November 15, 2021

Herman of Alaska

Herman of Alaska was born around 1756 in Serpukhov, Russian (near Moscow) and died on November 15, 1837 on Spruce Island, Alaska.   Herman is his monastic name; his birth name is unknown.  He was one of the first Eastern Orthodox missionaries to the New World, and is considered by Eastern Orthodox Christians to be the patron saint of the Americas.
Herman was one of eight monks selected for a mission to the Alaskan territory in 1794. They arrived on Kodiak Island on September 24, 1794. The monks converted the native Aleuts, and as time progressed they found themselves protecting the natives from exploitation and abuse.  Because of this moral stance the monks themselves were abused, arrested and physically threatened.  In time, enduring hardship, inclement weather, illness and more, Herman stood as the only remainder of the original band of missionaries.
Herman eventually built a hermitage on Spruce Island where local people would visit him often. He devoted himself to prayer and performing those services he could as a simple monk.  He died on November 15, 1837, but was not buried on Spruce Island until December 13 because a priest could not come to serve the funeral.   He was forgotten until the first investigation of his life in 1867 by Bishop Peter of Alaska.  He was named a saint by the Orthodox Church in America on August 9, 1970.

Prayer:  Almighty God who raised up your servant Herman to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Alaska: Illuminate our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness and into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.