The House of Virgin Mary is a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos (“Mount Nightingale) in the vicinity of Ephesus. The house was discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824), a Roman Catholic nun and visionary, which were published as a book by Clemens Brentano after her death.
The Catholic Church has never pronounced in favour or against the authenticity of the house, but nevertheless maintains a steady flow of pilgrimage.
Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there until her Assumption (according to Catholic doctrine) or Dormition (according to Orthodox belief).
The house itself dates back to the 6th or the 7th century, although the foundations are older and could indeed be from the 1st century, the time of Mary. The house is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. The small domed structure, with a cross-shaped plan, was renovated in 1950. Inside there is a tiny dark chapel with lit candles, lining the sides of the main room. In front is an altar with a small statue of the Virgin Mary, placed in a circular alcove built into the wall. A side smaller room is traditionally associated with the actual room where the Virgin Mary is believed to have slept.
It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come to the area together with the Apostle John, who spent several years in Ephesus to spread Christianity. For three years, Apostle Paul preached Christianity in Ephesus after 53 AD. When he died, Apostle John replaced him. The legend says that Virgin Mary came with him and lived in Ephesus until her death. (AD 37-45).
According to predominant Christian tradition, 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 combined with the biblical statement that Jesus consigned her to John's care (John 19:26-27).
Pope Paul VI visited in the 1960's. Later, in the 1980's, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary as 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. On November 29, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass here.