Search This Blog

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

Library of Celsus is one of the city’s top attractions

 Story and photos by Bob Schulman

It’s 250 A.D., and the Roman Emperor Trajan Decius has come up with a sure-fire way to get rid of those pesky Christians. He orders everyone in the empire – under pain of death – to make sacrifices to idols of the Roman gods, figuring the Christians wouldn’t do it. He was right, they wouldn’t. And so the lions got some unexpectedly tasty treats.

Edict from Rome was a ruse to get rid of the empire’s Christians.
Some accounts say the emperor’s edict were particularly aimed at wiping out the large group of Christians nesting in the mega-city of Ephesus on the coast of modern-day Turkey. There, in the Roman capital of Asia Minor, seven Christian lads are said to have escaped the onslaught by ducking into a mountain cave, where they fell asleep for a long, long time.

(Like most legends, this one has lots of different versions – from ancient tales by Greek, Roman and Syrian writers to an account in the Muslim Quran. Following is one of the most popular versions.)

The youngsters awoke some 180 years later, not knowing that by 313 A.D. it would be OK to be a Christian, and by 380 A.D. Christianity would be the official religion of the Roman empire.

According to the legend, around 430 A.D. the guy who owned the cave came across the seven sleepers and woke them up. Thinking they’d just slept for a night, when the lads went outside the cave they were shocked to see crosses on the gates to the city and on churches, and Jesus’ name “on everyone’s lips.”
The townsfolk were amazed, too. Especially when the young men tried to buy things with coins dating back to Emperor Decius.
Amphitheater where St. Paul preached.

The Golden Legend, a best-seller of the Middle Ages, takes the story through a few more twists and turns, then tells how the Roman emperor (Theodosius) at the time compared the seven youngsters’ awakening to Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus. How and when the sleepers died is kind of fuzzy – some say their tombs are right in the cave, which was later bricked in to look like a church -- but they were eventually honored as saints. Their Catholic feast day is on July 27 and on Aug. 4 and Oct. 22 in the Greek Orthodox Church. 

Visitors to Ephesus can see what’s believed to be the site of the cave in a grotto of catacombs, tombs and graves near the city.

About Ephesus
The city hosts close to a million visitors a year, many from cruise ships docked at the Turkish port of Kusadasi. Tour buses take sightseers on a 20-minute ride to the ruins, during which guides note they’re about to see the partially restored remains of the second largest city in the whole Roman empire, topped only by Rome itself.

Outdoor public potties were kept warm by slaves.

On most days the city is alive with tourists scampering around the iconic library of Celsus (where scholars once pored through 12,000 scrolls), a nearby brothel, all kinds of temples, shrines, fountains and gates, a 25,000-seat amphitheater (where St. Paul tried to preach to the Ephesians), public “latriana” potties (kept warm by slaves sitting on them during the winter) and the hillside homes of the Roman silky set. 

Out in the boonies of the city is an odd-looking marble column, patched together from pieces of smaller columns. The lone column marks the location of Ephesus’ greatest treasure: the spot where the most wondrous of the Seven Wonders of the World – the immense Temple of Artemis (the twin sister of the Greek super-god Apollo) – once stood. 
Ephesus hosts nearly a million visitors a year.


  1. Really glad to say, your post is very interesting to read. I never stop myself to say anything about it. You are doing a great job. Thank you for sharing this blog hereTurkey Fully Licensed Tour Company

  2. I read the above article and got some knowledge from your article which is about legend of the seven sleepers of ephesus. It's actually great and useful data for us. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. You've written a very useful article about coach holidays. This article provided me with some useful knowledge. Thank you for providing this information. Keep up the good work.

  4. Very well written article. It was an awesome article to read. about Professional Exclusive Barcelona Tours Complete rich content and fully informative. I totally Loved it.

  5. It is a proficient article that you have shared here. I got some different kind of information from your article which I will be sharing with my friends who need this info. Thankful to you for sharing an article like this.Palo Verde Boat Tours

  6. Magnificent post. I truly appreciate perusing and furthermore value your work. This idea is an effective method for improving information. Continue to share this sort of articles, Thank you.Costa Rica Nature Holidays Tours

  7. You have accomplished incredible work by distributing this article here. It is helpful and advantageous data for us. Continue to redesign our insight by share these sorts of articles.costa rica retirement cost