Home of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus
Come and visit it through these pages
FLIGHT FROM JERUSALEM and COMING
In the first half of the 1st century, the early Christians were badly
persecuted in Jerusalem and the situation was
becoming increasingly worse for them. The persecution began when in AD
36 St. Stephen, a deacon of the Apostles, was
stoned to death. Other events followed this. Agrippa I (Herodes) who
proclaimed himself king in AD 41, in order to
increase to esteem his supporters had for him, executed St. James, the
brother of St. John, and imprisoned St. Peter.
These events led to a great disturbance among Christians and they began
to disperse into Judaea and Samaria.
From the cross in Golgotha, Jesus turned to his Mother and St. John,
who were accompanying him, and entrusted them to
each other saying "Mother, here is
your son" to his mother and "Here
is your Mother" to St. John. According to
the Bible, after this, St. John took the mother of Jesus to his home to
Sometime after these events, the twelve disciples of Jesus who had been
the first to believe in Him went to different
regions to spread Christianity and to enlighten the people. St. John's
region of work was the Asian province of Anatolia
(currently Turkey). His purpose was, on the one hand to move away from
danger and on the other, while doing that, to
spread Christianity to the West, to the Roman world, through the
densely populated cities of West Anatolia. Ephesus was the most
important of these.
The minutes of the Ecumenical Council of 431 indicate that St. John and
the Virgin Mary stayed for a short time in the
old building, a section of which is today under the Council Church
(Originally called: Church of the Virgin
Christianity spread beyond the limits of Ephesus and in various cities
of Anatolia places of worship were founded which
were later called the "Seven Churches of Asia Minor" and Ephesus became
Considering the fact that St. John remained in Ephesus until his death
and that he was named the "Apostle of Asia", his
importance in Ephesus of Asia (Aegean Region of Anatolia, in the Roman
expression of that time and Turkey of today), the
last wish of Jesus, and consequently the Virgin Mary's having remained
with him can be more easily understood.
The historian Eusebius states that St. John had gone over for certain
to Asia Minor at that time and had continued his
We know that St. John had written his Gospel for the Ephesians and that
it covers the problems of the Ephesian
Christians, and the questions they asked him and his answers to these
questions. He alludes only vaguely to the coming
of the Virgin Mary to Ephesus. In spite of the many studies undertaken
to this day, it has not been possible to bring to
light the details relating to the life of the Virgin Mary.
St. Jerome (347-419), who had written about the geography of Jerusalem
of the 4th century, does not make either any
mention of a grave belonging to the Virgin Mary or of a monument built
on her grave in Jerusalem or in its vicinity. Had
there existed such a tomb, he, as a historian, would certainly have
spoken about it.
In the lifetime of St. Jerome, the only church dedicated to Mary was in
In 431 the Third Ecumenical Council met in Ephesus in the one and only
church of the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The purpose of the meeting of this council was to spectacularly
proclaim the title of "Mother of God" applied to Mary
(3) which was
objected to by the then archbishop of
OF THE VIRGIN MARY AND THE
Constantine the Great, adopted this religion in 313 A.D. and proclaimed
Christianity the official religion, moved the
capital of the empire and accordingly, the religious center to
Byzantium (present Istanbul, Turkey).
Before Constantine, there had been no effectively centralized
government to dominate the whole Church. The bishops,
elected by the people in the early years, had gradually begun to
acquire considerable power in their region.
Constantine, resolved to count on Christianity for the future of the
empire, spread it throughout the region.
Religious conflicts and separations into groups went on until the reign
of Theodosius II (408-450) who, to settle the
disputes, called the 3rd Ecumenical Council to Ephesus.
The Council met in the 2nd Century building called by the same name
today [Council of Ephesus Basilica], and about two hundred religious
held discussions there for nearly three months.
