Together with our partner in Turkey, D’Archo Travel, we organized a Biblical Fam Tour for religious leaders and Media last February 2-10, 2015. A main highlight was our visit to the home of Virgin Mary in Ephesus.
Photos and videos are not allowed but we were fortunate to be given a special permit from the Tourism ministry. We put together a simple video of this touching and inspiring visit to Mama Mary’s house. More of this can be viewed in the upcoming shows of ANC’s Executive Class and GMA 7’s I-witness report.
Below is a brief background of this place as lifted from the official brochure of the group.
VIRGIN MARY & HER HOUSE IN EPHESUS THE UNTOLD SUBSTANTIATED AND VERIFIED STORY OF THE VIRGIN MARY’S LAST YEARS
While the Holy Bible makes frequent reference to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, there is no reference to her after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. Fortunately, careful research of other historical writings provide some trace of Mary’s life after her Son’s departure. These findings come from records having factual origins, as well as other items of supporting evidence.
The ancient ruins of the once great city of Ephesus lie on the western coast of Turkey south of the large port city of Izmir. Once a flourishing Aegean sea port, it was also the site of the great temple of the pagan goddess Diana (also known as Artemis). The size and magnificence of the temple caused it to be known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is said that Mark Anthony and Cleopatra were frequent visitors. The city declined due to a gradual silting up of the harbor, earthquakes and eventual marauding raiders.
Most scholars agree that the Virgin Mary lived for a time in Ephesus although some dispute that she died there. The evidence in favor of Mary having spent her last years in Ephesus is both factual and logical. The first factual evidence is the biblical historical documentation of Mary’s relationship to St. John the Apostle. The Beloved John, brother of St. James, was the youngest of the twelve Apostles and, from John’s own modest testimony, “the one He loved the most.” The fact that he was favored is evident from his place next to Jesus at the Last Supper, and his being asked by the other apostles to inquire of Jesus as to which of them would betray Him.
ACTUAL DISCOVERY OF THE HOME
(Anne Catherine Emmerich)
While the Virgin Mary having resided in Ephesus was well known, the remarkable discovery of her home did not take place until 1881 and then again in 1891, through the study of the revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) who was born in Westphalia, Germany. This uneducated peasant girl was privileged to experience visions from the time of her youth. At age 24, she began to physically experience the sufferings of Christ’s persecution. A few years later, she entered a convent. Never in good health, her stigmata were proclaimed to be genuine by an ecclesiastical commission in 1814. In her later years, her visions became increasingly vivid concentrating on the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. From 1818 to her death in 1824, Clemens Brentano, the German poet, record- ed the clear accounts of her visions “for the good of many souls.” These accounts are remarkably consistent with Scripture and history of that time and are frequently referenced by scholars. The revelations are so in depth that they are contained in seven volumes (the English translation is the four volume set titled “The Life of Jesus Christ”) The house of the Virgin was first discovered in 1881 by Abbe’ Gouyet, of Paris, through the diligent use of Anne-Catherine Emmerich’s descriptions. His discovery went unpublished and was generally discounted. Ten years later, in 1891, inspired by the detail of Emmerich’s accounts, a group of explorers under the leadership of the learned Father Jung of the Order of Lazarists, again followed her descriptions to relocate the Virgin Mary’s home. After several days of investigations, talking to local peasants and authorities, and arduously climbing the hills, they found the site and the ruins of the Virgin Mary’s house as described by Emmerich. Catherine Emmerich had revealed that Virgin Mary prepared her meals at a fireplace located in the center of the room and that spring water was present.
Excavations by the explorers revealed the presence of the ashes and the spring water continues to flow to this day. Flowing water on a mountaintop in an otherwise arid countryside is itself a wonder. The explorers were amazed how closely their discoveries conformed with the descriptions of Emmerich. Upon returning to Izmir, they made their report to the Archbishop of Smyrna and in 1896 formal declaration of the discovery was published. Future excavations close to the site further revealed a large baptismal pool and archaeologists have established that foundations of the home date back to the first century
APPARITIONS AND CURES
Miraculous things do happen at Panaya Kapulu, the house of the Holy Virgin. One of the former resident priests, Father Francis Allen of the Montford Fathers, stated: “As far as miracles are concerned, they take place here seemingly quite often.” They happen to persons of all faiths and nationalities. One need only witness the large accumulation of limb braces and crutches, as well as votive offerings left at the site yearly, to accept the fact of these cures. Such cures are divine favors bestowed upon selected individuals in recompense for the faith of those who pray. Many people who visit Mary’s home leave with the instinctive feeling that this indeed is a very holy place and that a sense of Mary’s presence can be felt. Those who have previously visited Lourdes and Fatima, report that the peaceful serenity found at Panaya Kapulu has no comparison.
The Vatican took careful interest in the discovery and verification of the findings and as noted eventually granted permission to celebrate religious ceremonies at the site.
But the most important factor in its gaining importance was certainly Pope Paul VI.’s visit of the house on 26 July 1967, his praying at its apse and his presenting Holy gifts.
Later on, Pope Jean Paul II.’s visit of this holy place of pilgrimage among a big international crowd on 30 November 1979, his joining in the ceremonies conducted there, and Pope Benedict XVI’s visit on 29 November 2006 and his conduction an open-air Mass next to the house, attracted the attention of the world to Ephesus and to the House of the Virgin Mary.
While the staff of Meryem Ana are Catholic priests and nuns, church groups of every denomination are at liberty and do conduct religious ceremonies there.