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Glorification of St. Herman of Alaska
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Glorification of St. Herman of Alaska

St. Herman of Alaska, the first "American" saint, was the first to bring Orthodoxy to this continent. He came to America as a young monk in 1794 as part of the original Russian Orthodox mission to Alaska. He lived there until his repose, and for more than four decades taught the natives by word and example. With his own severe asceticism a secret, he ministered to both physical and spiritual needs of the people. And his memory is preserved, fresh and personal, among their descendents to this day. Ironically, however, he is unknown to so many other Americans. By his prayers may we, also, truly receive the Gospel he brought and follow the way that he taught.

"Although much time will pass after my death," Father Herman used to say to his disciples, "My memory will not be forgotten and the place of my dwelling will not be empty. A monk, similar to me, fleeing the glory of men, will come and will live on Spruce Island. And Spruce Island will not be without people."
  St. Herman of Alaska icon
St. Herman of Alaska

"After my death," Father Herman used to say, "there will be a plague and many people will die from it, and the Russians will join with the Aleuts." It is true that about six months after the death of the Elder, there was a smallpox epidemic in Alaska that caused such an atrocious number of fatalities that in several villages only a few people remained alive. This compelled the colonial authorities consolidate the Aleuts: thus from twenty villages there remained only seven.

"My little one," Father Herman once asked Constantine Larionov, when he was no more than twelve years old, "what do you think? Will the chapel which they are now building be abandoned?" "I do not know Apa." answered the boy. "And really," said Constantine, "I did not understand the question then, although the whole conversation remains lively in my memory." The Elder, being silent for a while said "My child, remember that in time there will be a monastery here."

"Thirty years will pass after my death, all those who live now on Spruce Island will be dead, you alone will remain alive, and you will be old and poor; then they will remember me," Father Herman used to say this to his disciple, the Aleut Ignatius Aliaga. "It is remarkable," explains Ignatius, "how a man similar to us could know all this these things way ahead of time! He was not a simple man! He saw our thoughts and he would make us involuntarily open them up to him and receive instructions."

"When I die," the Elder would tell his disciples, "you bury me next to Father Ioasaph. Kill my bullock at once. He has served me enough. Bury me by yourselves and do not tell of my death in the harbor The inhabitants of the port (Kodiak) will not see my face. Do not send for a priest and do not wait for one to come: your waiting will be in vain! Do not wash my body, place it on the board, fold the arms on the chest, bind me in my mantle and with its edges cover my face and my head with my klobuk. If someone should wish to say good-bye to me, let him kiss the cross (in my hands); do not show anyone my face. After lowering me into the earth cover me with my blanket." This blanket, as we have already mentioned, was the board that was always in his cell.

The time was approaching for the departure of the Elder. One day he called his disciple Gerasim to his cell to light candles before the icons and to read the Acts of the Apostles. After some time his face shone and he loudly pronounced: "Glory to Thee O Lord! " Then, ordering Gerasim to stop the reading he said that it was pleasing to the Lord to prolong his life one week more. After a week, again according to his order, the candles were lit and the Acts of the Apostles were read. The Elder quietly leaned his head on the chest of Gerasim, the cell was filled with fragrance, his face was shining - and then Father Herman was no more! Hence, he reposed with the sleep of the righteous in the 81st year of his long-suffering life, December 13, 1837.

More on St. Herman of Alaska here:
Life of Valaam Monk Herman

1. Metropolitan Ireney signs the Act of Intent to Canonize, ... 2. St Herman's Hand-Cross and Paraman 3. St Herman's Monastic hat (klobuk) and Hand Cross 4. The original casket at Spruce Island 5. Arrival at Monk's Lagoon, Spruce Island (1)
6. Arrival at Monk's Lagoon, Spruce Island (2) 7. Arrival at Monk's Lagoon, Spruce Island (3) 8. At the Chapel of Sts Sergius & Herman of Valaam on Spruce ... 9. The hierarchs walking to church 10. The Church of the Holy Resurrection, Kodiak, Alaska
11. Final Requiem Service, August 6, 1970 (1) 12. Final Requiem Service, August 6, 1970 (2) 13. Final Requiem Service, August 6, 1970 (3) 14. Veneration of the Holy Cross at the end of the Final Req ... 15. Final Requiem Service, August 6, 1970 (4)
16. Presenting the Finnish Order of the Holy Lamb to the Hon ... 17. Governor Miller of Alaska presents the Alaska flag to Me ... 18. The Divine Liturgy on Friday August 7, 1970 19. Procession with the Holy Relics at the Little Entrance, ... 20. Procession with the Holy Relics at the Little Entrance, ...
21. Sunday Moleiben - the procession with the Holy Relics of ... 22. Procession with the Holy Relics during the Little Entran ... 23. Saturday All-Night Vigil. August 8, 1970. Procession at ... 24. Saturday All-Night Vigil. Blessing at the end of Vespers ... 25. Fr Daniel Hubiak, Fr John Nehrebecki, Protodeacon Nichol ...
26. Protodeacon Innocent Williams, Fr Prokopy Povarnitsin, F ... 27. Metropolitan Ireney censing during the Polielei 28. Metropolitan Ireney and Bishop Theodosius anointing the ... 29. Veneration of the Holy Relics and Anointing with Oil aft ... 30. Bishop Dmitri of Berkeley, holds the Cross for veneratio ...
31. The Procession with the Holy Relics (1) 32. The Procession with the Holy Relics (2) 33. The Procession with the Holy Relics (3) 34. The Procession with the Holy Relics (4) 35. The Procession with the Holy Relics (5)
36. The proceedings of the 91st Congress, acknowledging the ... 37. The interior of the Chapel 38. The reliquary of St. Herman 39. The Chapel of Sts. Sergius and Herman 40. St. Herman's Grave
Goodbye to St. Herman of Alaska His monastic hat or 'Klobuk' St. Herman's 16 lb. cross & chains or 'Paraman' The Reliquary of St. Herman of Alaska

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