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The American Who Became a Hugely Popular Saint Among Russians (Seraphim Rose)

A number of his books made it to Russia during the years when Christians were suffering persecution under atheistic Communism.

From hand to hand, from person to person, his writings spread among faithful Christians in the 70's and 80's, touching many lives in the process.

Many Russian Christians now recognize him as a saint.

This article originally appeared on a new site about the Christian renaissance in Russia, called Russian Faith. Their introductory video is at end of this article.

Among Russian Christians, Fr. Seraphim Rose is one of the most beloved Americans. And at the Church of the Dormition in Moscow, he is honored among the most beloved Saints. On the wall of the church, there is an icon of him standing near his spiritual father, St. John Maximovitch.

Rose had tried everything from Protestantism, to atheism, to Buddhism. He learned multiple languages, and studied the world's most popular philosopers, but never found the answers to his heart's deepest questions and needs. 

Icon of St. Seraphim Rose, second from the right, on the wall of the Church of the Dormition in Moscow. Photo by Jesse Dominick.
Then, in San Francisco, he walked into the Russian Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow", and realized he had finally come home. He was soon received into the Orthodox Church, taking the name "Seraphim", and he was taught by St. John Maximovitch himself.

Seraphim moved to the wilderness of northern California, living as a Russian Orthodox monk, and he was eventually ordained to the priesthood. In addition to observing the daily services in the monastery, Fr. Seraphim published many books and articles, spreading the truth of Orthodox Christianity to a world that was desperately in need of hope and salvation.

Fr. Seraphim Rose icon available from Orthodox Christian Supply
A number of Fr. Seraphim's books made it to Russia, during the years when Russian Christians were still suffering persecution under atheistic Communism. From hand to hand, from person to person, his writings spread among faithful Christians in Russia during the 1970's and 1980's, touching many lives in the process. His books continue to be widely available in Russia today.

Countless Russians have spoken about the impact Fr. Seraphim made on their lives. Even now, living here in Russia, I continue to meet people who offer their gratitude. Individual Russians have told me that some of their first exposure to the Christian faith was thanks to this American monk.

On multiple occasions, Fr. Seraphim wrote about the process of canonizing new Saints in the Orthodox Church. It normally happens at a grassroots level, with numerous Christians recognizing the sanctity of someone who has recently reposed. Prayers are offered, icons are painted, and local communities of Christians give honor to someone they recognize as holy. Eventually, the hierarchy of the Church takes notice, and the person is officially canonized. This is the same sort of process that took place with Fr. Seraphim's spiritual father, St. John Maximovitch.

Fr. Seraphim Rose icon available from Uncut Mountain Supply
Fr. Seraphim probably never dreamed that his own impact would be so far reaching, and that thousands of Orthodox Christians would eventually view him as a Saint, both in Russia and in America.

Icons of Fr. Seraphim Rose have become available from multiple sources. An Akathist to St. Seraphim Rose of Platina has been written. And today in Russia, thanks to iconography in the Church of the Dormition, numerous Orthodox Christians continue to pay their respects.

After nearly 1000 years of the Orthodox Christian Faith flourishing in Russia, it is astounding that — during the bleak years of Communist oppression — a priest from America would be the one to lead many Russians back to their spiritual roots.

For more information, read about Fr. Seraphim's life, watch a video by one of his personal friends, consider his indictment of the "me" generation, and see what Fr. Seraphim had to say about the future of Russia and the end of the world.

A video introducing Russian Faith

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