Church of the Transfiguration in Velyki Sorochyntsi

Church of the Transfiguration in Velyki Sorochyntsi
Velyki Sorochyntsi, Gogolya street
There are many picturesque nooks in Poltava region, as if God himself predestinated them for contemplation of the quiet beauty of Ukrainian nature. And if a temple or building blends with this nature amazing combination of heavenly and earthly worlds arises. This combination is very decorative. And decorativeness is recognized feature of Ukrainian art conception. This ability to adorn their world Ukrainians received from God and they justify his hopes completely.

Spaso-Preobraghensky church in Veliky Sorochintsy was build due to quite earthly occasion. This way Mirgorod colonel Danyil Apostol thanked God when after long waiting he at last got Getman’s bulava. To celebrate his triumph His Highness Sovereign of the half autonomous Ukraine laid the foundation stone of majestic temple in his patrimony in 1727. Two last years of his life old and sick Getman never left Sorochintsy observing completion of the church and its decoration. There were a burial-vault for him Danyil Apostol died in 1734 and Spaso-Preobraghensky Temple started his glorious life.

The Temple really was glorious. Even in Kiev with its Saint Sofia and Kievo-Pecherska Lavra it wouldn’t be lost. In fact the church was unique. Firstly its pyramidal form literally tears soft Poltava’s sky. Secondly its architectural volumes are playing and flowing in one another so it seems almost human. Thirdly its distinctive decoration made in so called «rushnyk» style. Stucco mouldings are inspired by the best traditions of Ukrainian baroque. It seems that all the flowers of Ukraine are gathered on the walls of the church: from modest marigolds to luxurious mallows and sunflowers.

Originally Temple has nine domes, but after the fire in 1800, caused by lightning, four small domes were demolished, so only five was left. Either descendant’s tastes were different or it was the lack of money.

The last and probable the main thing is the church’s iconostasis. The moment you step in under the high vaults you are enraptured and couldn’t take your delighted eyes off. Neither before nor after Sorochinsky’s iconostasis there were nothing like it in the whole world. It’s not an exaggeration as it was in the 30-40th of XVIII century when Ukrainian church art of this kind reached the highest achievements. It took one and a half thousand years to step from the low stone partition of the first Christian basilica to this radiant miracle. The seven circled iconostasis 22 meters high is not without reason called stairs to heaven. In fact, there are three iconostasis geniusly combined together. Your first impression – golden tracery carvings and semi –precious paint of icons. Its monumentality and at the same time amazing lightness is emphasized by saturated colors with red, blue, green, brown waves are coming up bunches of grapes and acanthus leaves in between Ukrainian plants. Saint martyr’s wise and enlightened faces look strait in your soul. In front of the two dominating icons – Our Savior and the Saint Virgin, - even complete atheist has his heart sink.

Sorochinsky iconostasis includes more than hundred icons. It obviously was created by more than one master, though the whole style is sustained. One could distinguish two «ktitor» icons – prophet Daniil and martyr Uliana. They are heaven patrons of the Apostol family. So they are depicted with great expressiveness. The world masterpiece seems not sufficient before this iconostasis.

Getman’s wife Uliana, his son Mirgorod colonel Pavel Apostol, his daughter, field-marshal P.Lassy found eternal peace in the church. In the past admission to the burial vault was free. But, unfortunately, the curios visitors not only viewed the vault but took some parts for souvenirs.

That’s why the entrance was bricked up in XIX century. In 1937 the church was closed by soviet government, but one interesting fact probably saved it from destruction. M.Gogol was baptized there on the 9th of April 1809. Divine services resumed during Second World War, but in 1960 it was closed again. Since 1992 divine services resumed.