While Bonnie and Tim went to Ephesus with our cycling Dutch friends, Kim and Rene, I walked up a nearby hill through the pine, fig, and walnut forest to the site where it is believed that Jesus' mother Mary spent her last years on Earth. She was brought here by St. John when he started his mission to Asia Minor, as Jesus had asked him to care for her. Local people still hold to the tradition that this is the site of her house and they continue to conduct yearly pilgimages to the house every August 15th. The house has been reconstructed on foundations that archeologists found many years ago. There is a natural spring near the house that believers say has curative qualities similar to Lourdes. I joined the many other visitors by enjoying and collecting a little of the water.
Mary is sacred to Muslims and Christians alike. To the Muslim the site is called Meryeana, meaning Mother Mary's. They come here by the bus load to pray, feel the peaceful vibrations, and leave a message with a little piece of cloth on the wall next to the spring, which I also did. Nearby in an outdoor chapel, a group of Germans were conducting a Mass. When I first arrived I could hear them singing a hymn along with the birds among the spring green trees. Beautiful!
I was given a free ride back down to Ephesus by a bus load of Muslim tourists. On the way to meet the others I passed the ruins of St. Luke's tomb just outside the old city.
An extra bonus! Jai Ma!