From the Pen of St. Herman
From the Pen of St. Herman

Today's saint gives a synopsis of this time in America

In a May 22, 1795 letter from St. Herman’s to Abbot Nazarius of Valaam Monastery in Russia, the saint give a brief summary of his experiences  up to that time in America.  Here is the ending of the letter...

From Moscow I started off on January 22, 1794. We celebrated Holy Pascha in Irkutsk. There I stayed a month or so. From Irkutsk we sailed by way of the Lena River more than two thousand versts6—a very smooth and pleasant journey. The brothers all rode on horseback the more than one thousand versts from Yakutsk to Okhotsk, while all our belongings were carried by one hundred horses. Going by river was nice, but it was even better on horseback. The forests, the mountains, the hills—we saw everything to full satisfaction. Everywhere there were green pastures, for it was a perfectly delightful time of year—May, June, July; but only the bears use the pastures—and we saw plenty of them! Although they are quiet, they are real masters when it comes to harassing the horses! On July 13th we arrived in Okhotsk, which is located on the very shore of the ocean. Then we passed by Kamchatka via the Kurill chain and the Aleutian islands. Now God brought me to see with my own eyes that which I had scarcely heard of in my life: sea otters, seals, beavers... We also saw plenty of whales, swimming on the surface of the water and playing right next to our ship. These little animals are not too big—only some hundred feet long and their heads another twenty-five!

Since the 24th of September, 1794, I have been living on Kodiak Island. Glory be to God, I baptized more than 7,000 Americans and performed more than 2,000 weddings. We’ve built a church, and if time permits, we’ll build another. Then two more chapels to use while travelling, and then a fifth one we shall build. We live happily: they love us and we love them. The people are good, but poor. Both men and women walk around in the same type of outfit, made of bird skins, without undershirts, like sticharions. Those who want to show off wear beaver coats. Their food is fish and all kinds of roots.

Notice my love for travelling; I’m quite happy with my lot.

On his Feastday let us also remember the many trials St. Herman endured in his years in Alaska and be thankful through the power of the Holy Spirit he persevered so that we in 2021 continue to be blessed spiritually with the foundation he laid in the far north as well as his prayers.

** Additional letters

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