In September of 1794, a group of eight monks from Russia’s Valaam Monastery completed a long and hazardous journey to the shores of Alaska. They began planting the first seeds of the missionary effort that has brought forth the rich fruits of holiness on American soil ever since. Many souls have been inspired, nurtured, and guided to salvation through the sacrifice and prayers of these holy monks and their spiritual descendants, to whom we are all so greatly indebted. There has been now over 200 years of Orthodoxy in America for this seed to set in and flourish.
In this icon is a gathering (synaxis in Greek) of many of the Orthodox saints who have struggled and lived on this soil in America. It shows St. Herman and St. Juvenaly from the original Valaam mission, St. Innocent of Moscow and Alaska, the first Orthodox bishop to serve in America, and his successor St. Tikhon, who subsequently became Patriarch of Moscow and suffered for the Faith under the Communists. We also see St. Peter the Aleut, the first Native American martyr, and St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who is still incorrupt, and was glorified on July 2, 1994.