In the Footsteps of Saint Paul: Mary’s House
From June 16 to June 26, I had the absolute honor of accompanying Archbishop Jerome Listecki (Archdiocese of Milwaukee), and 47 other fellow Catholics on a pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey in the footsteps of St. Paul. On June 18, we visited the city of Ephesus in Turkey. Not only is this city the place where Paul began a community of Christians that he addressed in his New Testament letter to the Ephesians, it is also the city where Mary, the Blessed Mother, retired after the crucifixion of her Son, to live with the Gospel writer and disciple, John. (John 19:26-27)
Mary’s house is nestled in the side of a steep, mountain-like terrain that is rich with olive trees and tropical flowers. Her house is modest- one larger room and a smaller side room. The main room contains a kneeler and an altar with a statue of Mary. Because of its small size, only a few people are able to enter the room at a time. The atmosphere is profoundly sacred. At the kneeler, I gazed up at the statue of Mary on the altar and noticed that, unlike the statue of Mary outside of the house, the statue inside of Mary’s house was missing the hands.
Upon exiting, our tour guide was happy to explain the absence of Mary’s hands. In a heavy Greek accent, she stated simply, “We are the Blessed Mother’s hands.” Our group of pilgrims assembled outside of Mary’s house, and led by the Archbishop, prayed the rosary. While we offered up our prayers and petitions to Mary at the doorstep of her ancient home, I reflected on the idea of being the Blessed Mother’s hands.
While Mary attends to the needs of our spirit, it is our role to do the work of the Blessed Mother here on Earth. We need to be the Earthly hands of Mary and strive to do the will of her Son. As Mary states simply in John 2:5, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Here’s a video tour of the House of Mary in Ephesus.