July 01, 2014

Holy Spring of Iskitim

Holy Spring of Iskitim
Church of the Russian New Martyrs and Confessors, on the site of the spring.  Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby

It was colleagues in Novosibirsk that first told me about the spring at Lozhok. I was immediately drawn in by the legends surrounding the place.

The spring is reputedly sacred because on its site Gulag guards executed 40 monks and priests. The intersection of faith and Gulag history was intriguing, and my experiences there so compelling, that I have returned every year since to follow the spring’s development.

I first visited the holy spring in Lozhok in May 2007, during a research trip in Akademgorodok, a university town and research center on the outskirts of Novosibirsk, a Siberian city of one million and the geographic center of Russia. My friends and I arranged to meet the parish priest, Father Igor Zatolokin, at the Church of the Life-Bearing Spring in Iskitim. He had promised to give us a tour of the spring and sites associated with its history after that day’s Sunday mass.

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