In the past, I have written on the Council of Ephesus as well as the Marian Dogma that was declared at that council, namely, Mary as the Theotokos (God-Bearer). Focusing on this theme, for the first “Mondays with Mary” of 2018, I want to briefly tell you about Mary’s House in Ephesus.
Although some claim that she never left Jerusalem or what we know as the Holy Land region, there are others who believed she lived in Ephesus at some point. She traveled there with St. John the Apostle when he went to preach the Gospel message, as did all the Apostles to different regions of the world at that time. Remember, Jesus gave Mary to St. John on the Cross as his own Mother. It was now his duty to care for her as a son would care for his mother. This also proves that Jesus did not have any other brothers and sisters, because if did, they would have cared for Mary, and not the Apostle John.
For many years, what is believed to be the House of Mary in Ephesus was not known, that’s until when the 19th century German nun, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, had visions of Mary living in the area around Ephesus. Following the descriptions from the apparitions in the book, The Life of Mary, a French priest, Julien Gouyet, in 1881, traveled to the area to locate the alleged home. Although he found ruins, he was told by his superiors back in France not tell anyone of his findings. However, the land was purchased by the French and preserved.
In 1891, ten years after the initial expedition, some French priests traveled to the area, with the Emmerich’s book in-hand to seek out the ruins of the house of Mary. With the blessing of the Bishop of Smyrna, the expedition continued and they located what was believed to the house of the Virgin Mary while she lived in Ephesus. Although the home is claimed to be in Ephesus, it’s actually on the Hill of Nightingales known as Koressos, near Ephesus.
The house is built in the Roman architecture style, composed of mainly stones. When it was discovered initially it was essentially ruins, but over the years, it has been rebuilt. The original two-stored house consisted of an anteroom, bedroom, prayer room, and a room with a fireplace. Today, only part of the structure is open to visitors. It also looks more like a church than a house. As you exit the church area, a place can be found called – “Water of Mary.” The salt water that comes from this spot is known to have powers of healing, and be drunk by all. In 1902, it was claimed that an apparition by Mary had occurred. Since that day, healings have happened on the site.
During the first year of the reign of Pope St. John Paul II, after visiting the site himself, the Polish Pope encouraged the Christian faithful to visit the shrine. Before John Paul II, many other Popes recognized and promoted the house of Mary, but many people outside of Rome had any idea it even existed.
Pope Leo XIII, after blessing and visiting the shrine in 1896 on pilgrimage, became a devout defender of the house of Mary.
In 1914, Pope St. Pius X granted permission for a plenary indulgence to visit the shrine.
In 1951, after the dogmatic declaration of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven Body and Soul, Blessed Pope Pius XII authenticated the previous plenary indulgence by Pope St. Pius X and declared the house of Mary in Ephesus a Holy Place.
In 1962, Pope St. John XXIII endorsed the same indulgence and that the house was a Holy Place.
In 1967, Blessed Pope Paul VI would visit the house of Mary in Ephesus. Since his visit and the visit of Pope St. John Paul II, the number of visitors to the shrine have increased. It has become a place of pilgrimage and devotion for many faithful Christians. Many people have also read the account for themselves by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich and have visited the site.
On November 29 2006, Pope Benedict XVI visited the shrine. Just over a year ago, on November 28, 2016, Pope Francis visited the house of Mary in Ephesus, just as his predecessors had done before him.
Ephesus.us. “EPHESUS.” House of Virgin Mary, http://www.ephesus.us/ephesus/houseofvirginmary.htm.
“House of Virgin Mary in Ephesus.” Ephesus Travel Guide, http://www.ephesustravelguide.com/house-of-virgin-mary.html.
“Library : Pope Encourages Pilgrimages To Mary’s House in Turkey.” Library : Pope Encourages Pilgrimages To Mary’s House in Turkey | Catholic Culture, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3473.
275th “Mondays with Mary”