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Journey to Ephesus View Comments
By Lori Erickson

Earthquakes, wars and fires caused Ephesus to be rebuilt six times. Eventually, 250,000 people lived there.

When we think of biblical lands, the nation of Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, rarely comes to mind. Yet as a major center for the early Church, this ancient land is home to many sites sacred to the Christian faith. Two-thirds of the books in the New Testament were either written in Asia Minor (an older term for the Asian portion of Turkey) or were addressed to communities there. The apostles John, Paul and Peter lived, preached and prayed in Asia Minor, while the seven churches of the Book of Revelation (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea) are located on or near Turkey’s Aegean coast.

Of all these sites, Ephesus is most famous, both as one of Christianity’s great pilgrimage sites as well as the location of some of the best-preserved Greco-Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. The apostle Paul did missionary work in Ephesus, and an early Church tradition says that the apostle John and the Virgin Mary lived there in the last decades of their lives. A well-traveled friend gave me an additional reason to visit there: “Ephesus is a place of sacred mystery,” she had told me. “Once you visit, you’ll know why I long to return there.”

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Lori Erickson is a freelance writer in Iowa City, Iowa. She writes about inner and outer journeys at spiritualtravels.info.

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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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