A spiritual mission was organized in 1793, made
up of monks of the Valaam Monastery. They were sent to preach the Word of God to the native inhabitants of northwestern America,
who only ten years before had come under the sovereignty of Russia. St Herman was among the members of this Mission.
St Herman came from a family of merchants of Serpukhov, a city of the Moscow Diocese. His name before he was tonsured, and
his family name are not known. (The monastic name is given when a monk takes his vows). He had a great zeal for piety from
youth, and at sixteen he entered monastic life. (This was in 1772, if we assume that Herman was born in 1756, although sometimes
1760 is given as the date of his birth.) First he entered the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage which was located near the Gulf of
Finland on the Peterhof Road, about 15 versts (10 miles) from St Petersburg.
HEALING OF HERMAN
At the St Sergius Hermitage
there occurred the following incident to Father Herman. On the right side of his throat under his chin there appeared an abcess.
The swelling grew rapidly, disfiguring his face. It became difficult for him to swallow, and the odor was unbearable. In this
critical condition Father Herman awaited death. He did not appeal to a physician of this world, but locking his cell he fell
before an lcon of the Queen of Heaven. With fervent tears he prayed, asking of Her that he might be healed. He prayed the
whole night. Then he took a wet towel and with it wiped the face of the Most Holy Mother, and with this towel he covered the
swelling. He continued to pray with tears until he fell asleep from sheer exhaustion on the floor. In a dream he saw the Virgin
Mary healing him.
When Herman awoke in the morning, he found to his great surprise that he was fully healed. The
swelling had disappeared, even though the abscess had not broken through, leaving behind but a small mark as though a reminder
of the miracle. Physicians to whom this healing was described did not believe it, arguing that it was necessary for the abscess
to have either broken through of its own accord or to have been cut open. But the words of the physicians were the words of
human experience, for where the grace of God operates there the order of nature is overcome. Such occurrences humble human
reason under the strong hand of God's Mercy.
HERMAN'S LIFE AT VALAAM
For five or six years Father Herman continued to live
in the St Sergius Hermitage, and then he transferred to the Valaam Monastery, which was widely scattered on the large islands
in the waters of the great Lake Ladoga. He came to love the Valaam haven with all his soul, as he came to love its unforgettable
Superior, the pious Elder Nazarius, and all the brethren. He wrote to Father Nazarius later from America, "Your fatherly
goodness to me, humble one, will be erased out of my heart neither by the terrible, unpassable Siberian lands, nor by the
dark forests. Nor will it be wiped out by the swift flow of the great rivers; nor will the awful ocean quench these feelings.
In my mind I imagine my beloved Valaam, looking to it beyond the great ocean." He praised the Elder Nazarius in his letters
as,"the most reverend, and my beloved father." (Batushka) and the brethren of Valaam he called, "my beloved
and dearest." The place where he lived in America, deserted Spruce Island, he called "New Valaam." And as we
can see, he always remained in spiritual contact with his spiritual homeland', for as late as 1823, that is after thirty
years of his life within the borders of America, he wrote letters to the successor of Father Nazarius, the lgumen Innocent.
Father Barlaam, later lgumen of Valaam, and a contemporary of Father Herman, who accepted his tonsure from Father
Nazarius, wrote thus of the life of Father Herman.
"Father Herman went through the various obediences here,
and being ‘well disposed toward every thing’ was in the course of events sent to Serdobol to oversee there the
work of quarrying marble. The Brothers loved Father Herman, and awaited impatiently his return to the cloisters from Serdobol.
Recognizing the zeal of the young hermit the wise elder, Father Nazarius, released him to take abode in the wilderness. This
wilderness was in the deep forest about a mile from the cloister: to this day this place has retained the name 'Herman's.'
On holy days, Father Herman returned to the monastery from the wilderness. Then it was that at Little Vespers he would stand
in the choir and sing in his pleasant tenor the responses with the brethren from the Canon, 'O Sweetest Jesus, save us
sinners. Most Holy Theotokos, Save us,' and tears would fall like hail from his eyes."
THE FIRST MISSION TO AMERICA
In the second
half of the 18th century the borders of Holy Russia expanded to the north. In those years Russian merchants discovered the
Aleutian Islands which formed in the Pacific Ocean a chain from the eastern shares of Kamchatka to the western shares of North
America. With the opening of these islands there was revealed the sacred necessity to illumine with the light of the Gospel
the native inhabitants. With the blessing of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Gabriel gave to the Elder Nazarius the task of selecting
capable persons from the brethern of Valaam for this holy endeavor. Ten men were selected, and among them was Father Herman.
