Best of Ephesus with St. John's Basilica and Lunch
Tour Participation Requirements
Special Medical Restriction
Scattered stones, timeworn walls, and solitary pillars still whisper the grandeur of St. John's Basilica, the greatest church in Ephesus. It was, in fact, one of the largest and most important churches in Christendom, built by the emperor Justinian to commemorate the site where the Apostle John is believed to be buried.
Designed in a Greek cross pattern, Justinian's monumental basilica was large (428 feet by 213 feet), topped with six impressive domes, and adorned with marble decorations commissioned from Constantinople. Perhaps to show his pride in the building, Justinian added his and his wife's monograms to columns in the courtyard. His pride was justified. If the basilica were fully restored, it would be the seventh largest cathedral in the world.
St. John established the first Christian community at Ephesus, preached and wrote his gospel there, and by some accounts lived to be 100 years old. (He left briefly while exiled to Patmos, where it is believed he wrote the book of Revelation.) It's said John liked writing in this quiet spot in Ephesus and wished to be buried there. An inscription on the basilica's altar conveys his thoughts in a quote from Psalms 132: "This is my resting place forever, here will I dwell."
Legend holds that St. John was not dead in his tomb, but merely resting – the dust floating around his altar was said to have been stirred by his breathing. This dust, called manna, was reputed to have wondrous healing powers, and inspired pilgrimages to Ephesus for centuries, the pilgrims purchasing special flasks to hold the miraculous manna and carry it back home. For believers, the dust was manna from Heaven.
When religion is bad for business
When St. Paul arrived in Ephesus in 52 A.D., he preached in the Grand Theater to the pagans who worshipped Artemis and purchased goddess statues. (These graphic statuettes portrayed her draped with eggs or multiple breasts, emphasizing fertility over virginity.) Artisans who made the statues feared the new religion would dampen their sales and brought St. Paul to the theater for judgment. He was found guilty, imprisoned, then expelled from the city.
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