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The House of the Virgin Mary (Turkish: Meryemana Evi or Meryem Ana Evi, “Mother Mary’s House”) is a Catholic shrine located on Mt. Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus. The house was discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824), a Roman Catholic nun and visionary, which were published as a book by Clemens Brentano after her death. While the Catholic Church has never pronounced in favour or against the authenticity of the house, the site has nevertheless received a steady flow of pilgrimage since its discovery.
Anne Catherine Emmerich was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 2004. Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there for the remainder of her earthly life.
ANNE CATHERINE EMMERICH
At the beginning of the 19th century, a bedridden Augustinian nun in Germany, reported a series of visions in which she recounted the last days of the life of Jesus, and details of the life of Mary, his mother. Emmerich was ill for a long period of time in the farming community of Dülmen but was known in Germany as a mystic and was visited by a number of notable figures. One of Emmerich’s accounts was a description of the house the Apostle John had built in Ephesus for Mary, the mother of Jesus, where she had lived to the end of her life. Emmerich provided a number of details about the location of the house, and the geography of the surrounding area.
Mary did not live in Ephesus itself, but in the country near it. … Mary’s dwelling was on a hill to the left of the road from Jerusalem, some three and half hours from Ephesus. This hill slopes steeply towards Ephesus; the city, as one approaches it from the south east seems to lie on rising ground…. Narrow paths lead southwards to a hill near the top of which is an uneven plateau, some half hour’s journey. On October 18, 1881, relying on the descriptions in the book by Brentano based on his conversations with Emmerich, a French priest, the Abbé Julien Gouyet discovered a small stone building on a mountain overlooking the Aegean Sea and the ruins of ancient Ephesus in Turkey. He believed it was the house described by Emmerich and where the Virgin Mary had lived the final years of her life.
Abbé Gouyet’s discovery was not taken seriously by most people, but ten years later, urged by Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey, DC, two Lazarist missionaries, Father Poulin and Father Jung, from Smyrna rediscovered the building on July 29, 1891, using the same source for a guide. They learned that the four-walled, roofless ruin had been venerated for a long time by members of the mountain village of Şirince, 17 km distant, who were descended from the early Christians of Ephesus. The house is called Panaya Kapulu (“Doorway to the Virgin”). Every year pilgrims made a pilgrimage to the site on August 15, the date on which most of the Christian world celebrated Mary’s Dormition/Assumption.
Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey was named Foundress of Mary’s House by the Catholic Church and was responsible for acquiring, restoring and preserving Mary’s House and surrounding areas of the mountain from 1891 until her death in 1915. The discovery revived and strengthened a Christian tradition dating from the 12th century, ‘the tradition of Ephesus’, which has competed with the older ‘Jerusalem tradition’ about the place of the Blessed Virgin’s dormition.
POSITION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Roman Catholic Church has never pronounced on the authenticity of the house, for lack of scientifically acceptable evidence. It has, however, from the blessing of the first pilgrimage by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, TAKEN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE SITE.
Pope Pius XII, in 1951, following the definition of the dogma of the Assumption in 1950, elevated the house to the status of a Holy Place, a privilege later made permanent by Pope John XXIII.
The site is visited and venerated by Muslims as well as Christians. Pilgrims drink from a spring under the house which is believed to have healing properties. A liturgical ceremony is held here every year on August 15 to commemorate the Assumption of Mary.
Pope Paul VI visited the shrine in 1967, and Pope John Paul II in 1979. Pope Benedict XVI visited this shrine on November 2006, during his four-day pastoral trip to Turkey.