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Cave Chapel
Modderpoort, Free State



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29°06'55.02" S 27°26'45.25" E Alt: 1640m

The Cave Chapel is the most important focal point of the St Augustine’s complex, located adjacent the graveyard alongside the Priory Church. Canon Henry Beckett, the Superior of the Society of St Augustine and four brothers made their temporary home in this cave. They enlarged the existing area to a 3.6 x 4.2 m structure by building up a wall of stones. In 1945 it was refurbished as a pilgrimage chapel by Fr. Adrian Martin. The now famous cave became a consecrated Anglican Church.

The cave has become a pilgrimage chapel as homage to the local prophetess, Anna Makhetha Mantsopa. She was born in 1795 in the eastern Free State area. The eastern Free State was gradually occupied by settlers and while under British control the so-called Warden Line was proclaimed. This did not meet with the approval of the reigning monarch of the baSotho, King Moshesh and led to armed conflict. In 1851, Mantsopa prophesized that the baSotho would win a battle against troops led by a Major Warden. When Moshesh's warriors beat the British at Viervoet (1851) and Berea (1852) Mantsopa became instantly renowned as a prophetess and became a living legend.

Mantsopa was believed to have the gift to foretell the future and to communicate with the ancestors. Moshesh learnt of the prophetess' powers and of the many people who believed and followed her prophesies and so became concerned that she would one day overthrow his rule. The king exiled Mantsopa from the Kingdom of Lesotho. She fled and in time found refuge in the valley of Modderpoort.

Anna Makhetha Mansopa died on the 11th November 1906 and is buried in the cemetery alongside the Priory Chapel at Modderpoort. Her memory is preserved and she is still revered by many today.

Writings about this entry

Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2015. Church tourism in South Africa : a travel odyssey. South Africa: Self-published by Philippe Menache and Darryl Earl David. pg 50
Oxley, John. 1992. Places of Worship in South Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. pg 181-183