House of Virgin Mary and the Cotton Castle at Pamukkale
Our next stop after the Artemis Temple was Meryama or the House of Virgin Mary,8 kms.from Ephesus.A crucified Jesus had asked St John the Evangelist to look after his mother Mary and it was John who brought Mary to Ephesus around 37 AD where she spent the last few years of her life.The shrine is located at Mount Pion or Bulbul Mountain where it is believed that Mary lived until the age of 64 and died around 46 AD.This place was declared a place of pilgrimage around 1892 by the Archbishop of Izmir after the house was discovered in 1812 by a German nun – Sister Emmerich, who had never moved from her home as she was an invalid. However, one day she woke up in a trance and described Mary’s house in detail which was recorded by a writer named Brentano, who was at her bedside. The German nun went on to say that the Virgin Mary died at the age of 64 and was buried in a cave near her house. When her coffin was opened soon after, the coffin and burial shroud were empty. The house was then turned into a chapel.
Later in 1891, two Lazarist priests and two Catholic officials set out to Ephesus to see the house. They found a small chapel in ruins with a damaged statue of the Virgin. They returned to Izmir with their report, and more priests and specialists were sent out to the site. Since 1892 the House of the Virgin has been an official Catholic pilgrimage site. It was restored by 1897 and a shelter for visitors was set up. The Meryama was later visited by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, who verified its authenticity.
On August 15 (the Feast of the Assumption of Mary) each year, Orthodox and Muslim clergy conduct a service together at the shrine which is indeed rare in any part of the world. The House of the Virgin is a sacred site for both Christians and Muslims (Muslims also believe in the virgin birth and honour Mary as the mother of the Prophet Jesus). The spring that runs under the Virgin’s House is believed to have healing properties, and many miracles have been reported. Inside the house are crutches and canes said to be left behind by those who were healed by the sacred spring.
The journey continues to explore the ancient city and the UNESCO World Heritage Site the following day.