Cave of Kelpius

Useful Information

Location: Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
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The Cave of Kelpius is named after the German Johannes Kelpius who lived here with several followers. This group of Pietists became known as the Hermits of the Wissahickon. Themselves they called their group Society of the Woman in the Wilderness, which was rather freaky as all members were men. They lived in the forest at the Wissahickon Creek which is today Fairmount Park. What is called a cave, is actually an old spring house, which was used by the hermits to meditate and await the second coming.

Johannes Kelpius (*1673-✝1708) was a Pietist, mystic, musician, and writer, interested in botany and astronomy. He was the magister of the first Rosicrucian AMORC colony in the United States. He made a complex interpretation of The Book of Revelation which made him believe the end of the world would occur in 1694. With his followers he lived in seclusion, thinking, living a simple life, and assisting Philadelphians whenever there was a need. They awaited the end, but 1694 went and the world had not ended. The faithful continued to live in the forest until Kelpius died in 1708 and the group finally disbanded.