The Italian Chapel was made on Orkney from two Nissen huts and scraps by Italian prisoners of war:
“All the materials for the decoration were scavenged from wherever possible. Wood was sourced from a wrecked ship for the tabernacle. A rood-screen and gates enclosing the sanctuary were expertly fashioned by Palumbi from scrap metal. He also made two candelabra which stand on the alter alongside four brass candelabra made by Primavera.”
It has become Orkney’s most visited attraction.
Domenico Chiocchetti started work on what has become widely recognised as an amazing body of work given the restrictions on time and materials. With the success of the adornment in the sanctuary it was felt the whole chapel should be lined and the entire interior of the chapel was painted to depict brick walls, carved stone, vaulted ceilings and buttresses. Frescos of angelic figures, stained glass windows and an altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child surrounded by cherubic figures with the scroll inscribed ‘Queen of Peace pray for us’ complete the interior paintwork.
It’s free to visit and open all year round.
In 1960 Domenico Chiocchetti (then residing in Modena, Italy) returned to Orkney to assist with a restoration project. He remained for three weeks carrying out a variety of repairs and on his departure he wrote a letter to the people of Orkney in which he said:
“The chapel is yours – for you to love and preserve. I take with me to Italy the remembrance of your kindness and wonderful hospitality…
I thank the authorities of Kirkwall, the courteous preservation committee, and all those who directly or indirectly have collaborated for the success of this work and for having given me the joy of seeing again the little chapel of Lambholm where I, in leaving, leave a part of my heart”.