Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Italian Chapel . . .

Up this morning in a misty sort of rain, onto a bus, past rolling open fields mixed with shaggy sheep and equally shaggy island cattle, past the Highland Distillery, over Churchill Downs, built by Italian P.O.W.'s during World War II to prevent the Germans from entering Scapa Flow (where the British Navy took shelter), and finally to the Italian Chapel.

We walked into a corrugated Quanset hut transformed by paint and plasterboard into an extraordinary chapel, its very walls resembling tiles, bricks, pillars, arches, and foils.

At the very heart of the altar, an exquisite painting of the Virgin with Child, so modeled after a pocket prayer postcard carried by Domenico Chioccochetti, the primary artist and designer of the Chapel itself.

Found materials and pure talent were used to embellish this little Chapel, including two "stained glass" windows (actually painted on mirrors) on either side of the altar.

We found this little Chapel full of peace and hope. The notes on site suggest the Italians, even as they worked on Churchill Downs, won the hearts of the Orcadians with their piety and love of beauty.

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