Q: What is the latest news on Mary's house in Ephesus?

A:EPHESUS, Turkey, NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org)

Benedict XVI celebrated Mass, which was attended by part of the small Turkish Catholic community, at the house where, according to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary once lived.  From the first centuries, numerous Christian authors from the East and West mentioned John's and the Blessed Virgin's stay in this city, in which were located the headquarters of the first of the seven Churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation.  But, how was it determined that this was the house of Jesus' Mother?  The finding took place at the end of the nineteenth century.

On July 29, 1891, two Vincentian priests, French Fathers Henry Jung and Eugène Poulin, gave in to the insistent requests of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey, superior of the Daughters of Charity who worked in the French hospital of Izmir.  The priests set out to look for Mary's house, having as their compass the vision of German mystic Blessed Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824).  From her bed in a village of Westphalia, where she spent the last twelve years of her life, the mystic received visions of the life of Jesus and Mary.  These visions were recorded and published after her death by a German writer, Clemens Brentano.  The two priests, former soldiers of the French army, climbed the Bulbul Dag ("nightingale's hill" in Turkish), which rises above the Ephesus plain.  After much effort, they found the ruins of a house near a fountain, a few kilometers from Ephesus.  The house seemed to have been used as a chapel--which fit perfectly with Emmerick's description.

Pilgrimage site

It was the Panaya uc Kapoulou Monastiri, as the Orthodox Christians of the area called it--the "Monastery of the Three Doors of Panaya, the All Holy," given the three arches of the facade.  These Greek Christians used to go to the site on pilgrimage during the octave of the feast of Mary's Dormition, August 15.  The Vincentian priests did some research among the residents of the area and confirmed the existence of a centuries-old devotion which recognized in the ruined chapel the place of the last residence of Meryem Anas, Mother Mary.

Archaeological studies carried out in 1898 and 1899 brought to light among the ruins the remains of a first-century house, as well as the ruins of a small village that was established around the house since the seventh century.  Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) was positive about these findings and re-established in the Ordo Romanus a note that on the feast of the Assumption mentioned Ephesus as the probable place of the Blessed Virgin's Dormition.  The Meryem Ana shrine, in front of which Benedict XVI celebrated Mass today, was restored in the 1950s.  Pastoral care of the site has been entrusted to the Capuchin friars.

Mary's House was visited by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and by Pope John Paul II in 1979.  It is the object of Muslim pilgrimages too, as Mary is presented in the Koran as "the only woman who has not been touched by the devil."

Here is how Benedict XVI summarized his recent visit to Ephesus and the "House of Mary":

"The second day took me to Ephesus, and I thus found myself rapidly in the innermost 'circle' of the trip, in direct contact with the Catholic community.  In Ephesus, in fact, in a pleasant place called 'Nightingale's Hill,' looking over the Aegean Sea, is the Shrine of Mary's House.  It is an ancient and small chapel that has arisen around the little house that, according to a very ancient tradition, the Apostle John built for the Virgin Mary, after going with her to Ephesus.  Jesus himself had entrusted them to one another when, before dying on the cross, he said to Mary: 'Woman, behold, your son!' and to John: 'Behold, your mother!' (John 19:26-27)

Archaeological investigations have demonstrated that this place has been since time immemorial a place of Marian devotion, loved also by Muslims, who go there regularly to venerate her whom they call Meryem Ana, Mother Mary.  In the garden next to the shrine I celebrated holy Mass for a group of faithful who had come from nearby Izmir and other parts of Turkey, as well as from abroad.  We felt truly 'at home' in 'Mary's House,' and in that atmosphere of peace we prayed for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the world....

Let us pray, moreover, so that through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Holy Spirit will make this apostolic journey fruitful, and encourage throughout the world the mission of the Church, instituted by Christ to proclaim to all peoples the Gospel of truth, peace and love.

... I visited Ephesus and the sanctuary nearby where, according to an ancient tradition, the Apostle John constructed a house for the Virgin Mary."

Posted in Zenit on 12/8/2006 from Vatican City

Addendum: The following information was provided to us by Lorraine Fusaro.

In your Q & A article (see above) you briefly mention the contribution of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey.  Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey (1837-1915) is declared by our Roman Catholic Church to be Foundress of Mary's House in Ephesus.  Here is some more information that you might find interesting.

Sister Marie is the French nun who gave up wealth, power and position to serve the poor, the sick, and the orphaned with the Daughters of Charity.  Sister Marie's zeal to find Mary's House, inspired by her strong desire to follow the writings of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich, resulted in the expedition that would locate Mary's House in 1891 exactly where St. Anne said it would be.  Not only did Sister Marie provide the financial means to acquire the entire area of Panaghia Capouli [1], but she tirelessly labored for twelve years to restore, preserve and protect Mary's House and now for the past 100+ years pilgrims of all faiths, including Muslims and Christians, pray peacefully side by side there.

Father Eugen Poulin, Lazarist, whom you mention in your article, writes in his journal The Holy Virgin's House: The True Story of Its Discovery [2] his desire that all posterity recognize to whom he says the Church owes a debt of gratitude.  He writes:

"The Lord, who sees and organizes things, had taken care to put before us a soul in love with beauty and goodness, who was ready to give herself to everything good.  A great soul, devoted, ardent, pious, and generous; the noble Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey.  She was, God had chosen her to be, the terrestrial Providence, like Panaghia's Mother!  For twelve years she has been charged of this valiant religious enterprise; she has never failed.

Oh!  How happy I am to give her all the respect she merits!  Also, could these writings make known to posterity, long after us, to whom France, the Catholic church are in debt for Panaghia!  The Lord gave me this opportunity to say loudly what I had in my heart for a long time, to acquit what I deemed to be a serious debt.  It is done. Praise be to God!"

You may learn more about dear Sister Marie by reading a short (sixteen-page) biography by Jerome M. Vereb, C.P. S.T.D. and Erin von Uffel, D.M. entitled Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey.

Also, please visit my blog dedicated to the Cause for Sister Marie [srmarie-lorraine.blogspot.com] to learn more and consider reading my article, Why Sister Marie? Why Now?.  The cause for her beatification and canonization opened on January 21, 2011.  Click here to read the Homily given by Bishop Finn at those ceremonies. [requires Adobe Acrobat Reader for PDF]

In the love of Our Lord and His Immaculate Mother,  Lorraine Fusaro

[1] Panaghia Capouli or "The Door of the Holiest," is a term that has come to refer not only to the Holy Virgin's House, Meryem Ana Evi, but also many surrounding areas of Ephesus including the grave of the Blessed Virgin, the Chapel built and rebuilt in this place by devotees over the years, and the Way of the Cross carved into the hill where Our Lady once walked and prayed.

[2] The Holy Virgin's House: The True Story of Its Discovery by P. Eugene Poulin, Istanbul, 1999 (ISBN# 975-7305-28-6)


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