A Visit To Mother Mary’s House

Mary, Jesus’s mother, spent her last days in Turkey, and I visited her house, surrounded by maple trees, high above the ancient Roman ruins of Ephesus, five miles from the Aegean Sea, now rebuilt by the Catholic Church as a holy place.

Mary's House Suzette in front

After Jesus entrusted his mother and apostle John into each other’s care, it is believed they sailed from Jerusalem to John’s home in southwestern Turkey. Later, when John was exiled to Patmos, early Christians feared for Mary’s safety and it was said she lived hidden in the hills, the location a mystery for centuries until it was revealed in a vision.  As we stood before Mary’s house, my husband David read the story of its discovery, speechless.

In 1819 through ecstatic visions, Anna Catherine Emmerich, a Catholic nun and mystic in Germany who bore the stigmata, described Mary’s life, which included descriptions of a two-room stone cottage and specifics of its surroundings.  Bedridden and untraveled, Emmerich had her visions recorded by Clemens Brentano who wrote The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Visions of Anna Catherine Emmerich, published in 1852.

The book of her visions

The book of her visions

In 1891, two scientific expeditions set out to discover Mary’s house based on the book. Excavations revealed a two-story stone cottage dating back to the first century.

During high season, 10,000 visitors pass daily through the tiny chapel. Arriving early, we spent a rare ten minutes alone before a simple altar and bronze statue.

In the candlelight, I closed my eyes to get a “feel” for the place. Suddenly, I was enveloped in a flood of magnificent, maternal energy. Like a child reunited, tears streamed down my face. My crying was unexpected, but neither sobbing nor sad, rather a deep, physical letting go. The energy around me felt bathed in light and understanding as a particular prayer poured out of me to Mary – mother to mother – about what else?  Family and kids. As we left Mary’s house, a strange relief at being heard, listened to, and loved overwhelmed me.

Outside, we lit candles in glass boxes on wrought iron stands.

Mary - Candles

Stone walls with faucets offered fresh stream water running near Mary’s house since ancient times.

Suzette with hand on faucet, one of four on a stone wall for fresh stream water near Mary's House

Suzette with hand on faucet, one of four on a stone wall for fresh stream water near Mary’s House

Further down the paved path, a gigantic blanket appeared mounted on a stone wall, its surface a homespun jumble of fuzzy, ruffly textures.

Prayer wall below Mary's House

Prayer wall below Mary’s House

Looking closer, pieces of paper had been stuck into wire netting over time; millions of petitions, some colored, many ribboned, a few sealed with red wax. One addition was a small, but very thick, journal. Our notes were added to a vast body of entreaties, requests, complaints, fears and hopes, every prayer made on the belief that maternal love never turns away.

Husband David inserts a prayer note

Husband David inserts a prayer note

Afterwards, I turned to my scientist husband, who looked a bit shaken, and asked, “Did you feel that, too?”  Looking into my tear streaked face, he said, “No, not like you, but I still can’t get over how they found this house.”

This column ran in The Patriot Ledger, 10/30/2015

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Suzette Standring

SUZETTE MARTINEZ STANDRING is a nationally syndicated columnist with GateHouse Media. Her two award winning books, The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists (2014) and The Art of Column Writing (2008) are used in journalism courses such as Johns Hopkins University. Suzette is a past president of The National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the host of It’s All Write With Suzette, a cable TV show about writing. Visit www.readsuzette.com or email suzmar@comcast.net
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Comments

  1. Hyacinth Crichlow

    Suzette.
    I am so moved by your experience. Oh how I wish I was there with you and David on that trip. What a beautiful gift from God and his Mother. I felt that you met her.

  2. Beautifully moving. “…every prayer made on the belief that maternal love never turns away.” Yes. Mary is a pure rock star of Love. Thank you Suzette!

  3. How I LONG to be back to making my cards for the DT again! I’ve gotetn ONE arm un-casted, and the other one comes off in 4 weeks. PLEASE wait for me, if you can!DT, your cards are BEYOND GORGEOUS this week!Love,CindyP.S. I miss you all terribly!

  4. When I visited this site with two women friends, we were all deeply moved by the energy and motherly compassion we felt. No one was around as it was late spring and chilly, so we spent a lot of time there in silence. One woman who had a contentious relationship with her mother all her life broke into tears and seemed to be healed of much anger.

    • Suzette Standring

      Thank you, Katrina, for sharing. I’ve since spoken and heard from many who had the same experience of being fully heard and loved as I did. I will also share that what I prayed for came true two weeks later. Since it involves someone else, I can’t share the details, but against all odds, healing happened.

    • Life is short, and this article saved vaalbule time on this Earth.

  5. I find it troubling when mentioning my faith to
    families who arrived from Albania. I’ve known
    them for 11 years and even baptized Evjo,Eva and
    Amanda. They lease Sunny Side Up at Bicknell
    square in Weymouth. They insist on calling me
    Grandpa which is very touching. We need more
    families like these girls. To enjoy watching them
    serve with so much haspitality it reminds me
    the way people acted when I was growing up.
    There is so much love in their home. I’m
    learning to crosha prayer shawls, you should
    see the ones they make in Florida. many thx

    • Bill, how lovely that you know kind and hospitable people. I understand your discomfort at mentioning your faith, as so many people nowadays equate wrongly with politics only. We can only be individual examples of striving toward goodness and community, but never control. Only God is in control, right?

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