[[Image:Theotokos the Life-Giving Font.jpg|thumb|right|Icon of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Font. 17th c.]]
:''This article is about the [[feast day]] of the Life-Giving Spring. For the historic monastery see [[Church of the Life-Giving Font of the Theotokos (Istanbul)]].''
The '''Life-Giving Spring''' or '''Life-Giving Font''' of the [[Theotokos|Mother of God]] (Greek: Ζωοδόχος Πηγή; Russian:
живоносного источника) is both the [[feast day]] of [[ w:Church of St. Mary of the Spring (Istanbul)|a historic church]] just west of Constantinople in [[w:Balıklı, Istanbul|Valoukli]], and an icon of the [[Theotokos]].
The [[feast day]] of the Life-Giving Spring is commemorated on [[w:Easter Friday|Bright Friday]] of each year (the Friday following [[Pascha]]), being the only feast day which may be celebrated during [[Bright Week]], while the commemoration of the Life-Giving Spring ''[[Icon]]'' of the Most Holy [[Theotokos]] is observed on [[April 4]].
[[Image:Saint Mary Of The Spring.jpg|right|thumb|The [[w:Holy well|Holy well]] (Hagiasma) of the Church of the Life Giving Font (Istanbul).]]
[[Image:Procession-Feast of Zoodohos Pigi-Arcadia,Greece-1950s.jpg|thumb|right|Procession on the [[feast day]] of the Life-giving Spring, [[w:Bright Friday|Bright Friday]] 1959, [[w:Arcadia|Arcadia]], Greece.]]
There are two accounts extant concerning the revelation of the Life-Giving Font just outside the City of Constantinople. It is likely that in either case, before the 5th-6th century monastery was erected, a shrine with a [[w:Spring (hydrosphere)|spring of water]] near a grove of trees
was already in existence, and was dedicated to the [[Theotokos]] from early times. Over time, the grove became overgrown and the spring became fetid.<ref>Archpriest Feodor S. Kovalchuk. ''Wonder-Working Icons of the Theotokos.'' Youngstown OH: Central Satates Deanery, 1985. pp.67–70.</ref><br>
The traditional account is recorded by [[
w:Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos|Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos]], the last of the Greek ecclesiastical historians, who flourished around 1320. This tradition begins with a miracle that occurred involving a soldier named Leo Marcellus, who would later become the Byzantine Emperor [[Leo I (emperor)|Leo I the Thracian]] (457-474). While Leo was on his way to Constantinople he encountered a blind man near the [[w:Walls_of_Constantinople#Golden_Gate_and_the_Yedikule_Fortress|Golden Gate]] who was thirsty. Though he agreed to search for water, he was unable to find any. A female voice was then heard who told the future Emperor that there was water nearby. Looking about, he could see no one, and neither could he see any water. Then he heard the voice again:
:"Emperor Leo, go into the deepest part of the woods, and you will find water there. Take some of the cloudy water in your hands and give it to the blind man to drink. Then take the clay and put it on his eyes. Then you shall know who I am."<ref name="OCA">OCA - Feasts and Saints. ''[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=32 Bright Friday. The Life Giving Spring of the Mother of God].''</ref>
The same voice added that she had chosen that very place to be worshiped and prophesied that he would one day receive the crown to the empire. Leo followed her order and at once the blind man recovered his eyesight. After his accession to the throne, the Emperor erected a magnificent church on this place, and the water continued to work miraculous cures. Therefore, it was called "The Life-Giving Spring."
The icon representing the Virgin of the Spring shows the Virgin blessing and embracing the Child. She is surrounded by two angels, and is sitting on the more elevated of two basins, presumably representing the "living water" which is [[Christ]].<ref group="note">This living water is contained in the [[Cross]] which must be born by all those who follow Him, just as He did.</ref> The living water from the more elevated basin flows into a larger marble basin below, which is in the shape of a [[cross]].<ref group="note">In the early Church, the baptismal font was actually in the form of a cross, just like the cross depicted in this icon. Christians would enter from the base of the cross and come out at the top, and then re-enter from the left of the cross and come out on the right of the cross; then the priest, who would be standing in the middle of the cross/baptismal font, would commune them.</ref>
Greek version of the icon that was found on Naxos island, Greece,<ref group="note">Icon of "Panagia Argokiliotissa", from Naxos island, Greece (Greek: Παναγία η Αργοκοιλιώτισσα - Νάξος).</ref> some differences are shown with respect to the ancient type. Around the cross-shaped basin stands the Emperor with his guard, while on the right there is the Patriarch with his bishops. In the background, is represented Leo I with the blind man, together with the walls of the City. Under the basin a paralytic and a madman are healed with the spring’s water.
The fish in this pool, it is said, are descended from the fishes that miraculously jumped out of the frying-pan and into this spring ... (NOTE - research to find this story in more detail).
In Orthodox hymnography, the ''Theotokos'' is frequently compared with a ''Holy Fountain''. The hymns and prayers of the feast are combined with the Paschal hymns, and there is often a Lesser [[Holy water|Blessing of Waters]] performed after the [[Divine Liturgy]] on [[w:Easter Friday|Bright Friday]]. In old [[Church of Russia|Russia]], continuing Greek traditions, there was a custom to sanctify springs that were located near churches, dedicate them to the [[Theotokos|Holy Mother]], and paint icons of her under the title ''The Life Giving Spring''.<ref>Kristina Kondratieva (Global Art Communications project). ''[http://www.iconkuznetsov.com/index.php?sid=341&did=264&lang=eng Panagia The Life Giving Spring].'' Yuriy Kuznetsov: Icons of the XXI Century. Accessed: 2011-05-19.</ref>
in the Third Tone<ref name=" GOARCH">[[ Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America]]. ''[http://www. goarch.org/ chapel/ saints_view?contentid=850&PCode=1PF&D=F&date=4/ 29/ 2011 Renewal Friday : Theotokos of the Lifegiving Font].''</ref>
:As a life-giving fount, thou didst conceive the Dew that is transcendent in essence,
:Rejoice, O thou Spring of life for all men.
most favored by God, : You confer on me the healing of your grace from your inexhaustible Spring. : Therefore, since you gave birth incomprehensibly to the Word, : I implore you to refresh me with the dew of your grace that I might cry to you: : Hail, O Water of salvation.
*[[Church of the Life-Giving Font of the Theotokos (Istanbul)]]
[[Category:Icons of the Theotokos]]