June 10, 2014
Today our ship docked at the port of Kusadasi, Turkey. This port is the gateway to the great ruins at Ephesus. What we did not know until we researched this destination was that Jesus’ mother Mary was said to have lived just outside of Ephesus for a number of years after the crucifixion.
There are several references in the Bible to the Apostle John being given the responsibility of looking after Mary after Jesus died.
Then, there is evidence of John living and preaching in Ephesus…….
And by tradition, as well as through revelation to a German nun…….
it has been commonly accepted that this site was the site of Virgin Mary’s home.The Catholic Church has never pronounced in favor or against the authenticity of the house, but nevertheless maintains a steady flow of pilgrimage since its discovery. The shrine has merited several papal Apostolic Blessings and visits from several popes, the earliest pilgrimage coming from Pope Leo XIII in 1896, and the most recent in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI..
We had a tour scheduled that would take us to Mary’ house, first, then on to the ruins at Ephesus. We arrived at Mary’s house before all the crowds.
The walk up to the house was beautiful…..lined with olive trees and flowers. It really helped put you in a quiet. prayerful mood.
This restored building is said to have been where Mary lived.
The preserved stones and construction date back into the Apostolic Age, as consistent with other preserved buildings from that time.
You walk through the shrine in silence…….without too much of a crowd, we could take our time and pause to just ‘absorb’ the place. There is a real, tangible sense of holiness here……and an air of simplicity and the ordinariness of daily life.
Inside the house is a shrine to the Virgin Mary……no pictures were allowed inside, but this replica shrine was located just outside.
There was also a place to light a candle and offer an intention. I felt strongly that I just wanted to pray for families and relationships….mine, our kids, and families everywhere.
I found the visit to Mary’s house to be very moving….which I had not been expecting.
We were struck by the number of visitors to this shrine (by now, the crowds had picked up). Many Christians, but many Muslims, also.
Mary is a very revered figure to the Muslims, as she is considered to be the mother of a great prophet, and is mentioned a number of times in the Koran.The more that we learn about other religions, the more of a sense of universality I feel.