St Herman of Alaska was glorified (canonized) a saint on August 9, 1970.
Father Herman was born in the year 1756 (although 1760 is sometimes given as the year of his birth) in Serpukhov, a city of the Moscow Diocese. He died on December 13, 1837.
In the year 1772, he entered monastic life at the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage near the Gulf of Finland, where he remained for five or six years before transferring to nearby Valaam Monastery on the islands in Lake Ladoga near St Petersburg.
A spiritual mission was organized in 1793 from the monks of the Valaam Monastery. It was sent to preach the Word of God to the native inhabitants of Alaska, at that time under the sovereignty of Russia. The Monk Herman was among the members of this mission. Father Herman built a hermitage on Spruce Island in the Aleutian Islands, off of Kodiak Island, which he called, New Valaam.
Father Herman and the other members of the Mission to Alaska found themselves defending the oppressed and exploited natives before the administrators of the colony. Father Herman lived the longest of all the members of the original Mission. Because of his unique Christian personality, he made the single greatest contribution of them all. He devoted long hours to teaching the Alaskan natives the Orthodox way of life. He also taught them the art of agriculture, of carpentry and many practical crafts. He fought for the rights of the natives and intervened for them with great eloquence before the administrators of the American colony. Though persecuted by the administrators, he persevered and won the respect of the Russians and the love and devotion of the natives.
Father Herman was a contemporary American. He loved his native Russia, but he loved his adopted land even more. He championed her people. He was the good conscience of the Orthodox Church in America.
Father Herman’s exemplary life helped to vindicate and almost expunge what would have otherwise been a very depressing story of a colonial power conquering a native people, exploiting them, and then abandoning them having squeezed out of them all possible material value. The Orthodox Church of America and Her Faithful proclaim the Elder Herman to be the first Saint of the Orthodox Church in America. In doing so, the Church reaffirms the goals of the original Mission to America, and she vows to continue the work of bringing the Gospel of Christ and the teachings of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith to the natives of America.
O Blessed Father Herman of Alaska
North Star of Christ’s Holy Church.
The light of your holy life and great deeds
Guides those who follow the Orthodox Way.
Together we lift the Holy Cross
You planted firmly in America
Let all behold and glorify Jesus Christ,
Singing His Holy Resurrection!