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Poltava Khrestovozdvyzhenskyi Monastery (Holy Cross Exaltation Monastery)

History of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

After the death and resurrection of Christ, both the Jewish and Roman authorities in Jerusalem made efforts to obscure the Holy Sepulcher, Christ's tomb in the garden near the site of His crucifixion. The earth had been mounded up over the site, and pagan temples had been built on top of it. The Cross on which Christ had died had been hidden (tradition said) by the Jewish authorities somewhere in the vicinity.

According to tradition, Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great,nearing the end of her life, decided under divine inspiration to travel to Jerusalem in IV century to excavate the Holy Sepulcher and attempt to locate the True Cross.

Three crosses were found on the spot. According to one tradition, the inscription IesusNazarenus Rex Iudaeorum ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews") remained attached to the True Cross. According to a more common tradition, however, the inscription was missing, and Saint Helena and Saint Macarius, the bishop of Jerusalem, assuming that one was the True Cross and the other two belonged to the thieves crucified alongside Christ, devised an experiment to determine which was the True Cross.

In one version of the latter tradition, the three crosses were taken to a woman who was near death; when she touched the True Cross, she was healed. In another, the body of a dead man was brought to the place where the three crosses were found, and laid upon each cross. The True Cross restored the dead man to life.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. One-third remained in Jerusalem, one-third was brought to Rome and deposited in the Sessorial basilica Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem), and one-third was taken to Constantinople to make the city impregnable.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated every year on September 27 (the main monastery holiday).It is one of the great Holidays of the Orthodox Church. Poltava Holy Cross Exaltation monastery was founded in 1650 in honor of erection of honest and healing cross of God.

The monastery was built on initiative of Poltavites by the people from Mhar-Lubny Savior Transfiguration monastery headed by Father-Superior Kalistrat.

The money for its construction was given by Poltava lower-middle citizens and Cossack starshyna (senior commanders) headed by Ivan Iskra, Ivan Kramar, Poltava colonel Martyn Pushkar.

The construction work of then wooden monastery complex was blessed by Kyiv Metropolitan Silvestre Kosiv.