Welcome to this website about Niels Steensen, one of the most fascinating Danish personalities of the 17th century.
Steensen was born in Copenhagen in 1638, and went abroad to study in the Netherlands when he was 21. There he made a reputation for himself within anatomy. His discoveries gained him the patronage of the Medici court in Florence, where he lived and worked from 1666-1674. His work in Florence laid the foundations of the science of geology.
Steensen converted to Catholicism, was ordained a priest and bishop, and worked in northern Germany until his death in Schwerin in 1686. He was known for his exemplary integrity, self-sacrifice, and service to others. In 1988 Niels Steensen was beatified by blessed John Paul II.

The final years

By Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen Two years after his ordination Niels Steensen was consecrated a bishop and from 1677-80 worked as vicar apostolic at the court of duke Johann Friedrich of Hannover (1625-79). Although the country was protestant, duke Johann Friedrich—the brother…

Anatomy, geology and theology

By Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen Steensen’s conversion made a return to his home country impossible, and until 1672 he continued doing research in the service of the grand duke of Tuscany. A shark’s head which the grand duke gave him  provided the…

Conversion

By Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen It is not clear when exactly Niels Steensen became interested in Catholicism. Most likely his interest began during his stay in Paris 1665-65, where we know that he discussed religion with several people. A decisive moment occurred…

Cartesianism

By Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen During his studies in the Netherlands, Steensen had come into contact with a philosophical trend which influenced him deeply.  This was Cartesianism, named after the great French philosopher, René Descartes (1596-1650). Descartes plays a critical role in…