St George at the Italian Chapel

There’s time for us to visit the Italian Chapel on Orkney’s tiny Lamb Holm island. It’s connected to other islands and the Mainland of Orkney by a road built along the Churchill barriers, constructed by Italian prisoners of war during WWII.

Outside it stands a statue made by one of those prisoners of war, Domenico Chiocchetti. Domenico was a brilliant artist who could use only the materials he had to hand to create it; barbed wire and concrete.

St George - The Italian Chapel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It depicts St George and the Dragon. St George is the patron saint of Ethiopia, Georgia, Catalonia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Russia and many cities. He’s best known in the UK as patron saint of England. He’s also patron saint of plague and syphilis.

St George - The Italian Chapel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I find the world full of literal people; people who find literal meaning in everything they see. To them, St George really did kill a dragon, and if dragons don’t exist, then St George couldn’t have existed. I think we all need more metaphors in our lives. The dragon was really a metaphor for evil. By the end of WWII we had contributed to the defeat of the greatest evil of the 20th Century.

Domenico’s spirit is still here, allowing us to appreciate that victory in the very best way he could; through his art.

More on Orkney's Italian Chapel

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The Madonna painted by Domenico Chiocchetti - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the) The words in his pocket Oh let men, overcoming individual and national egoisms, recognise themselves as brothers, may they refrain from discord, may they love… read more
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