16-Aug-2000 -- ZENIT News Agency
EPHESUS, (ZENIT.ORG) - The feast of the Assumption, which for centuries has been celebrated with great solemnity in Ephesus, the shrine next to the house in which, according to one branch of tradition, Mary spent the last years of her life, has taken on special importance during this Jubilee year.
The Church In Ephesus has been declared a Jubilee Church by the Turkish Episcopal Conference.  More than 2,000 people attended Mass there today, celebrated by Archbishop Luigi Conti, Apostolic Nuncio in Turkey.  Among the faithful were pilgrims from the United States, France and Italy.
A liturgy of the Word was also celebrated, under the direction of diocesan Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini, during which the first fruits of the harvest were blessed.  It is interesting to note that Turkish Muslims, who are a majority in the country, attach great importance to this blessing.  Consequently, thousands of them went up to Meryem Ana to pray to the Virgin, for whom they have a special devotion.
The Qu'ran mentions Mary 44 times in delicate poetic terms.  The Ephesus shrine is one of the few where Muslims and Christians pray together daily.  Devotees arrive from all over the world, numbering over one million annually.


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