Moscow, August 13, 2019
St. Herman of Alaska, the first American saint, forever unites Orthodoxy in Russia and America. A monk of Valaam in the far east of Russia, he left his beloved monastery and trekked across the entirety of Russia to bring the light of Christ to the native peoples of Alaska in 1794, from where the Orthodox faith spread to the rest of America.
To honor this great missionary, His Eminence Archbishop Michael (Dahulich) of New York and Jersey (Orthodox Church in America) traveled to the saint’s homeland to celebrate his feast on August 8-9 in Moscow at the OCA representation Church of the Great Martyr St. Catherine-in-the-Fields.
Together with Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk and the other clergy of the parish, Abp. Michael celebrated the All-Night Vigil on the eve of the feast commemorating the 1970 glorification of St. Herman. An akathist to St. Herman was also sung during the Vigil, followed by the anointing, reports the St. Catherine’s parish website.
Vladyka Michael also presented the parishioners with icons of St. Herman.
Greeting Abp. Michael after the service, Fr. Daniel noted that he is both the ruling bishop of the New York and New Jersey Diocese and the secretary of the Orthodox Church in America but was able to rearrange his schedule to be with the Moscow faithful. In response, Abp. Michael noted that he was glad to be able to pay a visit to the Moscow church and that Alaska and Russia rejoice together on the feast of St. Herman.
Abp. Michael also celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. Catherine the next morning, together with Patriarchal Vicar His Grace Bishop Dionysiy of Voskresensk, Archimandrite Seraphim (Shemyatovsky), the representative of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia in Moscow, Archpriest Kakhaber Gogotishvili of the Georgian representation church in Moscow, Abbot Joseph (Kryukov) of the Valaam representation in Moscow, and a number of other local clergy in addition to the clergy of St. Catherine’s.
Following the service, during which the clergy and parishioners offered up prayers to St. Herman, Fr. Daniel again greeted Abp. Michael and Bp. Dionysiy, expressing gratitude for Patriarch Kirill’s care and attention for the Church of St. Catherine.
Fr. Daniel also presented each bishop with an icon of St. Herman and expressed hope that St. Herman will pray for the unity of the Church at the throne of God, noting that the service in his honor that united representatives of four Local Churches was a sign of this unity.
Abp. Michael again expressed his joy at the opportunity to celebrate St. Herman in Moscow, and thanked His Holiness Pat. Kirill for his blessing allowing him to serve. He also noted that it was a great joy for him to be able to serve with several former students from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, where His Eminence has served as professor, dean, and rector.
The feast of St. Herman was also augmented by the relics of St. Herman that have their permanent home at St. Catherine’s, including one of the shoes he was buried in.