It is about 9kms/ 7miles far way on the top of the mount Nightingale and takes half an hour drive from Selcuk town. The house is over 1200 foot / 300 meters from the sea level among the pine woods. It is believed that Blessed Mary has spent her last say in this house and the house was noted for Vatican as one of the final resting places of Holy Mary. Three popes from Vatican, pope Paul VI in 1967, pope John Paull 2nd in 1995 and pope Benedictus in 2008, have been to the house so far.
IMPORTANCE OF THE HOUSE
The house has been noted for as pilgrimage center by Christians after a long research and careful inspection by Vatican in 1967 so almost five million visitors all over the world pay a visit to the house. It has been a tradition among the Turkish Muslims to visit the house because holy Mary is accepted as the mother of Jesus in Koran and Mary has a special chapter called “Maryam’s chapter 16th “in Koran telling her story in details. Of course, Koran never indicates the place of the house where Mary lived, but its advices to the Islam believers that they give a respect both Mary and Jesus. While visiting the house of Mary, if you may come across with Muslims, never be surprised because they are paying their respect to her. Turkish government and local municipality of Selcuk both pay a great attention to the house of Mary today and a father and some sisters stay in dormitories by the house. Ever Sunday at 10.30 there is a regular mass and if the church groups would like to have a special mess a day before their arrival, it is organized by the authorities during their visit.
“On the crucifixion day, Jesus was a standing on the cross with his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the youngest saint among 12 standing by whom he much loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the decuple, “Behold your mother. “
This was a secret mission given to John to care for Mary till she passed away by Jesus so Mary and John came to Ephesus six years after the crucifixion. As soon as they arrived Ephesus, the atmosphere was awful for early believers because a big persecution on Christians were going on. To save Mary’s life, a simple house was built on the top of the mount nightingale and Mary began living there with Mary Magdalena. John began advertising Christianity in Ephesus and paid a visit to the house from time to time in secretly. During his mission John refused to worship pagan gods and emperor Domitian’s cult in Ephesus so he was sent as a prisoner to Patmos island as punishment.
We do not know what happened to Mary after John’s exile. A lot of theories are still told and never ends. The strongest one depends on the theory of assumption which has been celebrated by Orthodox world for centuries. According to this theory, Mary never passed away, she was risen up to sky on the 1th of August by god.
The house, which is open for visitors, was discovered after a vision done by Anne Catherina Emmerich, a Bavarian bed ridden lady, has never been out of Germany in her life. She began dreaming about the house in 1895 and gave a full description of the place in details. Due to this information, Lazarists fathers, from church of Smyrna (Izmir) were able to discover the house in 1900.
After Turkish republic was proclaimed in 1923, the great restoration was begun. The house got restored by Turkish authorities and roof was added and repaired in 1951. Vatican noted for the house doing the official visit of Pope Paul 6th on 26 July, 1967 and the house began visited by millions.
Today, it is considered as one of holy and much visited shrines of Turkey for all type of visitors coming to Selcuk or Kusadasi. Municipality of Selcuk and ministry of Tourism are both responsible to maintain the house in good condition. The house is protected by armed soldiers of Turkish army. Whoever you are, whatever your faith is, to visit the house of Mary makes you fresh and relaxed.
The traffic to the house may be overcrowded during the high season, assumption day on 15th of August and on Sundays at about 10. There is a small parking lot at the entrance, a cafeteria and restrooms in good conditions, three fountains to take some or to drink as holy water underneath of the house and wish Wall to put the visitors’ wishes after visiting. It has been a great tradition to follow three steps among the Turkish Muslims; Visiting the house is the one, drinking the holy water as the second and writing the wishes is the third main steps.