Near the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey, is this small, unassuming building. It is known as the House of the Virgin Mary and is an important pilgrimage destination. But what connects the Virgin with this remote corner of Turkey?
     Legends regarding important Christian saints swirl around Ephesus. It is said, with good authority, that St Paul spent time there. It is also said to be where St John spent his final years. But which St John? There is much debate among theologians about whether St John the Evangelist, one of the 12 apostles, is the same John that wrote the Book of Revelation. Let’s steer clear of that debate here! A very sacred shrine in Ephesus is the ruin that was once the burial place of St John, and it is usually said to be that of the Evangelist.
  Now we need to consider the basis for the legend of Mary. Here’s a familiar quote from John’s Gospel:
  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Ch19 26-27)

So the legend tells us that Mary went there with John, and needed a home. The first reference to Mary being in Turkey is by St Epiphanius, a 4th century bishop of Salamis, though even he has reservations, telling us that Mary was buried in Jerusalem.
  What brought the legend to life was a vision. A German Augustinian sister, the Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) dreamt of the location of the house of Mary ‘High on a rocky hill near Ephesus’. After much hopeful searching the location was found in 1891.  Although the present building dates only from the 7th century, it is built on much earlier foundations.

  Next to the house is the ‘wishing wall’ where pilgrims place requests for blessings and help. In front is an area said to be a baptismal pool, though its origins are obscure.

The Wishing Wall

Said to be a baptismal pool

Site of the tomb of St John
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