Does blessed water really taste better? Yes, according to the Russian Orthodox Church. In its first private business deal since the Bolshevik Revolution, the church is marketing Saint Springs, a new bottled mineral water that costs about $1 for a 1.5-liter bottle. The water project is a joint venture among U.S. businessman John King, Russian bottler Rodniki, and the diocese of Kostroma, where the spring is located.
The water is clear, sweet-tasting, and metal free--which alone would make it noteworthy in Russia. But the big selling point is a blessing its spring and bottling plant have received from Russian Patriarch Alexei II. (The water, however, is not used in liturgy.) Besides spiritual benefits, the church enjoys certain business advantages: It can get government approvals faster and isn't hounded by Russia's pervasive organized crime. While the church will not participate in the marketing of the product, it will get a cut of the profits to use for charitable works.
Saint Springs is a big seller among foreigners and hip, newly rich Russians. And King hopes eventually to sell the water to Russian communities in America. Says King, who retired from the plastics industry: "We aim to be the Evian of Russia."