The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 136.

Virgin Mary's House, Ephesus
The Temple of Diana at Ephesus was held to be one of the seven wonders of the world. Built by extraordinary architectural skill upon a morass, it was a hundred and four metres wide, its fagade fifty metres in extent. Each of the twenty-seven pillars of its colonnade was the gift of a king; within its walls were to be found works of the great Greek sculptors, Polycletus, Praxiteles and Phidias, whilst here was to be seen the masterpiece of Apelles—the statue of Alexander with the thunderbolt in its hand. The Romans had declared its inviolability—on ancient medals we may read the inscription Artemis Ephesia inviolabilis. The inviolability of the goddess and of her temple was assured by every human title. Yet against Diana and all her works the Apostle of Christ declared open war. As is so often the case, magical arts were found at Ephesus to be joined to superstition and impurity. These arts God's servant denounced, whilst visible sanction from on high was accorded to his words.

"God wrought by the hands of Paul more than common miracles, so that there were brought from his body to the sick handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them and the wicked spirits went out of them . . . and many of them who had followed curious arts brought together their books and burnt them before all, and counting the price of them they found the money to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and was confirmed." (Acts xix. 11-20.)

Still, the worship of the goddess was not yet overthrown. " For two hours " the people cried out again " with one voice : Great is Diana of the Ephesians," and when at length the " town-clerk had appeased the multitude," he thought it prudent to remind them that their superstitions were still safe : " Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great Diana and of Jupiter's offspring ?" (Acts xix. 34, 35.) What wonder, then, if in later years writing to the Corinthians the Apostle should have recalled the memory of the three years he passed amongst these Ephesians with the striking words : " According to men, I fought with beasts at Ephesus." (i Cor. xv.

After St. Paul had left Ephesus, tradition tells us that St. Timothy was for a short time its Bishop, suffering martyrdom at the end of one of the licentious processions of the worshippers of Diana. St. John the Evangelist spent his last years at Ephesus as its Bishop. It is generally thought that a small chapel (built on a hill, facing the Temple) dedicated to the Mother of God was commenced during his Episcopate.

There would seem to be little doubt that our Lady spent at least some time at Ephesus.  Mary most Holy, the Virgin of all virgins, whom the church hails as the Tower of Ivory, and " the Tower of David, which is built with bulwarks —a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men " (Cant. iv. 4.) —must have looked upon that Temple against which she and all her servants, valiant men, armed in her service even with a thousand bucklers, were to wage undying warfare. And soon it was to fall, and be but a memory upon the earth. Tacitus tells us of an earthquake which shook Ephesus to Decay of its foundations. The town changed its Ephesus. character, as its port became once more little more than a morass. Houses, theatres, temples, all were abandoned. (St. Paul, par l'Abbe Fouard, p. 256.) The great home of the goddess, once proudly declaring itself inviolable, was left with out guards, and pillaged by the Goths in 263. Constantine raised it to the ground, and sent its marbles to Constantinople. The glory of Diana of the Ephesians had departed. Meanwhile the church raised on the hill in honour of the Virgin Mother had gradually grown to the dimensions of a Basilica, and, when Nestorius first preached his heresy, was ready, in the Providence of God, for the sessions of the Ecumenical Council which was to preserve intact, for all ages to come, the Faith once delivered to the Saints, by vindicating Mary's title to the sublime estate of true Mother of the Incarnate Word.