The Religion of Mankind
Description of who Benalus is and what he means to the church.
THE HOLY CHURCH OF BENALUS
The Church of Benalus governs all matters spiritual and moral, guiding the Throne toward its destiny. The church derives its power from Holy Benalus, and is adminstered by a Pontifex, the spiritual successor to Benalus himself.
In ancient times, Lethia was the city-state from which the prophet Benalus originally hailed, and the city he first ruled once he returned from his journeys. Sitting in central Gotha, it is the spiritual center of the Throne of God, and one of the largest population centers in the world. From here, the Church administers its various holy missions and arbitrations throughout the rest of the Throne and the world, guiding the hand of the people toward an end that pleases God and routing out the heretic, the witch, and burning out any wickedness that stains the land. Lethia is ruled by the Pontifex, Benalus’ spiritual successor, who guides the church which guides humanity. Besides serving as a command and delegation center for agents of the church, it also is a place of great scholarly pursuit and learning. Many of the world’s greatest scholars, archivists, students, and researchers operate out of Lethia, and the city maintains its host of knowledge in giant vault-like libraries throughout the city. The entire city is consecrated ground and each stone of its impressive outer wall is twice blessed. In the eyes of the Church, Lethia is the world’s largest cathedral.
THE ECCLESIARCHAL ORDERS
There are seven Archangels in the Benalian faith. Each Archangel represents a body of virtuous ideals and holy symbols that are important elements in the life of everyday people of the Throne.
Gospel: The Sacrosanctum
Patron Saint: The Nameless Saint
Covenant: Chastity – The Nuranihim may never take a spouse and must remain celibate at all times.
The Nuranahim Order is dedicated to the understanding and undoing of the Night Malefic. They espouse ideals of human brotherhood and unity, that each man is responsible not only for his own needs but for the needs of every other man he meets. A tragedy diminishes us all, not just those directly affected; an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Its priests and clerics tend to respond to reports of unnatural events and mysterious disturbances, venturing into the wilderness of the Throne’s countrysides and to the frontiers of its holdings to deal with horrors of the soul, sins of our forebearers, that even now we suffer under.
Gospel: Last Testament of Decimus
Patron Saint: St. Decimus
Covenant: Secrecy – The Cyanihim take an oath that they may never reveal a secret that they know. This does not include private personal information about themselves, but does include anything about any other subject that is known by very few people, or learned illicitly. This also means they can never explain their own motives for a request or an action if doing so means they must reveal secret information.
The youngest of the seven orders, the Cyanahim Order are sometimes better known as the Ministry of Purity and serve as the Church’s internal affairs and investigation branch. The order holds that no man is above scrutiny and that all men are, at their core, wicked. It is for us to fight against this wickedness, both within and without, but to never forget our true natures. Life is a struggle to become worthy, not just for the individual man, but for all of humanity. Decimus foretold that mankind will one day be judged by the worst of us, and it is to these worst offenders that the order looks to make amends. Often accused of being political assassins, spies, cut-throats and worse by detractors within the Church and without, they are considered secretive and aloof at their best. While technically it does not condone violence, Order assassins have been connected with many high profile murders over the centuries since its inception.
Gospel: Sanctae Viae, the Virtue of Pilgrimage
Patron Saint: St. Bathier
Covenant: Poverty – The Melandihim may never accept payment for any service be it spiritual or practical, either in coin or in barter. He may accept donations freely offered, but may not take them as a form of exchange.
The Melandim are best known as The Mendicant Order of St. Bathier. The Mendicant Order believes in eschewing all worldly possessions and allowing God to provide for the faithful. All excesses are considered to be unworthy, distractions from our true duties to the Lord. The Mendicant Order are the least likely to preach from within the walls of a church, often taking to the streets, or traveling to new and unfamiliar villages or towns to spread the message of the Lord and to instruct people how to live a godly life. This often puts them within the jurisdiction of other churches, preaching to the flocks that generally listen to other more locally established priests. They are seen as firm oppositionists to many long-standing establishments and institutions, as well as public critics of the nobility and, often, ranking church authorities. Depending on their opposition, they are sometimes met with intense friction, but their wide-spread support bases amongst peasants and other scattered communities gives them considerable speaking authority.
