Many of the actual locations that D.H. Lawrence and Frieda Lawrence lived in and visited during their last six years together were used as locations in this film. The film's closing credits declare that the movie was "made at Shepparton Studio Centre, England and on location in the places where the Lawrences actually lived in England, France, Italy and Mexico".
The meaning and relevance of this film's title is that it is taken from a quotation by D.H. Lawrence. It reads: "I shall always be a priest of love and a glad one. Once you've known what love can do, there's no disappointment and no despair."
For his role as D.H. Lawrence in this movie, Ian McKellen lost weight and grew a beard. McKellen has said of his make-up on this film: "My hair was dyed auburn; like [D.H.] Lawrence's own my mustache and beard were augmented by some false hair around the chin".
D.H. Lawrence stories mentioned during the film included "Kangaroo" (1923), "The Rainbow" (1915), "The White Peacock" (1911), "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (1928) and "The Virgin and the Gypsy" (1926/1930).
The film was made and released about seven years after its source biographical book "The Priest of Love: A Life of D.H. Lawrence" had been first published in 1974 with revised editions being further published in 1976 and 1980.
The motion picture's opening title card reads: "The office of Herbert G. Muskett - London, 1924". Muskett was portrayed in the film by Sir John Gielgud the film being Gielgud's first released after Arthur (1981) where he had won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award (Oscar).
This filmed adaptation of its source biographical book "The Priest of Love: A Life of D.H. Lawrence" by Harry T. Moore shortened the title to just the book's prefix and dropping the definite article "The" to make the movie's name simply Priest of Love (1981).
The film's opening prologue states: "In November 1915, 1005 copies of "The Rainbow" by D.H. Lawrence, were destroyed for alleged obscenity. The solicitor for the prosecution was Mr. Herbert G. Muskett. The sentence of the court was carried out by the Public Hangman in front of The Royal Exchange, London".