St Sampson`s Cathedral was founded by Peter I in 1709 as a sign of gratitude for the heavenly patronage shown to the Russian army in the Battle of Poltava. The battle against the Swedes occurred on July 27 (July 10 by new calendar) on Commemoration day of the Venerable Sampson the Hospitable. A small, singlenaved church was consecrated in 1710, nearby were a wooden, rectangular bell tower and the city’s first cemetery. The construction site for the church was designated in Vyborgsky Side.
The church’s north chapel was built shortly after the high altar had been consecrated and was devoted to the Holy Apostle John the Theologian, its south chapel was erected in 1725 and consecrated in honor of the holy Archangel Michael and the other bodiless powers. The records of the time suggest that it was one of the wealthiest churches in the capital and a depository of personal gifts from the tsar Peter I.
Seventeen years later a wooden church had to be replaced with a stone one. The church was built under the direction of the merchant I.A. Lapshin in two campaigns: the western side, the so-called refectory, with two chapels was constructed 1728-1732 and the eastern side was built 1732-1740. The new church was consecrated on August 19, 1740. In 1761 four cupolas in an Elizabethan baroque style were added to the dome, later an ambulatory of brick was annexed to the church, connecting the belfry ach with the church entrance.
In 1909 the church was elevated to the status of cathedral in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Poltava battle.
Religious services ceased in the Cathedral in July of 1935 and from 1939 onwards the church was run by the Department for preservation of monuments. The church suffered serious damages during the siege of Leningrad and in the postwar period. In 1984 St Sampson`s Cathedral became part of the State Museum St Isaac’s Cathedral. In May 2002 the church was reopened for worship.