According to the
Gospel of John, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, He presented His
beloved disciple John with the care of His mother, Mary. Four of six years
after the death and resurrection of Jesus,
and Mary are thought to have come to
Ephesus and stayed on the site of
what is not the
Church of the Council of
431. Later, John took Mary to a house he had built on Nightingale
Mountain. This house where Mary is thought to have spent her last days was
forgotten in time and fell to ruin. In the Middle Ages it was often
claimed that the house was found but to no definite result.
1878 German nun Katherina Emmerich talked about the location of the house
in a book by Clementi Brentado and interest was revived. In 1891 the
Lazarist priest Eugene Poulin, who was head of Izmir College, sent a group
under priest Yung to find out if what was being claimed was true. The
explored the mountains south of
Ephesus and came upon the house now know as
the House of Mary.
Emmerich (1771-1824) had never left her hometown in all her life, was in a
trance when making her explanation of ht house's location. After this
discovery, Eugene Poulin printed a number of things to increase interest
in the find. The event was heard around the world. Many religious
investigators shared the same conclusion. Izmir Patriarch Monsignor Timoni
visited the site and gave permission for conducting services on the site
in 1892. Pope John XXIII proclaimed the house a pilgrimage site, quieting
all controversy over the site.
In 1967 Pope
Paul VI came, and Pope John Paul II came in 1979, both adding to the
significance of the site.
There is a small, cross-shaped,
domed church built at the end of the road leading from the cistern. This
is the structure known as
Mary's House. This structure dates from the 6th
or 7th century, and was repaired to its present condition. There is a red
line marking where the ancient wall stops and where the newer wall begins.
Inside the entrance with door-shaped niches at either end, there is a
vaulted platform area. There is a statue of Mary in the apse which has
been there for centuries. There was a fireplace at the front where gray
marble separated it from the rest of the house. During excavations coal
and house utensils were found dating to the 1st century AD. Because Mary
is also honored by Muslims, the ritual Muslim prayer (namaz) can be
performed in the house. The writings on the wall are translations of
Kur'anic verses relating to Mary. There are even Kur'ans in a cabinet for
those who wish to read more about this.
To view the interior
of the house along the lines of the diagram above,
here or the small picture below.