Ephesus Highlights, House of the Virgin Mary and Ephesus Park
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Far away from Turkey, an ailing nun in Germany had her first glimpse of what would become a beloved shrine.
Visions of the House of the Virgin Mary came to Anne Catherine Emmerich in the early 1800s. Not only did her visions recount details about the life of Jesus and his mother, they were remarkably specific about the house where the Apostle John had brought Mary to fulfill a promise he made to Jesus to care for her.
Emmerich described the type of stones used to construct the house, the location of its doors and windows, even the shape of the chimney. Author Clemens Brentano visited Emmerich, transcribed all these details, and published them as a book. Relying on that book, French priest Abbe Julien Gouyet discovered a small stone house near Ephesus in 1881 that fit Emmerich's description. He was sure this was where Mary lived her final years.
For those who share Gouyet's belief, this modest building is a sacred place. Pilgrims who make their way there enter an austere single room containing an altar and statue of the Virgin Mary. This space leads to a smaller room where she is believed to have slept. On a wall outside, pilgrims leave notes expressing their wishes or intentions and drink from the Fountain of Our Lady, which is said to have miraculous healing powers.
Although the Roman Catholic Church hasn't authenticated the house, it has given it status as a "Holy Place," and recognizes Anne Catherine Emmerich as "Blessed." A few of the Church's famous representatives have come to call: Pope Leo XIII visited in 1896, followed by Pope Paul VI (1967), Pope John Paul II (1979) and Pope Benedict XVI (2006). The visions of a bedridden nun inspired the pilgrimages of popes. Could she ever have imagined that?
The other lady of Ephesus
The Virgin Mary's home was a humble stone building. In contrast, Artemis, goddess of fertility, was honored with the magnificent Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Four times larger than the Parthenon, this marble temple housed priceless art and sculpture. The house of Mary still stands, while all that remains of Artemis' great temple is a single column surrounded by scattered rubble.
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