November 25, 2017

The Holy Spring of Saint Katherine in Moda, Istanbul

There are many sacred shrines dedicated to Saint Katherine throughout the world, but in Turkey there is only one -- in Moda, Istanbul.

In the year 1924 on the Asian side of Constantinople, specifically in the district of Kadikoy in Moda, Greek fishermen found a rock from which a spring gushed forth, and they considered this to be holy water. It is said that the spring flowed from the ruins of an older church next to an icon of Saint Katherine. Soon after this discovery, a small wooden church was built over it, and the holy water came to be known as the Spring of Saint Katherine.

The small church built over the Spring of Saint Katherine was demolished in 1934-35 and was replaced by a restaurant. However, the holy water was still flowing, and repairs were made in 1950 for its protection. Konstantinos Kotsos Koronto was the first owner of the open-air restaurant, which goes by the name Park Restaurant Moda. Today it is still known as "Kotsos's place". He was a beloved owner of the restaurant, primarily because sometimes he would serve his food without taking money for himself.

What has made this spring known throughout Istanbul is the unique feature of being located under a restaurant. And in order to visit it and light a candle, you must go there when the restaurant is in operation. And conversely, in order to sit at a table in the garden of the restaurant, one must pass by the Holy Spring of Saint Katherine (or Ayazma of Aya Ekaterini in Turkish). When you enter the restaurant, you can see the sea from every corner. As you walk towards the garden, the spring is located to the right, and you arrive there by descending a few stairs. Then you open a steel door, descend a few more stairs, and on the wall opposite the door will be a silver icon of Saint Katherine.

Originally it was only the relatives of the owner and patrons that would come to this chapel, then Greeks heard about it and would visit, but today crowds of people of all sorts of beliefs from all over the city make it a point to visit the chapel. Mostly everyone will light a candle and pray there, and everyone says an "Amen" when a priest of the city goes there every Sunday to offer up some prayers.