A gay vicar who was scarred after being attacked by his lover has returned to work in his parish, vowing celibacy.

Reverend Nigel Asbridge was slashed across the face by Steven Barber, a 36-year-old nurse, and has been left scarred for life.

According to The Independent, an Old Bailey judge ordered yesterday that Barber be sent to a secure psychiatric unit.

After the attack, Reverend Asbridge required 200 stitches in his face.

Reverend Rob Harrison, a spokesman for the Bishop of Edmonton, north London said of his colleague: “His congregation has been very supportive throughout. There was no long-term relationship [between the men]. The sexual relationship was extremely short term. It was a very brief encounter.

“There is no question [Reverend Asbridge] is a practising homosexual. He is committed to the principle that homosexual clergy should aim to lead celibate lives. He admits he has made a mistake and has paid dearly for it.”

Barber admitted causing Mr Asbridge grievous bodily harm last year, saying he had seen “a vision” and had gone to Rev. Asbridge’s home intending to kill himself.

Barber slashed Rev. Asbridge through the forehead, nose and lips and into the neck, before slashing his own neck. He appeared in court, said The Independent, with visible scars stretching from ear to ear.

The couple met back in 1993. Barber has said he was depressed and their relationship soon became “emotional and sexual.”

Rev. Asbridge had the impression Barber had AIDS and did not have long to live, so he took a sympathetic attitude, the court was told.

Reverend Harrison said that Mr Asbridge had been seen by the Bishop of Edmonton before returning to work in Hornsey, north London, but he had never suspended.

He added: “He is a very good vicar. He is clearly the victim. He had tried to help Steven Barber – his intention always was to be helpful and supportive and it was abused.”