It was recorded in the proceedings of the meeting that the Virgin Mary,
on Her arrival at Ephesus, had stayed for
sometime in a house which had stood at the site of this church and that
she had ended Her life on Earth at Ephesus. And
the church was dedicated to Her.
Excavation and restoration of the building are at present still going
on. Every year on August 15th, believed to be the
day of the Assumption, religious ceremonies are performed in this
building to commemorate it.
OF THE VIRGIN MARY
The house of Virgin Mary is reached by the road leading from the
Magnesia Gate to Mount Solmissos (Aladag). A round
cistern that can be seen today in the small square 100 meters away from
the house and an arched wall on the side facing
the hill were the first remains to be discovered. The steps on the west
side of the cistern are completely destroyed,
only a part resembling a section of a pool is extant.
At the end of the road that goes on from the cistern, there is a small,
domed church with a cross shaped plan. This is
the building known as the House of the Virgin Mary.
What guided the scientists was the archaeologists' finding out that a
part of the foundations of the chapel and some
pieces of coal revealed in the excavations were from the 1st Century.
The interior of the house decorated with various gifts with great care
but, at the same time, in a very simple and
modest way seems to integrate with the Virgin Mary's personality of the
same characteristics. It seems to awake in the
visitor deep feeling of tranquility. Coming out of the house, one
feels like enchanted by the depth and mystic beauty
of the nature unrolling before one's eyes.
The certainty than in the period of persecution in Jerusalem St. John
had made a long journey to Ephesus taking the
Virgin Mary with him (See St. John's Gospel) and the discovery near the
theater of Ephesus of the first church on the
earth ascribed to the Virgin Mary, as restored in the 5th century, have
led to the declaration of this house a place of
pilgrimage by Pope Paul VI.
OF THE HOUSE OF THE VIRGIN MARY
The belief that the Virgin Mary had spent her last days on Earth in a
house in the vicinity of Ephesus, focused
attention on a nun named Anna Katherina Emmerich who had lived in the
late 18th century (1774-1820). The efforts to find
the house were greatly influenced by her detailed description of the
Virgin Mary's coming to Ephesus, her life and her
last home there, and the characteristics of the city although she had
never been to Ephesus.
Emmerich had seen in her visions the Virgin Mary leaving Jerusalem with
St. John before the persecution of Christians
had become worse and their coming to Ephesus; she had also seen that
the house in Ephesus was on a mountain nearby. She
said furthermore that the house of the Virgin Mary, a stone house, was
built by St. John, that it was rectangular in
plan with a round back wall and had an apse and a hearth. The room next
to the apse was her bedroom and there was a
stream of water running beneath it.
A French clergyman named Gouyet who after reading in 1880 C. Brentano's
book "The Life of the Virgin Mary" containing
the revelations of Anna Katherina Emmerich tried to prove these by his
writings but was not successful. Gouyet decided
to go Ephesus to see whether the house mentioned as belonging to the
Virgin Mary fitted the description in the book or
not. After a journey free from problems in contrast to his
expectations, Gouyet saw the house, believed that it belonged
to the Virgin Mary and sent his related report to the Bishopric
authorities of Paris and even to Rome, but he did not
receive the attention he had expected.
About ten years after this event, H. Jung, a Lazarist priest decided
that it would be useful to see the house in its
place. He organized a second research team with the collaboration of
Eugene Poulin (4),
a Lazarist priest who was the director of the French College of Izmir
(Smyrna). The team consisting of two priests and two Catholic
functionaries set out on 27 June 1891. Following the
guidance of a local guide hired at Seçuk who knew the area well and the
definition of a priest who said that he
had examined the area previously and had found certain evidences in the
The description in the revelations of Anna Katherina Emmerich mentioned
an abandoned building at the skirt of a mountain
with a holy spring nearby and a view over the ancient city of Ephesus
and the sea. Towards noon on 29 June 1891, the
team met a group of peasants working in a field on a slope lying
further on from the Kirkinca village. They had no water
left. Worn out with the heat and fatigue, they asked the peasants for
water. Learning from them they could find water at
a sacred fountain a little ahead, they reached the place described.
