St. Herman’s Monastery

I’m finally back home, after wandering about slack jawed around parts of California. It was a very fine trip. I’m happy that I managed to maintain my focus, more or less. If I wasn’t out strolling about, I steadfastly kept the television off, and spent my spare time reading. I was, of course, utterly shameless in that department. I returned with so many books that the airplane almost did not get off the ground. The economy of San Francisco took a major boost from my visit, I’m here to tell you.

I could post all of my pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, but I suspect everyone already has a few of that kind of thing. But I did get some nice pictures of St. Herman’s Monastery near Platina. Even accounting for the plywood and foam eggcrate beds, I wish I had another day or two to spend up there. The monks were serious yet personable. Seeing my frantic gulping of coffee after five hours in services, Father Nicodemus slid down the bench to sit next to me and whispered that he sympathized entirely, that he had been drinking coffee since he was eleven. The Abbot, Father Gerasim, took time out of a very busy day to sit and talk with me and later, after the evening meal, we took a walk down the road.

At the present time, there seemed to be eight monks at the monastery. They have another four on Spruce Island off the Alaska coast, and have a skete for nuns, St. Xenia, about eight miles away from St. Herman. For those unfamiliar with these monastics, their avowed purpose is to live a desert life. By that, they mean that they are following in the footsteps of the first great monastic movement, in the deserts of Egypt in the fourth century. This tradition has continued in the Orthodox Church ever since, the latest significant flowering being in the vast wilderness of Northern Russia from the 17th century until the Revolution. As such, there is no electricity, no telephone, no modern conveniences to speak of at Platina or at St. Xenia’s. The surrounding woods are home to rattlesnakes, bear, mountain lions and the odd scorpion. The cells are tiny, consisting of little more than a board bed, a desk and an icon corner. They are up for services starting at 4:30 a.m. and then are more or less constantly active, either with physical labor, obediences or prayer, until compline ends around 8:30 p.m. While I was there, it was brutally hot, probably close to 100 degrees there on top of the mountain. The monks, wearing cassocks and cowls, were suffering terribly, but without complaint. They are, for all intents and purposes, dead to the world.

In any event, these are some pictures from the monastery.

Monastery entrance

Entrance to St. Herman’s Monastery

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Some of the original buildings. The part with the high roof was all that was there when the first monastics moved on the property, and it was nothing more than a hunter’s lean to. The other parts were built on over the years, including the small chapel dedicated to the Royal Martyrs of Russia, which is the portion to the right of the original building.

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The interior of the Chapel of the Royal Martyrs.

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The exterior of the main church and the refectory, glimpsed through the woods. They are fairly impressive structures, and were built by the monks.

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The interior of the main church. It is very beautiful inside.

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The interior of what the monks call the winter chapel. It is below the main church, and is partly underground. It is very small, and easier to warm in the cold of winter.

Additional photographs may be found here.

23 Responses to “St. Herman’s Monastery”


  • Hello,

    Is this the monastery off the coast of Alaska where the saint lived? If so, do the monks allow people to visit for retreat and prayer?

    Regards,
    Caroline

  • Hi Caroline

    No, St. Herman’s is near Platina, California. But…the one off the Alaska coast is associated with these monks — they are the same brotherhood. You can contact them through their website at http://www.sainthermanpress.com/ , and I’m sure they can tell you about visiting at the one in Alaska.

    In Christ,
    Seraphim

  • I met father Damaskene in Greece . I have heard very nice thinks about orthodoxy in America. Since then i am happyer for the people there.

  • I often will visit this website. One of my dad’s last wishes was to be buried at St Herman’s of Alaska’s Monastary and it was granted, and he lies among the saints in this beautiful part of the world. My dad has been gone from me nearly 3 years and I miss him so much. It is beautiful and so like my Dad to want to rest among God’s beauty and handiwork.

    Connie

  • I am in the process of developing a newsletter, website and other communications for St. Herman’s Monastery and House of Hospitality in Cleveland, Ohio. I was hoping you could point me in the direction of pictures, icons, or ‘clip art’ of St. Herman that can be reprinted in a clear manner.

    Thank you!

    Kirk

  • as of 6/25/08 platina monastery is threatend by fire. go to http://www.redding.com for update. our prayers are with them and all the northern california populace impacted by the early summer fires!

  • LILLIAN, ATHENS, HELLAS

    HAIRETE, I WANT TO VISIT THE MONASTERY TOO, THIS IS AMONG MY FUTURE PLANS, GOD’S WILLING OF COURSE… MY HUSBAND MET FATHER DAMASCENE IN ATHENA AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE GREEK EDITION OF FR SERAPHIM’S BIO. IN THE PAST I HAVE TALKED TO THEM ON THE PHONE, ARE YOU SURE THEY DO NOT HAVE A PHONE ANYMORE? GOD BLESS YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOU TO CONTINUE YOUR PILGRIMAGES!

  • I have been going there since I was nine. I buried my mother there, “Nana” Agafia, on The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos, 2008. Memory Eternal!

    They have a phone and computers for business purposes and writing books down in town, where they own a small house. There is somebody there most days of the week, I believe.

  • I JAMES LEMASTERS WAS A GUEST AT THE HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY (ST. HERMANS OF ALASKA IN CLEVELAND OHIO WITH FR. VLADAMIR AND THE ABBOTT FR JOHN HENRY THEY HAVE HELP ME OUT ALOT I ALMOST BECAME A MONK BUT I DID HELP WITH ALL THE ELDERLY MEN THAT STAYED THERE I WAS THERE FOR ALMOST 5 YEARS BUT I HAD TO MOVE ON WITH MY LIKE SO WITH THAT IAM SAYING GOD BLESS AND MAY GODBLESS ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN INVOLVED WITH ST.HERMANS WORK.

