Jacques-Youenn de Quelen writes his book as a member of a French self-styled
Order "The Regular Order of Saint John of the Holy Land, Knights Hospitaller".
The book provides a brief history on the Order, its rules and spiritual
reflection on the rule.
Born in 1946, Jacques Youenn de QUELEN has belonged to the Regular Order of St. John since 1989. Elected Prior of France OSJ in 1993, he is a member of the ANF (French Nobility Association) and of the VMEH (Visitors of the Sick in Hospitals). Married, a father of three children, having a master's degree in civil law, he is a firm manager by profession.
Jacques-Youenn de Quelen
Ordre Régulier de Saint Jean
Une Spiritualité en action
Jacques-Youenn de Quelen
Regular Order of St John
A Spirituality into action
In the late 1950s an organisation emerged led by a Charles Louis Thourot-Pichel; "The American Grand Priory of The Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta". Pichel had a reputation of allegedly selling false titles, and other criminal activities.
Earlier in the 20th Century semi-masonic organisations of "Knights" emerging out of the Orange Lodges (The Black Association) had set up in North America. Arthur T. Lamson led such a group called "The Knights of Malta", which registered itself as a Corporation in the State of Jersey in 1911. However by 1912 the group had become defunct, with the members reconciling with another group which they had left previously.
The incorporation of 1911, which had been gained by the "Knights of Malta" as led by Arthur T. Lamson had lain dormant, even though the group had ceased to exist. The archivist of the "Knights of Malta" Order, had been a Dr. Bullock who was consulted by Pichel. Dr. Bullock died, with the records held by Pichel. Armed with these records, Pichel developed a whole prehistory for a new group he founded or with which he was connected. Adding to the claim to have been founded in America in 1908, he improved on the Orange Order background by mimicking the foundation of the Paris group, complete with its Hereditary Commanders. The alleged founding fathers of Pichel's group had died long before the claims were made. Pichel had the additional benefit of being acquainted with the history of the genuine group of Russian Hereditary Commanders in Paris, written by Professor Baron Michael de Taube, a Russian exile in Paris.
In 1962, Pichel's "Order" split into two, with a
Frenchman, Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac, who had been the Lieutenant
Grand Master of the Pichel group, leading his own "Order" as Grand
Master. The exiled Yugoslavian King, Peter II became "Protector"
to Cassagnac's Order 1962 - 1965, when he formed his
own Order as Grand Master.
The whole story of Pichel's inventiveness was recorded by Pichel's closest
associate for many years, Crolian Edelen de Burgh. In a letter addressed
to Harrison Smith, the Historian to the King Peter Order in Malta, Mr Edelen,
wrote on January 22, 1980;
The same confession was given by Edelen to a Sovereign Council meeting
of one of the many King Peter Orders.
Quelen's book contains just short of 200 pages of information (209 pages long). 52 pages (pp 15-67) are devoted to the history of the Order from its inception to around 1917. The information on these pages could be gleaned from other books. 127 pages (pp 75, 83-209) are devoted to the rule of the (self-styled) Order and a Christian spiritual exposition on that rule. In other words the majority of the book provides no real questions. The hints on how to live as a Christian using the OSJ rule is to be commended as a real challenge in following our Lord.
However pages 67-71 provide the classic myths woven by Pichel giving his "Order" an historic pedigree.
(1) Page 66 provides the opinion that the Roman Catholic Order (SMOM)
was a re-invented Order, and that the true descent of the Order
was via the Russian Grand Priories.
This claim is in total ignorance of the position which the Russian Grand
Priory had accepted during the years 1801-1809. Ignored was the previous
acceptance by the Russian Grand Priories and the Russian Crown of;
The OSJ of both Pichel and Quelen has re-invented the Order, complete with the office of Grand-Master, providing for a self image similar to that of the Roman Catholic Order, complete with the claim that it alone could be identified as the true surviving organisation to emerge from the events that followed the death of Emperor Paul I.
(2) page 68 has that Russian Hereditary Commanders set up an American
Priory in 1908.
(3) Page 69 provides that Grand Duke Alexander was elected Grand
Master in the USA in 1913.
(4) Page 69 also cites a Constitution of 1912.
(5) On page 70 Leonid Ignatieff is given as an Hereditary
(6) Pages 31`& 77 cite a Danish Order as founded by
Russian Hereditary Commanders in 1934.
In 1950 a refutation to the claims of Bermondt's Order was given jointly by the brother to the successor to the Russian Throne, and by a legal expert in Russian Law. Grand Duke Andrew and Baron Michel de Taube repudiated any claim of the Bermondt Order via the patronage of King Alexander of Yugoslavia to be a "so-called" restoration of the Russian Grand Priory as being "null and void in the legal context".
On the 31 August 1934, in Copenhagen a private non-political Christian organisation was created claiming an Imperial Russian foundation via the Bermondt Order called the "Den Danske Maltesorden" From this venture, on the 24th June 1946, one of the members - Mr. Grundall Sjallung founded the Grand Priory of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem in Denmark. In 1973, the membership of the original group founded in 1934, was reconciled with Sjallung's group under the name "Sovereign Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem of Denmark". For a brief period the "Grand Chancellor" of this group was HRH Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark. The group today is known as the "Den Danske Johanniterorden". A further schism occurred in Den Danske Maltesorden in 1982, when about half the membership seceded and joined the Sjallung's united 'Order' of 1973. This group no longer claim the Russian "legend", but claim to be a 1934 revived foundation of the ancient Order of Denmark.
In 1948 a Danish Architect - Charles P Christensen formed his own Order of St John - a schismatic element of the 1934 foundation. In 1951 Christensen obtained a decree issued in Leipzig, Germany from "The Sovereign Russian Imperial Order of Knights of Malta", which was signed by Max Schiffel von Frauenstein who had been a member of the Schismatic Order created in 1946. In that year the Grand Master of the Sovereign Russian Imperial Order of Knights of Malta was given as Prince Paul Avalov-Bermondt. Thus Christensen's group inherited the mantle of the original group founded by Bermondt. The 1948 Order continued with the name and mantle of the "Den Danske Maltesorden" - The Danish Order of Malta. In 1967, the Order joined forces with Cassagnac's French Order. After Christensen's death in 1963 Carl Wilhelm Lehman became Prior until 1969, followed by Poul Hall Jensen to 1990, then Ove Petersen until 1994, Johan A. Johansen until 1996. The present Prior is David K Svarre. Claimed by the group, as the first Prior in 1934 was Poul von Reitzel, followed by Charles P Christensen in 1939.
With such a complex and interwoven history, both a Russian foundation of post 1917 (via the Bermondt foundation of 1920), and the 1934 foundation are taken as the origins of Den Danske Maltesorden. What is certain in all of this is that the Danish Order Quelen cites was not founded by Russian Hereditary Commanders.
The Charitable endeavors undertaken by the "Regular OSJ" are to be commended. More such work is needed in the world and not less. Also to be admired is the sincere and profound spirituality espoused in the book - providing challenging reading for any Christian. Sadly the reliance upon myth to make good historical gaps and uncertainties detracts
The Reverend Michael Foster. SSC. MIWO. MIC. Cert Theol Oxon.
WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK.
The publication is electronic and paper on http://www.publibook.com. Ordering
a copy is somewhat complicated especially if you do not read French!!!
This way to the KPOSJ Page
Order of St John, Knights Hospitaller.