And then there were eight. Over the course of the past several weeks, we have successfully narrowed the field from 32 saints to eight. One of these holy people will be crowned with the coveted 2020 Golden Halo: Herman of Alaska, Harriet Tubman, Hildegard of Bingen, Brother Lawrence, Margaret of Castello, Joanna the Myrrhbearer, Joseph, or Elizabeth Fry. What a fascinating collection of holy women and men!
In yesterday's saintly action, Elizabeth Fry snagged the last spot by upsetting Clare of Assisi -- trouncing might be an appropriate word, actually -- 75% to 25%.
The Elate Eight is also known the world over as the Round of Saintly Kitsch. After basic biographies, quirks and quotes, what else could there be? To kick things off, Herman of Alaska faces Harriet Tubman. To get to this point, Herman defeated Elizabeth of Hungary and Thomas More, while Harriet took down Julie Billiart and James Solomon Russell. To read up on these earlier matches, click the Bracket tab and scroll down.
In case you missed yesterday's episode of Monday Madness, you can watch it here. Also, you should go to confession.
Herman of Alaska
Herman of Alaska was a simple man, small in stature, devoted to God, and dedicated to ministering to others. He was well-known for championing the lives and rights of the Aleuts of Alaska, even against the powerful Russian traders and government. Faced with a serious epidemic, he reacted by tending to the sick and helpless, without thoughts for his own health.
His stamp on society may not be widely known, but his spiritual footprint is acclaimed in many ways. A Russian Orthodox monk, his image is emblazoned on icons, woodcuts, cards, talismans, and stained-glass windows. Herman’s ministry is deftly reflected in each image – kindly and saintly, mostly set against a background featuring the vastness of the Alaskan frontier with snow-covered mountains, tall trees, and Indigenous peoples.
But this quiet man of silent witness made a lasting mark on the landscape of the 50th State as well as the Russian Orthodox Church. Herman, known as the Wonderworker of All America, was the first saint to be canonized by the Orthodox Church in America.
A YouTube film, Relics of St Herman of Alaska, relays the story of Herman, featuring firsthand memories of his contributions. A few books tell his life, such as: Herman: A Wilderness Saint; North Star: St Herman of Alaska; Father Herman: Alaska’s Saint.
You can sing a hymn to Herman: O venerable Herman, ascetic of the northern wilderness, and gracious advocate for all the world, teacher of the Orthodox Faith and good instructor of piety, adornment of Alaska and joy of all America, entreat Christ God that He save our souls.
The few churches and buildings named in his honor truly reflect him: simple, not elaborate, steady and functional. There are St. Herman’s churches in Stafford, VA, Glen Mills, PA, and Sunnyvale, CA. A stained-glass window graces the chapel at the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension in Resaca, GA.
St. Herman’s Orthodox Theological Seminary is aptly located in Kodiak, AK, the place where he dedicated his life’s work. On the seminary website: Father Herman was a monk from Valaam Monastery in northwestern Russia and original member of the first missionary team to North America. He devoted his life and work to the propagation of the Faith in the Kodiak Archipelago. Father Herman’s ministry included beginning a school for orphaned children on Spruce Island. Not only did Father Herman devote hours instilling the basic principles of the Orthodox Christian Faith, he taught agricultural techniques, carpentry skills, and other practical craftsmanship.
Herman of Alaska – a simple man, called by God to tend to the Native Americans, to the sick during epidemics, to children and families. He ministered and he witnessed, without complaint, without remorse, without doubts.
If you do a search for Harriet Tubman on the internet, you will find so many the things. And, if you’re lucky to live in Harlem near W 122ndand Frederick Douglass Blvd. (well, at least for a bit), then you know Harriet is very close by (and, she’s also a Pokégym for those of you who play Pokémon go like me).
I love that one of the searches resulted in this book that I have ordered and whose title is one I could associate with a bunch of my friends: She Came To Slay! “Yaaaaassss!” you would have heard me exclaim when I found it. There are so many books and websites on her life, but this title caught my eye.
There are a bunch of places named after Ms. Tubman so I decided to check on my maps which was the closest to me. Turns out it is Harriet Tubman Charter school in New Orleans. Their website’s latest news proudly shares: “Harriet Tubman Outperforming State Growing Scholars Toward Mastery.” I am sure they are!
There have been several films and movies about Tubman’s life and the latest one is Harriet which received critical acclaim and two Oscar nominations including one for the original song “Stand Up” co-written by Union Theological Seminary student Joshua Brian Campbell.
Y’all heard about the $20 bill, right? Well, that’s one of my favorite Harriet items that I am probably not going to buy – the stamp that makes any $20 bill a Tubman bill! It looks so cool, but, I’m not trying to touch cash right now.
If you like to light candles while you pray, there are some cool Harriet candles, like this queen Harriet one. There is a scented candle that described the scent as “an intoxicating fragrance” that include “notes of honeyed mimosa and soft herbal mint supported by subtle woody and musk facets.” Nah, I couldn’t.
If you would rather be able to carry Harriet around, there are a bunch of dolls you can get, but this string key chain one that seems like she could unravel any second is my favorite because we know she never will.
Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY is the resting place for our beloved hero Harriet Tubman. And, apparently people love leaving all kinds of things there. This, of course, is my favorite because yes, like Jesus is my homeboy (remember those t-shirts? I still have one), I believe that Tubman is truly our homegirl!
Herman of Alaska vs. Harriet Tubman
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