Today we visited the shrine to the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. This may seem odd in a country filled with the call to prayer and mosques, but Mary is actually acknowledged in the Koran as the mother of the prophet Jesus. The shrine is located in the house where Mary supposedly lived out her life. There are three main pieces of evidence for the claim that this house is actually where she lived.
One piece has to do with Jesus, while on the cross, asking John to know Mary as his mother, to take care of her as his mother... and for Mary to know John as her son. John apparently spent about 2 1/2 years in Ephesus, so it is assumed that he took the responsibility to take care of Jesus' mother and brought her to Ephesus with him.
Another piece has to do with the fact that there is a church dedicated to Mary, which we saw on the outskirts of the Ephesus ruins today. Typically, in the early days of the Church, places of worship were only dedicated to persons who had lived and/or died in the locality.
The third piece of evidence has to do with the visions of a nun in Germany, Anna Emmarich. She never left Germany and experienced stigmata over the course of her life. She also apparently avery accurately described the house where Mary lived in her later years as well as the hills of Ephesus which surround the home.
And so this space in Ephesus is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There is a long wall on which people tie pieces of cloth, making prayer wishes in this sacred space. I'd like to dedicate this particular blog to my mother and both my grandmothers... women of the Novena on Tuesday nights, women whose fingers wore indentations in rosary beads during their lifetimes. I am named after the Virgin Mary, through this long line of Catholic women who sought strength from Mary far more often than anyone else in their lives...To honor these three women in my family, I sang "Ave Maria" on the bus as we drove through the hills of Ephesus back to our hotel. I am hoping all three women, in some way, heard that song...