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Italian Chapel, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Posted by
Fran (Trumbull CT, United States) on 1 July 2015 in Architecture and Portfolio.

The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed there while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow, four causeways created to block access to the harbor. 200 were based at Camp 60 on Lamb Holm. In 1943, Major Thomas Pyres Buckland, Camp 60's new commandant, and Father Gioacchino Giacobazzi, the Camp's priest, agreed that a place of worship was required. The chapel was constructed from limited materials by the prisoners. Two Nissen huts were joined end-to-end. The corrugated interior was then covered with plasterboard and the altar and altar rail were constructed from concrete left over from work on the barriers. Most of the interior decoration was done by Domenico Chiocchetti, a prisoner from Moena. He painted the sanctuary end of the chapel and fellow-prisoners decorated the entire interior. They created a facade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church. The light holders were made out of corned beef tins. The baptismal font was made from the inside of a car exhaust covered in a layer of concrete. Chiocchetti remained on the island to finish the chapel, even when his fellow prisoners were released shortly before the end of the war.