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Believers from all around the world visit the House of Virgin Mary nearby Ephesus to pray and have spiritual moments. Jesus Christ was crucified when he was 33 years old in Jerusalem. As we know Jesus wanted Saint John the Evangelist to take care of the Virgin Mary after he leaves our world. We believe Saint John left Jerusalem and came to Ephesus after the departure of Jesus Christ. We believe that St. John took the Virgin Mary to Ephesus for several reasons.
- Ephesus back then was the capital of Asia Minor state and the second biggest city of the Roman Empire.
- Ephesus had a multicultural and multi-religious society. Nobody would target them because of their differences because many citizens of Ephesus already belonged to different factions.
- There was a big Jewish community in Ephesus that could host them for some time.
- Ease of access to Ephesus city.
Anne Catherine Emmerich and her visions
House of Virgin Mary was found thanks to the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824). Ms. Emmerick was bounded to her bed for twelve years because of her sickness. She was seeing visions about Mary and Jesus continuously. She explained her visions and people took her seriously when they realized how realistically detailed visions were.
Clemens Brentano, a German author, heard about Anne Catherine Emmerich and decided to listen to her. Later Mr. Brentano decided to write down all her visions and turned them into a book called ‘’The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ’’. Later another book called ‘’The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary’’ by Anna Katharina Emmerick was published.
How was the house found?
On the 27th of July two priests living in Izmir decided to look for the House of Virgin Mary after reading the mentioned books. They looked around Ephesus ancient city for two days and just before they decided to give up they came across a spring which looked like the one described by Anne Catherine Emmerich. Later they discovered a house in ruins next to the spring. Comparing the words of Emmerich in the books and the surrounding area, they decided this is the right spot.
When did the House of Virgin Mary become a pilgrimage center?
We have the records of the first Christians organizing pilgrimage walks to the house from 1897. These people were the local Greek Orthodox Christians from the nearby Sirince village. The original house which was discovered recently was in ruins and it was reconstructed between 1898 and 1902 as a chapel by the same people. Today The American Society of Ephesus supports the House and nuns living next to it.
Popes and the House of Virgin Mary
- Pope Leo XIII visited Virgin Mary during his pilgrimage in 1896. He blessed the house which gives a certain credibility to the House of Virgin Mary
- In 1912, Pius X mentioned Virgin Mary’s temporary housing nearby Ephesus.
- Pope Pius XII officially declared the House of Virgin Mary as a holy site and place of pilgrimage.
- Pope John XXIII sent a special candle to the House of St. Mary for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. These type of candles are donated only to important Marian shrines.
- Pope Paul VI visited the house in July 1967.
- Pope John Paul II visited the house in 1979
- The last Pope to visit the house of Virgin Mary was Pope Benedict XVI, when he had a four-day visit to Turkey in 2006.
Things to do at the House of Virgin Mary today
There are olive trees planted on both sides of the path leading to the house. These trees were planted in the last years of the 1800s by the Lazarites priests. An amazing statue of the Virgin Mary was presented by Christians of Izmir (Smyrna) and this statue is placed on this path too.
Today a restored house stands on the same spot. House of Virgin is single-roomed, a classic house style of its period. Foundations and the support walls of the house are originals. Parts of the walls and the roof was built during the restoration.
There are several relics in the house that were brought by popes. There is a lantern next to the altar which was presented by Pope Paul the fourth. House of Mary in Ephesus hosts a fresco of Mother Mary made by the Russian – French artist Ratislas Loukine in1978. There are candles provided in the house. You light them on special platforms when you exit the house. Taking photos, speaking and candle lighting are forbidden in the house.
You will see a stairway on your left after you leave the House of the Virgin Mary. There is only one way possible to follow. Go downstairs and you will be welcomed by three drinking fountains built on a spring. This water is believed to be blessed by the Virgin Mary. I strongly recommend you to take an empty bottle with you before you visit this sight. You can fill bottles with this holly water and bring it back to your county. It can be a great gift for your friends. Some even claim that the first fountain is for luck, the second fountain is for health and the third fountain is for money. I advise mixing them :D.
There is a big wall covered with thousands of white paper pieces after three fountains. This is a middle eastern tradition which is followed in Turkey too. We believe you can communicate with Mother Mary by writing your wish on a piece of paper and putting them on this wall. It is similar to the tradition of Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.
You will be on your way back after making your wishes at the wishing wall and you will come across a keyhole-shaped cistern. This cistern is rumored to be a baptizing pool but there is no physical or archeological evidence confirming it so far.
Please don’t forget to stop at the church gift store on the way back. You can get blessed water from the springs, rosaries and many more souvenirs about the House of the Virgin Mary. A priest who serves in the House of Mary Church blesses all the rosaries in this store. Anything from here can be a great gift for friends and family back at home.
I love to stop at the House of Virgin Mary when I have tours in the Ephesus area. It is not just a regular attraction in Ephesus. House is a spiritual and emotional center in the Ephesus area. I saw people from all religions and ethnicities having peaceful time here.
Hire a Tour Guide to See the House of Virgin Mary in Ephesus
House is open seven days a week and all year round. The entrance fee is 45 Turkish Lira. There is free ticket for children below 6. Contact your tour guide to learn more about the House of Virgin Mary at Ephesus. You can always write to me for hiring a professional licensed Turkish tour guide to visit House of Virgin Mary.
Top things you should know about the House of Virgin Mary in Ephesus
How long did Mother Mary live after Jesus?
Virgin Mary lived 11 years after Jesus was gone.
Where did the Virgin Mary live in Turkey?
Virgin Mary lived in Ephesus, Turkey. Today Ephesus is in Selcuk district of Izmir City in Turkey.
Who took the Virgin Mary to Ephesus?
It was Saint John the Evangelist who took Virgin Mary to Ephesus.
Did Virgin Mary really live in Ephesus?
When Jesus saw his mother while he was on the cross, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” Saint John the Evangelist took Virgin Mary into his home.” According to a tradition recorded by Irenaeus and Eusebius of Caesarea, John later came to Ephesus where he worked. It is assumed that he brought Virgin Mary with him as his adopted mother. This fact shows that Mary also lived in Ephesus with John.
How long did blessed mother stay in Ephesus?
She lived in Ephesus for three years and headed back to Jerusalem.
Where is Mother Mary now?
Her burial is at the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary in Kidron Valley nearby Mount of Olives.