Reverend Robert Llewellyn
“Robert Llewelyn is one of the outstanding spiritual teachers of our age,” said George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, when he awarded the Cross of St Augustine to Robert Llewelyn at Lambeth Palace in October 1998.
"The man who made Julian so famous" was the headline in a Norwich newspaper in February 2008 when the Reverend Robert Llewelyn died. Robert had been invited in 1976 to become the unofficial Chaplain to the shrine of Mother Julian of Norwich and his books stimulated interest in this fourteenth century mystic. Julian, who wrote "Revelations of Divine Love", the first book by a woman in English, inspired Robert who studied her work, prayed daily in her cell within a small church, welcomed visitors to the cell, gave talks and wrote about "this remarkable woman".
Robert was born in Devon, read Mathematics at Pembroke College Cambridge, and went to teach at Westminster School in 1932. He studied theology in Ely and was ordained in 1936 at St Paul's Cathedral. Robert was given leave to work in India in 1939 and when he returned to England he was invited to be Chaplain at Westminster School and worked there for a year.
In spring 1946 he was asked to start a diocesan school at Nassau in the Bahamas. Robert spent four years there and then left to take up an invitation to return to India to become Principal of Sherwood College in Naini Tal, India where he revived the fortunes of the school.
Later, as well as his role as Chaplain of the Julian Shrine in Norwich, Robert was a writer, spiritual director and speaker and had a profound pastoral ministry.
Robert's own account of his life and spirituality is in a book entitled, "Memories and Reflections" published in 1998 by Darton, Longman and Todd. A DVD entitled "Love Was His Meaning", made to celebrate his life is available in the shop.
'Love Was His Meaning'
After the death of the Reverend Robert Llewelyn, aged 98 in February 2008, a DVD entitled "Love Was His Meaning" was made to celebrate his life, with twenty eight friends talking about the positive influence Robert had made on their lives. Their words sing of a life lived in love.
Robert Llewelyn was Principal of Sherwood College in Naini Tal, India for over fifteen years and one of his former students said, "He taught us love. We were all of different religions but under him we were one religion and that was love."
One of the Sisters of the Love of God spoke of Robert's enthusiasm for eastern forms of prayer which he had shared with them when he was Warden of Bede House in Kent: "There was something about Indian spirituality that really spoke to him". In fact in 1972 before going to Bede House, Robert spent a few months in the Anchorhold, a community with Fr Slade as their head, which tried to live a balanced life of work and prayer, drawing on the insights of eastern and western spirituality. A fellow pilgrim there called it "a laboratory of prayer".
Robert became Chaplain of Mother Julian of Nowich's cell in 1976 and his "praying, welcoming presence" there, together with his books about this fourteenth century visionary brought Julian's book Revelations of Divine Love" to greater prominence. As well as his role as priest, writer, spiritual director, speaker, Robert had a profound pastoral ministry: people would come from the local area, other parts of the country and from all over the world to see him for advice, fellowship and to share silence with him. One of those meeting him for the first time said she was transformed by his presence because it was like "being with spirit". Another friend said, "He made you feel as if you were the most important person in the whole world: you felt treasured, loved, mothered. He had an amazing sense of humour. He led me to know this God who loves me, this God who loves us utterly and completely and totally without any condition. That never ceases to amaze me."