Diana of Ephesus

he Diana of Ephesus was a goddess “whom all Asia and the world worship” (Acts 19:27). Diana was the Roman name for the Greek deity Artemis, the “goddess of the moon and the chaste and sister of the sun-god, Apollo” (Colliers Encyclopedia). Artemis was also the “protectress of chastity and patroness of childbirth” and the goddess of seafarers, who brought good weather and profitable voyages (Encyclopaedia Britannica,11th edition). She is often portrayed as a virgin and mother goddess and the “Mistress of Animals.” Her statues depict a multi-breasted figure wearing a turreted crown. Artemis incorporates many features of the great mother goddess who was worshiped under a variety of names in the ancient world (see The Oxford Companion to the Bible).
We also learn that “Artemis is a deity of very ancient origins who survived and attracted great popularity in Asia Minor and Greece into Christian times when… much of her ethos [beliefs & practices] was transferred to the Virgin Mary. Both figures enjoyed major sanctuaries at Ephesus” (Encyclopedia of Gods, Jordan, p. 26).

By building a church for Mary in Ephesus and declaring her “Mother of God” near the great temple of the mother goddess Diana, the Catholic church simply borrowed and adapted ancient traditions that allowed new converts to continue pagan practices in a “Christian” context!  

…Excerpted from “The Lady of Nations,” Tomorrow’s World,  2003 November-December

To read the whole article, including Diana’s connection to modern-day worship of Mary, read “The  Lady of Nations

To learn more about “Diana”, a good resource is the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, under the article “Diana; Artemis”.