Mary’s Spring is the traditional site where Mary met Gabriel the Archangel and received the news that she was to conceive and bear her son, Jesus.
This account is from the Protoevangelium of James from the 2nd century which is a non-canonical gospel that documents details events of the early years of the life of Jesus and His earthly family.
The term protoevangelium is a compound word of two Greek words, protos meaning "first" and evangelion meaning "good news" or "gospel".
The authenticity of the document is questioned because it is clear that James, the brother of Jesus, could not have written it because he would not have been alive in the 2nd century. Because the true identity of the author is unknown, there are doubts regarding its authenticity.
According to the Protoevangelium of James, the meeting of Mary and Gabriel the Archangel occurred when she went to fetch water from the spring and she heard the voice of the angel,
"Hail, thou who hast received grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among the women!...
And she looked around, on the right and on the left, to see whence this voice came.
And she went away, trembling, to her house, and put down the pitcher; and taking the purple, she sat down on her seat, and drew it out. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before her, saying: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace before the Lord of all, and thou shalt conceive, according to His word.”
St. Gabriel's church was built across the square from the famous arched fountain of Mary's Well which bears the coat of arms of the city of Nazareth.
The waters of the spring are brought to St. Gabriel's Church. As discussed above, this well is the site of Gabriel's meeting with Mary.
Since 1862, the spring has served the residents of Nazareth and the large, old ficus tree provides shade.
The church itself was constructed in 1750 and replaced the older Crusader Church. Adrian Maistu, a philanthropist from Greece, granted the beautiful wooden icinostasis ( a wall decorated with religious paintings) to the church. In the church, there is a well and visitors are welcome to sample the water.