Missionaries arrived on the islands as early as the 1770s, but the arrival of American Protestant missionaries in 1820 substantially altered the culture of the island. The protestant missionaries mainly sought to civilize Hawaiians with Christian and American instruction (ostensibly seeking to recreate the religious environment found in New England), which included becoming heavily involved in local politics. When French Catholic priests arrived in 1828, they were granted land by Hawaiian King Kamehameha III where they built a small cathedral. However, Protestant missionaries, having gained significant influence on the island's polity and culture, drove them off the island in 1831; those who remained were persecuted and often detained.
In 1839, the French military arrived with the intention of ending Catholic persecution on the islands; an incident now referred to as The Laplace Affair. The threat of war pushed King Kamehameha III to agree to the French demands and subsequently to stop the detention of Catholics, pay them reparations, and open the islands to accept Catholicism on the islands.
As a result, the King published a Declaration of Rights that ushered in the era of religious freedom in Hawaii, followed by a new constitution in 1840 that legally granted freedom of religion to Hawaiian residents. Thus, protestants lost much of their influence on political and economic decisions, and the age of Roman Catholicism arrived; Catholic priests returned and built a stone church that same year. Three years later, Our Lady of Peace opened its doors (officially, August 15, 1843).
The church has undergone several renovations and additions, such as adding the Although visibly altered on both the interior and exterior, the building the vaulted ceiling in 1871, but still enjoys the same general look as it did in the 1840s. Our Lady of Peace is more than an old church, it is one of the oldest buildings in Hawaii. Its presence speaks to the influence of immigrants to Hawaii, including those from the U.S. and Europe who changed the island's economy, culture, politics, and of course religion.