The chosen men left Valaam for the place of their great appointment in 1793. (The members of this historical mission were:
Archimandrite Joseph (Bolotoff), the Hieromonks, Juvenal, Macarius, Athanasius, Stephan and Nectarius, Hierodeacons, Nectarius
and Stephen, and the monks Joasaph, and Herman.)
As a result of the holy zeal of the preachers the light of the
evangelic sermon quickly poured out among the sons of Russia, and several thousand pagans accepted Christianity. A school
for the education of newly-baptized children was organized, and a church was built at the place where the missionaries lived.
But by the inscrutable providence of God the general progress of the mission was unsatisfactory. After five years of very
productive labor, Archimandrite Joasaph, who had just been elevated to the rank of bishop, was drowned with his party. (This
occurred on the Pacific Ocean been Kamchatka and the Aleutian Islands. The ship, Phoenix, one of the first sea-going ships
built in Alaska, sailed from Okhotsk carrying the first Bishop for the American Mission and his party. The Phoenix was caught
in one of the many storms which periodically sweep the northern Pacific, and the ship and all hands perished together with
Bishop Joasaph and his party.) Before this the zealous Hieromonk Juvenal was granted the martyr's crown. The others died
one after another until in the end only Father Herman remained. The Lord permitted him to labor longer than any of his brethren
in the apostolic task of enlightening the Aleutians.
THE NEW VALAAM - SPRUCE
In America Father Herman chose as his place
of habitation Spruce Island, which he called New Valaam. This island is separted by a strait about a mile and a quarter wide
from Kodiak Island on which had been built a wooden monastery for the residence of the members of the mission, and a wooden
church dedicated to the Resurrection of the Savior. (New Valaam was named for Valaam on Lake Ladoga, the monastery from which
Father Herman came to America. It is interesting to note that Valaam is also located on an island, although, this island is
in a fresh water lake, whereas, Spruce Island is on the Pacific Ocean, although near other islands and the Alaskan mainland.)
Spruce Island is not large, and is almost completely covered by a forest. Almost through its middle a small brook
flows to the sea. Herman selected this picturesque island for the location of his hermitage. He dug a cave out of the ground
with his own hands, and in it he lived his first full summer. For winter there was built for him a cell near the cave, in
which he lived until his death. The cave was converted by him into a place for his burial. A wooden chapel, and a wooden house
to be used as a schoolhouse and a guest house were built not too distant from his cell. A garden was laid out in front of
his cell. For more than forty years Father Herman lived here.
WAY OF LIFE
Father Herman himself spaded the garden,
planted potatoes and cabbage and various vegetables in it. For winter, he preserved mushrooms, salting or drying them. The
salt was obtained by him from ocean water. It is said that a wicker basket in which the Elder carried seaweed from the shore,
was so large that it was difficult for one person to carry. The seaweed was used for fertilizing the soil. But to the astonishment
of all, Father Herman carried a basket filled with seaweed for a long distance without any help at all. By chance his disciple,
Gerasim, saw him one winter night carrying a large log which normally would be carried by four men; and he was bare footed.
Thus worked the Elder, and everything that he acquired as a result of his immeasurable labors was used for the feeding and
clothing of orphans and also for books for his students.
His clothes were the same for winter as for summer. He
did not wear a shirt; instead he wore a smock of deer skin, which he did not take off for several years at a time, nor did
he change it, so that the fur in it was completely worn away, and the leather became glossy. Then there were his boots or
shoes, cassock (podrasnik), an ancient and faded out cassock (riasa) full of patchwork, and his headdress (klobuk). He went
everywhere in these clothes, and at all times; in the rain, in snowstorms, and during the coldest freezing weather. In this,
Father Herman followed the example of many Eastern Ascetic Fathers and Monks who showed the greatest concern for the welfare
and needs of others. Yet, they themselves wore the oldest possible clothes to show their great humility before God, and their
contempt for worldly things.
A small bench covered with a time-worn deerskin served as Father Herman's bed.
