The shrine of Virgin Mary was Located on the top of the “Bulbul” mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus.
It is the place where Virgin Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Virgin Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place.
According to predominant Christian tradition, Virgin Mary was brought to Ephesus by the Apostle John after the Resurrection of Christ and lived out her days there. This is based mainly on the traditional belief that John came to Ephesus (see St. John’s Basilica) combined with the biblical statement that Jesus consigned her to John’s care (John 19:26-27).
Archaeologists who have examined the building identified as the House of the Virgin believe most of the building dates from the 6th or 7th century. But its foundations are much older and may well date from the 1st century AD, the time of Mary. This site had long been a place of pilgrimage for local Orthodox Christians.
The modern history of the Virgin Mary’s House is unusual. It was “discovered” in1812 by a German nun, Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, who never traveled away from her home.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Anne Catherine Emmerich, a bedridden Augustinian nun in Germany, reported a series of visions in which she recounted the last days of the life of Jesus, and details of the life of Mary.
One of Emmerich’s visitors was the author Clemens Brentano who after a first visit stayed in Dülmen for five years to see Emmerich every day and transcribe the visions she reported. After Emmerich’s death Brentano published a book based on his transcriptions of her reported visions.
In the 4th century AD, a church, combining her house and grave, has been built. The original two-stored house, which consisted of an anteroom (where today candles are proposed), bedroom and praying room (Christian church area) and a room with fireplace (chapel for Muslims). A front kitchen fell into ruins and has been restored in 1940’s. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. From there one can understand that this building looks more like a church than a house. Another interesting place is the “Water of Mary”, a source to be found at the exit of the church area and where a rather salt water, with curative properties, can be drunk by all.
Paul VI was the first pope to visit this place in the 1960’s. Later, in the 1980’s, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary has a pilgrimage place for Christians. It is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary as the mother of one of their prophets. Every year, on August 15th a ceremony is organized to commemorate Mary’s Assumption.