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About The DACIA Priory

© Ambassador Skougaard Ebenhecht KGCSJ



In the Catholic period The Knightly Order of St. John also operated in Denmark, with Antvorskov Abbey in Mid-Zealand the centre of activity of great importance to society from 1164 until some time after the Reformation (about 1583).
In 1585 Antvorskov Abbey was converted into a royal residence, which put a temporary end to the Order’s activity in Denmark, where the abbey had been the centre for the DACIA Priory since 1164 and had included the entire Nordic area.
The 420-year period of activity in Denmark, including 50 post-reformation years, could on itself be the subject of a larger treatise, which however is not possible at this site.

The legal reestablishment came in 1939 after preliminary negotiations, started about the turn of the year 1937/38:
“The Eccelesiastical Knightly Order of Malta; The Autonomous Priory in Dacia” was erected in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 10th 1939, based upon the conditions, set up by Grand Duke Andrew of Russia in October 1938.
Thus the Dacia Priory has its legitimacy from the Russian Hereditary Commanders, revived 1928 in Paris as  ”Union des Commandeurs Hereditaires et Chevaliers de Grand Prieure Russe de l’ Ordre de St. Jean de Jerusalem”, based upon Czar Paul I’s Russian Grand Priory of 1798.
A circle of people around Archdean Preben Chr. Wenck von Wenckheim negotiated with the Head of The Russian Grand Priory in Exile in Paris, Grand Duke Andrew, a brother to The Head of the Romanovs, Czar Cyrill I. Negotiations were carried on through Baron Michael von Taube, who was closest advisor to the Grand Duke on matters pertaining the Order. In May 1939 the legal reestablishment of the Order in Denmark was finally confirmed by Taube.
The historic Dacia Priory had now been reestablished after more than 350 years of dormancy. Wenck von Wenckheim was the natural choice for the first Prior in our time, but due to the start of WW II, real Order activities did not get underway until after 1950/51, after new negotiations had once again picked up the pieces.
Prior Wenck von Wenckheim continued as Prior until his death in 1957, and his position as Prior was assumed by the Chancellor Johannes Ostenfeld, who had particitated in the supplementary negotiations in 1950/51. After Prior Ostenfeld stepped down in 1968 there was a schism in the work of the Order; one result of the schism was, that Baron Sandbergh Stouge (Prior 1968-70) and the en- tire Swedish Commandery broke with Dacia in order to join O.S.J. of King Petár II.
During the difficult years 1969-71 the Order was led by acting Prior Helmuth Kieldsen (later Ambassador of the Priory), but after Prior Ostenfeld’s temporary return (1971-72), the internal problems were solved for good.
Erik Foss was elected Prior in 1972, and he was then able to initiate a hitherto unknown reconstruction of the entire sphere of the Priory’s activities.
Ill helth forced Erik Foss to retire (1983), and Keld Tving was elected Prior, having served as acting Prior since May 1982. The work continued in the same good spirit, as it has done since under the reign of the succeding Priors.

In the years following the death of Grand Duke Andrew (1956) contact with the Descendant Union in Paris died out gradually, and particularly after the break with the Swedish Commandary in 1970. Thus the Priory had sorely missed international contacts.
We were able to make up for this lack in June 1985, when The Autonomous Priory in Dacia entered into an association agreement with The Grand Priory of Malta & Europe of the OSJ. This co-operation was expected to be expanded, but it was not possible to agree on a united Order.
Since 2004 we cooperate with the British Association of the (now revived) Russian Grand Priory in Paris.
Within the Nordic countries The Dacia Priory participates in The Associated Orders of St. John of Jerusalem, an “umbrella-organisation” for the legal Danish branches of Czar Paul I’s (Russian) Grand Priory of 1798 and King Petár II’s (Yugoslavian) branches of the OSJ.
Preben Chr. Wenck von Wenckheim                               *1939/1951-1957 (not active until 1951)
Johannes Kaad Ostenfeld                                                          1957-1968
Niels Sandbergh Stouge                                                             1968-1970
- Helmuth Kieldsen                                                            1969/1970-1971 (acting)
- Johannes Kaad Ostenfeld                                               again1971-1972 (temp.)
Erik S. Foss                                                                                1972-1983
Keld Tving                                                                          1982/1983-1990
E. Henning Nielsen                                                                     1990-1991
Kay J. Larsen                                                                              1991-2000
Niels Prehn Jensen                                                                     2000-2009
Poul Færk Magnussen                                                                2009-2011
Torben Knudsen                                                                          2011-20..
*) Chapter IV / Chapitre St. Jean:                                   (merged with Dacia 1951)
K. von Riedewald Schiött                                                            1948-1950
Johannes Kaad Ostenfeld                                                     a.i. 1950-1951