The declaration of the Third Council gathered in Constantinople reads as follows:
“Cum in Ephesiorum civitatem pervenisest, in qua Yoanses Theologus et daipera Vergo Sancta Maria” – “Details of the life and death of the holy Virgin Mary are uncertain despite her two friends St. Luke and St. John, because the two men related different stories about her life.” In the Holy Bible, St. Luke describes the Virgin Mary as a figure facing the future with great hope. All the apostles, especially St. Paul, had a strong belief in Jesus and contributed to the spread of the new religion. St. John, on the other hand, had a different view of the matter. He thought that the beginning of a new age and the growth of the new religion would be painful. And yet the new faith managed to reach many people within a short period of time, despite numerous threats of pain, violence and death for the believers. In the midst of this turmoil it was Mary who witnessed the blood seeping from the wounds of the crucified Jesus. This was the holy birthday of a new community. The Virgin Mary and Jesus were both appreciated by the church, but still she suffered from great pain. She went away to a lonely place. There, God created a shelter for her. St. John, who knew the Virgin Mary, never left her alone and always stood with here. There was no point in her remaining in Jerusalem after her son was crucified. In leaving the town, she made a decision that shook all Christians to the core. However, she did manage to find peace in the place she settled in Panayu-Kapulu, an area near Ephesus. Her house was situated in a valley surrounded by forests. At that time people would gather together once a year to climb Mr. Salmisos and perform ceremonies to honour the Greek goddess Artemis, but they failed to realize that it was Mary they should have visited. One commonly accepted tradition relates that St. John knew about Mary’s exile. In an article in the German church journal Schweizerissche Kirchenzeitung, Mr. F. Stricher says, “Pay your respects to the Holy Mary in Ephesus, not Rome.”
THE CHURCH OF VIRGIN MARY IN EPHESUS
For the first 300 years, Mary’s misfortune and death remained a secret. Perhaps this was the will of God. The ancient world never recognized who she was. On the other hand, the city of Ephesus respected her fully. The first Christian church with a huge courtyard and classical columns was built in a beautiful, astonishing style. No visitor to Ephesus can leave without seeing the ruins of this church, which has both a divine and architectural significance. Some older guides mention two churches on the site, but this is not certain. As the destiny of the city turned, the church changed with it, three times. The classic rectangular church was a basilica surrounded by rows of columns, fully 260 metres long with a baptismal room inside. A Christian council which convened in 449 declared this place to be the centre of Christianity. The western part of the church was restored as a basilica with a dome. Its baptismal room is the best preserved specimen in all Anatolia. This place has importance for history, archaeology and religion and it is visited by many people.
“This place reminds us of the Christian leaders like St. John, St. Timothy and especially the Virgin Mary, who lived her life in meditation and even more, it instills Christian doctrine into the minds of today’s people of faith.” This small, modest monastery of Mary on Mountain Panaya-Kapulu is the best natural site one could ever imagine.
Or the House of Mary in Ephesus
For many years, there have been two differing accounts of Mary’s death and final resting place within the Christian community:
Some historians say “Dormito Hietosoymitana” meaning, “She died in Jerusalem where Jesus was born and died.”
Still other sources say “Dormito Ephesian” meaning “She passed away in Ephesus.” She died right in front of St. John’s eyes. (Gospel of John 19:26-27 ) As for the Romans, John mentioned that he stayed with his congregation in the same house. So, apparently he lived, became a bishop and died there.
St. John’s tomb was placed on a huge basilica under orders of the Roman Emperor Justinian and stands there still. In this period until the seventh century, important writers such as Cornelius, Lapide, Serri, Tillemont, Baillet and Benoit lived in Ephesus. Pope [Benedict XIV] (1740-58 ) issued a statement saying, “St. John fulfilled his duty in the best possible way.” Many theologians agreed that Mary had lived out her last days in Ephesus.
Lipsius says that he has no doubt Mary came to Ephesus after John. The theologian Ernst Gurius goes further and writes, “St. Mary was buried in Ephesus in the first century A.D.” He reads out this report in front of a group of gentlemen who gathered in Berlin to attend a session on Ephesus on March 7, 1874. Many things can be said about her death and final resting place. The first official Christian worship services took place here and the first church and basilica were built in Ephesus. The Spiritual Council first gathered on the magnificent ruins. For many years, there has been an annual celebration on August 15, and the Panaya-Kapulu Easter is celebrated near the Holy Fountain. Catherine Emmerich of Barvaria claimed one Easter that Mary had died in Ephesus, not in Jerusalem, and that the ruins of her grave might be seen 500 metres beneath the ground. This divinely inspired message caused many discussions. In 1982 researchers Poulain and Young came to the area to investigate the woman’s vision. They started from Mountain Nightingale and searched everywhere they could think of. But this woman had neither received any education nor traveled abroad in her life time. The researchers did not know which direction they should follow. There wasn’t even a path leading to the mountain. They even looked into the bushes thoroughly. Finally, on the third day of their search, they discovered the place Emmerich had meant. In the chimney of the house of Mary at Panaya-Kapulu, they found divine ash, which had been mentioned. Both the house and the ruins were then recognized by the Christian world. Unfortunately, they were unable to locate the gravesite which Emmerich had spoken of. Further research concerning this grave should be conducted by theologians and archaeologists in an informed, scientific manner. Such an undertaking would be a tall order. But identification and exploration of the gravesite is a project in the interests of Christians and Muslims alike, both of whom have a deep respect for St. Mary. Many suras (chapters) in the Holy Koran speak of the Virgin Mary, and of the miraculo.
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