Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Digest: from Ankara to Ephesus, then on to Istanbul

Today the Pope celebrated Mass in Ephesus, the ancient site where St. Paul established one of the many early church communities he planted on his missionary journeys. Ephesus was notable as an important center for early Christianity. St. Paul used it as a base, and probably wrote First Epistle to the Corinthians from there, and also later addressed an Epistle to the Ephesians themselves. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the Apostle John lived in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) in the last decades of the first century and guided the churches of that province from from Ephesus as his base. After the Emperor Domitian's death, St. John returned to Ephesus during the reign of Trajan, and died there around AD 100 "at a great age." Ephesus was one of the "seven cities" addressed in Revelation (2:1–7). St. Ignatius of Antioch also addressed a letter to the Ephesians early in the second century, which begins: "Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia ..." (Letter to the Ephesians). Just outside of Ephesus is also the House of the Virgin Mary (pictured right) (Meryemana in Turkish, meaning "Mother Mary"), a popular place of pilgrimage, which is believed by many Christians and Muslims to have been the last home of Mary, to which she was taken by the Apostle John after the crucifixion of Jesus, fleeing the persecution of Christians in Judea. Finally, Ephesus was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, which resulted in the condemnation of Nestorius and defined Mary as Theotokos (Greek: Mother of God), signifying the divinity of her Son, Jesus. See the last two links below for Pope Benedict's outdoor Mass in Ephesus. (Also see Ephesus: An on-line Panoramic Virtual Tour)

  • Turkey thawing (Spero News, 11/29/06): Just prior to the Pope arriving to Turkey, Deniz Baykal the main opposition party leader, called for an end to any anti-pope protests.
  • Pope visits Virgin Mary's home (Spero News, 11/29/06): While at the place that is traditionally thought to have been the home of the Virgin Mary the pope said prayers, with security guards and press keeping to a distance.
  • Missal introduction for Pope's visit to Turkey (Spero News, 11/28/06): Following is the introduction of the missal that was prepared by Archbishop Piero Marini for Pope Benedict XVI during the apostolic journey in Turkey.
  • In Ephesus, Supreme Pontiff becomes a simple country pastor (John L. Allen, Jr., 11/29/06): On a beautiful fall afternoon on a Turkish hillside, Pope Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff of the 1.1 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church, metamorphasized into a simple country pastor, celebrating an outdoor Mass for no more than 300 pilgrims – perhaps half Germans who belong to the nearby German-language parish of St. Nicholas.
  • Pope Offers Message of Peace before Christian Minority at Mary's House:
    Ankara, Nov. 29, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI left the Apostolic Nunciature in Ankara, Turkey this morning and traveled by plane to Ephesus, where he celebrated Mass at the “House of Mother Mary” with a group of Turkish Christians. The Pontiff spoke of “Christ, our peace,” and pleaded for peace in the world. Amid strict security, to protect the Holy Father from threatening assassins, Pope Benedict returned to the themes of peace and religion, speaking not of Islam, but of Christianity. Drawing from Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus, the Pope emphasized the motto of his trip to Turkey, "He, Christ, is our peace" (Eph 2:14).” “Mary’s divine motherhood and her ecclesial motherhood are thus inseparably united,” Pope Benedict concluded. “Mary teaches us that the source of our joy and our one sure support is Christ, and she repeats his words: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mk 6:50), ‘I am with you’ (Mt 28:20). To the strength of his arm let us entrust ourselves (cf. Lk 1:51). Mary, Mother of the Church, accompany us always on our way! Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!” Following the celebration of the Mass the Holy Father traveled from Izmir to Istanbul where he is meeting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
  • Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006.
Visit the Blessed Sacrament. Fast. Pray for the Holy Father.

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