Miracle At The Italian Chapel

At once my demons and angels were reconciled.

Sean McBride


Nissen Hut
Perhaps the least flattering yet, to me, the most important view of the Italian Chapel, Orkney. All pictures by Sean McBride

The Italian Chapel, on the remote Orkney Islands, is striking and beautiful. Set above the rugged shoreline on the tiny island of Lambholm. The story of its construction reflects the light of creativity shining out of the darkness of adversity. Yet it was outside at the back of the chapel, where all you can see is the mere Nissen Hut it was built from, that I encountered a miracle I hadn’t even realized I was searching for.

Stretch of coastal water with a barrier constructed of concrete blocks cutting right accross it.
Section of Churchill Barriers connecting Lambholm to St Marys.

The Italian Chapel was once part of a World War 2 POW Camp holding Italian Soldiers captured in Africa. At their request, two Nissen Huts within the camp placed end to end were allocated to them for use as a school and a chapel. One of the prisoners, an artist named Domenico Chioccetti, took charge of decorating the Nissen Huts as a chapel.

His artistry inspired a building so beautiful that it brought to my mind such wonders as St Peter’s Basilica or the Taj Mahal.

Nissen Huts converted into a beautiful Chapel.
The Italian Chapel. Beautiful inside (Below) and out (Above).
Beautifully decorated chapel looking from the back, down the central aisle to an elaborate and ornate alter.

The ornate and beautiful facade around the main entrance is the first thing you notice about the Italian Chapel. The most striking part of the beautiful and ornate interior is a picture of Mother Mary with the Baby Jesus on her lap.

The picture is a reproduction of The Madonna Of The Olives by Nicolo Barabino. A small copy of this picture had been given to Chioccetti by his mother and he carried it with him throughout the war. Everything about this to me was the power and reach of a mother’s love.

A mother, Mary, dressed in blue with a white shawl with a baby, Jesus, on her knee. Jesus is holding an olive branch. From a famous picture entitled The Madonna Of The Olives.
Reproduction of The Madonna Of The Olives. The power and reach of a mother’s love.

I walked outside and around the Chapel to get a picture from the back.



Sean McBride

I am an Adventure Travel Writer who provides the inspiration to help people live their finest moments through adventures https://travel-writer.uk