Meryemana Evi ~ House of the Virgin Mary
On a beautiful sunlit morning, we traveled by bus to our first destination of the day, "Meryemana Evi", the House of the Virgin Mary. The journey there took us past beautiful fields and olive groves and eventually we climbed higher onto the mountain where it is said that Mary spent her final days. In the distance you could see a humid vapor being lifted by the effects of the sun, but it still clung heavily to Mt. Koressos ("Turkish: Bülbül Dagi or Mount Nightengale) with its winding road up to this holy site.
It is believed by generations of local Christians and Muslims, and collaborated by certain evidence, that this is the place to which St. John brought Mary after the crucification of Jesus and where she lived until her Assumption into Heaven which is celebrated every year on August 15th. Remnants found on this site have been dated to as early as the 1st century AD. The restoration work on the current chapel there was completed in 1950. Today a red line distinguishes restored part of the chapel from the original, historical remains.
The home and chapel are built of heavy stone with several arched windows set high into the walls. It was unfortunate that when we visited, no pictures were allowed inside the house & chapel where small niches hold religious objects. Inside, the low light and virtual silence lends to the spiritual atmosphere as you contemplate the reality of who lived here.
Beneath Mary's house runs a spring the waters which are considered miraculous and having healing powers. Many people brought small bottles to save the water from the spring's fountain nearby Mary's House. Next to the fountain, an area held the written intentions of thousands of visitors which was a moving sight in itself.
The well-kept walkways and gardens, meandering through the park-like setting where Mary's House is located also hold other small treasures such as lovely statues of Mary and stands of devotional candles all of which contribute to the peaceful and religious atmosphere.
(If you see the resident cats around the grounds, they would appreciate water or small bits of food.) An outdoor altar where Popes Benedict XVI, John Paul II and Paul VI have said Mass stands beneath a canopy of trees.
Near the entrance to park you will find the Cafe Turco Restaurant, and local merchants selling souvenirs, postcards, guide books, etc. Around this area you may also see guards, but they declined to have their picture taken.