He used two bricks for a pillow; these were hidden from visitors by a skin or a shirt. There was no blanket. Instead, he covered
himself with a wooden board which lay on the stove. This board Father Herman, himself called his blanket, and he willed that
it be used to cover his remains; it was as long as he was tall. "During my stay in the cell of Father Herman," writes
the creole Constantine Larionov, "I, a sinner, sat on his 'blanket'-and I consider this the acme of my fortune!"
('creole' is the name by which the Russians referred to the children of mixed marriages of native Indians of Alaska,
Eskimo and Aleuts with Russians.)
On the occasions when Father Herman was the guest of administrators of the American
Company and in the course of their soul-saving talks he sat up with them until midnight. He never spent the night with them,
but regardless of the weather he always returned to his hermitage. If for some extraordinary reason it was necessary for him
to spend the night away from his cell, then in the morning the bed which had been prepared for him would be found untouched;
the Elder not having slept at all. The same was true in his hermitage where having spent the night in talks, he never rested.
The Elder ate very little. As a guest, he scarcely tasted the food, and remained without dinner. In his cell his
dinner consisted of a very small portion of a small fish or some vegetables.
His body, emaciated as a result of
his labors, his vigils, and fasting, was crushed by chains which weighed about sixteen pounds. These chains are kept to this
Telling of these deeds of Father Herman, his disciple, the Aleut lgnaty Aligyaga, added, "Yes, Apa led
a very hard life, and no one can imitate his life!" (Apa, Aleutian word means Elder or grandfather, and it is a name
indicative of the great affection in which he was held).
Our writing of the incidents in the life of the Elder
deal, so to speak, with the external aspects of his labor. "His most important works," says the Bishop Peter, "were
his exercises in spiritual endeavor in his isolated cell where no one saw him, but outside the cell they heard him singing
and celebrating services to God according to the monastic rule." This witness of the Bishop is supported by the following
answers of Father Herman, himself, "How do you manage to live alone in the forest, Father Herman? Don't you ever
become lonesome?" He answered, "No I am not there alone! God is here, as God is everywhere. The Holy Angels are
there. With whom is it better to talk, with people, or with Angels? Most certainly with Angels."
FATHER HERMAN AND THE NATIVES
The way in
which Father Herman looked upon the natives of America, how he understood his own relations with them, and how he was concerned
for their needs he expressed himself in one of his letters to the former administrator of the colony, Simeon Yanovsky.
He wrote, "Our Creator granted to our beloved homeland this land which like a newly-born babe does not yet have
the strength for knowledge or understanding. It requires not only protection, because of its infantile weakness and impotence,
but also his sustenance. Even for this it does not yet have the ability to make an appeal on its own behalf. And since the
welfare of this nation by the Providence of God, it is not known for how long, is dependent on and has been entrusted into
the hands of the Russian government which has now been given into your own power, therefore I, the most humble servant of
these people, and their nurse (nyanka) stand before you in their behalf, write this petition with tears of blood. Be our Father
and our Protector. Certainly we do not know how to be eloquent, so with an inarticulate infant's tonque we say: Wipe away
the tears of the defenseless orphans, cool the hearts melting away in the fire of sorrow. Help us to know what consolation
The Elder acted the way he felt. He always interceded before the governors in behalf of those who
had transgressed. He defended those who had been offended. He helped those who were in need with whatever means he had available.
The Aleuts, men, women and children, often visited him. Some asked for advice, others complained of oppression, others sought
out defense, and still others desired help. Each one received the greatest possible satisfaction from the Elder. He discussed
their mutual difficulties, and he tried to settle these peacefully. He was especially concerned about reestablishing understanding
in families. If he did not succeed in reconciling a husband and wife, the Elder prevailed upon them to separate temporarily.
The need for such a procedure he explained thus, "it is better to let them live apart, or believe me, it can be terrible
if they are not separated. There have been incidents when a husband killed his wife, or when a wife destroyed her husband."
Father Herman especially loved children. He made large quantities of biscuits for them, and he baked cookies (krendelki)
for them; and the children were fond of the Elder. Father Herman's love for the Aleuts reached the point of self-denial.
