awakening and the establishment of the missionary movement.
These men had a major impact on Opukahaʻia’s enlightenment in Christianity and his vision to return to Hawaiʻi as a Christian missionary.
By 1817, a dozen students, six of them Hawaiians, were training at the Foreign Mission School to become missionaries to teach the Christian faith to people around the world.
He improved his English by writing the story of his life in a book called “Memoirs of Henry Obookiah” (the spelling of his name prior to establishment of the formal Hawaiian alphabet, based on its sound.)
Opukahaʻia died suddenly of typhus fever in 1818. The book about his life was printed and circulated after his death.
Opukahaʻia’s book inspired 14 missionaries to volunteer to carry his message to the Sandwich Islands.
On October 23, 1819, a group of missionaries from the northeast United States, set sail on the Thaddeus for the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawai‘i.)
There were seven couples sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity.
These included two Ordained Preachers, Hiram Bingham and his wife Sybil and Asa Thurston and his wife Lucy; two Teachers, Mr. Samuel Whitney and his wife Mercy and Samuel Ruggles and his wife Mary; a Doctor, Thomas Holman and his wife Lucia; a Printer, Elisha Loomis and his wife Maria; a Farmer, Daniel Chamberlain, his wife and five children.
Along with them were four Hawaiian youths who had been students at the Foreign Mission School, Thomas Hopu, William Kanui, John Honoliʻi and Prince Humehume (son of Kauaiʻi’s King Kaumuali‘i and also known as Prince George Kaumuali‘i.)
After 164 days at sea, on April 4, 1820 (192-years ago, today,) the Thaddeus first arrived and anchored at Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaiʻi.
Hawai‘i’s “Plymouth Rock” is about where the Kailua pier is today.
The Thurstons remained in Kailua-Kona, while their fellow missionaries went to establish stations on other Hawaiian islands.
Hiram Bingham, the leader of the group, went to Honolulu to set up a mission headquarters; Whitney and Ruggles accompanied Prince Kaumuali‘i on his return to Kaua‘i. (Hiram is my great-great-great grandfather.)
By the time the missionaries arrived, Kamehameha I had died, Liholiho (his son) was king and the kapu system had been abolished.
I have added a folder of like name in the Photos section of my Facebook page of images from Hiram Bingham’s book, “A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands” and other related images. Several of the illustrations show missionary work across the islands.