The '''Life-Giving Spring''' or '''Life-Giving Font''' of the [[Theotokos|Mother of God]] (in Greek: Ζωοδόχος Πηγή) 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 present church, built in 1835, bears the same dedication as the shrine erected in this place between the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth centuries, named from the nearby [[w:Holy well|holy spring]] with [[w:Thaumaturgy|wonderworking]] properties. For almost fifteen hundred years, this sanctuary has been one of the most important [[pilgrimage]] sites of Greek Orthodoxy.<ref name="JANIN">Raymond Janin (in French). ''La Géographie ecclésiastique de l'Empire byzantin. 1. Part: Le Siège de Constantinople et le Patriarcat Oecuménique. 3rd Vol.: Les Églises et les Monastères.'' Paris: Institut Français d'Etudes Byzantines. 1953. p.232-
The Life-Giving Spring ''[[Icon]]'' of the Most Holy [[Theotokos]] is commemorated by the [[Orthodox Church]] on [[April 4]]. The [[feast day]] of the Life-Giving Spring itself 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]].
In its history, the fountain had been destroyed and then rebuilt on many occasions, at the request of the Virgin Mother.
In the 15th century, the city of Constantinople fell into the hands of the Muslims. The [[w:Church of St. Mary of the Spring (Istanbul)|Church of the Life-giving Spring]] was destroyed, and its building materials were used to construct the [[w:Bayezid II Mosque|Bayezid II Mosque]] for the Sultan. The church site was covered with earth and crushed stone, so that the very foundations of the church disappeared from sight. The beautiful surrounding areas were turned into a Muslim cemetery. A Turkish sentinel, placed at the ruins of the church, forbade Christians not only to gather at the site, but even to approach there.
Nearby was built a hospital and alms-house. Even the Muslims spoke with great respect of the Life-giving Spring, and of the [[Theotokos]], who through it pours out her grace-filled power. "Great among women Holy Mary" is how they refer to the Most Holy Virgin. The water from the Life-giving Spring they call the "water of Holy Mary."
On September 6, 1955, the church was destroyed again during the [[w:Istanbul Pogrom|Istanbul Pogrom]]. Another small chapel has been rebuilt on the site, but the church has not yet been restored to its former size. The spring still flows to this day and is considered by the faithful to have [[w:Thaumaturgy|wonderworking]] properties.
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).
The Icon==The image in the icon includes the [[Virgin Mary]] with her child standing within a stone chalice that presumably represents the living water which is Christ. This "living water" is contained in the cross which all who follow him must bear as he did. In the early Church, the baptismal font was actually in the form of a cross just like the cross of this icon and the Christians would enter in 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.
*[http://www.zoodohospigi.gr/ The Life-Giving Spring] Acadimias, Athens
*[http://www.theotokos-lifegiving-spring.org/ Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring Russian Orthodox Mission] - Bryan, Texas
*Original monastery in Constantinople.
*[http://www.malf.net/spring.htm Monastery of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Spring] - Dunlap, California