Patron Saint: St. Vederick Sariel
Covenant: Authority – The Sepharihim may never acknowledge any authority except that of God, Benalus, the Pontifex, the Emperor and a higher ranking inquisitor in that order.
Better known as the Inquisition, the Sepharihim Order is a force unto its own. Their mandate is to route out heresy from within the Throne, wherever it may hide. Witches, Anathema, and even ideas in discord with the Church’s official philosophies are all to be scoured from the land and brought into compliance by any means necessary. Though their numbers are few, they wield immense political power because they, and they alone, bear a unique authority: The Inquisition has legal power in the realms of both spiritual and secular law. Because no one is above suspicion, the Inquisition answers to no one save the Emperor and the Pontifex. They are known for taking extreme measures or even atrocities in the name of God – burning an entire village of three hundred in holy fire to ensure that a heretic within would be trapped and burned as well, or to use methods of torture to extract confessions of guilt. They do not worry for their own souls, only the souls of those that they save by burning out the unclean from our midst.
Gospel: Book of Dumal
Patron Saint: Dumal, the Warrior Saint
Covenant: Mercy – A member of the Mithrihim must always grant protection to those that surrender to her and ensure that no harm comes to them as long as they continue to yield, no matter who they are.
The Mithrihim Order is a brotherhood of warrior priests who accompany men into battle and warfare. Their principle duty is the spiritual and physical care of warriors who fight in the name of the Church’s great ideals. Even though all bloodshed is sinful, the Warrior Priests preach that in this senseless world, such things are often times unavoidable, but should be done cleanly and with dignity. They oversee warfare to ensure that, if we must do battle, we do so with respect for our brother man. Theft and rape are all too common during wartime, as well as senseless butchery of non-combatants, and the Warrior Priests stand to ensure such things do not pass without punishment. The horrors of war are very real, and it is a balm of the mind and soul to have one of these battle brothers with a battalion of men to help them keep hold of their moral ideals whilst in the throws of terrible, unavoidable sin.
Gospel The Word of Istra, the Hospitalier
Patron Saint: St. Istra of Agnis
Covenant: Pacifity – The Lurihim may never initiate combat, only respond to assault to the level of deadliness intended by the attacker.
The Lurihim are an order of healers who make it their duty to understand the human form inside and outside. Study and improvement of the human condition is paramount, but the order has its roots in martial pursuits. The blade is sacred to the Hospitalier, and many of the benign priests of the order maintain an expert skill with a sword as a form of self mastery and control of the body. Hospitaliers tend to have a quiet demeanor; it is their philosophy that death is inevitable, only its hour is uncertain. Despite their practice of praying for the sick and wounded, they see such balms as only a temporary relief, keeping a man alive just long enough to fulfill his duties to God and his fellow man. Members of the order will often erect temporary hospitals outside of towns or villages and accept any faithful who call at its open door, doing some good to those in the most suffering before moving on. Many members of the order uphold an oath to be pacifist in all things, refusing to injure anyone. The militant order of the Knights Hospitalier, still alive and powerful since its inception in Cappacione in the early lion age, defend traveling members of the order from assault and theft.
Gospel: Armory of Sacred Works
Patron Saint: Unknown
Covenant: Purity – The Zurihim are sworn to unity with Benalus and his teachings and may never possess any Depravity.
The Order of Zuriel is the least traditional of all the others, and it is officially disbanded. By historical account, the gospel of Zuriel, the Armory of Sacred Works, taught the methods by which man could create, as God creates. In its holy pages laid the prints and designs for all manner of sanctified arms, armor, tools, and constructions. The holiest cathedrals in the Throne were created according to the special practices of this gospel, and are powerful beacons against the unholy. Sacred shields, swords and breastplates are sometimes recovered from ancient vaults or tombs of the holiest knights of old, but that is all, for the gospel of Zuriel has been lost to time. No known complete copies exist, and only scraps periodically show up. Scant passages, perhaps even enough to learn a ritual, occasionally turn up, but these are rare and hard to verify; the Inquisition demands all such fragments be turned into them to be verified so that blasphemous rituals from other sources are not passed off as their own. The farther one travels from Lethia, the fewer true, holy cathedrals exist, created by the codes of the gospel. These cathedrals are fundamentally less potent as a bastion against evil, and if the true cathedrals are ever destroyed, they may never be rebuilt again properly. The order has no surviving members and exists only in legend.