Skip to comments.Mary's House — Walking in the Footsteps of St. John
Posted on 10/01/2002 5:46:11 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The early morning sun beat down on me as I prayed at St. John the Evangelists tomb located on a hill in the ruins of the Basilica devoted to him outside the city of Ephesus, Turkey.
The Flight To Ephesus
John wrote his Gospel and his letters in Ephesus and he often walked through the ancient city and up the mountain to Mary's House where she lived for the last nine years of her life and where, at the end of her earthly existence, she was assumed into heaven.
I walked in the footsteps of St. John down from his Basilica and west to the City of Ephesus. I stopped there for a visit at the ruins of St. Marys Basilica. This was the first church in the world that was dedicated to Mary. The Council of Ephesus was held there in 431. It proclaimed the first Marian dogma that Mary is the Mother of God.
After a refreshing drink of water, I continued through the magnificent ruins of Ephesus and up Nightingale Mountain from which I could see the powder blue sky, the cobalt blue Aegean Sea and the Island of Samos glistening like a diamond in the sea.
As I climbed the road up the mountain, I passed a huge statue of Mary that overlooked the valley below. It seemed like an invitation to keep climbing to her House.
Three and a half hours after I left St. Johns Basilica, I reached a plateau hidden in the back of the mountaintop. As the sweat poured off my face I stood before Marys House nestled in the mountainside. The House is made of stone and its been there for almost 2000 years. This House was the fountain of grace from which sprang the dogma of Mary Mother of God and the great basilicas of Ephesus dedicated to Mary and to St. John.
In the year 42 AD a persecution against the new Christians broke out in Jerusalem under King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great who slaughtered the innocent babies of Bethlehem. St. Peter was imprisoned and St. James the Great was beheaded. He was St. Johns brother. Jesus entrusted St. John to His Mother at the foot of the Cross. (See Jn 19:27).
From that day, St. John had taken Mary into his home and his heart. After the persecution broke out they fled Jerusalem and he brought her to safety far away from the reach of King Herod. John and Mary sailed on a coastal schooner from Jerusalem up the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts to the city of Ephesus. There were no cabins on these schooners. They were merchant ships and any passengers had to sleep and eat on deck with the rough sailors.
When John and Mary docked at the harbor at Ephesus they looked up the magnificent marble - paved and colonnaded Harbor Road that led to the southern end of the city and the great amphitheater built into the hillside with a seating capacity for 25,000 spectators. Ephesus was the rich center of the Roman Empire in the East with a population of a quarter million. Mary temporarily lived in the city while John built her a little stone house on nearby Nightingale Mountain. A tiny Christian community lived there in peace and Mary soon joined them. Later Ephesus became the center of Christianity in the East.
Mary lived in her House tended by a maidservant. She ate vegetables grown on the plateau and drank water from a spring that is still there. Up the mountainside behind her House Mary built the first Stations of the Cross with the same distances between them as she had measured out the original ones in Jerusalem. Here she prayed and fasted for our salvation. Here she died around 48 AD at the approximate age of 63. Here she was buried and from here her body and soul were assumed into heaven.
I walked up behind her House and prayed on the path of Marys Stations and at the likely place of her burial and Assumption. I reflected on the history of her House that lay here in ruins for almost 1900 years little known by the world except for local venerators.
Visions of Mary
In the early 1820s, Sister Catherine Emmerich saw a vision of Marys House. She was a German mystic nun who was bed-ridden with the stigmata. She never left Germany. She described her vision in detail to her secretary. He wrote it in a book that was read by a priest in Turkey. The priest was curious to see whether he could confirm Sister Catherines description from the evidence on the ground. So he went up the mountain with another priest in the summer of 1891. They followed Sister Catherines description of the mountain and its views and came upon the ruins of Mary s House.
To their wondrous surprise, the location of the house exactly matched Sister Catherines description. Later it was discovered that the foundations of the House dated to the first century. The original soot-blackened hearthstones were discovered beneath the existing floor at the exact place where Sister Catherine said that a fireplace was located. The House was restored and soon a trickle of pilgrims began to go there.
The original House was shaped like a T. The upper left top was a cloakroom that was not restored. The upper right top was Marys bedroom. The front measures 20 wide by 50 deep and the attached bedroom measures 12x12.
