The Spring of St Anna – Revered Pilgrimage Site
Since the 16th century the Spring of St Anna, located around one kilometer from Onyshkivtsi village in Ukraine’s Rivne region, has been known for its curative properties. It is considered to be a natural phenomenon of importance and is listed as a protected attraction by the Ukrainian government. Visitors to the Spring of St Anna will find a picturesque stone church alongside the open-air pool filled with water from the underground spring. Painted sky blue and decorated with gold trimming, the church was constructed in 1991 for the use of the many pilgrims who gather to seek relief from their ailments and request blessings from St Anna.
Regardless of the season, the water temperature of the spring remains the same, and while many attribute its healing powers to supernatural forces, research has revealed that the water contains traces of silver and flint, both of which have healing properties. Silver ions are attributed with anti-bacterial features, while the organic properties of flint have a regenerating effect and are thought to cure a number of ailments.
There are a number of legends surrounding the formation of the spring and its discovery. One of the legends tells of a man named Skorbnyk who was the owner of Onyshkivtsi village. Having fallen ill, with no relief in sight despite his many consultations with doctors, Skorbnyk prayed to God and the Virgin Mary for help. He reportedly saw the Virgin Mary in a dream promised that if he should be cured, he would build a small chapel for people to worship at. She pointed to the exact spot where the chapel should be built. The village owner was healed and he kept his promise to build a chapel, placing the icon of St Anna which had assisted in his healing in the new chapel. The spring with its healing waters appeared after the chapel had been constructed. Later, he decided to move to another village and sent a young boy to retrieve the icon. The legend says that an invisible force blocked his exit, terrifying the child and prompting him to return the icon to its resting place. This was considered to be a miracle by those who heard the experience and people started traveling from far and wide to the chapel and the Spring of St Anna with their appeals for help.
Today, pilgrims still travel from far and wide to visit the Spring of St Anna, with some tour operators offer pilgrimage tours in Ukraine, some of which include a visit to this charming chapel and the spring of curative waters.