The Pope becomes a pilgrim in the Virgin Mary House
After a day of diplomatic activity in Ankara, the pope flew to Izmir from where he traveled by helicopter to the site of where spiritual tradition says Mary spent the last years of her life.
Pope Benedict XVI has arrived in Izmir on Wednesday morning and became the 3rd pope to become a pilgrim after visiting the Virgin Mary House in Izmir. The Pope will arrive in Istanbul on Wednesday afternoon and visit the Greek Patriarchy.
Benedict said in his sermon: “From here in Ephesus, a city blessed by the presence of Mary Most Holy — who we know is loved and venerated also by Muslims – let us lift up to the Lord a special prayer for peace between peoples.”
The Koran describes Mary as the virgin mother of Jesus, whom Muslims consider the greatest prophet after Mohammed, and some Muslims – especially women – visit shrines to her.
The rough stone house where she is said to have died stands amid olive and pine trees outside the ancient Greek-Roman city of Ephesus.
No other citizens other than the guests of the ritual were admitted to the ritual zone in Ephesus. Even press members and security officials are standing away from the ritual area and hearing the hymns from far.
Pope Benedict will spend the night in Istanbul and participate a rite in the Greek Patriarchy which will be followed by his public speech from the balcony of the Patriarchy. Pope Benedict will also visit Hagia Sophia Museum and Sultanahmet Mosque on Thursday.