Spruce Island, Alaska, May 22, 2019
St. Herman of Alaska brought the Orthodox faith to North America in the late 18th century. His legacy remains there in the presence of his holy relics in the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak, in the many churches throughout the state, and in the faith of the native peoples and converts to holy Orthodoxy there.
His mission eventually spread to the lower 48, and St. Herman is considered the patron saint of the Church in America. He was canonized in 1970 and Frs. Seraphim (Rose) and Herman (Podmoshensky) built a monastery in his honor in Platina, California.
In 1983, the Platina brotherhood spread to Alaska and founded St. Michael’s Skete on Spruce Island where St. Herman lived from 1808 until his holy repose in 1837. Since then, the brothers of the skete have prayed and celebrated the services in a small house chapel, but now St. Herman’s Spruce Island is being further adorned with a new church, to be dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
The skete commissioned Orthodox architect Andrew Gould of New World Byzantine to design a freestanding wooden chapel that would represent the Russian heritage in Alaska yet also have its own distinct style. Gould writes about the project in a new post on the Orthodox Arts Journal.
As Gould writes, one of the major difficulties is that materials can only be brought to the island by boat and then hauled up the mountainside to the skete, thus the church, including the foundation must be built entirely of wood, most of which will come from local spruce trees.
He took inspiration from the many beautiful chapels he visited in Alaska and from a simple 16th-century church in Novgorod, with an octagonal spire rising up from a square base. This design became the basis for the design of the future Church of the Holy Trinity.
Construction on the church has already begun. The finished product will comfortably hold about a dozen monks and a dozen pilgrims.
To contribute to the project or visit the monastery, write to:
St. Michael’s Skete
P.O. Box 90
Ouzinkie, AK 99644
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