19 December 2010

The Virgins

While In Ephesus I also visited the last house of the Virgin Mary. According to tradition, Saint John brought Mary to Turkey after the death of Christ. The home was "discovered" to the Christian world by Saint Anne Catherine Emmerich, a German nun who never traveled from her nunnery due to complications from being a Stigmatic. However, in addition to being a Stigmatic, Saint Anne Catherine was also a visionary and saw the entire life of the Virgin, as recorded in the Life of the Virgin Mary as recounted by Saint Anne Catherine.

Baptismal pool

Path to the house from the pool lined with olive trees.

Sadly no pictures were allowed inside so I was only able to get shots from outside. The inside is even smaller than this looks and was made up of a little entry, a "large" room one assumes was the main living space, and a smaller room off to the right that was probably a bedroom.

The house itself is not original but was rebuilt following the floor plan that could be discerned from the remains of a 1st century foundation. Below the house was a holy water fountain and along the wall into which it was built was a wall of prayers. Visitors write their prayer on anything they can and tie it to the wall.

I was lucky enough to visit Rome in a Jubilee year which was simply amazing and I long to return. I'd never felt such a sense of rightness until I visited there. However that was nothing to what I felt when I visited this place. Kneeling before the alter that now dominates the main room of her home I was so choked with emotion that I could barely remember the prayers I've known my entire life. I just could not believe that I was kneeling where she might have knelt, walking paths she walked, and sharing the view she would have had.

Also in Ephesus stands the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. There are actually two sites right next to each other were the temple stood. The first, made up of some 150-something marble columns, was destroyed by fire. Legend has it that it only happened because Artemis was busy attending the birth of Alexander the Great. When he came to Ephesus years later and found the replacement temple unfinished (lack of funds) and realized the date the first one was destroyed, he pleged his own funds to complete the second temple.

Sadly, all that now remains of the great temple is one lone marble column.

The stones that made up the second, 121 column temple were stolen over time to make roads, forts and churches as Christianity swept the region. The fort and church below were partially made with stones from the temple.

If you're ever in Turkey, Ephesus is definitely worth a visit.

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