Ryazan, Russia, September 16, 2020
Just a few years ago, documents were discovered that demonstrate that St. Herman of Alaska, the enlightener of the natives of Alaska and patron saint of American Orthodoxy, was born in Kadom in what is today the Ryazan Province of Russia. Since then, the glory of this wonderworking saint has been spreading throughout Ryazan, and work continues to promote his spiritual heritage.
Against this background, on September 10, the Ryazan Polytechnic Institute hosted an international academic and practical conference dedicated to the history of Russian America and the memory of St. Herman, reports the Ryazan Diocese of the Russian Church.
The conference is timed to the 50th anniversary of the glorification of St. Herman. Additionally, next year marks the 270th anniversary of his birth, and will be celebrated as the year of St. Herman of Alaska in the Ryazan Province.
“His name is significant both in the past and today. The local population of Alaska still venerates him, probably like St. Seraphim of Sarov or St. Sergius of Radonezh. And for Ryazan residents, his name is extremely important,” said Igor Mitrofanov, Secretary of the working group on perpetuating the memory of the first Orthodox saint of Russian America, St. Herman of Alaska.
Fr. Dimitry Fetisov of the St. Nicholas Church in Ryazan emphasized the importance of the example of St. Herman for the faithful, who are also called to be witnesses of the faith among their contemporaries, many of whom know very little about Orthodoxy.
The conference was a large-scale event, attended both in person and remotely by clergy from several dioceses, representatives of the academic community, representatives of the civil authorities, students, and guests from neighboring regions and even Alaska.
Following the plenary session of the conference, the thematic section discussed the legacy of St. Herman and the missionary work of the Russian Church, with a focus on the continuity of traditions and the education of the younger generation.
Among the noteworthy presenters was His Grace Bishop Pankraty of Troitsk, the abbot of Valaam Monastery, where St. Herman labored in asceticism before embarking on his journey to Alaska.