The House of the Virgin Mary is a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus, 7 kilometres (4.3 mil) from Selçuk in Turkey.
According to St. John’s Gospel, before His death, Jesus pointed at St. John and said, “Woman, here is your son” and then pointed at the Virgin Mary and said “Here is your mother”. The minutes of the Ecumenical Council of 431 indicate that four or six years after the death of Jesus, St. John and the Virgin Mary came together to Ephesus, and for a short time stayed in the building , a section of which is now under the Church of the Virgin Mary today. Later, St. John moved the Virgin Mary to a house he had prepared for her on Bülbül Dağı. As time went by, the location of the where Mary spent the last days of her life was forgotten and it fell into ruins. Yet, shortly after the Middle Ages, the location of the house was often discussed again but no conclusion could be reached.
In 1878, Clêment Brentano published the relevations of a German nun named Catherine Emmerich in “The Life of the Virgin Mary” written in French. The work brought new interest to the subject of the location of the Virgin Mary’s house. In 1891, Eugene Poulin, a Lazarist priest who was the president of İzmir College, in order to check the validity of this devoted nun’s revelations, entrusted a group under the leadership of a priest named Yung, with the search of the house. The group searched for a long time on the mountains South of Ephesus, and finaly found the house on Panayır Dağı, known as the House of the Virgin Mary.
Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) had never left the town where she was born, yet her description of the house of Mary exactly fits the house at Panaya Kapulu. In order to indroduce the house of the world, Eugene Poulin published a series of articles and succeeded in getting a lot of attention. Most of the religious experts who visited the house accepted it as the house of the Virgin Mary. The patriarch of İzmir, Monseigneur Timoni, after serious research, gave permission in 1892 to conduct religious ceremonies here. In 1961, Pope John XXIII put an end to the dispute stil going on over the location of the house of the Virgin Mary, by announcing it place of pilgramage. In 1967, Pope Paul VI and in 1979 Pope John Paul II visited the house, and therefore indicated the importance they placed on the house.
The road which stretches from the Magnesia Gate toward Bülbül Dağı reaches the house. The remains of a round cistern in the small square located 100 metres from the house, and its arched wall on the side facing the hill, were discovered first. The steps on the side of the cistern are completely destroyed, only a section which resembles a pool is extant. In the course of excavations carried on near the wall, two sarcophagi made of baked clay were discovered. Each contained a skeleton, the skull of which was turned toward the house and burial gifts. One of the two coins found in the sarcophagi belonged to the reign of Emperor Constantine and other the reign of Emperor Justinian.
There is a small, domed church with a cross-shaped plan at the and of the road that leads from cistern. This building is known as the House of the Virgin Mary and it dates of the 6th-7th centuries.
When it was discovered, only its foundation and parts of its walls were standing. It has been restored to its present state. In order to indicate the original walls, a red line was drawn between these and the new walls. An entrance with door-like niches on both sides, leads into a vaulted vestibule whence one enters the hall with an apse. The statue of the Virgin Mary, found in the apse, had been placed there about one hundred years ago. Since the grey area in front of the apse is different from the rest of the marble paved floor, it must have been the location of the hearth. The pieces of coal found during excavations and a section of the foundation were dated to the first century. The small room in the South is known as the bedroom and there is an apsidal niche in its eastern wall. Since the Virgin Mary is also revered by Muslims, they pray (perform namaz) in this room. Inscriptions seen on the walls are interpretations of the section of the Koran relating to the Virgin Mary. Also, for those who want further information, there are many Korans in the different languages in a special chest. The remains of another room which should be located symmetrically to this one have not been discovered yet. On the second terrace to the west of the house, there are fountains, the waters of which supposedly have medicinal qualities. The water supply of these fountains comes from under the pink coloured marble floor covering of the bedroom.