A brief history of the Mgar Transfiguration monastery

The Transfiguration monastery – a spiritual pearl of the Lubny land - is picturesquely situated over the Sula river. For centuries has it been beckoning the searchers of the heavenly treasure.

Pilgrims’ hearts open here to something unutterably important and long-awaited. Through peace and quiet the other world reveals itself, which remains inaccessible in our daily vanity.

The legend has it that the first hermits appeared on the Mgar hill as far back as the tenth century. That is why the place is thought consecrate and blessed.

The Mgar Transfiguration monastery was founded by the outstanding clergyman Isaiah Kopinsky in 1619 by the means of the princess Rayina Vyshnevetska, a cousin of Metropolitan Pyotr Mohyla (Peter Mogilas) and a widow of Mikhail (Mykhailo) Vyshnevetsky, the owner of the vast feudal estate along the both banks of the Dnieper.

Having acquired exceptional education in the Orthdox schools of the Princes of Ostrog, the very young Isaiah Kopinsky took his monastic vows at the Kiev Pecherska Lavra (Kiev-Caves Monastery). He spent fourteen years in the Anthony’s Caves in constant prayers. Later he became the abbot of the Hustyn monastery, the head of the Kiev Theophany brotherhood, and was one of the founders of the Kiev Mohyla Academy.

It is no wonder that it was him who Rayina Vyshnevetska trusted to establish an Orthodox monastery in the Mgar woods which was six kilometers north of the town of Lubny. The document was handed to Kopinsky on January, 18, 1619. In his story “Twins” Taras Shevchenko mentions the belief that the place for the construction of the monastery was pointed to Rayina by angels.

In 1692 in order to replace the first wooden church a new stone cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour was built by the hetmans Ivan Samoilovych and Ivan Mazeppa. The architect was Johann Baptist. The new church was consecrated by the Kiev Metropolitan Barlaam (Yasinsky).

From its very beginning the Mgar monastery has always played an essential role in the spiritual life of Ukraine and remained a stronghold of the Orthodox faith. In 1622 Isaiah Kopinskiy established here a brotherhood which strongly resisted the Catholic influence spreading throughout the left-bank Ukrainians.

At the beginning of 1654 on his way from Moscow to Constantinople, Athanasius III (Patelariy), the Patriarch of Constantinople, stayed in the monastery. At God’s will he passed away here, having bequeathed to bury him in this monastery. His imperishable relicts were found and the canonization of St. Athanasius took place in 1662. The relicts stayed in the Tranfiguraion monastery until 1936. Now they are kept in the Annunciation Cathedral in Kharkiv.

In 1737 the future bishop of Belhorod, hieromonk Joasaph (Horlenko), was appointed the abbot of the monastery and since 1744 he was the first archimandrite there.

In 1785 a bell tower was erected in the site where St. Athanasius had enjoyed secluding. The same year a hermitage with the Annunciation church was founded.

Most of the inhabitants of the monastery were the Zaporozhian Cossacks who had taken their monastic vows. In 1663 as monk Gideon there lived Bohdan Khmelnitskiy’s son, Yuriy.

The Mgar monastery has contributed a lot to the edification of many ascetics and pious people. Among them are Venerable Paisius Kiev-Pechersky (born in Lubny), the abbot of the Optina monastery Theodosius (Popov), Archimandrite Germanus, the Father Superior of Sviatogorsk Dormition hermitage, and many others.

In the territory of the monastery there were buried the Patriarch of Constantinople Seraphim (Anin), the Metropolitan of Kiev Joseph (Nelyubovich-Tukalsky), the Archibishop of Tobolsk Ambrose (Kelembet), as well as Methodius (Pisniachevsky), the Bishop of Poltava, and later, Pskov.

The Chronicle of the Mgar monastery was kept during the XVII-XVIII centuries. Its manuscripts are stored in the research libraries of Ukraine.

On the night of August 5 to 6, 1919, the celebration of the Trasfiguration of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the bolsheviks shot down 17 monks of the monastery with the abbot Father Ambrose. The new martyrs’ tomb is near the Annunciation church of the hermitage, just in front of the altar.

In the early 1930s the Patronage of the children of the so-called “enemies of the people” was established in the territory of the monastery. Since 1937 it housed a disciplinary battalion. In 1946 the monastery was turned into an ammunition depot and in 1985 into a summer camp for children.

The revival of the sacred place started only in 1993. The first abbot in the post-revolution time was Father Superior Philip (Osadchenko), who is now the Metropolitan of Poltava and Myrhorod.

Nowadays, the monastery has some arable fields, livestock and a poultry farm, an apiary, a bakery, and is engaged in publishing.

The Mgar Transfiguration monastery invites everyone who desires to pray and to work to the glory of God and for the sake of the sacred land and your own soul.

Our address is :

village of Mgar

Lubny ditrict

Poltava region



E-mail: mhar.monastery@ukr.net

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