May 10, 2013

How Did the "Life-Giving Spring" Get Its Name?

By John Sanidopoulos

Before the second millennium of Christianity, the Spring (Pege) of the Theotokos at Baloukli in Constantinople was the source of numerous miracles, but it had not yet received the epithet by which it would become perpetually known - "Life-giving" (Zoodochos). 

The title "Zoodochos Pege" was coined in the ninth century by Saint Joseph the Hymnographer in a hymn he wrote to the Mother of God. It became associated with the icon of the Theotokos at Baloukli and her Spring  in the 1000's, when a man from Greece was raised from the dead through the miraculous power of the holy Spring. This miracle cemented its renown with the name "Life-giving Spring" (Zoodochos Pege).

According to the story, four pilgrims from Thessaly in Greece were journeying to the holy shrine in Constantinople, but en route one of them died. Before he expired, his dying wish was not to be left behind, but he begged the mariners to take his corpse to the Church of the Spring, and when they arrived they were to pour those holy waters over his dead body. He even specified the amount: three jars of water. His final request was that they afterwards bury him in the surrounding forest. The mariners obliged him, and fulfilled his dying wish. However, after they poured those wonderworking waters over his corpse, the supernatural power of the Theotokos allowed him to rise up and live again.

Therefore, since that time, the Spring has officially become known as Zoodochos Pege or Life-giving Spring. In some icons of the Life-giving Spring, this miracle can be seen at the bottom of the Spring.