The Italian Chapel

There is a little church in Lambholm on the Orkney's which is also known as the Italian Chapel. It is all that remains of Camp 60 which was the temporary home for several hundred Italian prisoners in the final years of World War 2. These men were sent to work on the Churchill barriers, a set of concrete causeways which linked several islands together. These barriers helped to make Scapa Flow a secure harbour for the British Naval Fleet.

Whilst there and under the guidance of Domenico Chiocchetti, they converted two Nissen huts into a chapel. The huts were converted into a humble but nevertheless magnificent place of worship. All of the materials used were cobbled together by the prisoners from what they could source nearby. It is a wonderful achievement and a very moving space to encounter.

Behind the altar is Chiocchetti's masterpiece – a frescoe depicting the Madonna and Child which was based on a picture that the skilled painter had carried with him during the war. Having constructed and painted the sanctuary the small team of artisans turned their attention to the rest of the building and eventually to the external facade.

What is remarkable is that the whole transformation took less than a year (and at the same time work continued on the huge concrete causeways) It is testimony to the love, artistry and dedication of all of those involved.