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A stone house for Mother Mary

This is a unique pilgrimage centre where both Catholics and Muslims go in large number, and Mount Koressos facing the Aegean Sea, is indeed a scenic beauty.

A stone house for Mother Mary

By Joe Palathunkal
Just think of travelling 972 miles in the first century AD, by walk, bullock cart, or on a camel! Today we cannot think of it, but we have no way but to believe it, when we see the faith of thousands of Catholics and Muslims, who visit Meryemana Evi or Mother Mary’s House located on Mount Koressos in Ephesus, 7 km from Selçuk in Turkey.

It is a small stone house which people believe St. John took Mother Mary to live, faithfully, following the last commandment from her son on the Cross, and Mary lived here, the rest of her life. We may be wondering how did Mary and John manage to cover such a long distance. But we are assured from the fact that the most zealoous apostle Paul too travelled to Ephesus several times.

Discovered by the French Catholic priest, Abbe Julien Gouyet on October 18, 1881, this small stone house in the ruins of Ephesus, became an international pilgrim centre mainly because of the visions of a bedridden German Augustinian nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824), and her descriptions contained in a book published in 1852, authored by Clemens Brentano, who used to visit her frequently.

“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 a half hours from Jerusalem.” This is what Brentano has recorded as told to him by Emmerich.

It is a small stone house or a stone room, with an altar having a statue of Mother Mary at the centre, and beside the big room, there is a small one, where people believe Mother Mary slept. Now it is a shrine which in the local Turkish language, is known as 'Panaya Kapulu' (Doorway to Virgin), and on every August 15, thousands of people throng to pray to the one who lived here.

There is a Wish Wall outside the stone house where people keep their written intentions and keep believing firmly, the woman who was instrumental in turning water into wine at Cana, would definitely listen to their hearts’ cries.

This is a unique pilgrimage centre where both Catholics and Muslims go in large number, and Mount Koressos facing the Aegean Sea, is indeed a scenic beauty. Though Catholic Church has not officially approved of its historical authenticity, the mere fact that five Popes visited the stone house, in itself is a veritable approval.

The first Pope to visit was Leo XIII in 1896. Following the proclamation of Assumption as a dogma in 1950, Pope Pius XII visited the small chapel in 1951, and elevated it as a Holy Place. Pope John XXIII gave the elevation a permanent status. Pope Paul VI visited the shrine on 26 July 1967. Pope John Paul II, known for his ardent devotion to Mother Mary, visited Mount Koressos on November 30, 1979, and Pope Benedict XVI on November 29, 2006. Turkey, which is famous for its scenic beauty, will definitely attract thousands of pilgrims to this stone house on the mount.

(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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