  • A dear friend of mine from long ago was there for a couple of years. His name was Christopher Amerling. We were great friends back in high school. I only recently learned that Chris has passed away and is buried there. Please, could anyone there tell me anything about Chris?

    Thank you,
    Lisa MacDonald

  • I’m sorry; did someone send a reply to my question that I missed? Is this the wrong site to ask it at? My question was about Christopher Amerling at St. Herman’s Monastery near Platina, CA.

  • Hi Caroline,

    I don’t know when Christopher reposed, but when I visited in 2005, I did not hear anything about him. Few people visit this blog nowadays and you may not receive a reply through this route. You may want to contact the fathers at the monastery directly. You can find contact information through the website they run for their publishing business: http://www.sthermanpress.com.

    I hope that is helpful. Good luck in your quest.

    God bless,

    Fr. James

  • my wife is divorcing me and trying to take our child away.. I can’t go on like this.. I am seriously thinking of giving my life to monastiscism. I may want to come to Platina for refuge. Who do I contact?

    Peace be with you..
    Jesse J.

  • Hello,
    How to contact the St. Hermans Monastery in Alaska to make appointment for a visit?
    Thank you,
    James Rector
    Publisher of Profiles in Diversity Journal
    P.O. Box 45605
    Cleveland, OH 44145
    800-573-2867

  • Hi James,

    When I visited, I contacted the monks through the website of their publishing concern, http://www.sthermanpress.com./. There may be other, better ways to contact them, but that one worked for me. Hopefully it will for you as well. I pray that your visit will be fruitful!

    In Christ,

    Fr. James

  • You are right, Kimbal. That should teach me not to check links! The monks seems to have changed the url. Try this: http://www.stherman.com/

    Fr. James

  • My siblings and I all visited your church a while back aprocsamatley 15 to 17 years ago I was wandering if the same monks still worship there, and if the swing up the hill is still there. My brother and I are thinking of visiting you guys this next winter 2011. Are there any gatherings of anykind we should be there for? my brother and I remember hicking up the mountans while staying there we had a monk as a guide, he became a close friend, and it is thought to belive by my brother that before we encountered a cave he braveley swung a rattle snake around his head that he had grabed befor our feet. another fun story was when I swung off a rope swing built on the side of a hill. End of story I broke it and fell safely on a large bush. these fun times are the memories that will bring me and my brother back to your camp this next winter/summer. feel free to email me if you remember our big family visit

  • I too knew Christopher Amerling in the late ’70s when he lived in Durham, NC. He told me much about St. Herman’s and the special intellectual bond he held with one of the friars (and the Russian Orthodox Church in general). I last saw Chris in 1980 or thereabouts. I think he left Durham but for what place(s) I don’t know.

  • Good day! My name is George. I live in Ukraina. Earlier I wrote latters to father Herman. Also I was sending fax-letters in the monastery. Mother Michayla know me. She visited Lviv in 2000. How are they? Can I speak with them and with other brothers by this blog? Thank you!

  • Is it possible that the sisters in Wildewood could perhaps use a hand crank Singer Sewing Machine (in good working condition). I can easily get it to them if they want it.

    Fr. John Ocana (Sunnyvale ROCOR) was my priest for many years.

    In Christ,

    Phyllis Amundsen (mary)

    My phone number is (541) 299-0060.

  • It has been a little more than 6 years since my dad (Joseph Augustus Nash a.k.a “Isaac”) has been reposed at your monastery (may his memory be eternal). Not only did I help prepare his body for burial at the time of his death, but I was among the men that lowered his body into his resting place and covered it with God’s earth. It is not only through my father’s life and death as an Orthodox Christian that has had a major impact on becoming a catechumen, but the sweet, joyful and sorrowful singing of the monks at his funeral. Like my sister Connie, I too plan to visit often this website. I am seeking a godfather who is compelled by the Holy Spirit from the monastery (if it is permitted and possible) to be a mentor to me in my discipleship once I become converted to Orthodoxy. Someone that knew my father and his spirit very well. I am my father’s oldest child, and being his son it falls upon me after 15 years of being a seeker to “come home to the faith of my father, which is the Orthodox Church.” I want to thank the Abbott and all of the men of God there at the monastery for approving and making possible the fulfillment of my dad’s last wish to be buried at St Herman’s of Alaska’s Monastery. It speaks volumes to me as to how you all and the Orthodox Christian community truly felt about him. To God Be The Glory that it is a beautiful thing that he is resting at the same place as Father Seraphim Rose.

    It is my prayer and desire to stay in touch with the monastery for as long as the Lord our God grants me grace and mercy to yet live on this earth. Please pray for my wife and I as we approach the end of our pilgrimage and we find our way “home.”

    May the grace and mercy of God the Father, through His Son and our Lord and Saviour, and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit, rest, rule and abide with you one and all, always!

    Sincerely-in-Christ,

    Lawrence W. Nash

  • Hi, everybody there!the place I haven’t visited and will hardly ever visit for I live far away from you in Europe. However the place I return to in my thoughts so often! How did i get to know about you? thanks to the books by Father Seraphim Rose and about him. May God bless you and all your good intentions. Just happy to have an opportunity to write to you!

  • One note. Father Seraphim helped me to learn English. I am no way good at languages and I asked Him and still keep asking for help in mastering the language.You may smile at this, but I do feel His Holy help perhaps because his search for GOD reminds mine so much.I am so sorry that it’s almost 100 per cent impossible for me to visit this holy place where you live! God bless you!

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