Archbishop Timoni of Ismir convened a commission to investigate the discovery in the late nineteenth century. He composed a lengthy document that was signed by every member of the commission. It listed in detail the priests findings and showed how they conformed exactly to the descriptions of Sister Catherine. The document concluded, The ruins are truly the remains of the House inhabited by the Virgin Mary.
In 1981 Pope John Paul II formally re-opened the cause for the canonization of Sister Catherine. Today pilgrims of all faiths come to Marys House, especially Moslems. They have a great devotion to Mary who is mentioned several times in the Koran. Chapter 3 verse 40 says, "Mary, God gives the good tidings of a word from him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, high honored shall she be in this world and the next, near stationed to God."
Pope Pius XII said, The holy House should be a Marian center which is unique throughout the world, a place where Christians and Moslems of all rites and denominations and of all nationalities can meet each other to venerate the Mother of Jesus, and make true the prophecy, All Generations will call me blessed. (LOsservatore Romano, April 24, 1954).
Mrs. Elizabeth Fraser of Vermont made a pilgrimage to Marys House in 1959. She was temporarily living in Greece across the Aegean Sea from Turkey. During Mass in Marys House she prayed for her sister and her sisters disabled child and for all those who suffer. As she did so, Mary spoke to her in locution.
Mary said, We love them, dear. Why, the reward for suffering is so great that even if you were told you wouldnt know. Your minds arent meant to know. . . .This life is no more than a short wave of the hand . . .with no more than a veil between. Mrs. Fraser could hardly wait to go to her sister and tell her this wonderful news. She thought that shed be happy to know how truly blessed are children who are handicapped. But she was distracted by brilliant light shining in from the left of the altar.
She looked at the light and mentally answered as if in reply to a wish of Our Lady, All right, Mary! How do you look in your little House? Then Our Lady appeared to her from the other side of the altar and Mrs. Fraser began a prayerful conversation with her.
Marys hair was black instead of light. Because of this Mrs. Fraser said, Of course you look like this; you were Jewish. Then she looked at her eyes. Because of having heard that Marys smile was the most beautiful thing about her appearance, she continued saying, Theyre wrong. Its your cheek that is most beautiful! Then she looked at her mouth. Her lips were parted as if she were about to speak. No, she said, its your mouth that is most beautiful. Mary then smiled broadly. Oh yes, she said, They are right! Its your smile that is most beautiful. Mary looked to the altar and Mrs. Fraser said to her, Oh, you are so pleased that we came to visit and that Mass is being said in your little House.
Marys hair was loose around her forehead. She wore a sheer veil, pale in color, which seemed to be folded back on her head and to fall longer than her shoulders. Mrs. Fraser remembered so well thinking of those beautiful amber eyes, so very round and full that all creation could be seen in them. She simply couldnt take her eyes from Marys face and so she was unable to describe anything else that Mary wore.
While Mrs. Fraser admired Marys beauty, Mary continued speaking to her in locution. Dont worry so, dear. You arent meant to understand. We know! And we know that you dont know, that is why God is so merciful. Everything is as it should be according to Gods plan. We are with them.
Marys consoling message to Mrs. Fraser reminds us of her message to Blessed Juan Diego, Listen and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little son, do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother?
After Mass, Mrs. Fraser walked up to the altar. She was ready to remark how pretty it was with the sun shining in from the left and she looked up to see the window through which she thought the sun had shone. But there was no window. It was a solid wall!
Mary looked like Our Lady of Guadalupe who imprinted her image on Blessed Juan Diegos cloak. She didnt imprint her image on Mrs. Frasers clothing but on her mind and memory. Mrs. Fraser described the image in great detail and an image was painted of her vision according to her description.
As I entered Marys House to pray, I saw this image displayed in the entranceway. Mary looks like a happy Jewish mother. This Image has been accepted for veneration in the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Soon a place of veneration will be established there and a mosaic of the Image will be displayed for our veneration.
Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II both made pilgrimages to Marys House. You can walk in their footsteps! Over one million visitors come each year. You can be one of them.
Please join us on a pilgrimage to Marys House. Mrs. Fraser who saw Mary in her House said, It will always be my wish that everyone might have the opportunity to visit Marys House at Ephesus. One cannot help but feel at home there with the gracious welcome which Im certain Mary extends to everyone who comes to her House.
