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.
The Syriac Icon of the Mother of God from Ghighiu Monastery
The Ghighiu Convent is located in the village of Barcăneşti, Prahova County, 44 miles north of Bucharest. The Syriac Icon of the Mother of God arrived to Romania in 1958, brought to Patriarch Justinian by Bishop Vasilios Samaha of Sergiopolis of the Patriarchate of Antioch following a dream in which the Theotokos instructed him to bring the icon, painted on sandalwood in the Syrian school in the 16th century. He presented the icon to the patriarch at Ghighiu Monastery.
Since 1958, many believers have testified that they received quick help, healing, and strengthening of faith after praying to the Mother of God before her holy Syriac Icon.
The Precious Cross appeared in the sky over Jerusalem on the morning of May 7, 351 during the reign of the emperor Constantius, the son of Saint Constantine (May 21).
At that time the heresy of Arianism, which taught that Christ was merely a creature and not God, was causing great turmoil and division throughout the Empire. Even after the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325, many people were drawn to this false teaching, and the Orthodox found themselves in the minority in many places.
Constantius, the ruler of the eastern part of the Empire, was a fervent supporter of Arianism. His brothers Constantine II and Constans, who were pious Orthodox Christians, ruled in the west. They were both killed in separate battles around 350, leaving Constantius as sole ruler. Also in 350, Saint Cyril (March 18) became Patriarch of Jerusalem and began his zealous struggle against Arianism.
In May of 351 a luminous Cross appeared over Jerusalem, stretching from Golgotha to the Mount of Olives, a distance of about five and a half miles. The Cross was wide as it was long, and shone more brightly than the sun.
Many people left their homes and workplaces to gather in the church and glorify Christ. The historian Sozomen says that this wondrous sign led to the conversion of multitudes of pagans and Jews to Christianity.
A letter from Saint Cyril to the emperor describing this phenomenon, and admonishing him to become Orthodox, has been preserved. The apparition of the Cross remained over the city for a whole week.
The vision of the Cross over Jerusalem strengthened the Orthodox faithful and contributed to the return of many Arians to the Church. It is also a reminder of the awesome Second Coming of Christ, when “the sign of the Son of man shall appear in heaven (Matthew 24:30).
Saint Acacius lived in the third century, and was an officer in the Roman army during the time of Maximian. At his interrogation he declared that he had received a devout faith from his parents, and that he would remain steadfast in it, for he had seen many miracles of healing which took place at the relics of the saints.
After enduring many tortures in the city of Pyrrinthus, Thrace, he was taken to Byzantium. There he suffered further torments and was beheaded with a sword in the year 303.