“He held the brush almost to the end of his life, until the day when his poor eyes refused their service. When he realized that, even with the strongest glasses, he could no longer command the brush as he wished he understood that God demanded of him a huge sacrifice which he dreaded.” (Father John, Congregation of the Sacred Hearts at Rome; NPS) Belgian Priest Father John Berchmans Velghe came to Honaunau, South Kona on the Island of Hawai‘i and built and painted a church there.
Saint Benedict’s Church was built between 1899 and 1902. It is a small rectangular structure with a vaulted interior ceiling. Although the structure he built does not present anything innovative architecturally, its interior space is both artistically and architecturally important, for the artwork serves as an extension of the architecture. The structure is “a little masterpiece of imaginative functionalism, of unity between structure, adornment, and architectural purpose.”