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Friday, February 19, 2021

The Crypt of Saint Philothei


Discovered accidentally in 1934 during quarrying, the Crypt of Saint Philothei is a small natural cave, converted into a chapel by Rigoula Venizelou. The daughter of a famous 16th-century family that lived in Athens during the Ottoman occupation, Venizelou died a martyr, and was later canonized with her monastic name Philothei. 
 
Saint Philothei would pray in this chapel, which was dedicated to the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Some maintain that the Saint used this as an escape tunnel for herself and her nuns. Some believe it was here that she was laid to rest after her martyrdom, which emitted a beautiful fragrance and led to the discovery that her relics remained incorrupt.

After the crypt’s discovery, the village of Nea Alexandria was officially renamed Philothei in her honor.

The crypt, via underground tunnel, connects to the Kalogreza Convent, established by the Saint herself on one of her family estates. The Church of Saint Philothei is located beside the crypt. It was established in 1936.

For decades couples chose to be married in the courtyard of the Crypt of Saint Philothei, but in 1986 Archbishop Seraphim put a stop to this. The tunnel, which today is sealed and cannot be viewed, was to the left of the crypt.
 
Easter at the Crypt
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