SPRUCE ISLAND, AK [DOM] – The Wonderworker and Patron of America, St. Herman of Alaska, was joyfully celebrated on the feast of his canonization, Tuesday, August 9, 2022. This feast gathers Orthodox Christians from all over the world who come and venerate the saint’s relics, and to celebrate Divine Liturgy at the site of his repose.
As previously reported, His Grace Bishop Daniel of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest is partaking in the annual pilgrimage to venerate the holy elder of America. His Grace joins His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco, and the Diocese of the West, and His Grace Bishop Alexei of Sitka, and the Diocese of Alaska for this important event in the Orthodox Church in America. Priest Alexander Koranda, Cathedral Dean, who is accompanying His Grace during his travels, served at the divine services with the other local and visiting clergy.
On Monday evening of August 8, hierarchs, clergy and faithful gathered at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak, AK, the place where the sacred relics of St. Herman of Alaska reside, to celebrate to vigil service for the feast of the saint. After the reading of the Matins Gospel, everyone was able to venerate the relics of the saint and were anointed with oil from the saint. The faithful were also offered an opportunity to take oil from the saint home with them.
The following day, on the feast of St Herman, pilgrims came to the shore of the Kodiak Bay and entered boats to begin their journey to Spruce Island, the home of St. Herman. Once the pilgrims arrive at the island, they began their journey through the beautifully stunning and tranquil path to get to the chapel of St. Sergius and St. Herman of Valaam. Venerating icons of the Alaskan Saints along the way, bells began to toll as the hierarchs approached the chapel for Divine Liturgy.
Bishop Alexei presided over the services for St. Herman for the first time as Diocesan Hierarch of Alaska. Archbishop Benjamin offered a homily on the precious life of St. Herman.
“We know that he is a saint because he embodies the nine virtues that St. Paul teaches about – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – and St. Herman showed us that it was possible to achieve such gifts.”
The Archbishop continued highlighting miracles that are attributed to St. Herman, several of which he witnessed from his own parishioners.
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, a prayer was read for beseeching St. Herman’s prayers upon those present and for the continued spiritual strength of all of his children in North America.
Bishop Alexei welcomed and thanked his brother hierarchs for their support of the pilgrimage and the Diocese of Alaska. His Grace also thanked everyone who gathered and worked on the holy event remining those gather that St. Herman is with us now, and will continue to be as he always has.
A festive meal was hosted on the shores of Spruce Island but local parishioners.
Bishop Daniel extended his deep appreciation to Bishop Alexei and the faithful who labor to make this pilgrimage possible. His Grace noted the immense amount of work that takes to make this such a success, but also realizing that it is done with such attention because of their love for St. Herman.
On March 11, 1969, the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America formally declared their intention to canonize Herman, “as a sublime example of the Holy Life, for our spiritual benefit, inspiration, comfort, and the confirmation of our Faith.” On August 9, 1970, Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) and other hierarchs and clergy presided over the canonization service, which was held at Holy Resurrection Cathedral on Kodiak Island. His relics were transferred from his grave underneath the St. Sergius and St. Herman of Valaam Chapel, on Spruce Island, to the Holy Resurrection Cathedral.