St. Herman of Alaska

5 11 2007

ST. HERMAN OF ALASKA

St. Herman, in 1794, traveled with nine other Orthodox Christian missionaries from Russia to do missionary work among the Aleut Indians. After his fellow missionaries died, he alone went to Spruce Island. For the rest of his life, he was dedicated to helping these Indians. He taught them how to garden, preserve food and treated them when they were ill. He chose to live a very ascetic life but was very generous to the Indians. He dug himself a little hut in the ground and covered it with sod. He had a flat board for a bed and used rocks covered with animal skins for pillows. Proclaiming the Gospel to the Aleut Indians was his primary concern..

The animals also loved St. Herman. He could get close to the bears and feed them. He was strong and could carry a heavy load on his shoulders. Twice he saved the people from near tragedy. The first danger was a fire that threatened to wipe out the village. St. Herman dug a ditch that was three feet wide. Then he turned the moss all the way to the bottom of the hill. This prevented the village burning down. Then one day there was a huge tidal wave. St. Herman placed an icon of the Virgin Mary in the sand on the shore and prayed. The waves calmed as they neared the icon. Lastly, St. Herman championed for the human rights of the Aleuts over and against the mean fur traders and gold miners who were ruining Alaska’s natural resources. Last of all, the night St. Herman died, the Aleut people saw a pillar of light flowing up into the sky. They knew that St. Herman had gone to heaven. St. Herman truly brought the Holy Orthodox Faith to North America.

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