AUGUST 9th – St Herman of Alaska

The following pics (click to enlarge) were taken during my visit to Alaska in March of 2006. First, the “Mother Church of North America,” Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Kodiak:

This is the back side of the Cathedral looking toward the water.

The icon of St Herman which adorns the iconostasis just above his holy relics.

This is where the body of St Herman rests. You can read about St Herman of Alaska … H E R E.

Standing before St Herman’s relics, I’m holding the hand blessing Cross that the Saint used in his reader services.

On March 27, 2006 we were blessed with excellent weather and a relatively calm sea (emphasis on “relatively”) as pilgrimage was made to Monk’s Lagoon, where St Herman struggled, and to St Nilus Island. Here follows some pics of the journey.

Fr Chad Hatfield, then Dean of St Herman’s Seminary, Fr Innocent Dresdow of Holy Resurrection Cathedral, and the skipper of the skiff, Sasha.

The view, looking back toward Kodiak, as we left the harbor.

The view on one side of the boat.

Another view from the skiff.

Headed toward Monk’s Lagoon.

Approaching Monk’s Lagoon. See the monastic building?

The bell tower from the front entry …

And, looking back toward the sea.

Here’s the beginning of the trail into the forest.

Pilgrims (there were seven of us) making our way into the forest.

The forest.

This is the house and chapel of Fr Gerasim Schmoltz. Fr Gerasim lived and struggled here for 40 years, keeping the memory of St Herman alive.

The grave of Father Gerasim.

This cross marks the spot where St Herman was originally buried by the orphans (as a priest could not get to the island for 40 days after his death).

Here’s a pic of the forest leading to the Chapel of Saints Herman and Sergius of Valaam. As beautiful as it may seem, pictures just aren’t able to do justice to this amazingly enchanting forest.

This is Ss Sergius & Herman of Valaam Chapel where the body of St Herman used to rest.

The place where the body, the relics, of the Saint used to lay.

There is now an image [epitaphios] of St Herman at the former resting place.

Prior to being moved upstairs into the chapel, St Herman’s holy body had been buried under the chapel. In other words, the chapel was built over his grave (which, as mentioned in an earlier post, was the Saint’s second interment). Today, you can crawl under the building into the small crawl space and reverence the holy spot and, obviously, take a picture. As also mentioned in a previous posting, St Herman’s relics are currently enshrined at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak. Someday, when there’s a sufficient monastic presence and a secure structure, his body will return to Spruce Island and the Ss Sergius & Herman of Valaam Chapel.

Pilgrims returning to the shore …

and waiting for the skiff.

Monk’s Rock, out in the midst of the ocean, where St Herman would often go for “retreat.”

A closer view of Monk’s Rock. See the two eagles sitting up top?

Monk’s Rock in the “rear view mirror.”

NOTE: On March 11, 1969, the Great Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) solemnly proclaimed the Act of the Universal Church Canonization of the Staretz Herman to Sainthood in the Orthodox Church in America: “Taking into consideration the long and undisputed witness of the grace of God, appearing through the servant of God, the Staretz Herman of Alaska.” Saint Herman was the first saint from America to be canonized by the Orthodox Church. The glorification of Father Herman was performed on August 9, 1970, at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak, Alaska by the OCA with parallel services at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady, Joy of all who Sorrow in San Francisco by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). His relics were transferred from his grave underneath the church of Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam Chapel on Spruce Island to the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak. Source

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