Thursday, 18 July 2013
The Italian Chapel
One of the places my sister was particularly keen to visit was the Italian Chapel. This is also one of my favourite places. This wee Catholic chapel is on Lamb Holm, one of the linked South Isles. It was built by Italian Prisoners of War during WWII, as they were housed in the camp that surrounded it. Despite it's appearance, it is, in fact, two nissan huts joined together and then decorated. All the construction was done by the Italian POW's themselves, using whatever came to hand.
Beautifully detailed work....
The painting of the Madonna and Child was from a picture given to Domenico Chiocchetti by his mother before he left Italy. Chiocchetti was responsible for most of the interior decoration and he copied the picture for the alter piece. He remained to finish the work on the chapel even when his fellow prisoners were released.
The metal work is made out of scrap metal. Whatever could be found around the camp was used.
The interior is all trompe-l'oeil work. It's very effectively done.
The chapel fell into disrepair for a time, then Domenico Chiocchetti oversaw some of the renovation some years ago. There are still close links with his remaining family and the small town of Moena, the region of Italy from whence the prisoners of war came. Services are sometimes held in the church, weddings too, and of course it is much visited by tourists.
The Chapel overlooks the Churchill Barrier that the prisoners helped construct. These barriers were part of the defence of Scapa Flow against submarine attack. Today the barriers are road causeways linking the isles to the Orkney Mainland. It all looks very benign on a Summer day. Bloomin' cold and bleak in the winter though!