Pilgrimage offers spiritual enrichment in Kodiak

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Members of the Russian Orthodox Church from around the world come to Kodiak for the annual St. Herman Pilgrimage.

The day-long event Thursday commemorates the life of the monk, Herman, who lived on Kodiak’s Spruce Island.

Every summer, Father Innocent Dresdow with the Holy Resurrection Cathedral guides the faithful to see the site where Saint Herman lived and performed his miracles.

“St. Herman of Alaska is the first canonized Orthodox saint in North America, and he was part of a group of missionaries who arrived on the shores of Kodiak Island in 1794, and it was through Kodiak that Orthodox Christianity came to the North American continent.”

Father Innocent says many locals also participate in the pilgrimage, and some go for physical and religious enrichment.

“There’s a spring over on Spruce Island in Monk’s Lagoon. The elders like to take a little dirt from his grave and mix it with some water from the spring, and they claim it’s the best way, if a cold’s coming on, so it’s rooted in faith.”

Anchorage-based Alaska Bishop, David Mahaffey, is in Kodiak to participate in a service about St. Herman’s life tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. Following that will be a meet and greet called the Bishop’s Tea and the church will offer a tour of its seminary archives. Father Innocent says the events and the pilgrimage are open to everyone.

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