When, after satisfying their thirst and taking a rest, they examined
the area around them they were struck with
amazement. They had discovered a small place of worship with the roof
fallen in and the walls in ruin standing among
century old plane trees with a spring of clear water running beside it.
And in the apse was standing a statue of the
Virgin Mary with the hands broken off. Nowhere else in the region was
there a scene fitting the description as perfectly
as this one did. Certain that they had found the legendary house of the
Virgin Mary, they returned to Izmir
Meanwhile, the archbishop of Izmir Monsignor Timoni showed interest in
the matter, and substantiated the situation by a
duly signed document (History of Panaya Kapulu).
Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII, visited the church of the
Virgin Mary (The Council Church) in Ephesus, but
he could not go up the Solmissos (Aladag) Mountain. Pope Paul VI's
visited the house on 26 July 1967, prayed at its apse
and presented Holy Gifts. Later on, Pope John Paul II's visited this
holy place of pilgrimage among a big international
crowd on 30 November 1979. His joining in the ceremonies conducted
there, attracted the attention of the world to
Ephesus and to the House of the Virgin Mary.
This place of pilgrimage visited by thousands of tourists every year,
maintains its holiness for the Moslems as well as
for the Christian world. People believing in the Holiness of the Virgin
Mary came here specially to worship, and
drinking from the water believed to be sacred they make wishes in the
mystic and quiet atmosphere of Mount
by The M+G+R
miguel de Portugal had the great blessing of visiting this most Holy
site of Friday, August 1, 2003. Although for
reasons beyond his control he was able to remain for only thirty
minutes, it seems that God had made the necessary
"arrangements" so that he could offer the Glorious Mysteries of the
Holy Rosary keeling undisturbed at the apse of the
building, before the image referenced to above, and which
providentially ended just in time for the Angelus.
In spite of the fact that he has visited many Marian shrines, including
Josna Gora (Keeper of the Our Lady of
Czestochowa icon) in Poland, and having lived in the Sanctuary of
Fatima, this thirty minutes visit to this most Holy
site will be cherished amongst the most special and holy minutes of his
(1) Source for
text: Hitit Color, "Virgin Mary",
Istanbul 2000 - ISBN 975-7487-473. The image in the title is from other
(2) Details nonessential
to the Catholic Faith or the central theme of the
story related and its intent were not checked through independent
means. Should a discrepancy or error be noted by one
of our readers, please submit the
information fully supported and we
will gladly add it to this writing.
title of "Mother of God" applied to
(4) Fr. Eugene Poulin
writes in his journal "The Holy
Virgin’s House: The True Story of Its Discovery" (ISBN#
Lord, who sees and organizes things, had
taken care to put before us a soul in love with beauty and goodness,
who was ready to give herself to everything good. A
great soul, devoted, ardent, pious, and generous; the noble Sister
Marie de Mandat-Grancey. She was, God had chosen her
to be, [as a manifestation of]
the terrestrial Providence, like [it was also Providence who
chose] Panaghia Mother! (*) For twelve
years she has been charged of this valiant religious
enterprise; she has never failed."
"Oh! How happy I am to give her all
the respect she merits! Also, could these writings make known to
posterity, long after us, to whom France, the Catholic church are in
debt for [her care in relation to] Panaghia! The Lord gave me this
opportunity to say loudly what
I had in my heart for a long time, to acquit what I deemed to be a
serious debt. It is done. Praise be to God!"
(*) Panaghia, in Medieval and Modern Greek, is one of the titles of
Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Catholicism and
(5) "Presented Holy Gifts":
apparently, the author means that Pope Paul VI celebrated a Mass.
En Español: La Casa de la Virgen María en Éfeso
Published on September 8th,
2003 in Honor of the Virgin Mary's Birthday Celebration
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