OF THE VIRGIN MARY
Anatolia has been the home of a great variety of civilisations and faiths, and the house of the Virgin Mary is one of the most important of the places that bear witness to the evolution of human belief. It is located about 4 km from the Magnesian Gate in the ancient city of
Ephesus in a spot fairly difficult of access at a height of 358 m on the summit of a hill.
It enjoys an exceptionally fine climate with a lovely view over an extraordinarily beautiful countryside. The only sound is the song of the birds, and its height removes it from the scorching heat of the
Ephesus plain. It affords a magnificent bird's eye view of the surrounding region, extending to a horizon where the earth embraces the blue of the sky.
After parking your rehicle and making your way past the pooL on the left used for collecting water, you will see a panel on the right with information for visitors in several languages. JUst after this, on the left, a little before the actual house the Virgin Mary patiently and lovingly , awaits you with out-stretched arms. This bronze statue was discovered in excavations earned out at the beginning of the 19th century and the broken arm repaired. A few paces further on you will come to the house of the Virzin Mary under a cluster of plane trees. Whether this is actually the spot where the Virgin Mary spent her last days and from which she finally ascended to heaven is a question still hotly debated by scholars, but the whole story is based on a strong tradition to be found among the old citizens of
Ephesus and the local inhabitants. Dom Ruinart 0657-1707), Baronius 0528-1607), Tillemont 0637 1698) and Pope Benoit XIV 0675-1758) all agree that St John the Apostle took Mary to Asia Minor between the years 37 and 45.
It was long the custom for local Christians to make their way to "Panaghia Kapoulu", the chapel hidden in the mountains, to celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin. They firmly believed in the tradition handed down to them from previous generations that this is where the Virgin spent her last days.
In the 19th century, a bed-ridden German invalid by the name of Catherine Emmerich 0774-1824) wrote a book entitled La Vie de fa Sainte Vierge under what she claimed was divine inspiration. Although she had never visited the region she described it with astounding accuracy, placing the chapel on top of the hill, and it was thanks to this book and the information it contained that the Lazarist priests of the Church of St Polycarp in Izmir succeeded in identifying the spot.
There are several other facts that may be taken as evidence that the Virgin Mary once lived here.
* The existence of the tomb of St. John, who is known to have died in Ephesus and been buried in the place where we have remains of the Basilica dedicated to him. The Basilica was constructed under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD. The Basilica is located very near the Isa Bey Mosque in Selcuk.
* The Third Ecumenical council was held in Ephesus. In the year 431 A.D. and in the year 449 the so-called Robber Council took place in
* The Double Church of the Virgin in Ephesus is the oldest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
* The epistles written by St Paul to the Ephesians.
* The location of the story of the Seven Sleepers in Ephesus.
In 1892 Mgr.Tomoniu, the Archbishop of Izmir, pronounced the House of the Virgin Mary a place of pilgrimage.
Finally, in view of the unanimous historical evidence, the house wasalso accepted as a place of pilgrimage by the Vatican. Archaeologists who have examined the building corroborate the above evidence, pointing to striking resemblances to the chapel in 6th century use, while some of the walls can be dated to the 1st century. Moreover, the archaeologists found 1.2 m3 of petrified ashes in the hearth. There is also the pool, which would appear to have been regarded by visitors as sacred.
Whatever the final conclusion, this simple house, restored and converted into a chapel, has, since 1951, attracted pilgrims of every religion and every race.