St Herman of Alaska – ‘Source of Light and Inspiration’

Yesterday, December 13, was the Winter Feast of St. Herman, Elder and Wonderworker of Alaska.

The Eleventh Ikos[1] of the Akathist Service[2] to this first Orthodox Christian saint glorified in America[3] provides an inspiring summary of why Fr. Herman, a humble monk (not ever ordained to the priesthood) from Valaam Monastery in Russia who came to Alaska in 1794 with the first Orthodox mission, is so significant for Orthodox monastics on our continent, and indeed throughout the world:


To all future members of the monastic order, you are a source of light and inspiration. For you foretold, O Venerable One, the founding of a monastery and of an Episcopal throne in this land. Today a choir of hierarchs and of monastics glorifies you in these words:

Rejoice, instructor of monastics and converser with angels;

Rejoice, most glorious founder of the ascetic way in our land;

Rejoice, foreseer of the growth of this great vineyard of Christ;

Rejoice, fulfillment of this prophecy to the coming generations;

Rejoice, giver of a true image of the monastic way;

Rejoice, for your love is made manifest to all;

Rejoice, our Venerable Father Herman of Alaska, America’s most glorious doer of wonders.

See my earlier post on St Herman of Alaska…

Explore this extensive resource page on St Herman at the website of my home parish, Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Fr. Steven Kostoff, rector.


[1] An “Ikos” is similar to a stanza in a poem.

[2] “Akathist” is a Greek word which literally means, “not sitting.” The traditional form of an Akathist Hymn (poetic outpourings of praise exalting the Lord Jesus Christ, His Mother, or the Saints) consists of twelve sets of ikos and kontakia (a form of descriptive hymnography), with additional prayers and hymns, often framed within the service of Compline in parish use, and at least prefaced by the traditional Trisagion Prayers of the Orthodox Church if chanted privately.

[3] The recognition of a saint in the Orthodox Church begins informally, typically through local veneration (by laity as well as clergy) of a righteous man or woman known and beloved for their holy way of life, their faith, their contribution to the building up of the Church, their  imitation of Christ’s love, etc. There is no required number of miracles to be confirmed or formal investigation undertaken, but rather, the local veneration of the righteous one expands to the point that the Church of that region recognizes what the Holy Spirit has revealed through the devotion and popular piety of the faithful. The Church affirms the sanctity of the Saint, ultimately  performing a service of “glorification.” St. Herman was glorified and entered into the calendar of saints in dual services in 1970, by the Russian Church Abroad (through services held at the ROCOR cathedral in San Francisco, and by the Orthodox Church in America (at services held in Alaska).

One thought on “St Herman of Alaska – ‘Source of Light and Inspiration’

  1. Sandr Thompson

    I recently read the life of this saint. Thanks for describing the process for declaring sainthood.Is there a 100 years time that needs to pass first? I heard that once.


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