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House of the Virgin Mary

Sultaniye Mahallesi, 35922 Selçuk, İzmir

RELIGIONS Catholic, Islam


The House of the Virgin Mary is located on Mt. Koressos, which is about 6 kms from the ancient city of Ephesus (Selçuk, İzmir) and it is the one of the major site of the region to visit for both Christians and Muslims. At the center of the site there is a chapel, which is believed where Virgin Mary spent her last years before her assumption. The small chapel dating back to 7th century AD was restored in 1951 but history of the areas goes back to 1st century AD. There is nothing peculiar of this edifice made of stone masonry from the architectural point of view. It has a L shape having an ante-chamber leading to the main chamber in which there is apse with the stature of Mary. The small space right next to the main chamber is supposed to be the place where Mary had slept. There is also a cistern on the way to the chapel. There are steps leading to lower terrace where taps for the spring water are. On the walls, there are screens on which people hang their wishes written on all different types of materials.
Ephesus, being one of The Seven Churches of the Revelation, was an important center during the Apostolic Era and Early Christianity. The tomb of St. John the Evangalist is also in Ephesus on which Justinian I built a grandiose church in early 6th century. According to bible, Jesus bequeathed his mother to St. John the Evangelist while he was on the cross and it is believed that St. John took care of her afterwards (John 19:26-27). It is believed that she spent sometime there before she died. On the other hand there are two traditions on death of Mary: Jerusalem Tradition and Ephesus traditions. Some apocryphal records mention Mary being in Ephesus but this did not become a material belief late 19th century. was the major city of the region in the Roman era and became one of the Seven Churches where first Christian communities were formed. The tomb of St. john is also in Ephesus on which a church was built by Justinian I in the early 6th century. On the base of the visions of a disabled German nun Anna Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), a German poet and an author of the Romantic Era, Clemens Bretano (1778-1842) published a book on life of Mary describing what is now the House of Virgin Mary. Having read the book, the Lazarist living in Smyrna, which was then the biggest port of the Ottoman Empire got interested and were able to find the location in 1891. Although the place has never been officially recognized by the Catholic Church as the home of Mary, a lot of gestures made by the popes. Pope Leo XIII blessed the House of the Virgin Mary. Pope Pius XII gave the House of the Virgin Mary the status of a Holy Place in 1951. This privilege was subsequently confirmed by Pope John XXIII. Pope Paul VI paid a visit in 1967. It was also visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979 andby Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
Virgin Mary is both venerated by the Christians and the Muslims. She is mentioned in the Quran. Popular culture in Turkey believes that this shrine has miracles features based on some accounts that some miraculous healings have occurred.
Being mentioned in Qur’an, Virgin Mary is also respected by the Muslims. Even known by the locals, its discovery is quite late at the end of the 19th century but its popularity raised with the increase of local and international tourism from 1960’s. Its vicinity to one of the major tourist attraction of the region, namely Ephesus, also contributed its popularity. But being away from urban locations of the region, it is not possible to observe direct influence of Islam, the predominant faith of the region.
This site is directly related to the inter-relation of two religions: Islam and Christianity. And it will help to improve mutual intercultural dialogue.

The didactical relevance and the proposed way to use with the students:
- Direct visit
A direct visit, if possible, would be the best way for students to experience the atmosphere of the place.
- Virtual visit (specify how)
A PPT presentation prepared by the tutor enriched with visuals.
- Classroom activity (pre- and post- visit)
Pre-visit activity: Students should be asked to search for life of Mary and where she might have passed away. They should be specially asked to consider why she might have spent her last days here in the vicinity of Ephesus.
They also should be asked to pay special attention to other sites related to Mary (such as Lourdes where she appeared to a local) and their relations with healing and miracle seeking.


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    This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.