Ephesus was an early center of Christianity. St. Paul spent three years in Ephesus establishing and organizing the church, before he was forced to leave the city. His letters included one addressed directly to the [[Ephesians]]. Traditionally, the [[Apostle]] [[John the Theologian]] spent the last days of his life in Ephesus where he was buried. Tradition also places the death of St. [[Mary Magdalene]] in Ephesus.
During the early centuries of Christian era, Ephesus continued as a center of Christianity second only to Antioch in Asia Minor. The [[First Ecumenical Council|Council of
Nicaea]] conferred on Ephesus ecclesiastical [[jurisdiction]] over the [[diocese]] of Asia Minor that included eleven provinces. Ephesus was the site of the [[Third Ecumenical Council]] where [[Cyril of Alexandria]] led the condemnation of [[Nestorianism]]. [[Justinian the Great]] built a large church adjacent to Ephesus that was dedicated to John the Theologian. [[Image:St John Theologian Grave.jpg|right|thumb|150pkx|Grave of St. John the Theologian]]
In the following years the city suffered from the deprecations of the Arabs and later the Turks, while during the [[Iconoclasm|iconoclastic]] period the defenders of images were [[martyr]]ed. After being destroyed by Turks in 1090, the community was rebuilt on the hills surrounding the church of St. John and was commonly called ''Hagios Theologos'' ("Holy Theologian"), referring to St. John the Theologian. After the succession of attacks during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Christian community was greatly reduced such that when Mark of Ephesus attended the Council of Florence in 1439, he represented a community that had become a village.