Day 7: 17 August 2019 ~ Italian Chapel
- Location: Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney, Scotland
- Date Taken: 2019-08-17
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
- Lens: Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-200 mm F/3-5.6 IS
- Exposure Program: Manual
- F-Stop: f/5.6
- Exposure Time: 1/800 sec
- ISO Speed: ISO-400
- Focal Length: 70 mm
- Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
The Italian Chapel
The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. The chapel was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is a popular tourist attraction.
550 Italian prisoners of war, captured in North Africa during World War II, were brought to Orkney in 1942. They worked on the construction of the Churchill Barriers, four causeways created to block access to Scapa Flow. 200 were based at Camp 60 on Lamb Holm. In 1943, Major Thomas Pyres Buckland, Camp 60’s new commandant, and Father Gioacchino Giacobazzi, the camp’s Catholic priest, agreed that a place of worship was required.
The chapel was constructed from limited materials by the prisoners in the form of a tin tabernacle, and comprises two Nissen huts joined end-to-end. The corrugated interior was then covered with plasterboard and the altar and altar rail were constructed from concrete left over from work on the barriers. Most of the interior decoration was done by Domenico Chiocchetti, a prisoner from Moena. He painted the sanctuary end of the chapel and fellow-prisoners decorated the entire interior. They created a façade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church. The light holders were made out of corned beef tins. The baptismal font was made from the inside of a car exhaust covered in a layer of concrete.
When his fellow prisoners were released shortly before the end of the war, Chiocchetti remained on the island to finish decorating the newly consecrated chapel.
Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland one Photo at a time. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.
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Till next time, safe travels and keep dreaming.
Have a fabulous day.