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  • Writer's pictureM. Virginia Southworth

To Mary's House We Go

My brother-in-law asked me if I would like to go to Mary's House. It is a three and a half -hour journey from Erdek. I did not want to put my host out especially as I noticed that his back is bothering him. But in the back of my mind, I thought, 'If I can get to Ephesus, that sure would be wonderful'. Ahmet said, "If you want to go, we go". I could not believe it! I was ecstatic! Of course this is a dream come true. I did visit there the first time I visited Turkey, but any opportunity to draw closer to Our Blessed Mother is a Godsend.

I went to my little "nest of a room" which has an upper window. I kept it open at night to let the air flow in. I could hear the dogs bark, and other various wildlife sounds, and then wake up to the call for prayer.

I helped Mary prepare breakfast, no corn flakes here! Then we packed our bags as we would return to Istanbul in the night time.

God gave us another beautiful day in which to travel. Ephesus was an Ancient Greek city on the Ionian coast built around 10 B.C. It is located on the Western shores near the Aegean Sea where the present day village of Selcuk lies. Ephesus was ahead of its time in that women had equal rights in the Pre-Socrates era, 500 years B.C.E. Heraclitus was the Greek philosopher who came before Socrates. There are records of women who were artists, sculptors, teachers and painters.

The Amazons found this city which takes its name from "Apasus" , the name of a city in the "Kingdom of Arzawa" which, interestingly enough, means "City of the Mother Goddess".

This area is steeped in history stemming from the Greeks through the Bronze Age to Persian Rule to the Hellenistic Period. Due to the floods and whims of some of the rulers, the city's actual location changed. In any event, it was the wealthiest city for trade on the Mediterranean Sea. The Temple of Artemus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was built. Alexander the Great was born. Later he would liberate Ephesus under Persian Rule entering the Hellenistic Period.

Then, upon Alexander's death, a new General by the name of Lysimachus would renew and develop the city naming is Arsenia after his wife Arsinoe II. The original citizens of Ephesus refused to leave their city. So during a great storm, Lysimachus blocked the sewage system rendering their homes un inhabitable (281 BC).

More than 150 years later, the King of Pegamon, Attalos, bequeathed his kingdom making Ephesus part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Government imposed heavy taxes on its citizens. This led to the rebellion of Mithridates VI (120 - 63 BCE). In 88 BCE, a massacre was carried out that took the lives of every Roman and Italian citizen in the area of Asia Minor claiming 80,000 lives in a single day. This was known as "Asiatic Vespers".

In the 17th CE, Ephesus suffered severe damage in an earthquake. After recovering, it once again became a thriving city of culture and academia with the Celsus Library in place along with the second school of Philosophy on the Aegean.

From the 1st Century CE, Ephesus became an early Christian center. Saint Paul preached here, and he was also heckled in the theatre here. Saint John brought the Mother of Jesus here to spend her last days. His tomb is here, and thanks to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, archaeologists have unearthed the House of Mary. Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians here.

The city is also noted for the "Cave of the Seven Sleepers". Seven Christian saints were walled up, because of their faith, in a cave during pagan times. After 200 years, when Christianity had taken hold, they emerged, proving the faith in their resurrected bodies.

In Mother Mary's House

The Emperor Theodosius, an ardent supporter of Christianity, had all the pagan monuments and temples destroyed including the Temple of Artemus during the mid-4th century. This was also the start of the decline of culture and the arts that had hitherto taken place. Women no longer held their equal place with men in academia. The citizens were focused on Jesus now.

Thus, on this late September day, Ahmet, my sister Mary and Ahmet's sister Asuman along with myself made the journey on Holy Land where the Apostles have trod. This hilltop sanctuary is where Our Blessed Mother spent her last days on earth. There are fruit trees and pine fills the air. There were many caves. The first time I visited, I lit a candle in a cave. This time, Our Lady's House has been fully excavated. It is a stone house with a vaulted ceiling. There is an altar and a hearth along with rooms off to the side. There are windows high up. The Blessed Virgin made 'The Way of The Cross' behind the house up on the hill. It is secluded and peaceful. Today, though tourism has taken hold, one is easily transported while meditating on the life of Our Lady. I filled a bottle with water from the nearby spring. I also took a small bit of earth in my hand on the ground of Our Lady's House - just outside the door. I remember in grade school how Sister Jean Marie showed us how her crucifix opened up. Inside was soil from The Holy Land. This always intrigued me.

Now, we would light candles and offer our petitions. The Muslim people, including my brother-in-law, have a great veneration for the Mother of Jesus - a Mother holding all her children together! We would leave recollected feeling all the closer to the Mother of God. Thank you Dear Lord for making this possible.


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