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Holy Ghost Catholic Church

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c. 1894–1897, Father James Beissel. Lower Kula Rd., off Kula Hwy., Kula
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)

This frame church, the only known nineteenth-century octagonal-shaped building in Hawaii, is approximately sixty feet in diameter. Its steep, corrugated-metal hipped roof is surmounted by a mock clerestory with a blind arcade and terminates with a steeple supported on a round-arched arcade with a balustrade. Tuscan columns serve as corner posts for the eighteen-foot-high, tongue-and-groove walls, six of which have round-arched stained glass windows. The interior is a large octagonal space with the chancel at the north end opposite the entrance and choir loft. Four central Tuscan columns carry an octagonal rib-vaulted, tongue-and-groove ceiling. The handcarved altar was shipped from Austria in 1897. The stations of the cross are unusual in that they are inscribed in Portuguese rather than Latin or English. The church also houses a replica of the octagonal crown of Queen Elizabeth (or, in Portuguese, Isabella); the church's octagonal form supposedly derives from the shape of this crown. According to folk beliefs in the Azore Islands, from which many of Hawaii's Portuguese immigrants came, Queen Isabella gave the Catholic Church her crown after she prayed to the Holy Ghost and her people were delivered from famine. Each year at Pentecost, the church holds a luau open to all to celebrate the fourteenth-century queen's generosity and her devotion to the Holy Ghost.

In 1992 the church underwent a restoration which included the insertion of steel columns and beams to augment deteriorated structural members. Stained glass windows replaced the original two-by-two, double-hung sash windows at this time.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Holy Ghost Catholic Church", [Kula, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 219-220.

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