Before spending an afternoon in the ancient city Efes (Ephesus), our bus worked its way up a mountain to visit Meryemana Evi – the House of Virgin Mary. This is the house where Mary was taken by taken by Saint John the Apostle, where she lived until the Assumption. It is a major pilgrimage site for Christians and Catholics, and there were huge groups of people traveling with their churches to visit the site. We passed through the room where Mary supposedly slept, but we were not allowed to take photographs. It was very strange to stand there in the tiny room, looking at the shrine to Mary, and trying to conceptualize how important that room has been for Christians over the centuries. At this place, Mary’s body and soul were taken into heaven. This is the house where Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, lived for several years. It was a lot to take in.
I lit a candle outside the house, making sure to offer warm thoughts and affections into the cosmos. There are several fountains underneath the house, which apparently spew water with special qualities: health, wealth, happiness, and two others that we did not manage to hear their purpose. Catherine, Jack, and I made sure to drink from all five of the fountains for good measure. Nearby the fountains is a “wishing wall” where people write notes and prayers on paper and cloth. It was huge, and there were notes in every language imaginable – Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, Russian. There were notes asking for loved ones to stay healthy, for Mitt Romney to win the elections, and for God to watch over the author.
It was a hectic place and the market outside the house was bustling with tourists buying holy water, tiny statues of Mary, candles, and other various trinkets. It was strange how busy it was, despite all the signs requesting silence and reflection.