Archimandrite Lev Gillet

March 29 is the anniversary of the death of Archimandrite Lev Gillet (1980), better known as “A Monk of the Eastern Church” under which name most of his books were originally published.

“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.” From Fr Lev’s 1937 funeral homily for Archimandrite Irénée (Louis-Charles) Winnaert, the founder of the Orthodox Church of France
“Louis Gillet, also Lev Gillet, was a convert to the Orthodox faith between the World Wars through the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and was received into the Orthodox Church in Paris. He organized the first French language Orthodox parish in France.
Born in 1893 in Saint-Marcellin (Isère, France), after studies of philosophy in Paris, Louis Gillet was mobilized during the First World War, held prisoner in 1914 and spent three years in captivity, where he was attracted by the spirit and the spirituality of the Russian prisoners. He studied mathematics and psychology in Geneva and joined the Benedictines in Clairvaux in 1919. Attracted by the Eastern Christian world, he became acquainted with Metropolitan Andreas Szeptycki of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Galicia, and pronounced his final vows at the Studite Monastery of Ouniov in Galicia.
Disappointed by the attitude of the Catholic Church towards Orthodoxy, Father Lev was received in the Orthodox Church in Paris in May 1928, and in November 1928 he became the rector of the parish of Sainte-Geneviève-de-Paris, the first French-speaking Orthodox parish. In 1938 he left 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 remained in England until his death in 1980, going on many journeys abroad, in particular to France, Switzerland and Lebanon, where he took part in the spiritual revival of Antiochian Orthodoxy.”
Gillet book
Fr Lev’s books introducing Eastern Orthodox ascetical theology, although now a little dated in their language, remain classics: “Orthodox Spirituality: An Outline of the Orthodox Ascetical and Mystical Tradition” and “The Jesus Prayer”, both available in several modern editions.
Gillet cover
See: Fr. Michael Plekon “Father Lev Gillet: The Monk in the City, a Pilgrim in many worlds”: and
“On Lev Gillet’s Lasting Significance”: and
Elisabeth Behr-Sigel “Lev Gillet, “A Monk Of The Eastern Church”” [Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius, 1999]


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