AN EPIDEMIC STRIKES
A ship from the United States brought to Sitka Island, and from there to Kodiak Island, a contagious disease, a fatal
illness. It began with a fever, a heavy cold, and difficult respiration, and it ended with chills; in three days the victim
died. On the island there was neither a doctor nor medicine. The illness spread rapidly through the village, and then throughout
the nearby areas. The disease affected all, even infants. The fatalities were so great that for three days there was no one
to dig graves, and the bodies remained unburied. An eyewitness said, "I cannot imagine anything more tragic and horrible
than the sight which struck me when I visited an Aleutian 'Kazhim'. This was a large building, or barracks, with dividing
sections, in which the Aleuts lived with their families; it contained about 100 people. Here some had died, their cold bodies
lay near the living; others were dying; there were groans and weeping which tore at one's soul."
saw mothers over whose bodies cold in death crawled a hungry child, crying and searching in vain for its food...My heart was
bursting with compassion! It seemed that if anyone could paint with a worthy brush the full horror of this tragic scene, that
he would have successfully aroused fear of death in the most embittered heart." Father Herman, during this terrible sickness
which lasted a whole month, gradually dying out towards the end, visited the sick, never tiring. He admonished them in their
fear, prayed, brought them to penance, or prepared them for death. He never spared himself.
FATHER HERMAN AS A SPIRITUAL TEACHER
Elder was concerned in particular for the moral growth of the Aleuts. With this end in mind a school was built for children-the
orphans of the Aleuts. He himself taught them the Law of God and church music. For this same purpose he gathered the Aleuts
on Sunday and Holy Days for prayer in the chapel near his cell. Here his disciple read the Hours and the various prayers while
the Elder himself read the Epistle and Gospel. He also preached to them. His students sang, and they sang very well. The Aleuts
loved to hear his sermons, gathering around him in large numbers. The Elder's talks were captivating, and his listeners
were moved by their wonderous power. He himself writes of one example of the beneficial results of his words.
to the holy destinies of the Merciful God! He has shown me now through his unfathomable Providence a new occurence which I,
who have lived here for twenty years had never seen before on Kodiak. Recently after Easter, a young girl about twenty years
of age who knows Russian well, came to me. Having heard of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of Eternal Life, she became
so inflamed with love for Jesus Christ that she does not wish to leave me. She pleaded eloquently with me. Contrary to my
personal inclination and love for solitude, and despite all the hindrances and difficulties which I put forward before accepting
her, she has now been living near the school for a month and is not lonesome."
"I, looking on this with
great wonder, remembered the 'words of the Savior: that which is hidden from the wise and learned is revealed to babes."
This woman lived at the school until the death of the Elder. She watched for the good conduct of
the children who studied in his school. Father Herman willed that after his death she was to continue to live on Spruce Island.
Her name was Sophia Vlasova.
Yanovsky writes about the character and the eloquence of the talks of the Elder thus:
"When I met Father Herman I was thirty years old. I must say that I was educated in the naval corps school;
that I knew many sciences having read extensively. But to my regret, the Science of sciences, that is the Law of God, I barely
remembered the externals - and these only theoretically, not applying them to life. I was a Christian in name only, but in
my soul and in reality, I was a freethinker. Furthermore, I did not admit the divinity and holiness of our religion, for I
had read through many atheistic works. Father Herman recognized this immediately and he desired to reconvert me. To my great
surprise he spoke so convincingly, wisely - and he argued with such conviction- that it seemed to me that no learning or worldly
wisdom could stand one's ground before his words. We conversed with him daily until midnight, and even later, of God's
love, of eternity, of the salvation of souls, and of Christian living. From his lips flowed a ceaseless stream of sweet words!
By these continual talks and by the prayers of the holy Elder the Lord returned me completely to the way of Truth, and I became
a real Christian. I am indebted for all this to Father Herman; he is my true benefactor."
ago," continues Yanovsky, "Father Herman converted a certain naval captain G. to Orthodoxy from the Lutheran Faith.
This captain was well educated. Besides many sciences, he was well versed in languages. He knew Russian, English, German,
French, Italian and also some Spanish. But for all this he could not resist the convictions and proofs of Father Herman. He
changed his faith and was united to the Orthodox Church through Chrismation. When he was leaving America, the Elder said to
him while they were parting, "Be on guard, if the Lord should take your wife from you then do not marry a German woman
under any circumstance. If you do marry a German woman, undoubtedly she will damage your Orthodoxy." The Captain gave
his word, but he failed to keep it. The warning of the Elder was prophetic. Indeed, after several years the Captain's
wife did die, and he married a German woman. There is no doubt that his faith weakened or that he left it; for he died suddenly
Further on Yanovsky writes, "Once the Elder was invited aboard a frigate which came
from St Petersburg. The Captain of the frigate was a highly educated man, who had been sent to America by order of the Emperor
to make an inspection of all the colonies. There were more than twenty-five officers with the Captain, and they also were
educated men. In the company of this group sat a monk of a hermitage, small in stature and wearing very old clothes. All these
educated conversationalists were placed in such a position by his wise talks that they did not know how to answer him. The
Captain himself used to say, 'We were lost for an answer before him.'
