On this day we commemorate our righteous Father Herman of Alaska, Enlightener of the Aleuts, who reposed in peace in the year 1837.
Herman was born in the town of Serpukhov in the Moscow Diocese around 1756. At age 16, he entered the Russian Orthodox monastic life at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburg. Later, he moved to the Valaam Monastery. During this time, the head of the Golikov-Shelikov Company; Gregory Shelikov, visited Valaam and made a request for several monks to begin a mission into the Alaskan territory. Father Herman was selected, along with seven other monks. They arrived on Kodiak Island on September 24, 1794. The monks educated and converted the Aleuts or native Alaskans 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 from the original band of missionaries. Father Herman felt it his duty to protect the native Alaskans (Aleuts) from exploitation. He defended them against the often cruel treatment of those who controlled the colony, which he documented and presented before the governors of the colony. The natives regarded him as their intercessor before God. When there was a tidal wave on the Island, Herman took an icon of the Theotokos, placed it on the beach and assured the people that the water would not rise beyond the place where the icon was, and it did not. When there was a great fire on the island, it is said that he dug a trench and stayed the flames. Prior to his death he foretold that there would be no priest to bury him and that he would be forgotten for 30 years. He died on December 13, 1837, and was forgotten until the first investigation of his life in 1867 by Bishop Peter of Alaska.
By his intercessions, O God, have mercy upon us, and save us. Amen.