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Clanmother Sacred Space The Italian Chapel Thursday Doors

The Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, Orkney

The Italian Chapel, located on the Island of Lamb Holm in Orkney.

The idea of sacred spaces has been with us since ancient days. Throughout the centuries, we have built temples to reach the heavens, made pilgrimages to seek knowledge, lived in the forests to connect with the earth.

Even now, we create personal areas for meditation and reflection, a way to reaffirm our thoughts and feelings, to experience peace within ourselves. While many connect sacred spaces with spirituality or religious practices, there are times it relates to a special event or memory.   

We intuitively know when we have entered a sacred place.

Tonight, I invite you to come with me to The Italian Chapel, located on the Island of Lamb Holm in Orkney.



Thursday Doors

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link on Dan Antion’s blog post, No Facilities in the comments section, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

Thursday Doors – Poster by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

By Rebecca Budd

Lifestyle Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

80 replies on “The Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, Orkney”

I am thrilled that you joined me at The Italian Chapel, Carolyn. I read that in 2020, The Italian Chapel Preservation Committee celebrated the 100th birthday of Gino Carrara, one of the last two surviving prisoners held at Camp 34 in Burray, a few miles away from Camp 60. I understand that Gino visited Orkney many times to connect with the friends that he made during the time he spent in Orkney. I agree, this is a heartening story!!! Sending hugs!

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HI Rebecca, thank you for sharing these pictures and this amazing story. I have actually read about this as it is included in a book I read about the Italian POW in the UK during WWII called Churchill’s Unexpected Guests. I was researching the Italian POW’s because there was a prisoner of war camp near my Mom’s home town of Bungay and her father delivered milk to it.

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The more I look back, I see that history is best understood in stories and narratives. I think of your father delivering milk to the POW camp in Bungay. How I would love to hear him reminisce. I read that John Muir, honorary President of The Italian Chapel Preservation Committee, has a lighter which was given to his father by one of the prisoners as well as several original paintings of Domenico Chiocchetti. A story of the exchange of a lighter and the gift of a painting – those are the moments that are remembered. Thank you for writing the stories of history, Robbie!

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HI REbecca, although my grandfather has passed and can’t contribute, I will be doing more research for After the Bombs Fell which I am co-writing with Mom, when we visit the UK in December. Mom’s older brothers and sisters love to share stories and I will mine them for information [smile].

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Thank you, Cindy! There is a feeling that came over me that, when I arrived at Lamb Holm, I was entering an axis mundi – the centre of the world where the heaven connects with the earth.

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Whenever I travel, whether in my city or places far away, I am reminded that our earth bears witness to our stories. Every step we take someone walked there before us. I am delighted that you joined me at The Italian Chapel and am grateful for your comments!

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I am delighted that you joined me at the Italian Chapel, Alaedin. The Italian Chapel continues to inspire visitors now, over 75 years since it came into being. A special Mass was held at the chapel to mark its 70th anniversary in 2014. Domenico Chiocchetti’s daughter Angela Chiocchetti, sang Panis Angelicus.

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This is such a wonderful story, Rebecca, and you presented it in lovely fashion. I feel like I’ve traveled with you today. It was such a good feeling to travel through the door, and see and understand the importance of what’s inside.

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Many thanks for the opportunity to share the stories that have been witnessed by doors throughout the centuries. When I view all the the “door posts” on your recap, I realize that we are connected by doors, both figurative and in reality. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Be an opener of doors.” Again, thank you for creating a space to meet with wonderful bloggers, photographers, writers and the list goes on….

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I am delighted that you joined me, Liz Here is another story that will enjoy:

Did you notice the statue of St. George and the Dragon? Bruno Volpi, a fellow prisoner with Dominico Chiocchetti, placed a container within the stand that holds the statue. In this container were the names of all the prisoners of the camp, along with Italian money. Regrettably, the statue was vandalized in the 1970s. In the process of restoration, the restorers found the container with the names, albeit unreadable due to water damage. The container was replaced with the addition of British coins from the year of restoration.

History is remembered in stories!!

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Unfortunately I couldn’t see the video (my ongoing battle with some tech)! This is a place I’ve visited many times. Orkney and the surrounding islands are full of very spiritual places, perhaps this is enhanced because of how remote it is. It is certainly a special story of how the chapel came to be and the foresight of people not to dismantle it after the end of the war.

