There were no last rites, and no deathbed conversion. But when the painter and serial philanderer Lucian Freud died this summer, he did have a final embrace from the Anglican church, by having the Archbishop of Canterbury officiate at his funeral.
Rowan Williams, Britain's most senior Anglican, secretly presided at Freud's private family interment on 27 July. Details of the ceremony at Highgate Cemetery in north London were not made public, with even the date kept from the press. A memorial service is being planned, though Freud's family has yet to name a date.
It is understood that the painter, who was Jewish and came to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1933, was a longstanding friend and confidante of the bishop, because of a family connection through Dr Williams's wife. One of Freud's many lovers was the painter Celia Paul, by whom he had a son, Frank, also an artist. She is one of four sisters of Jane Williams, the Archbishop's wife.
It can also be disclosed that Dr Williams baptised Freud's son by Paul, many years ago. Last night, Diana Rawstron, Freud's lawyer and family spokeswoman, declined to comment on the bond between the two men, describing the funeral as, "a private family event", adding, "I wasn't even there."
But a spokesman for Lambeth Palace confirmed that the Archbishop officiated at the funeral: "Rowan Williams was asked by the family to speak at the funeral which was a private occasion. I'm afraid we wouldn't know what was said." Asked if Williams had officiated, the spokesman confirmed that he had.
Freud, whose grandfather Sigmund pioneered psychoanalysis, was not known to be religious, though his younger brother Clement converted to Anglicanism on marrying in 1950.
Lucian's sitters were often nudes, which was how he met Celia Paul. He also painted the Queen, who sat for a portrait in 2001.
Last week, it was reported that Dr Williams, 61, may stand down as Archbishop within a year, even though he does not have to retire until he is 70. In his time as Archbishop, he has repeatedly angered more traditional Anglicans with his left-leaning views, such as his liberal stance on homosexuality. In June, he guest-edited the left-wing magazine, the New Statesman, and used an editorial to attack the coalition. Though Dr Williams has publicly championed marriage, it's not known whether he advised Freud to settle down. Nor is he thought to have posed for the great painter.Reuse content