I meant to finish this series on places the Pope visited in Turkey before he left the place, but….
Obviously, St. John and the Virgin Mary are the most famous saints said to have lived in Ephesus. Long before that, St. Paul also made a visit, and famously started a riot by the city’s idolmakers. (“Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”)
It also was a place of saints controversial among Christians. The Orthodox celebrate the theologian St. Mark of Ephesus. But they give him this distinction for arguing against the filioque clause and Petrine primacy, and being famously pigheaded. “The most comical incident, recorded by Sylvester Syropoulos, has Scholarios, Bessarion, and Isidore of Kiev remonstrating with him that certain points of Latin doctrine, notably the Procession of the Holy Spirit, were confirmed by the writings of the Church Fathers; he merely replied that these had to have been forged, since the Holy Spirit (evidently, of course) did not proceed from the Son.” But though the Latin side never listed him as a saint, the Eastern Catholic side does, so we get him as a legacy! His feastday is January 19th, and I’m sure we can think of something creative to do for him….
(But honestly, he did have a softer side, as these quotes from him indicate: “Our Head, Christ our God… does not tolerate that the bond of love be taken from us entirely.””We seek and we pray for our return to that time when, being united, we spoke the same things and there was no schism between us.”)
The Martyrs of Ephesus (Jan. 12) were a group of 42 monks put to death by Emperor Constantine V for opposing the Iconoclasts.
Ephesus was also the place where the Council of Ephesus was held, and the Virgin Mary’s title of Theotokos (Mother/Bearer of God) was affirmed, which the townpeople celebrated with an impromptu parade. (Over the objections of Nestorius.)
Finally, Ephesus was perhaps best known in the Middle Ages for the famous story of the Seven Sleepers. As the story goes, seven young Christian men (and their dog) fled persecution by the Roman Empire by hiding in a cave. They fell asleep, and slept for a hundred years. By that time, the entire empire is not only Christian, but tired of being Christian. A young skeptic declares that all these Gospel and early Christian miracles are ridiculous made-up stories; everybody knows such things never happen nowadays, and never could have happened.
Just then, the Seven Sleepers wake up, thinking they’ve only slept the normal amount. In some versions of the story, they’re still young; in others, they’ve grown old while they slept; in others, they don’t grow old till they step outside the cave. Either way, one of them is sent to get some food. People are astounded that someone would try to buy food with rare coins in such great condition! News spreads, the bishop comes to see, and the Seven Sleepers tell him (and the young skeptic) their story. Then the Sleepers die and go to Heaven, praising God, while the town skeptic learns his lesson about miracles.
The Pope visited Ephesus and said Mass at the House of Mary on November 29.