"Father Herman gave them all
one general question: 'Gentlemen, What do you love above all, and what will each of you wish for your happiness?'
Various answers were offered ... Some desired wealth, others glory, some a beautiful wife, and still others a beautiful ship
he would captain; and so forth in the same vein. 'It is not true,' Father Herman said to them concerning this, 'that
all your various wishes can bring us to one conclusion - that each of you desires that which in his own understanding he considers
the best, and which is most worthy of his love?' They all answered, 'Yes, that is so!' He then continued, 'Would
you not say, Is not that which is best, above all, and surpassing all, and that which by preference is most worthy of love,
the Very Lord, our Jesus Christ, who created us, adorned us with such ideals, gave life to all, sustains everything, nurtures
and loves all, who is Himself Love and most beautiful of all men? Should we not then love God above everything, desire Him
more than anything, and search Him out?' "
All said, "Why, yes! That's self-evident!" Then
the Elder asked, "But do you love God?" They all answered, "Certainly, we love God. How can we not love God?"
"And I a sinner have been trying for more than forty years to love God, I cannot say that I love Him completely,"
Father Herman protested to them. He then began to demonstrate to them the way in which we should love God. "if we love
someone," he said, "we always remember them; we try to please them. Day and night our heart is concerned with the
subject. Is that the way you gentlemen love God? Do you turn to Him often? Do you always remember Him? Do you always pray
to Him and fulfill His holy commandments?" They had to admit that they had not! "For our own good, and for our own
fortune," concluded the Elder, "let us at least promise ourselves that from this very minute we will try to love
God more than anything and to fulfill His Holy Will!" Without any doubt this conversation was imprinted in the hearts
of the listeners for the rest of their lives.
"In general, Father Herman liked to talk of eternity, of salvation
of the future life, of our destinies under God. He often talked on the lives of the Saints, on the Prologue, but he never
spoke about anything frivolous. It was so pleasant to hear him that those who conversed with him, the Aleuts and their wives,
were so captivated by his talks that often they did not leave him until dawn, and then they left him with reluctance;"
thus witnesses the creole, Constantine Larionov.
A DESCRIPTION OF FATHER HERMAN
Yanovsky writes a detailed description of Father Herman.
"I have a vivid memory," he said, "Of all the features of the Elder's face reflecting goodness; his pleasant
smile, his meek and attractive mien, his humble and quiet behavior, and his gracious word. He was short of stature. His face
was pale and covered with wrinkles. His eyes were greyish-blue, full of sparkle, and on his head there were a few gray hairs.
His voice was not powerful, but it was very pleasant." Yanovsky relates two incidents from his conversations with the
Elder. "Once," he writes, "I read to Father Herman the ode, 'God,' by Derzhavin. The Elder was surprised,
and entranced. He asked me to read it again. I read it once more, "Is it possible that a simple, educated man wrote this?"
he asked. "Yes, a learned poet," I answered. "This has been written under God's inspiration," said
THE MARTYRDOM OF PETER
"On another occasion I was relating to him how the Spanish in California had imprisoned fourteen Aleuts,
and how the Jesuits were forcing all of them to accept the Catholic Faith. But this Aleut would not agree under any circumstances,
saying, 'We are Christians.' The Jesuits protested, 'That's not true; you are heretics and schismatics. If
you do not agree to accept our faith then we will torture all of you.' Then the Aleuts were placed in cells until evening;
two to a cell. At night the Jesuits came to the prison with lanterns and lighted candles. They began to persuade the Aleuts
in the cell once again to accept the Catholic Faith. 'We are Christians,' was the answer of the Aleuts, 'and we
will not change our Faith.' Then the Jesuits began to torture them, at first the one while his companion was the witness.
