In a peaceful grove of trees overlooking the ancient city of Ephesus stands a dignified one-story stone abode called Mary’s House, widely considered to be where the Virgin Mary lived her last years.
Pilgrims — including Muslims, for whom Mary is honored as the virgin mother of Jesus, a great prophet — visit, pray and light candles. In fact, Mary is the woman most frequently mentioned in the Quran and the only one referred to by name.
Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in front of the house on his pilgrimage to Turkey in 2006. Pope John Paul II came in 1979, as did Pope Paul VI in 1967.
The last papal visit underscored the Catholic Church’s hope that Turkey, an emerging economic geopolitical giant — not to mention a massive land bridge joining Europe to the Middle East and Asia — can model positive dialogue between the world’s two global religious powers: Christianity and Islam.