Thursday, October 8, 2015

Church of Mary in Ephesus

Thursday greetings from Dallas, Texas.

As promised, today I would like to share my experience at the Church of Mary in Ephesus. You can read all about the history of the church here, courtesy of the Ephesus Foundation. It was on this site that the third ecumenical council was held in 431. 250 bishops gathered here to debate the issues surrounding the divinity of Christ. Nestorius advocated the position that Jesus was born human and became God. In this view, Nestorius argued that Mary should be called the Christotokos, the "Christ-bearer." The more popular opinion, espoused by Cyril of Alexandria, was that Jesus was God from the beginning and that Mary should be called the Theotokos, the "Mother of God." After heated debate, the latter position won out and Nestorius was excommunicated. Nestorianism is the error that carries his name; the position that declares that Christ has two distinct persons.

Here is a floor plan, indicating (in French) the additions over the early centuries.

Here are a few photos I took of the "interior," now in ruins.

Standing in this space, I couldn't help but think about its place in the history of the development of Christology and Mariology. I prayed a "Hail Mary" here, and when I reached the words "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners," I couldn't help but be moved by the fact that those words, declaring Mary the Mother of God, had their origins here.

If you look at the floor plan, you will see an octagonal baptistery in the upper left of the plan. As was the case with the baptistery at the Basilica of Saint John, which I shared yesterday, this one at the Church of Mary is in ruins and is exposed to the air and the elements. The stairs going down into the baptismal pool and coming up from it, are not in very good shape. Here are a few photos I took while in this amazing space.

I did take a video. In it you will see the crosses that adorned the walls.

For those contemplating the building of a church, or the building of a baptistery or font, these baptisteries, some of the earliest built in large churches, can serve to inspire.

More on the stunning ruins of Ephesus in the next few days. Thanks for coming along on this journey into the history of Asia Minor and its importance in the place of Christianity.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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