Pilgrims to visit Our Lady's Home
"TIEN thousand pilgrims from all over the world are expected to visit the ruins of the ancient biblical city of Ephesus, Turkey, this August in honour of the Feast of the Assumption.
Principal object of their pilgrimage is a chapel called Paneya Kapulu, the Home of the Holy Virgin. It is said to stand on the site of the house where, according to one tradition. the Virgin Mary died. and near the site of her burial and Assumption.
* * A large percentage of the pilgrims are Catholics. Others are Greek Orthodox, Protestants, Jews or tourists of no church affiliation. The great majority, however, are local Turkish Moslems who also venerate Our Lady—to whom an entire chapter is devoted in the Koran.
While at Ephesus they also visit the ruins of one of the oldest churches in the world dedicated to her, the cathedral of Saint Mary, where the third ecumenical council defined the dogma of her divine maternity as the Mother of God in 431 A.D. Their pilgrimage includes prayers and religious services at what is believed to be the tomb of
St. John the Evangelist, the Apostle in whose care Mary was placed by Christ and with whom, according to an ancient tradition, she came to Ephesus.
The Ephesus tradition is referred to by St. Epiphanius of Salamis as existing among a Christian group called the Agapetai in the year 400 A.D. It is thought to be based on indications in the Acts of the Apostles that St. John—and therefore Mary with him—may have departed from Jerusalem and even from the Holy Land at the time of the persecution led by Saul.
The tradition of Ephesus was revived 80 years ago by the discovery of the so-called House of the Holy Virgin on a mountain near
Ephesus overlooking the Aegean Sea. The dramatic find was made by a French priest-scholar, Julien Gouyet, who used as his guide a description of Our Lady's last earthly home as seen in a vision by the stigmatic German nun, Anna Katherina Eromerick.
In 1896 Pope Leo XIII blessed the first major pilgrimage to the ruined chapel. In 1905 his successor, St. Pius X, sent encouragement to "the valiant searchers for the tomb of the Blessed Virgin" at Ephesus. Mary's tomb had been described by the German visionary as a cave located in the mountains near the house at the end of a War of the Cross with 12 stations. The stigmatic, who died in 1824, is reported as saying she thought "it will one day come to light."
World-wide interest in Panaya Kapulu was aroused following the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption by Pope Pius XII in 1950. On August 19, 1951, it was consecrated as a Catholic church with the special privileges and indulgences attached to Holy Places,