Seraphim Rose (born Eugene Dennis Rose; August 13, 1934 – September 2, 1982), also known as Seraphim of Platina, was an American hieromonk of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia who co-founded the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California. He translated Orthodox Christian texts and authored several works (some of them considered polemical). His writings have been credited with helping to spread Orthodox Christianity throughout the West; his popularity equally extended to Russia itself, where his works were secretly reproduced and distributed by samizdat during the Communist era, remaining popular today.
Many Orthodox Christians hold him in high esteem, venerating him as a saint in iconography, liturgy and prayer though he has not been formally canonized by any Orthodox synod.
Eugene Rose was born on August 13, 1934, in San Diego, California. His father, Frank Rose, was a World War I veteran who operated the city's first "Karmel Korn Shop" together with his wife Esther Rose, Eugene's mother.
While studying at Watts' Asian institute, Rose read the writings of French metaphysicist René Guénon and also met a Chinese Taoist scholar, Gi-ming Shien
. Shien emphasized the ancient Chinese approach to learning, valuing traditional viewpoints and texts over more modern interpretations. Inspired by Shien, Rose took up the study of ancient Chinese so that he could read early Tao texts in their original tongue. Through his experiences with Shien and the writings of Guénon, Rose sought out an authentic and grounded spiritual tradition of his own. Though he had previously focused on Eastern religions, Rose's spiritual journey led him back to Christianity and into the Russian Orthodox Church, partly as a result of his friendship with Jon Gregerson.
In 1962, Rose was received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in San Francisco. He quickly distinguished himself to the bishop of San Francisco, St. John Maximovitch
, as a serious and studious convert. In 1963, Archbishop John blessed Rose and his new friend, Gleb Podmoshensky, a Russian Orthodox seminarian, to form a community of Orthodox booksellers and publishers, the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. In March 1964, Rose opened an Orthodox bookstore next to the ROCOR cathedral on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco, which was under construction at the time. In 1965 the brotherhood founded the St. Herman Press publishing house, which still exists.
Cell of Seraphim Rose at the Saint Herman of Alaska monastery
Increasingly drawn to a more reclusive lifestyle, Rose's community ultimately decided to leave the city for the northern California wilderness, where Rose and Podmoshensky became monks in 1968 and transformed the Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood into a full-fledged monastic community. Rose's parents provided the down payment for a mountaintop near the isolated hamlet of Platina, where Rose and some friends built a monastery named for St. Herman of Alaska. At his tonsure, in October 1970, Rose took the name "Seraphim" after St. Seraphim of Sarov. He wrote, translated and studied for the priesthood in his cell, a one-roomed cabin with neither running water nor electricity, where he would spend the rest of his days. He was ordained in 1977 by Bishop Nektary of Seattle, spiritual son of St. Nectarius of Optina, the last of the great Optina staretzy
In his ministry, Rose spoke frequently of an "Orthodoxy of the Heart", which he saw as increasingly absent in American ecclesiastical life. He also spoke of the need for warmth and kindness of the spirit, especially when dealing with those with whom one disagreed, an increasing problem in American Orthodoxy and its conflict between so-called "traditionalists" and "modernists". One can be firm, Rose insisted, without having to compromise basic Christian teachings on lovingkindness, longsuffering, and mercy toward others.
Rose's body lay in repose for several days in a simple wooden coffin at his wilderness monastery. Visitors claimed that Rose's body did not succumb to decay and rigor mortis, remaining supple and even allegedly smelling of roses. Several reputed miraculous events, healings and apparitions of Rose have been reported around the world, commencing soon after his death. Many Orthodox Christians anticipate Rose's canonization, though no formal proceedings for canonization have yet been opened. His grave at St. Herman's monastery has become a popular site for pilgrimages.