Friday, November 28, 2008

The Feast of Kamehameha and Emma

King Kamehameha IV and his wife Emma were Christian rulers who encouraged the building of Christian schools and hospitals, and who contributed greatly to the spread of Christianity among the Hawaiian people. The King was worried by the growth of American political influence, directly connected with the work of American missionaries, many of whom openly favored annexation of the islands by the United States. He accordingly invited the Church of England to send missionaries and to establish a presence in Hawaii. (While touring England as a prince, he had attended worship services, and had been favorably impressed.) But, although the King's support of the Church of England was perhaps politically motivated, his support of Christianity was not. He and his wife were earnest in their devotion to both the material and the spiritual welfare of their people. The King personally translated the Book of Common Prayer and much of the Hymnal into Hawaiian. Their only son died in 1863, and the King died, apparently of grief, on 30 November 1864. The Queen devoted the remainder of her life to charitable endeavors (Queen's Hospital, the largest civilian hospital in Hawaii, is largely her doing). She died in 1885.
You can read more about them in a marvelous Advent reflection found right here. The author discusses the dark side of colonialism as well as the good works of Emma and Kamehameha.


  1. Heh: if they ever film their lives, I have the perfect casting for King Kamehameha!

    [Xenites---that is, hardcore fans of the show Xena: Warrior Princess will recognize Jay Laga'aia, who played "Draco". The resemblance is uncanny.]

  2. Ha! You are so, so right, JCF! (I've seen Xena a few times but am hardly a hardcore fan so I did not recognize the name.)


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