The ancient city of Ephesus is known as the capital of Asia by the great Roman Empire. It was the home for crucial Christian events, many of which took place in the New Testament.
One of the most visited pilgrimage sites for catholic Christians located on top of Mt. Koressos (Bülbüldağı) near Ephesus Ancient City is the House of the Virgin Mary.
The most common Christian theory is Virgin Mary was brought to Ephesus by the beloved apostle St. John after the resurrection. The theory originated from Jesus’ entrusting the care of his mother to his beloved apostle.
When Jesus saw his mother and his beloved disciple standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Mother, here is your son!”. Then he said to the disciple, “Here, your mother!”. From then on, this disciple took Jesus' mother into his home. (John 19:26-27)
There were no clear details written about the life of the Virgin Mary since she took care to live in secret. But there are numerous of evidence dating between the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. confirming the presence of St. John in Ephesus.
**The letter of Ephesus archbishop Policrat's to Pope St. Victor stated that the tomb of John was in Ephesus. **Eusebe, the church historian who lived in 3rd centruy AD proclaims that during the persecution in Jerusalem, the apostles dispersed and John lived in Asia and died in Ephesus.
The persecution started with Stefanos’ -one of the disciples of the apostles- stoned to death in 36 BC. As the Christian community developed in Jerusalem, the anger of the Jewish authorities grew more. During this period of persecution when all the apostles left it is difficult to believe that St. John took risk of hiding with Mary somewhere in the mountain or leaving Mary alone in Jerusalem.
Discovery of the House of the Virgin Mary
Since many clues were confirming Virgin Mary spent her last days in Ephesus, the discovery of her house became an important issue. At this point, the writings and book of a German-originated bedridden nun, Anne Catherine Emerich (1774-1824) were very helpful in determining the exact location.
Anne Catherine Emmerich, Born in Flamschen and become bedridden in Dulmen Germany where she had been a nun and died at the age of 49.
Although she never traveled out of Germany she become a significant nun of her time because of her visions regarding the life of Jesus and Blessed Mary. She claimed that as a child she had visions in which she talked to Jesus.
Her visions were collected in books by Clemens Brentano a German poet and writer.
Clemens Brentano met Catherine Emmerich in 1819 and he become one of Emmerich’s many supporters. Brentano even said, he is sending her to help her fulfill God’s command, to express in writing the revelations.
From 1819 until Emmerich’s death in 1824, he wrote many notes with accounts of her visions involving scenes from the New Testament and the life of the Blessed Mary.
Approximately 60 years after Anne Catherine Emmerich’s death, these notes taken by Brentano helped to determine the exact location of the house with its details.
In 1881 Bishop Gouyet, decided to follow the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.
He also decided to search around Ephesus based on writings of Gregoire de Tours (538-594) -one of the first church writers who mentioned about the presence of a chapel on a mountain near Ephesus.
"On the top of a mountain close to Ephesus, there are four walls without a roof, John sat inside these walls."
After his journey to Ephesus Bishop Gouyet reported that he has found the House and wrote a letter to the Diocese of Paris and Rome. But his letter did not take seriously and the discovery of the house did not succeed.
Ten years later in 1892 Marie de Mandat Grancey, a nun at the Izmir French hospital, read Katerin Emmerik’s book “The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. They decided to go to Ephesus for a discovery trip. They found a house with a clear resemblance to what Catherine Emmerik describes. At the end of the same year, Marie de Mandat Grancey purchased the ownership of the location.
The first religious visit to the Virgin Mary takes place four years after the discovery of the House of the Virgin Mary in 1896. But definitely, the most important visitor of the house was Pope Paul Vl who came to Ephesus on 26 July 1967 to show his respects to the Virgin Mary. And Pope John Paul II visited the House of the Virgin Mary on 30 November 1979.
If you would like to explore Ephesus Ancient City and the House of the Virgin Mary with Best Ephesus Tours, you can reach us at the links below.