Saint Herman of Alaska

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

Saint Herman of Alaskaaudiobutton
(December 13/16, July 27/ August 9)
(†1837)

Saint Herman of AlaskaOur Venerable Father Herman of Alaska was the first saint of the Russian Orthodox Church in America.  An 18th-century missionary, he brought the Gospel to the Aleuts and Eskimos living in Alaska.

Saint Herman was born in 1757 in a merchant’s family near Moscow.  His birth name is not known.   At age 16 Herman became a novice in the Holy Trinity-Sergius Hermitage where he stayed for the next few years.  The saint wanted to live alone in a secluded place and moved to Valaam Monastery.  He received a blessing from Abbot Nazarius before beginning to live as a hermit in the forest near the monastery.  Saint Herman had a beautiful voice, and on holidays he came to the church and sang in the choir.

After Herman spent 15 years at Valaam, the Lord called him for missionary service.   Together with several other monks, Venerable Herman went to Alaska to bring the word of God to the people there.  The Russian monks were the first Orthodox missionaries in North America.  They built a church and started preaching among the Alaskans.  Soon, a school was built for the Aleut children.

It was not easy to gain the trust of the local people.  At that time, Alaska was colonized by Russia.  Many Russian fur traders who traveled there cared only for money and treated the Native Americans badly.  Venerable Herman always defended the Alaskans and helped them, which he saw as his duty.  He called himself “the nanny and the servant of the local people.”  Saint Herman taught their children and helped everybody suffering from illness or poverty.   His example of an honest and godly life helped many non-believers to understand Christianity.  They truly loved Saint Herman and called him Apa, which means “grandfather.”  Thanks to Venerable Herman, thousands of people accepted the Christian faith.

All his life Father Herman remained a simple monk.  He wore old clothes and ate little.

Saint Herman reposed in the Lord at the age of 81.  An Orthodox Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska, is named in his honour.  Venerable Herman was glorified in 1970.

All Saints Chapel, Kodiak, Alaska

Часовня Всех Святых, г. Кодиак, Аляска


Herman  [hǝ:mǝn]
Alaska  [əˈlæskə]
Aleut    [ˈælɪːˌut]
Eskimo  [ˈeskɪˌməu]
Kodiak  [ˈkəudɪˌæk]

Словарь к тексту

missionary, n.  [ˈmɪ ʃən rɪ]  миссионер
novice, n.  [ˈnɔvɪs]  послушник
hermitage, n.  [ˈhəːmɪtǝdʒ]  пустынь, уединённое жилище
secluded, adj.  [sɪˈkluːdɪd]  уединённый
hermit, n.  [ˈhəːmɪt]  отшельник
choir, n.  [ˈkwaɪəʳ]  хор
to gain trust  [′geɪn  trʌst]  завоевать доверие
fur trader  [fəː ˈtreɪdəʳ]  торговец пушниной
care for, v.  [keəʳ fͻ:]  заботиться
native, n.  [ˈneɪtɪv]  коренной житель
nanny, n.  [ˈnӕnɪ]  няня, нянька