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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Translation of the Relics of Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam

Translation of the Relics of St. Sergius and Herman of Valaam (Feast Day - September 11)

Not much is known of the life of Saints Sergius and Herman, who were the founders of Valaam Monastery in Karelia in northwestern Russia on the island of Valaam in Lake Ladoga. Especially in the 12th and 17th centuries, the monastery experienced devastation, and monastic service was interrupted for many decades. During the invasions, church monuments and monastery shrines were destroyed, and the rich monastery library and manuscript repository were burned and plundered more than once. For this reason, records of the history of the monastery are scarce, and what we know today comes mainly from 18th century sources.

Conflicting traditions place the Saints possibly as early as the 10th century or as late as the 14th. Their feast day is celebrated on June 28. They are described as Athonite monks sent by the Roman Emperor to enlighten the heathen tribes of Karelia with the light of the Christian faith. They traveled along the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, passing the Rus' towns of Kiev, Novgorod and Staraya Ladoga. Arriving on the northern shores of Lake Ladoga, soon they moved to Valaam island, where they established a monastery and would spend the rest of their lives preaching.

According to an 18th century chronicle, the relics of Sergius and Herman were moved to safety in Novgorod in 1162 (or 1163), possibly before a major Swedish offensive against Staraya Ladoga, roughly a decade after the legendary First Swedish Crusade, to be returned in 1182 (or 1180). The date of the translation, September 11, continues to be commemorated by the Orthodox Church of Finland.

The relics of Venerable Sergius and Herman now rest in the Transfiguration Cathedral of the Valaam Monastery. Numerous miracles are performed through the faith of those who ask for the help of the Saints.

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