Related Books

Life-Giving Spring, Zeytinburnu, Istanbul, Turkey

Commemorated on First Friday Easter
Life-Giving Spring, Zeytinburnu, Istanbul, Turkey
Life-Giving Spring, Zeytinburnu, Istanbul, Turkey
A tradition related by Greek church historian Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos around 1320 and echoed by Archpriest Feodor S. Kovalchuk (Wonder-Working Icons of the Theotokos, Central States Deanery, Russian Orthodox Church, Youngstown, Ohio, 1985) holds that this sacred spring outside Constantinople was already dedicated to the Mother of God in the early Christian period. Nestled among plane and cypress trees near the city's Golden Gate, it was overgrown, slimy, and forgotten by April 4, 450, when a soldier named Leo Marcullus stopped there to help a lost and thirsty blind man. Leo heard a voice say, "Leo, Emperor, go into the grove, take the water which you'll find and give it to the thirsty man, take the slime and put it on the man's eyes. ... With my help build a temple here to my name..." Leo found the spring, restored sight to the blind man with its mud, and after becoming Emperor in 457, built a church at the spot. In commemoration of its dedication in 460, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches celebrate the Mother of God as Life-Giving Spring on the Friday after Easter, known as Bright Friday. In 560, Emperor Justinian, whom the waters were said to have healed, built a monastery there with surplus material from Hagia Sophia. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks dismantled the church buildings and reused their stones for a mosque, leaving a small chapel beside the spring. During the Greek Revolution of 1821 the spring was buried under the destroyed chapel. On February 2, 1835, Patriarch Constantius I consecrated a new one, still a minor mecca for Christian pilgrims to the Balikli monastery in the suburb of Zeytinburnu. As depicted in many icons of the Life-Giving Spring (Hayat Veren Kaynak in Turkish, Ζωοδόχος Πηγή, Zoodochos Pege, in Greek), goldfish still swim in the sacred pool.   
Picture of the image just above the spring in the chapel outside Istanbul, from "Β΄Συνέδριο Ορθοδόξου Νεολαίας," Συν Ευωχία Ιδεών,
And since thou didst bear the Word incomprehensibly, 
I entreat thee to refresh me with thy grace divine, 
that I may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Water of salvation.
(Orthodox liturgy for Bright Friday, tr. Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, Mass.)




Additional information