In the ruins of the Virgin Mary Church in the ancient city of Ephesus in the Selçuk district of Izmir, the Theotokos Festival was celebrated on October 11, which is usually the second Sunday of October, as has been every year since 1986.
The holy mass led by Izmir Latin Catholic Church Archbishop Monsignor Lorenzo Piretto was accompanied by the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Monsignor Paul Fitzpatrick Russell. Vatican Embassy in Turkey’s First Counselor Monsignor Walter Erben, Archdeacon Minasyan Agop representing the Armenian Catholic Church in Turkey, General Vicar of Izmir Church Father Gabriel Feron, priests of different churches in İzmir, a Franciscan priest from America, Boston city, were present in this special holiday mass.
Priest of Alsancak Dominican Notre-Dame du Rosaire Church Fr. Giuseppe added color to the holy mass by playing the organ.
First, Archdeacon Agop Minasyan in Turkish, and then in Italian, Father Robert Bondea, the priest of the House of Virgin Mary on Selçuk Bülbül Mountain, read the words of the Bible written by St. Luke.
In his sermon in both Turkish and Italian, Monsignor Lorenzo Piretto said: ”My brothers we are gathered for the Holy Mass at this Ephesus Council Church, where in 431 the glorious proclamation of the Mother of Christ, Mary, as the Mother of God, alias Theotokos is being celebrated. Today, with joy, we offer our homage to the Virgin Mary. Mary is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church.
Virgin Mary surrendered her humanity to God. Mary is the Theotokos, that is, the one who gave birth to God. Mary gave birth to Jesus and gave a human body to God. He made God one of us. He made it our brother.
We are experiencing difficult situations. We have fears about the future. The Mother of God, Mary, is calling us to trust in God. It encourages us to change the way we look at things today. He calls to the question: What does the Lord want from me in these situations? What opportunities does it offer me? ”This way, any challenge can turn into an opportunity to trust in God. A pain can become an opportunity to grow deeper in faith” he said.
After Holy Communion, Monsignor Lorenzo Piretto accompanied the participants in front of the statue of Mother Mary, made the prayer of “Theotokos, dedication to Mary, the mother of God’s Immaculate Heart” of the Catholic Church in Turkey and our country Turkey.
All comminities who came to Ephesus after the mass came together at the dinner given by the Virgin Mary Association.
After the meal, on the Theotokos Feast every year, a Rosary Prayer was made in the House of Virgin Mary in the afternoon, where the participants read in different languages. In the Rosary, meditation was made on the life of Mary by following the special visions of the blessed Catherine Emmerich, from the good news of the angel Gabriel to his Assumption.