Early in the ninetieth century, the invalid German nun, Sister Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), allegedly had a vision in which the location of the House of the Virgin Mary was revealed to her. Moved by the accounts of the vision, two Lazarist priests from Izmir set out in 1891 and discovered the ruins of a building, as discovered by Emmerich, along with a spring. After marking out a trail to the site of the ruins, they began organizing annual pilgrimages. A year later, in 1892, the House of the Virgin was declared a place of pilgrimage by the Archbishop Timoni of Izmir. The Vatican, too, has since recognized the house as one of the world’s most sacred buildings.
A bronze statue of the Virgin uncovered in on-site excavations is now displayed at the chapel entrance with its dismembered arm reinstated. Today, the modest shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors of different faiths from all over the world. Even papal visits have been known, the first made in 1967, by Paul VI, the second by John Paul II in 1979 and the third by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Another popular event at the site is the services held every year on August 15th, to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.