The Life of Our Holy Father Saint Herman of Alaska

Commemorated November 15, December 13/25, and July 27/August 8
(1751–1836)

The following Life is based on the original Valaam Life commissioned in 1864 by Abbot Damascene, and incorporates changes based on recent research.

Saint Herman of Alaska was born in 1751 in a village of the province of Voronezh, Russia, into a very devout peasant family. His name before monasticism was Yegor Ivanovich Popov. It is known that one of his relatives ended her days as a nun of the well-known Monastery of the Passion in Moscow. From his early youth Yegor was a pious boy, and he made several pilgrimages to the Sarov Monastery. During his childhood he stayed for a time in the cell of the elder and asceticVarlaam of Sarov (†1764), the spiritual father of Hieromonk Nazarius, the future abbot of Valaam Monastery. Little is known ofthe early period of Fr. Herman’s life. A story about him was told by his friend, monk Theophan.[1] “Fr. Herman (he is now in America) at a young age lived in the wilderness with Fr. Varlaam. Fr. Varlaam once departed for a short time, leaving the youngster—he was twelve years old—alone. It happened that some people gathering mushrooms in the forest became lost and came across the cell of the desert dwellers. When Yegor emerged to meet them, they were frightened by him—so unusual did his presence in the forest seem to them.”[2]

Holy Archangel Gabriel

Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel: The Archangel Gabriel was chosen by the Lord to announce to the Virgin Mary about the Incarnation of the Son of God from Her, to the great rejoicing of all mankind. Therefore, on the day after the Feast of the Annunciation, the day on which the All-Pure Virgin is glorified, we give thanks to the Lord and we venerate His messenger Gabriel, who contributed to the mystery of our salvation.

Gabriel, the holy Archistrategos (Leader of the Heavenly Hosts), is a faithful servant of the Almighty God. He announced the future Incarnation of the Son of God to those of the Old Testament; he inspired the Prophet Moses to write the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament), he announced the coming tribulations of the Chosen People to the Prophet Daniel (Dan. 8:16, 9:21-24); he appeared to Saint Anna (July 25) with the news that she would give birth to the Virgin Mary.

Synaxarion for the Sunday of All Saints

Icon of All Saints.On this day, the Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the feast of all the Saints from throughout the inhabited world, in Asia, Libya and Europe, in North and South.

I sing the praise of each friend of my Lord,
If any would, let them now list them all.

Our most godlike Fathers decreed that we should celebrate the present feast after the descent of the All-holy Spirit, as showing in a certain way that the coming of the All-holy Spirit acted through the Apostles like this: sanctifying and making wise human beings taken from our mortal clay and, for the completion of that fallen angelic order, restoring them and through Christ sending them to God, some by the witness of martyrdom and blood, others by their virtuous conduct and way of life; and things beyond nature are achieved. For the Spirit descends in the form of fire, whose natural momentum is upwards; while dust, whose natural momentum is downwards, ascends on high, that dust which forms our mortal clay, the flesh added to and made divine by God the Word, which a short time before, had been exalted and taken its seat at the right hand of the Father’s glory. But he now also draws all those who wish, according to the promise, just as God the Word had manifested the works of reconciliation and what was the end, most suitable to its purpose, of his coming to us through flesh and of his dispensation, namely that he brings those who were rejected before to union and friendship with God—human nature offering to God the ungrateful people from the nations like first fruits—those who were outstandingly well-pleasing to him. This is one reason that we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) of Simferopol and Crimea

Saint Luke, Bishop of Simferopol and Crimea, the Blessed Surgeon, was born Valentin Felixovich Voino-Yasenetsky (Валентин Феликсович Войно-Ясенецкий, polish spelling Wojno-Jasieniecki; April 14, 1877 and died June 11, 1961.

Doctor of Medicine, Professor, and State Prize winner, since 1944 he was the Archbishop of Tambov and Michurinsk, and later of Simferopol and the Crimea. While he was serving the church as an Archbishop, he was also practicing as a surgeon and taught and published many books and articles on regional anesthesia and surgery. He is now known to be a world-famous pioneering surgeon.

In November of 1995 he was announced as a Saint by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and was officially glorified by the Patriarchate of Russia May 25, 1996. He is commemorated by the church June 11 the anniversary of his falling asleep in the Lord.

Saint Basil of Ostrog

Basil was born in Popovo Selo in Herzegovina, of simple and devout parents. From his youth he was filled with love for the Church of God, and when he grew up he went to the monastery of the Dormi-tion of the Mother of God at Trebinje, and became a monk. As such, he quickly became known for his serious and rare ascetic life, for he loaded himself with ascetic practices, each harder than the last. He was later chosen and consecrated as Bishop of Zahum and Skenderia, much against his will.

As a bishop, he first lived in the monastery at Tvrdo"s, whence, as a good pastor, he confirmed his flock in the Orthodox faith, keeping it from the cruelty of the Turks and the guile of the Latins. But when he was too pressed-upon by his enemies, and when Tvrdos* was destroyed by the Turks, Basil moved to Ostrog, where he lived in strict asceticism, protecting his flock by his unceasing and loving prayers. He went peacefully to the Lord in the 16th century, leaving his whole and healing body, uncor-rupt and wonderworking, to the present day.