July 30, 2019

Saint Herman of Solovki (+ 1479)

St. Herman of Solovki (Feast Day - July 30)

Venerable Herman did not receive an education and in 1428 went to live as a hermit at the River Vyg, by a chapel. It was here in the year 1429 that Saint Sabbatius of Valaam Monastery came upon him while seeking a solitary place for his ascetic deeds. Herman told Sabbatius about Solovki Island, and both monks crossed the sea and settled on Solovki. They built themselves a cell beneath the Sekir Heights, where they lived for six years. Sabbatius reposed on 27 September 1435, while Herman was away gathering supplies at Onega.

Herman continued his ascetic efforts on the island together with another wilderness-dweller, Saint Zosima (Apr. 17). Herman lived on the island for more than 50 years, and with Zosima established the Solovetsky Monastery when other monks had gathered, in which Zosima served as abbot until his repose in 1479, and was replaced by Arsenius.

Being unlettered, but made wise by Divine Providence and wanting to preserve the memory of Saint Sabbatius to edify many others, he summoned clergy to write down his memories of Saints Sabbatius and Zosima, and about the events which occurred during their lifetime. Saint Herman loved to listen to edifying readings, and in his final instruction to his disciples he bid them to gather books at the monastery. For the domestic and other needs of the monastery the monk made dangerous sailings and prolonged journeys to the mainland into his old age.

On one of these excursions to Novgorod in 1479 he died at the Antoniev Monastery. They brought his body to the Solovetsky Monastery, but because of some ruffians they had to bury him at a chapel in the village of Khavronin on the River Svira. In 1484, when it was decided to move the grave to the place where he had labored, his relics were found incorrupt.

After the closure of the monastery by the Soviets and the creation of the Solovki camp there, the relics of Herman, Zosima and Sabbatius were confiscated and returned to the faithful only in 1990. Until 1992, they were kept in the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, and in August, during a visit to Solovki, Patriarch Alexy II, had them returned to Solovetsky Monastery.

Since 1692, Venerable Herman is venerated as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. His feast days are 30 July (uncovering of the relics) and 8 August (translation of the relics).