Orthodox icon of Saint Herman of Alaska.
Commemorated December 13.
Herman of Alaska was a Russian Orthodox monk from Valaam Monastery in Russia who traveled with eight other monks in 1793 to bring the Gospel to the native Aleuts and Eskimos in the Aleutian Islands. As part of the Russian colonization of the Americas, Russians had been exploring and trading there since at least 1740. Thus, he marks the first arrival of Orthodox Christian missionaries in North America. He built a school for the Aleutians, and he often defended them from the injustices and exploitation of the Russian traders. He was known to them as Apa which means "Grandfather." He lived most of his life as the sole resident of Spruce Island, a tiny wooded island near Kodiak Island.