Soon after the battle of Poltava Peter I issued an order to build two
churches in the name of St. Sampsoniy, whose name day is celebrated on the 27th of
June - the day of the battle. One of these churches was erected in St.
Petersburg and another one was to be built in Poltava.
St. Sampsoniy is one of the
most respected Saints of the Orthodox Church. He was a gifted doctor,
famous for his unique talent to find cures even in hopeless cases, who lived in the time
of Roman Empire. He was canonized by the Orthodox Church in 1530. The first
St. Sampsony church in Poltava was built near the common grave of the
Russian warriors in 1856 by architect Josef Sharleman. It was a simple five-cupola
church in the old Slavonic style. The local landowner Josef Sudienko donated
100,000 rubles to be used by the City of Poltava for the construction of St.
Sampsoniy Sepulchral Church in commemoration of the Russian warriors
killed in the decisive battle of the Great Northern War.
In 1895 the church was renovated and enlarged by architect Nikolai Nikonov.
At that time the burial-mound was rebuilt and a big
granite cross was installed on its top. On the eve
of the celebration of the bicentennial of the battle in 1909 the church was carefully
repaired. Although the bell tower over the entrance gate was dismantled,
the church itself was not destroyed.
St. Sampsoniy Church is one of only three
churches in the city that survived Josef Stalinís terrible campaign against
organized religion during the 1930s. In Poltava alone fourteen churches were razed
to the ground. St. Sampsoniy church is well known by its beautiful
icons, believed to have been painted by apprentices of the famous Russian painter
Viktor Vasnetsov. In 1991 St. Sampsoniy Church resumed its activity as a parish church.