This is best summed up by a poem written by a relative of Mrs. Fraser:
by M. Laura Leddy
Little House of Our Lady
Restored and standing anew
From centuries devastation
On a mountainside she knew.
She came to you for haven
From a land beset with strife
Far from the stress and tumult
That threatened her holy life.
You sheltered her in her sorrows
Quietly soothing her fears
Filling the lonely hours
Throughout her declining years.
Warmth from your hearthstone fire
Its light on the walls aglow
Brought to her peace and comfort
That only she could know.
Little House she still remembers
Your gracious and loving care
And comes on light rays from heaven
To the dim lit chapel there.
Eyes have beheld her beauty
Minds have been freed from all fear.
Hearts rejoice in the message
Of Our Lady standing near.
Our Lady of Ephesus.
For information on a pilgrimage to Marys House, images of Our Lady of Ephesus and a video Call toll-free 1-888-834-6261 or Write to him at 144 Sheldon Road, St. Albans, Vermont 05478
Another intriguing "House of Mary" is the one that was transported from the Holy Lands to Yugoslavia and then to Italy. It is in Loreto. That house is where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary.
Mary's house in Ephesus
Holy House of Loreto
It is God who calls; human beings answer. The vocation of John and his brother James is stated very simply in the Gospels, along with that of Peter and his brother Andrew: Jesus called them; they followed. The absoluteness of their response is indicated by the account. James and John were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him (Matthew 4:21b-22).
For the three former fishermenPeter, James and Johnthat faith was to be rewarded by a special friendship with Jesus. They alone were privileged to be present at the Transfiguration, the raising of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemane. But Johns friendship was even more special. Tradition assigns to him the Fourth Gospel, although most modern Scripture scholars think it unlikely that the apostle and the evangelist are the same person.
Johns own Gospel refers to him as the disciple whom Jesus loved (see John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2), the one who reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper, and the one to whom he gave the exquisite honor, as he stood beneath the cross, of caring for his mother. Woman, behold your son....Behold, your mother (John 19:26b, 27b).
Because of the depth of his Gospel, John is usually thought of as the eagle of theology, soaring in high regions that other writers did not enter. But the ever-frank Gospels reveal some very human traits. Jesus gave James and John the nickname, sons of thunder. While it is difficult to know exactly what this meant, a clue is given in two incidents.
In the first, as Matthew tells it, their mother asked that they might sit in the places of honor in Jesus kingdomone on his right hand, one on his left. When Jesus asked them if they could drink the cup he would drink and be baptized with his baptism of pain, they blithely answered, We can! Jesus said that they would indeed share his cup, but that sitting at his right hand was not his to give. It was for those to whom it had been reserved by the Father. The other apostles were indignant at the mistaken ambition of the brothers, and Jesus took the occasion to teach them the true nature of authority: ...[W]hoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:27-28).
On another occasion the sons of thunder asked Jesus if they should not call down fire from heaven upon the inhospitable Samaritans, who would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. But Jesus turned and rebuked them (see Luke 9:51-55).
On the first Easter, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we dont know where they put him (John 20:2). John recalls, perhaps with a smile, that he and Peter ran side by side, but then the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first (John 20:4b). He did not enter, but waited for Peter and let him go in first. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed (John 20:8).
John was with Peter when the first great miracle after the Resurrection took placethe cure of the man crippled from birthwhich led to their spending the night in jail together. The mysterious experience of the Resurrection is perhaps best contained in the words of Acts: Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they [the questioners] were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus (Acts 4:13).
The evangelist wrote the great Gospel, the letters and the Book of Revelation. His Gospel is a very personal account. He sees the glorious and divine Jesus already in the incidents of his mortal life. At the Last Supper, Johns Jesus speaks as if he were already in heaven. It is the Gospel of Jesus glory.
It is a long way from being eager to sit on a throne of power or to call down fire from heaven to becoming the man who could write: The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:16).
A persistent story has it that John's "parishioners" grew tired of his one sermon, which relentlessly emphasized: "Love one another." Whether the story is true or not, it has basis in John's writing. He wrote what may be called a summary of the Bible: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him" (1 John 4:16).
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