The House of Mary

By Edymann, Vernon | Contemporary Review, October 1995 | Go to article overview

The House of Mary


Edymann, Vernon, Contemporary Review


Vernon Eydmann

Not a great deal is mentioned of the latter years of Mary, the mother of Jesus. What happened to her and where she spent her final years seems to be passed over and forgotten. How. ever, it is a subject that is well documented and can be investigated further now that Turkey has been opened up to the packaged holiday.

It is strange that the story should end in a Moslem country, but the ruined city of Ephesus is undoubtedly the last resting place of Mary and also of St. John. According to the Gospel of St. John, Jesus pointed at John and said, `Woman, here is your son', and then pointed at Mary and said, `Here is your mother'. This was said shortly before His death and after the crucifixion the pair travelled north, arriving in the flourishing city of Ephesus about five years later. It was on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

Initially they lived in the city whilst John prepared a souse for Mary to live in. This first dwelling is commemorated by the Church of the Virgin Mary which was later built ever de site. The house that John moved her to and where she finished her life was lost It fell into ruins and the location was forgotten and disappeared.

It was many centuries later that interest finally re-emerged. In 1878 Clement Brentano published a book by a German nun, Catherine Emmerich. It was entitled The Life of the Virgin Mary, and gave a description of the house and its location. Despite this new stimulation of interest, it was not until 1891 that Eugene Poulin, a Lazarist priest, decided to check the nun's revelations. He sent a group, under the leadership of a priest named Yung, to search for the building. It was to prove a fruitful quest.

The location of the house was finally discovered on the mountains to the south of Ephesus at a place called Panaya Kapulu. It fitted Emmerich's description exactly despite the fact she had never left her home town. Poulin published a series of articles to draw attention to his discovery and this succeeded in getting religious experts to the site who eventually agreed that it was indeed the house of the Virgin Mary. Permission was granted by Monseigneur Timoni to conduct religious ceremonies there in 1892.

The final seal of approval did not come until 1961 when Pope John XXIII announced that it was a place of pilgrimage. It was subsequently visited by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1979. This showed full acceptance of the site's bona fides.

The site of the house is reached by taking the road from the Magnesia Gate towards Bulbyl Dagi. A small domed church with a cross shaped floor plan now stands there and is known as `The House of the Virgin Mary'.

All that was discovered of the original house were the foundations and a part of the walls. …

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