This famed account of the visions of The Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, the 19th Century German nun and mystic who bore the stigmata, the unsealing wounds of Christ, could easily be read by believers (and written off by skeptics) as the beautiful, pious imaginings of a devout, little-educated woman whose life was otherwise relatively dull, but for one thing. Sr. Anne Catherine, who had never left Germany-- nor even her small region of Germany-- described her vision regarding the precise location in what is now Turkey to which John the Evangelist had taken the Virgin Mary when Jerusalem became to dangerous for them to remain without being martyred. She described a vision of such detail that she was able to describe the road leaving the city of Ephesus as it curved up a hillside, then crossed a path leading further up to a plateau, where the small house was located. The vision was recorded and published by German poet and author Clemens Brentano, and the site described by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, atop a high hill a few kilometers outside Ephesus (near modern Selçuk, Turkey) was located by French priest Abbé Julien Gouney, who utilized the text as a guide in 1881, and then again by two Lazarist missionaries, Father Poulin and Father Jung, from Smyrna, who rediscovered the building on July 29, 1891, again using the description from Blessed Anne Catherine's vision as their guide.
At the site was found the ruins of a small, rectangular building on the hillside above a well. The building had long been venerated by an isolated rural community descended from Christians in Ephesus; there had been strong anti-Christian sentiments in Ephesus at the time of the early Church-- St. Paul, when he preached at the forum, was drowned out by crowds shouting "Great is Artemis of Ephesus!"-- so there were good reasons for St. John having housed the Virgin Mary well outside the city, and for the Christian community to have relocated to the rural countryside later as well, and to have remained there under the Muslims.
The House of the Virgin has been rebuilt at the site (the remaining parts of the original House were integrated into the building, marked off with a red line), and the House is an important shrine for Roman Catholics and for Muslims as well. The House of the Virgin Mary is located a few miles from the early 5th Century Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin, the first church to bear the Virgin Mary's name and site of the Council of Ephesus, the third Ecumenical council in 431, during which the title of Theotokos for the Mother of Christ was declared Orthodox. The choice to hold the Council at Ephesus in 431 AD is believed by many to further support the legitimacy of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's vision.
The Shrine has been visited by three Popes, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.