Kusadasi is a port city in the Aegean Sea on the west coast of Turkey. With more than 500 hotels it has become a bustling tourist and beach destination. It is also the gateway to Ephesus with its historical attractions and the famous “House of Mary”.
You can find this small (reconstructed) house at 425 m elevation, hidden in the hills just above the ruins of Ephesus. What a great spot away from it all! To provide some background knowledge, allow me to refresh your memory of your Sunday school lessons (abbreviated version): John was Jesus’s favourite disciple. As Jesus was crucified, he asked John to care for his mother, Mary. John and the other members of the first Christian community really had a hard time in Jerusalem and decided to leave a) to save their lives and b) to spread the Gospel around the Mediterranean. John was assigned to Asia Minor (now Turkey). Naturally, because of Jesus’s request, Mary stayed with John. Both ended up in Ephesus – pagan country. The Ephesians loved their fertility goddess “Artemis”. Not exactly easy territory if you want to spread a new faith. So, John and Mary, together with their fellow Christians, headed for the hills where John built a house for Mary and himself. According to the Catholic Church, Mary lived until she was in her 60s and died (and was buried) in that house in the year 45 A.D. (see picture). How did the Catholics find the place? A (paralyzed) German nun connected spiritually with the Virgin Mary while in trance and was able to pinpoint the location. The troops were sent out to find the place and, voila, on July 29th, 1891 at 11 am a four-person expedition team stumbled across the ruins of Mary’s house. It matched exactly the descriptions given to the team by the nun.
Today, the reconstructed house is the destination of many pilgrims – Christian and Muslim. Yes, Islam makes mention of the Virgin Mary in the Koran. Chapter 3, Verse 42 states:
“Mary, God has chosen Thee, and purified Thee. He has chosen Thee above all women.”
Tourists come by the busloads. The site, and the natural springs around the house, are said to have healing qualities… as our guide says: “Push the button and drink the water.”
My impressions: regardless of the true history of this place, it is a special and very spiritual place. I can easily understand why people want to come here and allow themselves to be touched by the Divine.
John, by the way, continued to live in the house, evangelized in Ephesus (with Paul’s help) and died there at the ripe age of 96. He was the only one of Jesus’ disciples to die of natural causes.