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Basilica of St. John

The early Christian community in the ancient port city of Ephesus traced its origins to the apostle and evangelist St. John, the so-called Beloved Disciple. According to church tradition, John wrote his gospel in Ephesus, and, after a period of exile on the island of Patmos during which time he wrote the Book of Revelation, returned there and died.

An apocryphal tale claims that John’s prayers shattered Ephesus’ Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ironically, the 6th-century basilica dedicated to St. John, built in Ephesus by the Emperor Justinian, would become one of the wonders of the medieval world. Built on the supposed site of the saint’s tomb, the church formed part of a building program that included the massive Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna.

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