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Until 1920 in the East of Selçuk on the mountains a group of Greek-Orthodox Christians used to live. The village which is only eight kilometres away from Ephesus namely “Şirince” in Turkish (cutely) hosted people who were sent away from this village on this date, knew the House of Mary very well. These local people used to go to the House of Mary on 15th of August every year as pilgrims to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption.
On the Feast of Dormition of the Virgin every year the tradition to visit the House of Mary in order to do a pilgrimage was kept alive for centuries by the residents of this village (Şirince). The inhabiatants of Şirince, who settled down on the hills and villages near Şirince which was a few kilometres away from “Panaghia Kapulu” when they were exposed to Seljukians’ invasion in the 11th century, descended from the seven Ephesian refugee families.
Despite other Greek’s belief, they unanimously believe Virgin Mary closed her eyes and died in Ephesus not in Jerusalem; that is to say exactly in the place which is called Panaya Kapulu. They remark they have this tradition from their ancestors.
As a matter of fact, in an era when the Virgin was already believed that she died in Jerusalem traditionally, this humble house wouldn’t have been turned into a church just to protect the memory of the place of her accomodation if there hadn’t been a certain serious belief that Virgin Mary really lived and died in this place.
The first registered pilgrimage was in 1896 that is to say five years after the House of Mary was found.
According to what Mr. Euzet declared, two trains from Smyrna (İzmir) carried 1300-1400 pilgrims to Ephesus. More than half of this group went towards the mountain and climbing started. Crowd moving on detoured paths was creating an amazing scene: some were walking, some were on either on horses or donkeys, some were in very small groups, or in single file etc.