Father (Archimandrite) Gerasim (Schmaltz) of Spruce Island in Alaska
“…A monk like me, fleeing the glory of men, will come and live on Spruce Island.”—St. Herman of Alaska
This prophecy was fulfilled 100 years later in the person of Father Gerasim (1888–1969), who lived a hermitic way of life on Spruce Island, Alaska, for 30 years, praying alone for the world. His standard was Christianity of the heart.
Abbot Gerasim was the guardian of St. Herman’s grave. He came to Spruce Island August 26, 1935, after seeing Saint Herman in a vision.
As a hieromonk assigned to Alaska, in 1917 when the Revolution broke out in Russia, Fr. Gerasim saw in a dream: “The whole sky was dark, fearful. But in the midst of it there was light, and there was Christ crucified. He was dying, His head was bent down and the muscles on His arms trembled from suffering. And I heard a voice: ‘Pray, Russia is crucified.’ And soon we in Alaska heard of the fierce persecution of Christian believers and the destruction of holy places,.” Like St. Herman, Fr. Gerasim reached out in his heart across the ocean’s expanse to his beloved native land; his tearful entreaties on behalf of his persecuted brethren in Christ served no less to bathe his own soul which was sorely wounded by the political strife within the Church.
Father Gerasim had served for 18 years as village priest in Afognak, when God answered the desires of his heart to move to Spruce Island. Although slander continued to be heaped upon him by the ‘Platonites,’ he was greatly consoled in being able to serve the memory of America’s Apostle of Orthodoxy. His love for the as yet uncanonized Fr. Herman was amply rewarded by the Saint’s firm support anti heavenly intercession. For 25 years he endured poverty and cold, standing before God in prayer as a solitary candle which shone brighter in the heavens than the stars in the sky looking down upon his labors through the tall firs of the dense Spruce Island forests. His converse with the saints secured for eternity a place in their midst, to which he was called on September 29/October 12, 1969.
He was a holy man who lived in the steps of St. Herman of Alaska.
Kontakion St. Herman of Alaska — Tone 3
The eternal light of Christ our Savior, Guided you, O blessed father Herman, On your evangelical journey to America, Proclaiming the Gospel of peace. Now you stand before the throne of Glory; Intercede for your land and its people Peace for the world and salvation for our souls!