St. Herman of Alaska (1756-1837)

Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
St. Herman was one of the first Russian Orthodox missionaries sent to Alaska in 1794. All were monks. Most were lay brothers. They were instructed by their superiors to convert by example rather than words. Herman lived alone for almost 40 years on Spruce Island, near Kodiak. His quiet life of compassionate love attracted the neighboring Alutiiq Eskimos and hundreds were baptized. When Russian fur trappers abused the natives, Herman rebuked them. His primitive hermitage, where he once lived in poverty, is now a place of pilgrimage.

The seeds planted by these early monks blossomed into a thriving Orthodox Church in Alaska. Despite oppression and persecution by U.S. Protestants during the great gold rush, there are now Orthodox churches and missions throughout the state. Most have been staffed by married native priests since the latter part of the 1800"s.

His feast day is September 8.


Return to Previous Art Display.