Saturday, December 24, 2011

Venerable Father Herman 
of Alaska
  The Miraculous Intercession  
of Saint Herman of Alaska

The following post was sent to me by His Grace, Bishop George, the Spiritual Father of our brother monastery in West Virginia. I wish to share it with all of you on this, the Feast of Saint Herman of Alaska. For all of you who are celebrating the Nativity of Christ today, I wish you all the joy and gladness that comes with this holy day of the commemoration of the Birth of Our Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Some time ago, in the1990s, our parish invited a local “tree surgeon,” Leo M., to cut down a couple of dead trees in the back of the church property. He came and worked with his wife, Kathleen, doing the job quickly and with kindness to the rest of the surroundings. But they strongly resisted being paid, insisting on offering their work gratis to our church. They were non-Orthodox, and we wondered about the reason for such generosity. The reason, as we learned from them later, was to be found in something that happened a few years before, just after they had been married.

Both Leo and Kathleen were serious enthusiasts of mountaineering and rock climbing, and so for their honeymoon trip they decided to go to Alaska to bag the highest peak of North America, mount Denali (aka McKinley), 20,320 feet. While living at the camp at the foot of the mountain, they thoroughly prepared their expedition: talking to guides, studying the maps, checking the equipment, and waiting for a long stretch of good weather. When they finally started their exciting, but extremely difficult, ascent, everything went just fine for a few days. But at the end of one day, on a narrow path, they met an old, strange-looking man in a long dark robe. He was walking in the opposite direction, down the mountain.

In a friendly manner he greeted them and advised them to turn around and return to the base camp as quickly as possible because the weather was changing into a severe storm. Soon, he said, it will be very dangerous around here. And, as if in answer to their unasked question of how could he know such a thing, he explained that he was local and knew the climate very well. Leaving them surprised and uneasy, he continued on his way.

Some minutes later, after Leo and Kathleen made the wise decision to turn back, and then tried to recall the appearance of the old man, they realized that they hadn’t seen a backpack or any other hiking gear with him. How could he have made it up so high in the bare, rocky mountain in sub-zero temps, without any food or protection?!

A few days later, almost at the bottom of the mountain, they were indeed caught by a severe storm. They survived it, constantly in their minds thanking the old man who had warned them of the danger. A week later, still staying at the base camp, they learned that some other climbers, who happened to be at higher elevations than they were during the storm, never came back.

Then, as if in answer to their curiosity, Leo and Kathleen noticed something at the camp cafeteria. It was a picture of their rescuer, pinned on a bulletin board between some miscellaneous ads and photos of the mountain. They recognized him at a glance. When they asked the waiter for his name, he told them, ” It’s an Orthodox saint who lived in Alaska. His name is St. Herman.” And the photo showed the icon of St. Herman from the Orthodox church nearby.
The Saint had told them the truth. He was indeed a local man…

”By enduring the trials of nature, the storms’ cold and wind together
with hunger, thou didst kindle spiritual peace, warmth and satiety, and
become unaffected by the elements, truly a heavenly man and earthly
angel, O wondrous Herman; so wishing to honor thee as is meet we cry
out: Rejoice, conqueror of nature’s hardships! Rejoice, thou who wast
arrayed in the virtues! … Rejoice, O venerable Father Herman,
adornment of Alaska and joy of all America! ” (From Akathist to St

Saint Herman of Alaska
Sunday December 25, 2011 / December 12, 2011
28th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone three.
Nativity Fast. Fish Allowed.

Week of Holy Forefathers
St. Spyridon the Wonderworker of Tremithon (348).
Venerable Therapontes, abbot of Monza (1597).
Hieromartyr Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem (251).
Martyr Synesius of Rome (3rd c.).
Venerable Herman, Wonderworker of Alaska (1836).
Synaxis of the First Martyrs of the American land: Hieromartyr Juvenal, Peter the Aleut, and New Martyrs of Russia Anatole (Kamensky) of Irkutsk and Seraphim (Samoilovich) of Uglich and priests John (Kochurov) of Chicago and Alexander (Khotovitsky) of New York.
Venerable Finian, founder of Clonard and Skellig Michael (Ireland) (549) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Colman of Glendalough (Ireland) (659) (Celtic & British).
St. John, metropolitan of Zichon, founder of the monastery of the Forerunner on Mt. Menikion (1333) (Greek).
Sts. Amonathus and Anthus, monks (Greek).
Martyr John, abbot of the Zedazeni, Georgia (9th c.) (Georgia).

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PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

Colossians 3:4-11


4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Luke 14:16-24


16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”


  1. That is such an amazing story! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Glory to God for His mercy!
    Being that our home recently became the place of residence for a piece of his original coffin, I am grateful to hear any stories about my beloved patron. He protected me on my own trip to Alaska and I will be forever indebted for his kindness and love which flows from God our Father.

    In Christ - Germanus Strand