King Kamehameha & Queen Emma


Memorial at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Honolulu

November 28


  • Psalm 97:1-2,7-12
  • Proverbs 21:1-3
  • Acts 17:22-31
  • Matthew 25:31-40

In the 1790’s, a marooned English sailor married the daughter of a Hawaiian chieftain, thus establishing the family to which Emma Rooke was born two generations later. Kamehameha IV was a descendant of Kamehameha I, the king who united the islands.

As a girl Emma attended the select Chiefs’ Children’s’ School in Honolulu and also studied with an English tutor. In 1856 she married Alexander Liholiho, Kamehameha IV, King of Hawaii from 1855-1864.

The new king and queen immediately established a royal lifestyle based on altruism and humility instead of pomp and power. In response to a smallpox epidemic, they established Queen’s hospital, now the largest civilian hospital in Hawaii.

Kamehameha, who had traveled in England as a boy, and Emma, who had learned to read from The Book of Common Prayer, invited Anglican missionaries to Hawaii. They believed Anglicanism offered a Christian tradition accepting of a blend of cultures.

Thomas N. Staley became Hawaii’s first bishop. St. Andrew’s Cathedral and several Episcopal schools were established, and Kamehameha began to translate The Book of Common Prayer.

Then tragedy struck. In 1863 the 4-year-old prince, their only son, died. Though only 29 himself, Kamehameha died of grief within the year. Emma declined to rule, preferring to commit her life to good works. As dowager queen, she used her influence to travel abroad, soliciting funds on behalf of the many institutions she established for the Hawaiian people.

“The Church has not left us to go by one step from darkness into the awful presence and brightness of God, but it has prepared for our use prayers to meet the necessities of every soul, whether they be used in public or in private.” King Kamehameha Preface to the Hawaiian Book of Common Prayer (1863)

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Wife, mom, grandmother; author, educator, consultant; trying to make a difference one action at a time. Christian formation has been my vocation for 40+ years - and counting!
This entry was posted in Book of Common Prayer, Prayers, Saints and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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