St Herman of Alaska Wonderworker of America
(Commemorated on 13 December)

Saint Herman was born in 1756 in Serpukhov, Russia and had a great zeal for Christ from his youth. At the age of sixteen he had a miraculous encounter when visiting the Holy Trinity-Sergius Hermitage near St Petersburg. He had noticed a sore on his neck that began to grow large, making it difficult for him to swallow and disfiguring his face. He remained inside his cell and prayed unceasingly before the icon of the Theotokos until he fell asleep. In the morning the sore had disappeared.

After five years he went to the Valaam Monastery near Finland. While there, he and nine other monks were chosen to go to Kodiak Island in North America for missionary work. The pilgrimage took one year. Having arrived in 1794, they began to minister to the natives known as Aleuts, and many became Christians. Moreover, schools were established and churches built.

Saint Herman later moved to Spruce Island (Alaska) where he initially lived in a cave. He exemplified the virtue of humility, sleeping on a wooden bench and putting others before himself. He received many visitors and built a school for orphans and was particularly fond of the Aleuts.

During an epidemic he worked tirelessly to care for the sick and console the dying, disregarding his own wellbeing.

Having dedicated his life to the Lord’s service, striving with zeal to conduct his missionary work and converting many to Christianity, he passed away peacefully in his cell on Spruce Island at the age of 81 on 13 December 1837. He was canonised as the First American Saint on 9 August 1970, and is considered by many as the patron saint of North America.


Source: Lychnos December 2020 – January 2021