Kelpius’s Cave, Philadelphia


P1000671The Cave of Kelpius is one of the great oddities of southeast Pennsylvania.  Here, in the 1690s, Johannes Kelpius meditated while awaiting the Second Coming of Christ.  Enjoy a short hike in a small wood and visit this piece of Pennsylvania’s religious history.

The cave is located between the southern end of Fairmont Park and Philadelphia University.  To see the cave, hike down into the woods from the trailhead along the appropriately named Hermit Lane.

Kelpius was not alone.  At William Penn’s invitation, he led a group of millenarian Pietists to migrate from Germany and settle along Wissahickon Creek, where they could practice freely, without persecution.  There they established a semi-monastic, celibate community, but one that interacted with and even supported adjacent communities.  The end came and went, as did Kelpius, but some of their community continued to live and practice along the Wissahikcon until the 1740s.

P1000666Keplius was certainly a mystic and occultist.  Some modern Rosicrucians claim him as their own.  AMORC set up a marker at the cave, on which they identify him as the first person to bring Rosicrucianism to America.  He may have also been the first person to produce musical scores in the English colonies.  Kelpius wrote hymns and composed music for them, using formal musical notation.

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