Saturday, November 28, 2009

Orkney's Italian Chapel

A herewith highly recommended post at Sicily Scene about the Churchill-made Arandora Star-tragedy, reminded me of my surprise when on my first visit to a certain island I 'stumbled' upon ...

this very chapel.

Imagine you had been one of 550 Italians captured in North Africa and in 1942 being brought to the Orkney Islands, being forced to construct causeways to block German U-Boots from accessing Scapa Flow.

The name those four causeways got, by the way:

Churchill Barriers (sic!).

As you can read (at least) the essentials here, I do allow myself to indulge one of my favourite passions - do I detect a knowing simper on the lips of my experienced readers? :) - and restrict myself to offer some photographs.

The chapel

Its inside (photo taken freehand, without flash)

The 24 prisoners of war who did it.

Not il duce


And here some more lines in Italian, just for Lady Limoncello (and those whose native tongue is Italian).


Why would an agnostic write a post about some Italians who a) were so stupid to follow a megalomaniac 'duce', b) be so stupid to let capture themselves, and finally c) in their rainy and stormy detention centre would start to build a chapel for someone/something who/that has - so far - not introduced her-/him-/itself as Her/His/Its godish Highness?


1. (the ironic one) Just because it's a sign of hope. After all, out of approximately 500 prisoners of war only 24 were such silly full stop

2. (the first of two serious ones, and I do cut it but short): It's just amazing! Just amazing.

Finally, two questions:

Major T. P. Buckland have allowed to build a mosque?

Would a Muslim-Major (have) allow(ed) his Christian prisoners to build a chapel?

And a last thought for tonight; a thought that is ... yes! ... permanent part of Omnium: We all (!) could (!) know from history how ... have no adjective here ... war is. And still ... and still ... there has not yet been the one generation who was willing and able to immunise their children against those roothless and greedy few (!) who'd do their best to instigate envy and hate and ... wars.

And therefore:

Past is. Is presence. Impossible to let bygones be bygones or even forget about. It’s there. Is presence. And maybe herein lies the reason that we remain unable to learn from the past.

Up til infinity?

For how many years, decades ... millennia the majority will keep silence?


  1. Ah Sean if only we could actually learn from history, not the distorted history that sanitises that bad and glorigfies the jingoistic, but the history that tells it like it is.

    If only we lived in a world where, say, the likes of the Rosenstrasse Women, Meena from RAWA and the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo are the true heroes rather than meglomaniacal generals and politicians

  2. In the mostly horrible remembered moments of war (any war), there is always a shiny anecdote which (somehow) gives us hope that, maybe one day, the majority of us will say a big NO to blood-thirsty generals and politicians. The problem is that, more and more, soldiers are replaced by buttons which can be pushed, and will destroy, at the whims of any megalomaniac in power.

    :) Thank you for revealing this beautiful chapel. Great artistic discovery. I'm not amazed at all that it could be done with primitive means. The heart, soul and mind, when given faith and freedom, can create magnificent works.

  3. Some great German philosophers come to my mind such as Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel but İ keep it simple:
    if denial is also part of history, then denial become a fact and writes history over again...
    But I still stand firm next to Nietzsche; religion is there for to be abused, not to write history, lets all become consequent nihilists, maybe then we can see our faces in the mirror, nothing more than an ape ready to have fun.))

  4. Jams,
    quite! If only ...

    well ... for the sake of hope: May I die before it dies. :)

    yes! Let's face what we see in the mirror. :)

  5. Amiable fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you for your information.

  6. Anonymous,
    now that was/is a lovely surprise, indeed. Thank you very much for letting me know that you consider my post helpful.
    Good luck for your college assignment. Is it about Orkney's Italian Chapel?
    In case you need more information, just let me know, and I shall try to help.

  7. I'm sorry to have come to this lovely post of yours so late, Sean. Thank you.

  8. Sean, I looked again at the date this post was written and realised it was during the period that year when I was very ill - that's why I missed it. xx