“ House of Mary, mother of Jesus in Ephesus, Turkey - A place of pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims. „
The house of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mereyemana.
The house of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) is approximately four and a half miles away from the magnificent Turkish ruined city of Ephesus. It is set in the mountains on top of Mount Koressos (Mount Nightingale) surrounded by trees the house can be found in a peaceful and serene setting.
We drove to the house passing Ephesus on the way gently rising above the deep valley below and wanting to reach here early before the mass tourists arrived from the cruise ships in nearby Kusadasi. We arrived at about 09:30 and the place was practically deserted apart from a few local people who had made the journey to visit the site. The house is viewed as a place of pilgrimage not only by those of the Christians faith but also by the Muslims who hold the Blessed Virgin Mary with high esteem. She is apparently the only Woman named several times in the Koran.
It is said that this is the place where the BVM was brought by St. John to spend her final days and it is said that it was here that she died and was buried and the assumption took place taking her into heaven.
How was the house discovered?
Early in the 1800's a German Nun Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) who had never been outside Germany lay in her bed seriously ill and she is said to have had apparitions of the house and the surrounding area. She described Ephesus and detailed the house as being a three roomed house on top of a mountain. Several other people also had recorded the same kind of apparition. Her apparitions were mentioned in a book published in 1852 and it was also mentioned in several other writings and descriptions of where this place was.
Several expeditions took place to locate the house and although it had been discovered and reported back to the Roman Catholic Bishops little action was taken to put it on the map. Many local people visited the place making the pilgrimage up the mountains to visit it and although it was falling into disrepair they worshipped and prayed here in harmony side by side. It was finally recognised in 1881 by a French priest.
From the car park it is about a ten minute amble along a lovely little pathway walking through a wooded area. It is very clean and well tended. Halfway along the pathway you come to a small open area where in the centre is a baptism pool, although when we visited the pool was dry. There were steps either end of the pool and it looked like people would walk down one end of the pool, be lowered and baptised and walk out from the other end. Further along the pathway you eventually come to the house. There were guide ropes for people to queue to enter the house and there were two armed police guards on duty in front of the house.
The house was supposedly built by St. John for Mary so that she could spend the rest of her days. Near the house was a natural spring which was said to hold magical healing properties. The house is a simple three roomed house and is built out of stone. People were rushing to get inside the house but we stayed back and let them enter by doing so we were able to take uninterrupted photos of the outside
You enter the house from the front and exit from the third room at the right hand side of the house.
Inside the house it is quite a simple structure the first room is approximately 18 foot by 12 and on the right hand side there is a large angled brick shelve that leads up to a window. Here on several brick ledges were where you could light a candle and say a prayer. Around the walls of the house were small niches where you could store oil lamps and other household items.
Walking through a stone archway brings you into a chapel with a small altar and pictures of the BVM. To the left is a small room which was supposedly the kitchen and to the right is a room which was supposedly the bedroom which leads you out of the house.
Prayers are said here daily and two nuns live in the grounds and tend the house.
The house is very simple and seems serene and peaceful despite the many people who visit it. Coming out from the right hand side there is a small square area. Trees surround the building. Following the pathway which leads down to a small terrace there are three taps that discharge water from the spring that runs underneath the house. It is said that this spring has healing properties in the water. Pilgrims take a small amount of water from each of the taps and rinse themselves in it moving from one to the other.
Further along the terrace on the walls are boards about three feet by two feet where people are able to leave small pieces of cloth with prayers on them. It looks quite awful as it looks like discarded handkerchiefs and I found that quite distasteful.
Pope John Paul II visited the shrine on two occasions and Pope Benedict XVI visited the shrine in 2006.
I was unaware of the house of the BVM until we visited Turkey and I found the visit quite humbling. It certainly is sited in a peaceful and beautiful setting and I would recommend a visit to the house. I would reiterate though that it is a place of worship and should be treated with respect.
There are good clean toilet facilities at the site and it is suitable for people with disabilities as the pathway leading to it is even and flat with just a small incline to negotiate. There is a small cafeteria here and of course a small shop selling souvenirs and religious memorabilia.
On the 15th of August every year it gets very busy here as it is the celebration of the Annunciation when the BVM was taken into heaven and it is visited by many Christians and Muslims on pilgrimages.
Cost of Admission is 12.5 Lira
Opening hours 09:00- 19:00