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How wonderful that you are were able to visit the Italian Chapel many times. I agree – there is a special energy that comes from being surrounded by the sea, and seeing the far distant horizon. So much history comes from these islands. When I was completing this video, I found an article on Orkney Islands Council’s website written January 27, 2020, the 75th year since the the formal opening of the barriers by the First Lord of the Admiralty. They were asking for stories. Isn’t it interesting that we remember history in story format. I think you will enjoy this article:

https://www.orkney.gov.uk/News?postid=3613

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Thank you for the link to the article. We’re hoping to visit later in the year so will certainly be going back to the chapel and will see what’s new in the museum. It’s an amazing place to visit.

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I am delighted that you joined me in Orkney. It was a beautiful day that had both rain and sun. When you travel to Lamb Holm you pass through the the four causeways, known as the Churchill Barriers, which were built by the prisoners. These causeways were completed in 1944 and link the five Orkney Islands of Mainland, Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burrard and South Ronaldsay. I read that in 1996, a declaration was jointly signed by the officials in Orkney and Moena (Domenico’s hometown) that reinforced the ties between the two places.

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I am delighted that you joined me at The Italian Chapel, Martina. Did you notice the statue of St George and the Dragon? Domenico Chiocchetti created it out of scrap barbed wire and cement. This statue preceded the Chapel and was the catalyst that prompted the building of the sanctuary. Major Buckland loved all things Italian. When he saw Domenico’s St. George and the Dragon and its symbolism of the desire to end all wars, he became an ardent supporter of building the Chapel. Sending hugs!

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For me, dear Rebecca, Domenico was a real artist because he manage to realize tha statue from scraps and I was sorry for him that in the end he didn’t manage to go back to Orkney!
Let’s hope that the symbole of St. George and the Dragon makes us think, at least!
Big hugs your way:)

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Thank you for joining me at the Italian Chapel, Babsje. Did you notice the St. George Sculpture at the front of the yard? That has a story too. While St. George has always been associated with England, he is also the patron saint of soldiers and several Italian towns and villages. Bruno Volpi, a fellow prisoner with Domenico Chiocchetti, said that it was meant to symbolize the desire to eliminate all wars and injustice. Hugs!

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You’re welcome Rebecca and thanks again for taking us along with you to this sacred space. I didn’t notice the Saint George – my eyes aren’t so good at the moment but I will revisit later. Best, Babsje

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I agree, Darlene. The human spirit cannot be discounted even when faced with insurmountable challenges. Thank you for joining me at the Italian Chapel. I read that every year over 100,000 people travel to visit this sacred space.

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I am so pleased that you joined me at the Italian Chapel, Resa. I just read a very interesting article from The Guardian this morning about “letting go” which discussed the idea that dates back to Stoic philosophy. The quote by Epictetus – “Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen. This is the path to peace” – reflects what happened at Camp 60. Sending hugs!

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Your doors posts are unique. I like that!
That day, I also listened to a podcast with H.S. Eglund, but got called away before the end. I’ll be back!
The Epictetus quote is brilliant. Thank you!
I wonder if the word “epic” comes from his name, or vice-versa?
{{{hugs}}}

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I read a very interesting The Guardian article this morning that reflected on the idea of letting go, which relates to the Buddhist non-attachment theory. In the midst of conflict and complexity, we still have choice. And that gives me great comfort.

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Yes, WWII did end in 1945, but Camp 60 was disbanded in 1944. The prisoners left Orkney on 9th September 1944 and were transferred to Skipton in Yorkshire, where they worked in the harvest on the local farms. I am so sorry about the confusion.

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thanks so much for explaining – and that reminds me how stalled it felt for some folks who thought things ere ending (in fall of 44) but still had to see waiting
— and last year I did some brushing up on my WWII (and WWI) history but there is still so much to know — and this post here shows us that there are still so many beautiful stories to be shared

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Many thanks for your visit and your heartwarming comments, Diana! The idea of sacred spaces has fascinated me. It seems to be connected to a state of mind as well as a location. I continue to learn and learn and learn!!

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