In September of 1794, a group of eight monks from the Russian Monastery of Valaam in Lake Ladoga above St. Peters-burg arrived in Kodiak, Alaska, to help the Russian Mission there. They planted the seeds of Orthodox Christian Faith which in time spread over the North American continent, as their mission reached out past the Russians to the Aleuts, a tribe of Native Americans.
St. Herman was born about a.d. 1756 and at 16 entered the Trinity-St. Sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburg. As a novice, he fell ill with a throat abscess, but was healed by the Virgin Mary, who appeared to him in a dream. He was later transferred to Valaam where he was tonsured a monk under the guidance of the abbot, St. Nazarius. After the mission in Alaska was persecuted by the Russian Company, and some of the monks were martyred by natives, those who were left returned to Russia except St. Herman. He moved to Spruce Island in a.d. 1808, where he built a monastery called New Valaam. Helping the natives in many ways, he was beloved of them. St. Herman died in a.d 1837, was glorified in 1970, and is the patron saint of American Orthodoxy.