Basilica of St John Ephesus is located on the slope of Ayasuluk Hill in Selcuk, where Apostle John was believed to live after the persecution in the Isle of Patmos. He died here at the age of 98 and was buried in the same location according to his will.
The first building was a Martyrion (Mausoleum) built on the grave of St John, which was also used as a church. In the era of Emperor Theodosius (347-395), a basilica was built over the mausoleum. Two hundred years later the building became nothing more than a wreck due to earthquakes.
And eventually above the church of Theodosius, a massive church with a cross plan was built by Emperor Justinianus and his wife Theodora (548-565). The building of this basilica modeled after the lost Church of Holly Apostles in Costantinapolis had a cross plan with six domes. And the sacred burial place of St John was under the central dome. Five domes are supported by massive marble pillars in the corners of the cross. On the capitals of the pillars, the monogram of Justinian and Theodora was placed, prior to the death of Theodora in 548. The main entrance gate to the church was called the “Gate of Persecution” and a large baptistery was replaced on the left of the persecution gate.
This massive Basilica of St John Ephesus measured 133 meters to 65 meters and was regarded as one of the holiest churches of its time.
St. John in Ephesus
There were no clear written inscriptions about the travel of St John to Ephesus. But it is believed that John traveled from Jerusalem to the city of Ephesus where he remained for the rest of his life after the crucifixion. Numerous of evidence confirm John’s residence in Ephesus and from there Emperor Domitian exiled him to the Isle of Patmos for 8 years, where he wrote Revelation (the Apocalypse). In the time of Emperor Nevra, John was pardoned and returned to Ephesus where he lived for the rest of his life.
St John was the youngest of the apostles and He is said to have lived to old age, dying at Ephesus (A.D. 93-94) during the reign of Emperor Trajan. It is believed to be the same person as John the Apostle (John, son of Zebedee), and the Gospel of John.
The most important document confirming the residency of St John in Ephesus is the letter from the Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus (A.D. 431). This letter describes “the city of the Ephesus” as where John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary lived and were buried.
Frequently Asked Questions about St John in Ephesus
Ephesus is still a city located within the borders of Izmir City in Turkey today. The current name of Ephesus is Selçuk. The Selçuk district of İzmir, that is, today’s Ephesus, has a population of 36000.
Although we do not have any written inscriptions, there is a strong belief that St. John came to Ephesus with the Virgin Mary after Jesus was crucified. However, there is a numerous of evidence confirming that Emperor Domitian exiled St. John to the Isle of Patmos for 8 years. During the period of Emperor Nevra, John was pardoned and returned to Ephesus, where he would live the rest of his life.
Today, the ancient city of Ephesus, which belongs to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, continues to be visited by millions of tourists. In addition, life continues in modern Ephesus as a district of İzmir under the name Selçuk.
The distance between Ephesus and Jerusalem is approximately 10,500 kilometers.
Right after Jesus was crucified, St. John immediately set out for Ephesus to spread Christianity and protect the Virgin Mary.
According to the belief, St. John lived his last days in Ephesus and his tomb is in the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus today.
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