Name: The site was colloquially known as the “Holy Spring” before the church was built there in 1909. The plaque dedicated to the founding of the church reads: “In honor and in memory of the holy image of the most holy and noble Mother of God and the Virgin Mary, called“ Life-giving source ”. The church was destroyed in an undetermined early Soviet period. After the plaques in honor of the foundation were found, Metropolitan Methodius of Astana and Alma-Ata (Nemtsov) initiated the construction of a new church on this site, which was named “Church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God “Life-giving source”.
Site type: Church and font built over a holy spring.
Founder: Bishop of Turkestan and Tashkent Dimitri (Abashidze) from 1906 to 1912; Metropolitan of Astana and Alma-Ata Methodius (Nemtsov) from 2003 to 2010; Hieromonk Gleb (Zhartovsky), parish priest from 2007 to the present.
Time and circumstances of foundation: The holy spring was venerated by the local Orthodox communities before it was recognized by the church authorities. Bishop Dimitri (Abashidze) of Turkestan and Tashkent consecrated the first church on this site in 1909. Metropolitan Methodius of Astana and Almaty (Nemtsov) consecrated the new church in 2009. Hieromonk Gleb (Zhartovsky), who grew up in the neighboring village of Kosmos, participated in the restoration of the sacred place and oversaw the construction of an operating religious complex, where he has been a priest since 2007.
Period of use: There are no records of the earliest time of veneration of the holy source. In 1909, a church was built and consecrated at the source, which was transferred to the nuns of the Ivero-Seraphim women's monastery, founded in Verny (now Almaty) in 1908. Summer dwellings were built near the Holy Spring, from which nuns could look after the pasture of the monastery cattle and help the pilgrims who come to venerate the spring and obtain its healing properties. The church was built right above the holy spring. The main reservoir was in the center of the church, from which it flowed through pipes into the font. On June 6, 1914, Bishop Dimitry took part in an icon procession of several thousand people, which was from Iversko-Seraphim women's monastery to the church of the martyr Paraskeva Pyatnitsa. The next morning, he arrived at the sacred spring for worship and ritual bathing, and then went to the Cossack village of Nadezhdinsk. Ataman told him that such a procession had been held annually since the 1860s, for the gratitude of God for freeing their community from locusts. The church was destroyed after the October Revolution in 1917, but the exact year of the destruction is unknown. The wooden frame of the font, according to o. Gleb, remained untouched until the spring was identified as a useful source of fresh water for the military and was excavated. When the church authorities expressed their interest in restoring the sacred site Gleb helped to identify the source and participated in its clearing. In the course of clearing debris for decades, wooden planks of the old font were found, which were dried and used to build the altar of the new church. A bronze plaque was also found marking the consecration of the original church. Finally, a large number of coins have been discovered dating back almost every decade from the 1860s to the 1990s, indicating that local believers venerated the source for over a century and throughout the Soviet period.
The historical sources known to us do not fully trace the history of the Life-giving source. Rare information about this local sacred site has been preserved thanks to a short period when it was recognized by the official Church. And yet, the source was worshiped without recognition of its holiness by diocesan circles. And although there is also very little information about the religious practice around this site during the Soviet period, the recognition of the sanctity of this place indicates that the practice of folk Orthodoxy at that time was much broader than research suggests. This sacred place serves as an example of the fact that the roots of Orthodoxy in Kazakhstan are incomparably deeper than any imperial institutions or political ideologies.
Main functions: The sacred spring is a place of active pilgrimage. Orthodox Christians perform it by bus from Almaty, attend the liturgy in the church and bathe in the font. O. Gleb provides food and shelter for people suffering from poverty and addiction, provided that they do housework and refrain from bad habits and get rid of addictions. By May of 11, 2019 he has provided support to nine people in need.
Religious Affiliation: All archival evidence suggests that the site has been associated with the canonical Eastern Orthodox Church throughout its history.
Main center of attraction: Indoor and outdoor fonts allow pilgrims to access the holy spring in both winter and summer. The church is used to perform liturgy and celebrate religious holidays.
Plan: The church, the chapel with the covered font and the priest's house are next to each other. An open-air font is adjacent to these buildings, down a small slope, and includes a communal reservoir for worship, as well as indoor pools for men and women. Gardens and vineyards provide food for clergy and parishioners in need.
Features of the landscape: The site is located in the savanna-steppe environment, and it opens the view to the impressive Alatau mountains
Present state: Church, chapel, font and living quarters are in use. Some construction work is in progress. Pilgrims are not provided with accommodation and meals are provided outside.
Threats: Funding for the site is unstable and depends entirely on voluntary donations from pilgrims and parishioners. The loss or abandonment of this funding source may render the maintenance of the property unsustainable.
Nearest settlement: Kosmos is located about 6 km south of the site. The city of Almaty is located about 40 kilometers to the southeast.
Other sites: There are no significant religious or historical monuments in the immediate vicinity of this site.
Road: The site is connected to the village of Kosmos by a poor quality dirt road, which was completed only in 2008.
Artifacts and manuscripts: O. Gleb used the boards of the original font for the construction of the altar of the new church. He also has a large number of coins recovered from the source that date back to almost every decade from the 1860s-1990s period. In addition, there is a bronze slab that marked the foundation of the original church, containing the following inscription: “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, this church was founded in honor and memory of the Holy Image of our Most Holy Mother of God and the Virgin Mary, called the Life-Giving Source" , during the reign of the most pious and autocratic Great Sovereign of our Emperor Nikolai Alexandrovich, and during the priesthood of the outstanding Demetrius, Bishop of Turkestan and Tashkent in the 7417th year from the creation of the world and from the birth of the incarnate Word of God, on October 25th 1909.”
Assessment of the current state. The church complex and the provided liturgical and social services are fully supported by donations from the parishioners. He does not receive support from the Orthodox Church of Kazakhstan and is responsible for paying parish taxes to the Astana and Alma-Ata dioceses.
Investment Recommendations: Due to the dependence of the property on donations from pilgrims, it urgently needs to improve the road connection with the village Kosmos. In addition, there is an urgent need for accommodation for pilgrims where you can eat and sleep. Toilets with plumbing are also needed. O. Gleb plans to create a small museum for the exhibits of the site, but could not find funding for it.