Born in 1893 in Saint-Marcellin (Isère, France), after studies of philosophy in Paris, Louis Gillet (Lev Gillet - Photo) is mobilized during the First World War, held prisoner in 1914 and spends three years in captivity, where he is attracted by the spirit and the spirituality of the Russian prisoners. He studies mathematics and psychology in Geneva and joins the Benedictines in Clairvaux in 1919. Attracted by the Eastern Christian world, he becomes acquainted with Metropolitan Andreas Szeptycki of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Galicia, and pronounces his final vows at the Studite Monastery of Ouniov in Galicia.
Disappointed by the attitude of the Catholic Church towards Orthodoxy, Father Lev is received in the Orthodox Church in Paris in May 1928, and in November 1928 he becomes the rector of the parish of Sainte-Geneviève-de-Paris, the first French-speaking Orthodox parish. In 1938 he leaves Paris to settle in London, within the framework of the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius , an ecumenical organization dedicated to the bringing together of the Anglican Church and the Orthodox Church. He remains in England until his death in 1980, going on many journeys abroad, in particular to France, Switzerland and Lebanon, where he takes part in the spiritual revival of Antiochian Orthodoxy.
Principal publications in French (under the pseudonym "a monk of the Eastern Church" - English translations also available) include The Jesus Prayer, Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality, The year of grace of the Lord: A commentary on the Byzantine liturgical year, and Jesus, simple gazes to the Saviour.
- O strange Orthodox Church, so poor and weak, with neither the organization nor the culture of the West, staying afloat as if by a miracle in the face of so many trials, tribulations and struggles; a Church of contrasts, both so traditional and so free, so archaic and so alive, so ritualist and so personally involved, a Church where the priceless pearl of the Gospel is assiduously preserved, sometimes under a layer of dust; a Church which in shadows and silence maintains above all the eternal values of purity, poverty, asceticism, humility and forgiveness; a Church which has often not known how to act, but which can sing of the joy of Pascha like no other.
Writings by Fr. Lev Gillet
- Father Lev Gillet. The Vision. Syndesmos News 1972 Dec, No 8 (PDF) (mirror (HTML))
- Father Lev Gillet. The Jesus Prayer
- Father Lev Gillet. Finding Peace Despite the Suffering
- Father Michael Plekon. Father Lev Gillet: The Monk in the City, a Pilgrim in many worlds
- Élisabeth Behr-Sigel. Père Lev Gillet : La crise et le dénouement (French)
- Élisabeth Behr-Sigel. Lev Gillet, "un moine de l'Eglise d'Orient": Un libre croyant universaliste, évangélique et mystique (L'Histoire à vif) (English translation: Lev Gillet: A Monk of the Eastern Church, Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius, 1999 - book in French)