AUTHORS/ Rose, Seraphim
Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), né Eugene Dennis Rose (August 13, 1934-September 2, 1982) was a hieromonk of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in the United States, whose writings have helped spread Orthodox Christianity throughout modern America and the West and are also quite popular in Russia. Although not formally glorified (canonized), he is celebrated by some Orthodox Christians as a saint in iconography, liturgy, and prayer.
Born to Frank and Esther Rose in San Diego in 1934, Eugene was raised in California, where he would remain his entire life. He was baptized in the Methodist faith at fourteen years old, but later became an atheist, losing all belief in God. Rated at genius level in high school in formal IQ testing, in San Francisco he entered a beatnik phase in his life and practiced Buddhism.
In the summer of 1955, between his junior and senior years at college, Eugene met Finnish-born Jon Gregerson, through whom he came into initial contact with the Orthodox faith. Eugene came out as homosexual to a close friend from college after his mother discovered letters penned between her son and Walter Pomeroy, a friend from high school. Eugene later shed his identity as a gay man as he slowly accepted Orthodoxy, eventually ending his lengthy relationship with Gregerson.
While studying under Alan Watts at the American Academy of Asian Studies after graduating from Pomona College in 1956, Eugene discovered the writings of René Guenon. Through Guenon's writings, Eugene was inspired to seek out an authentic, grounded spiritual faith tradition. Gregerson, a practicing Russian Orthodox Christian at the time, introduced Eugene to Orthodoxy. Just as Gregerson was choosing to abandon his Orthodoxy, Eugene was inspired to learn more about the faith. This culminated in Eugene's decision to enter the Church, being received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia through chrismation in 1962.
Eugene and another Orthodox Christian, Gleb Podmoshensky, later formed a community of Orthodox booksellers and publishers called the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, with the blessing of St. John Maximovitch, Archbishop of San Francisco in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The community eventually decided to flee urban modernity into the wilderness of northern California to become monks in 1966. At his tonsure in 1970, Eugene took the name "Seraphim" after St. Seraphim of Sarov.
Following his ordination as hieromonk, Fr. Seraphim began writing several books, including Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, and The Soul After Death. One of his best known books, God's Revelation to the Human Heart, was originally given as a lecture to a religious studies class at UC-Santa Cruz in 1981, and published in book form after his repose. He also founded the magazine The Orthodox Word, still published today by the Brotherhood. The collective body of work that Fr. Seraphim published quickly proliferated throughout America upon Fr. Seraphim's death and later in Russia and Eastern Europe upon the fall of atheist Communism in those countries, though typewritten copies of some of his books had been distributed underground for many years prior.
As a layman in San Francisco, the future Fr. Seraphim developed a close relationship with his spiritual father and mentor, St. John Maximovitch (+1966), then Archbishop of San Francisco for the Russian Church Abroad.
After feeling acute pains for several days while working in his cell in 1982, Fr. Seraphim was taken by his fellow monks to a hospital for treatment. When he reluctantly arrived at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, he was declared in critical condition and fell into semi-consciousness. After exploratory surgery was completed, a second surgery was necessary after which he slipped into a coma. Hundreds of people came to visit the hospital and celebrated the liturgy regularly in the chapel, praying for a miracle to save their beloved father's life. Reaction from throughout the world was great, with thousands of prayers said for the ailing hieromonk. He died on September 2, 1982.
After being dead for several days and while lying in repose in a pauper's coffin at his wilderness monastery, visitors claimed that Fr. Seraphim did not succumb to decay and rigor mortis. His body remained supple while several claimed he smelled of roses. A cause for glorification was begun after Fr. Seraphim's burial. He eventually informally attained the title of Blessed after several miracles were attributed to him and now he awaits glorification into sainthood by an Orthodox synod.