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The church of St. John the Evangelist

The church of St. John the EvangelistThe disciple most beloved of Christ and the only disciple to be present at the crucifixion, St John was entrusted by Christ with the care of His mother, the Virgin Mary. He later played a very important role in the dissemination of Christianity and wrote the Apocalypse during the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 A.D.) to raise the morale of a people terrorized by persecution and oppression. The Apocalypse was included in the New Testament as the last book in the collection. It is generally agreed that he resided in Ephesus following his return from exile on the island of Patmos around 100 A.D. The first church to bear his name was built over his grave some years after his death but the great basilica is ascribed to the reign of the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. According to investigations carried out on the burial chamber in 1926-28, the church was constructed over an older church of the 4th century. It was finally abandoned after the conquest of the area by the Seljuks in the 13th century, and was burned and destroyed during the Mongol raids of 1402.

The building measures 40 x 110m and is aligned on an east-west axis with the entrance on the western side. On the northern side on the left of the basilica there is a small chapel with frescos dated to the 11th century. Immediately to the left of this room, which was used by the priests as a vestry, there is a small . treasury in which valuable holy relics were kept. The baptistery was found in a good state of preservation and has since been restored. It is now known that this section existed before the church itself. Investigations have revealed column capitals belonging to the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora.

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