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History and Custom

Initionally, the importance and value of Mary and Mary’s House for Christians cannot be understood without considering Ephesus’ history in this frame.

Ephesus is the city where Saint John the Evangelist and the Mother of Jesus Mary came together and it is the exact place where he wrote The Gospel in which he reflected the presence of Mary as an indelible evidence. Saint John cites in his Gopel: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19,25-27).

Although Mother Mary had a humble and secret life, the Christians who are aware of her presence, without doubt showed this sentence as an evidence to prove that she was really in Ephesus even after Saint John.

During the second and third centuries Saint Tertullianos, according to what Saint Ireneus, Origenes and Eusebius cited, tells us that all are like-minded about Saint John’s arrival in Ephesus. As a matter of fact Saint Tertullianos, says: “Apostle John came to the city of Asia at an early hour.” (ad. Marc. Lig. IV, chapter 5)

Toward the year 120 Saint Ireneus who was born in İzmir and educated in the trace of Saint Polycarpe, the Archbishop of İzmir who was the follower of Saint John the Evangelist cites that both Saint Paul and Saint John were present in Ephesus concurrently and this fact must not be denied at all.

According to the tradition of Ephesus, Apostle John could not depart from Mary because Jesus entrusted her to his care when he was on the cross and in 18 A.D. and in the following years it is believed that he and Holy Mother Mary inhabitted in Ephesus or somewhere near the city.

Epifanius the Archbishop of Cyprus (310-314), cites that Holy Scriptures doesn’t express any information about the last years of Holy Virgin Mary. Saint Archbishop, trying to emphasize the Immaculate Conception of Mary says: “During the years when Saint John moved to Asia, Holy Virgin Mary was with him but this fact isn’t stated in the Holy Scriptures because he didn’t want to create emotions in the souls of the believers.” However, Saint Epifanius, doesn’t say that Mary didn’t live in Ephesus. He only cites that Holy Scriptures doesn’t mention this. He wanted to emphasize that there is divine presence in this event.

According to Ephesus tradition it was required from Mary to accompany Saint John to spread Good News and it is appropriate to think Holy Mother of Jesus Christ “fell asleep” (Lat. Dormitio) before 48 AD. This is the most common view.

Begining from the year 8 AD, Jacobite Syrian Church and later during the 12th and 13th centuries, this view enriched belief of Ephesus tradition and today it is still kept alive. In the 12th and 13th centuries this Ephesus tradition is enforced again by the most leading historians and just after this by the wisdom and manner of Pope Benedict XIV, it echoed again. 

Mary’s residence in Ephesus and her “dormition” gained recognition also by Pope Benedict XV. He interprets it as follows: “From that hour the desciple took her to his own home…(John 19:27) When Saint John set out to Ephesus he also took Mary there and from here Blessed Holy Mary was taken up to heaven on wings.” (Pope Benedict XV, Good Friday homily on Sacred Mysteries)

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