June 17, 1839 — In the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha III issued the Edict of toleration today, which gave Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands. Until 1824 the ancient Hawaiian religion was enforced through strict law.
The religion dictated how the people were to live, worship and even eat. During Kamehameha III’s reign the Congregational Church was the preferred Christian denomination, however Kamehameha issued the edict for Roman Catholicism due to French force.
As a result, the Hawaii Catholic Church and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace was later established. The following year, the Constitution of 1840 of the Kingdom of Hawaii ensured religious freedom.
Words of Wisdom
Like a character from a Greek heroic poem, Kamehameha had the equivalent of a price on his head from the day he was born. Alapainui, the ruling chief of Hawaii island, ordered the child who was about to be born to Kekuiapoiwa , Kamehameha's mother (Alapainui's niece), to be executed at birth. This was after a priest warned Alapainui the child would grow up to be a mighty warrior who one day would overthrow him.
Kamehameha's mother had her infant son wrapped in a kapa shroud and carried by a runner to a place called Awini in the mountains of Kohala where Kamehameha would be hidden away for five years under the protection of a woman relative named Kahaopulani. For some reason, perhaps guilt, Alapainui eventually welcomed the young boy Kamehameha to live in his household where Kamehameha began his training in the chiefly skills of leadership and fighting. Learn more here.