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 which is believed to be the final home of the Virgin Mary.
Table of contents
- Virgin Mary’s Journey to Ephesus
- Historical Evidence of St. John in Ephesus
- The House of the Virgin Mary Video
- What to See in the House of the Virgin Mary?
- Discovery of the House of the Virgin Mary
- Religious Significance and Papal Visits
- Celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
- Virgin Mary in Islam and the Quran
- Information for Visitors
- You May Also Like
Virgin Mary’s Journey to Ephesus
The most common Christian theory is that the 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)
Historical Evidence of St. John in Ephesus
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 the risk of hiding with Mary somewhere in the mountain or leaving Mary alone in Jerusalem.
The House of the Virgin Mary Video
What to See in the House of the Virgin Mary?
The Cistern at the Entrance
Upon approaching the House of the Virgin Mary, the first landmark you encounter is a cistern. Previously referred to as the baptismal pool, it has since been identified as a cistern constructed in the 7th century. You will see that both Muslim and Christian visitors, believing this cistern to be sacred, put money into it while making a wish.
The House of the Virgin Mary
After moving past the cistern, you encounter the ritual area and the House of the Virgin Mary. Archaeological studies reveal that the lower section of this cross-shaped house originates from the first century, while the upper part is traced back to the seventh century. This evidence suggests that the House of the Virgin Mary was converted into a church in the seventh century. Upon entering the house, you will see a statue of the Virgin Mary alongside gifts left by the three popes who have visited (Pope Paul Vl on 26 July 1967, Pope John Paul II, on 30 November 1979, and Pope Benedict XVI on November 29, 2006). Upon entering the house, you have the opportunity to get a candle by donating to the church. After exiting the house, you can light the candle, make a wish, and then place the candle in the wishing area.
Following your visit to the House of the Virgin Mary, your visit proceeds to three fountains accessible by descending the stairs to the right upon exiting the church. Drinkable water flows from these fountains. Many visitors not only sample this water but also carry it away, attributing healing properties to it. It’s widely believed that this water possesses the ability to cure illnesses or is significantly beneficial. Local legend holds that these fountains have the power to grant wishes related to love, wealth, and health.
After passing the sacred fountains, you will see that the wall from beginning to end is full of wishes written on pieces of paper. This place is called “the Wishing Wall”. It is believed that wishes written on these pieces of paper and attached to the wall are granted.
Discovery of the House of the Virgin Mary
Since many clues were confirming that the Virgin Mary spent her last days in Ephesus, the discovery of the house of the Virgin Mary 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 Emerich’s Life and Visions
Anne Catherine Emmerich was born in Flamschen and became 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 became 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.
Clemens Brentano’s Contribution
Her visions were collected in books by Clemens Brentano a German poet and writer. Clemens Brentano met Catherine Emmerich in 1819 and became 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.
Bishop Gouyet’s Expedition and Initial Discovery
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 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 had found the House and wrote a letter to the Diocese of Paris and Rome. But his letter was not taken seriously and the discovery of the house did not succeed.
Marie de Mandat Grancey’s Exploration and Ownership
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.
Religious Significance and Papal Visits
The first religious visit to the Virgin Mary took 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. Moreover, the building was officially recognized as the House of the Virgin Mary following the first visit by a pope. Pope John Paul II visited the House of the Virgin Mary on 30 November 1979 and, Pope Benedict XVI visited the house on November 29, 2006. Inside the House of the Virgin Mary, you can see the gifts presented by three popes on their respective visits.
Celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
Every year, on August 15th, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated at the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. This sacred day marks the belief in Mary’s bodily ascent to heaven. The House of the Virgin Mary, a modest stone structure on Mount Koressos (Bulbul Mountain), is a focal point for pilgrims. A special Mass and procession honor her legacy. This celebration is not just a religious ritual but a testament to the enduring power of faith and the unifying respect for Mary across different cultures and beliefs.
Virgin Mary in Islam and the Quran
The Virgin Mary, known as Meryem in Islam, holds a remarkably esteemed position, making her a figure of reverence and veneration in both Islamic and Christian traditions. Meryem (Mary), the mother of Prophet Isa (Jesus), is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran, which is a testament to her sacred status. The Quranic portrayal of the Virgin Mary is not merely historical or anecdotal; it carries deep theological significance. Through her story, the Quran conveys messages about the value of purity, the importance of submission to God’s will, and the power of faith.
Meryem (Mary): A Symbol of Piety and Chastity in Islam
The Quranic narrative of Meryem (Mary) begins with her mother dedicating her unborn child to the service of God, unaware that she would bear a daughter. Maryam’s upbringing in the temple under the care of Prophet Zakariya (Zechariah) is marked by signs of her piety and devotion, making her a symbol of chastity and divine favor in Islamic tradition.
The Miraculous Birth of Isa (Jesus) in Islam
One of the most profound aspects of Maryam’s story in the Quran is the miraculous birth of Isa. The narrative describes how the angel Gabriel visited Meryem (Mary) to announce that she would bear a son, a messenger to the people of Israel. Despite her initial astonishment and questions about how this could occur, Maryam’s faith in God’s power and her acceptance of His will are key moments that highlight her exemplary faith. The Quran’s depiction of this miracle serves not only as a testament to God’s omnipotence but also elevates Meryem as a model of obedience and trust in the divine.
Interfaith Reverence for the Virgin Mary
The reverence for the Virgin Mary transcends religious boundaries, making her a bridge between Islam and Christianity. Her veneration in the Quran and her role as the mother of Isa (Jesus) highlights the shared heritage and mutual respect between these two faiths. By accepting Mary’s esteemed status, Muslims and Christians can find common ground in their admiration for her virtues and pivotal role in both religions’ narratives.
Information for Visitors
The House of the Virgin Mary is located on top of Mt. Koressos (Bulbuldagi) near Ephesus Ancient City, Selcuk, Turkey.
The entrance fee for the House of the Virgin Mary is 400 Turkish Lira in 2024. Foreign currencies like the U.S. Dollar or Euro is accepted. Credit card is also accepted at the box office. Please visit the link below for the current entrance fees for the House of the Virgin Mary and attractions around.
The House of the Virgin Mary welcomes visitors every day from 08:30 to 17:00 from November to February. During the rest of the month, the house is open for visits from 08:00 in the morning to 18:00. Please visit the link below for the current opening hours for the House of the Virgin Mary and attractions around.
Photography is forbidden inside of the house. However, visitors are permitted to take photos outside of the House of the Virgin Mary.
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