Herman of Alaska (Page 14 of 16)

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Herman dedicated himself fully for the Lord’s service; he strove with zeal solely for the glorification of His Most Holy Name. Far from his homeland in the midst of a variety of afflictions and privations Father Herman spent several decades performing the noblest deeds of self-sacrifice. He was privileged to receive many supernatural gifts from God.

In the midst of Spruce Island down the hill flows a little stream into the sea. The mouth of this stream was always swept by surf. In the spring when the brook fish appeared the Elder raked away some of the sand at its mouth so that the fish could enter, and at their first appearance they rushed up the stream’. His disciple, Ignaty, said, “it was so that if ‘Apa’ would tell me, I would go and get fish in the streaml” Father Herman fed the birds with dried fish, and they would gather in great numbers around his call. Underneath his cell there lived an ermine. This little animal can not be approached when it has had its young, but the Elder fed it from his own hand. “Was not this a miracle that we had seen?” said his disciple, Ignaty. They also saw Father Herman feeding bears. But when Father Herman died the birds and animals left; even the garden would not give any sort of crops even though someone had willingly taken care of it, Ignaty insisted.

On Spruce Island there once occurred a flood. The inhabitants came to the Elder in great fear. Father Herman then took an icon of the Mother of God from the home where his students lived, and placed it on a “laida” (a sandy bank) and began to pray. After his prayer he turned to those present and said, “Have no fear, the water will not go any higher than the place where this holy icon stands.” The words of the Elder were fullfilled. After this he promised the same aid from this holy icon in the future through the intercessions of the Most Immaculate Queen. He entrusted the icon to his disciple, Sophia; in case of future floods the icon was to be placed on the “laida.”

At the request of the Elder, Baron F. P. Wrangel wrote a letter to a Metropolitan – his name is not known – which was dictated by Father Herman. When the letter was completed and read, the Elder congratulated the Baron upon his attaining the rank of admiral. The Baron was taken aback. This was news to him. It was confirmed, but only after an elapse of some time and just before he departed for St. Petersburg.

Father Herman said to the administrator Kashevarov from whom he accepted his son from the font (during the Sacrament of Baptism), “I am sorry for you my dear ‘kum.’ It’s a shame, the change will be unpleasant for you!” In two years during a change of administration Kashevarov was sent to Sitka in chains.

Once the forest on Spruce Island caught fire. The Elder with his disciple, Ignaty, in a thicket of the forest made a belt about a yard wide in which they turned over the moss. They extended it to the foot of the hill. The Elder said, “Rest assured, the fire will not pass this line.” On the next day according to the testimony of Ignaty there was no hope for salvation (from the fire) and the fire, pushed by a strong wind, reached the place where the moss had been turned over by the Elder. The fire ran over the moss and halted, leaving untouched the thick forest which was beyond the line.

The Elder often said that there would be a bishop for America; this at a time when no one even thought of it, and there was no hope that there would be a bishop for America;this was related by the Bishop Peter and his prophecy was fulfilled in time.


“After my death,” said Father Herman, “there will be an epidemic and many people shall die during it and the Russians shall unite the Aleuts.” And so it happened; it seems that about a half a year after his passing there was a smallpox epidemic; the death rate in America during the epidemic was tremendous. In some villages only a few inhabitants remained alive. This led the administration of the colony to unite the Aleuts; the twelve settlements were consolidated into seven.

“Although a long time shall elapse after my death, I will not be forgotten,” said Father Herman to his disciples. “My place of habitation will not remain empty. A monk like myself who will be escaping from the glory of men, will come and he will live on Spruce Island, and Spruce Island will not be without people.”

(This prophecy has now been fulfilled in its entirety. Just such a monk as Father Herman described lived on Spruce Island for many years; his name was Archimandrite Gerasim, who died on October 13, 1969. This monk took on himself the responsibility of taking care of the Chapel under which at first was buried the Elder Herman. Metropolitan Leonty soon after his elevation to the primacy of the Russian Orthodox Church in America made a pilgrimage to Spruce Island, and the grave of Herman.)

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