They cut the toes off his feet, first one joint and then the other joint. And then they cut the first joint on the fingers
of the hands, and then the other joint. Afterwards they cut off his feet, and his hands; the blood flowed. The martyr endured
all and steadfastly insisted on one thing: "I am a Christian.' In such suffering, he bled to death. The Jesuit promised
to torture to death his comrades also on the next day.
But that night an order was received from Monterey stating
that the imprisoned Aleuts were to be released immediately, and sent there under escort. Therefore, in the morning all were
dispatched to Monterey with the exception of the martyred Aleut. This was related to me by a witness, the same Aleut who was
the comrade of the tortured Aleut. Afterwards he escaped from imprisonment, and I reported this incident to the supreme authorities
in St Petersburg. When I finished my story, Father Herman asked, 'And how did they call the martyred Aleut?' I answered,
'Peter; I do not remember his family name.' The Elder stood up before an icon reverently, made the sign of the Cross
and pronounced, "Holy newly-martyred Peter, pray to God for usl"
SPIRIT OF FATHER HERMAN’S TEACHING
to express the spirit of Father Herman's teaching, we present here a quotation from a letter that was written by his own
"The empty years of these desires separate us from our heavenly homeland, and our Love for these desires
and our habits clothe us, as it were, in an odious dress; it is called by the Apostle 'the external (earthy) man.'
(I Cor. 15:47). We who are wanderers in the journey of this life call to God for aid. We must divest ourselves of this repulsiveness,
and put on new desires, and a new love for the coming age. Thus, through this we will know either an attraction or a repulsion
for the heavenly homeland. It is possible to do this quickly, but we must follow the example of the sick, who wishing for
desired health, do not stop searching for means of curing themselves. But I am not speaking clearly."
desiring anything for himself in life; long ago when he first came to America having refused, because of his humility, the
dignity of hiero-monk and archimandrite; and deciding to remain forever a common monk, Father Herman, without the least fear
before the powerful strove with all sincerity for God. With gentle love, and disregarding the person, he criticized many for
intemperate living, for unworthy behavior, and for oppressing the Aleuts. Evil armed itself against him and gave him all sorts
of trouble and sorrow. But God protected the Elder. The Administrator of the Colony, Yanovsky, not having yet seen Father
Herman, after receiving one of those complaints, had already written to St Petersburg of the necessity of his removal. He
explained that it seemed that he was arousing the Aleuts against the administration. But this accusation turned out to be
unjust, and in the end Yanovsky was numbered among the admirers of Father Herman.
Once an inspector came to Spruce
Island with the Administrator of the Colony and with company employees to search through Father Herman's call.
This party expected to find property of great value in Father Herman's call. But when they found nothing of value, an
employee (of the American Company), Ponomarkhov, began to tear up the floor with an axe, undoubtedly with the consent of his
seniors. Then Father Herman said to him, "My friend, you have lifted the axe in vain; this weapon shall deprive you of
your life." Some time later people were needed at Fort Nicholas, and for that reason several Russian employees were sent
there from Kodiak; among them was Ponomarkhov; there the natives of Kenai cut off his head while he slept.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF FATHER HERMAN
sorrows were borne by Father Herman from evil spirits. He himself revealed this to his disciple, Gerasim. Once when he entered
Father Herman's cell without the usual prayer he received no answer from Father Herman to any of his questions. The next
day Gerasim asked him the reason for his silence. On that occasion Father Herman said to him, "When I came to this island
and settled in this hermitage the evil spirits approached me ostensibly to be helpful. They came in the form of a man, and
in the form of animals. I suffered much from them; from various afflictions and temptations. And that is why I do not speak
now to anyone who enters into my presence without prayer." (It is customary among devout laymen, as well as clergy, to
say out loud a prayer, and upon hearing a response ending with Amen, to enter and go to the icon in the room to reverence
it, and to say a prayer before greeting the host).
SUPERNATURAL GIFTS FROM GOD
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, lgnaty, said, "it was so that if 'Apa' would tell me, I would go and get fish in the stream"
Father Herman fed the birds with dried fish, and they would gather in great numbers around his cell. 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, lgnaty. 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, lgnaty 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."
A spiritual mission was organized in 1793, made up of monks of the Valaam Monastery.
They were sent to preach the Word of God to the native inhabitants of northwestern America, who only ten years before had
come under the sovereignty of Russia. St Herman was among the members of this Mission.