Bright Friday: The Life Giving Spring of the Mother of God

Today we commemorate the Life-Giving Spring of the Most Holy Theotokos.

There once was a beautiful church in Constantinople dedicated to the Mother of God, which had been built in the fifth century by the holy Emperor Leo the Great (January 20) in the Seven Towers district.

Before becoming emperor, Leo was walking in a wooded area where he met a blind man who was thirsty and asked Leo to help him find water. Though he agreed to search for water, he was unable to find any. Suddenly, he heard a voice telling him that there was water nearby. He looked again, but still could not find the water. Then he heard the voice saying “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.” Leo obeyed these instructions, and the blind man regained his sight. Later, Saint Leo became emperor, just as the Theotokos had prophesied.

Leo built a church over the site at his own expense, and the water continued to work miraculous cures. Therefore, it was called “The Life-Giving Spring.”

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the church was torn down by the Moslems, and the stones were used to build a mosque. Only a small chapel remained at the site of the church. Twenty-five steps led down into the chapel, which had a window in the roof to let the light in. The holy Spring was still there, surrounded by a railing.

After the Greek Revolution in 1821, even this little chapel was destroyed and the Spring was buried under the rubble. Christians later obtained permission to rebuild the chapel, and work began in July of 1833. While workmen were clearing the ground, they uncovered the foundations of the earlier church. The Sultan allowed them to build not just a chapel, but a new and beautiful church on the foundations of the old one.

Construction began on September 14, 1833, and was completed on December 30, 1834. Patriarch Constantine II consecrated the church on February 2, 1835, dedicating it to the Most Holy Theotokos.

The Turks desecrated and destroyed the church again on September 6, 1955. A smaller church now stands on the site, and the waters of the Life-Giving Spring continue to work miracles.

There is also a Life-Giving Spring Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos which is commemorated on April 4.

KONTAKION Tone 8

O 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.


Hieromartyr Januarius the Bishop of Benevento, and his companions, at Pozzuoli

Hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution suffered martyrdom for Christ about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

They arrested Saint Januarius and led him to trial before Menignus, the governor of Campagna (central Italy). Because of his firm confession of Christianity, they threw the saint into a red-hot furnace. But like the Babylonian youths, he came out unharmed. Then at Menignus’s command, they stretched him out on a bench and beat him with iron rods until his bones were exposed.

In the crowd were Deacon Faustus and the Reader Desiderius, who wept at the sight of their bishop’s suffering. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them into prison with the hieromartyr Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were two deacons who had been jailed for confessing Christ: Saints Sossius and Proculus, and also two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution.

On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).

Christians from surrounding cities took up the bodies of the holy martyrs for burial, and those of each city took one, in order to have an intercessor before God. The inhabitants of Neapolis (Naples) took the body of the hieromartyr Januarius. With the body, they also collected his dried blood.

Since the fifteenth century, the blood liquifies when the container is placed near another relic, believed to be the martyr’s head. Many miracles proceeded from the relics of the hieromartyr Januarius. During an eruption of Vesuvius around 431, the inhabitants of the city prayed to Saint Januarius to help them. The lava stopped, and did not reach the city.


Hieromartyr Faustus the Deacon at Pozzuoli

Saint Faustus was a deacon who suffered martyrdom for Christ with the hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus and Sossius, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Deacon Faustus and the Reader Desiderius wept at the sight of the bishop’s suffering. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them into prison with Saint Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were two deacons who had been jailed for confessing Christ: Saints Sossius and Proculus, and also two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution.

On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and gave ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).


Hieromartyr Proculus the Deacon at Pozzuoli

Saints Proculus, Sossius and Faustus were deacons who suffered martyrdom for Christ with the hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Sossius and Proculus were prisoners with the hieromartyr Januarius and two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution, in the city of Puteolum. The martyrs were led into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and gave ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).


Hieromartyr Sossius the Deacon at Pozzuoli

Saints Sossius, Proculus, and Faustus were deacons who suffered martyrdom for Christ with the hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Sossius and Proculus were prisoners with the hieromartyr Januarius and two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution, in the city of Puteolum. The martyrs were led into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and gave ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).


Hieromartyr Desiderius the Reader at Pozzuoli

Saint Desiderius the Reader suffered martyrdom for Christ with the hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus, Faustus, and Sossius, Eutychius and Acution about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Deacon Faustus and the Reader Desiderius wept at the sight of the bishop’s suffering. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them into prison with Saint Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were two deacons who had been jailed for confessing Christ: Saints Sossius and Proculus, and also two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution.

On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and gave ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).


Hieromartyr Eutychius the Layman, at Pozzuoli

Saint Eutychius suffered martyrdom for Christ about the year 305 with the hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, and Acution during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Sossius and Proculus were in prison with Saint Januarius and two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution. All the martyrs were led into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).


Hieromartyr Acution the Layman, at Pozzuoli

Saint Acution suffered martyrdom for Christ about the year 305 with the hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, and Eutychius during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

Saints Eutychius and Acution were two laymen in prison with Saint Januarius and Saints Sossius and Proculus. All the martyrs were led into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).


Hieromartyr Theodore of Perge in Pamphylia, with his Mother

The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.

The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.

The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.

The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.

The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.

In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.


Martyr Philippa

The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.

The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.

The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.

The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.

The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.

In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.


Martyr Dioscorus

The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.

The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.

The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.

The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.

The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.

In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.


Martyr Socrates

The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.

The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.

The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.

The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.

The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.

In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.


Martyr Dionysius

The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.

The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.

The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.

The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.

They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.

The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.

In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.

The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.


Martyr Isaac of Nicomedia

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus were pagans who served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were among the spectators who witnessed the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23).

His faith, valor and miracles caused them to believe in Christ. The saints openly declared themselves Christians, and reproached the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They were sentenced to death. The martyr Quadratus was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).


Martyr Apollos of Nicomedia

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus were pagans who served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were among the spectators who witnessed the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23).

His faith, valor and miracles caused them to believe in Christ. The saints openly declared themselves Christians, and reproached the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They were sentenced to death. The martyr Quadratus was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).


Martyr Quadratus of Nicomedia

The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus were pagans who served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were among the spectators who witnessed the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23).

His faith, valor and miracles caused them to believe in Christ. The saints openly declared themselves Christians, and reproached the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They were sentenced to death. The martyr Quadratus was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).


St. Maximian the Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Rome from wealthy and pious parents. Upon receiving his inheritance, he provided tombs to bury those who led holy lives.

Saint Maximian was a plain man and he preferred to live far from worldly vanity. Because of his pure and virtuous life, Patriarch Sisinius of Constantinople (426-427) ordained him presbyter. When the heretic Nestorius (428-431) was deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Maximian replaced him on the patriarchal throne on October 25, 431, during the reign of the holy emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450).

The holy Patriarch Maximian died peacefully on April 12, 434, on Great and Holy Thursday.