Lahaina is a bustling tourist town on the west coast of Maui, full of shops, restaurants and entertainment. But in bygone days when Hawai'ian royalty ruled the islands, Lahaina was the capital of Hawai'i. In the 1800s, the town and its harbour were central to the whaling industry. Christian missionaries flooded into Lahaina during that period as well.
One of the oldest churches in Lahaina is the Catholic church of Maria Lanakila, built by Belgian missionaries who arrived in the mid-1800s. "Maria Lanakila" means "Our Lady of Victory" in the Hawai'ian language.
The church contains a beautiful mosaic portrait of St. Damien, the Belgian missionary priest who in the 1870s-80s ministered to a large leper colony on the nearby island of Moloka'i . Living among the lepers, St. Damien eventually contracted the disease as well and died in the colony.
Beside Maria Lanakila is an old cemetery with many historic gravestones, including those of Hawai'ian royalty.
Behind the church and cemetery is the Sacred Heart School which was also founded by the Belgian missionaries. In a corner of the schoolyard, there is a full-size Chartres labyrinth painted on pavement under the welcome shade of several ancient monkey pod trees.
Tomorrow: walking the Maria Lanakila Labyrinth.
[All photos by Debra She Who Seeks]