May 4, 2022

The Cave Church of Saint Pelagia Near Feloti Bay in Kythera

Slightly hidden along the impressive rocky coastline near beautiful Feloti Bay of southwest Kythera, is the Cave Church of Saint Pelagia.

The path towards the cave starts to the left of the fisherman’s cottage, just before you descend to the bay. After only about 200 metres, the church, with its small bell tower, becomes visible. The door latches are easy to open and inside you walk down the steps into the church that was built in the 17th century or earlier. Bishop Nektarios Beneres mentions this cave church in his list of churches in 1697, and though there is nothing written of it before this time, some believe it is at least a few centuries older than this date. The iconostasis is simply designed, decorated with only a few nautical symbols. Inside the cave you hear water dripping into beautiful old ceramic pots. There is high humidity in the cave because it is close to the sea, so the icons are only brought in for Saint Pelagia’s feast day celebration on May 4th, when locals gather the evening before for a solemn Great Vespers.

It should be noted that this church is one of three churches dedicated to Saint Pelagia in Kythera, and all three of them are coastal. The reason for this is because the Greek word "pelagos", from which the name Pelagia derives, means "sea" in Greek, and therefore can be seen as associated with the sea. "Pelagia" was also an epithet for the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, who according to mythology was born in the sea (pelagos).