Abbess Sanctorum of the Adepta Sororitas
Battle-Sisters of the Orders Militant
Age of Apostasy (36th Millennium)
- "The Emperor is our Father and our Guardian, but we must also Guard the Emperor."
- — Teachings of the Adepta Sororitas
The Adepta Sororitas, also known as the Sisters of Battle and formerly known as the Daughters of the Emperor, are an all-female division of the Imperial Cult's ecclesiastical Adepta known as the Ecclesiarchy or, more formally, as the Adeptus Ministorum. The Sisterhood's Orders Militant serve as the Ecclesiarchy's fighting arm, mercilessly rooting out corruption and heresy within humanity and every organization of the Adeptus Terra. There is naturally some overlap between the duties of the Sisterhood and the Imperial Inquisition; for this reason, although the Inquisition and the Sisterhood remain entirely separate organisations, the Orders Militant of the Sisterhood also act as the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus. The Adepta Sororitas and the Sisters of Battle are commonly regarded as the same organisation, but the latter title technically refers only to the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, the best-known part of the organization. The Sisterhood serves as the Ministorum's only official military force because the Decree Passive laid down by the reformist Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor held that in the wake of the Age of Apostasy of the 36th Millennium, the Ecclesiarchy cannot maintain any men under arms. This was supposed to limit the power of the Ecclesiarchy. However, the Ministorum was able to circumvent this decree by using the all-female military force of the Sisterhood's Orders Militant.
The Adepta Sororitas date their founding from the 36th Millennium, and more specifically from the later events of the Age of Apostasy's Reign of Blood. The majority of the Sisterhood's initial membership was recruited from the pre-existing Brides of the Emperor, the all-female bodyguard force employed by the tyrannical High Lord Goge Vandire. Loyal to the Emperor, the Brides (initially called the Daughters of the Emperor, but renamed by Vandire) were misled by the insane Vandire into fulfilling his own designs. When the truth of the matter, and Vandire's corruption and failure to serve the will of the Emperor, was revealed by the efforts of Sebastian Thor, the leader of the Daughters executed Vandire in his own audience chamber. The Daughters of the Emperor were at a loss as to what their purpose should be after this event, and so the Ecclesiarchy took the opportunity to recruit and indoctrinate them into the newly formed Adepta Sororitas, the Ecclesiarchy's all-female military, circumventing the Decree Passive's strictures forbidding the Ecclesiarchy to maintain a force of "men under arms."
The Adepta Sororitas had their true origins on the world of San Leor. A religious order known as the Daughters of the Emperor, an all-female cult dedicated to worship of the God-Emperor and upholding the orthodox doctrines of the Imperial Creed, had been discovered there by members of the Ecclesiarchy. Goge Vandire, then the High Lord of the Administratum as well as the reigning Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum, decided to pay a visit to San Leor and recruit the Daughters into his own private army as he sought to cement his power over the Imperium as a de facto replacement for the Emperor. The Daughters at first refused to accept his authority. Vandire decided to show them that he was truly blessed by the Emperor -- he instructed a soldier in his entourage to shoot him, which after a brief hesitation, he did. However, thanks to the protective force field generated by the Rosarius of the Ecclesiarch (which no one but Vandire himself was aware of), Vandire was not harmed. The Daughters took this invulnerability to be a sign from the Emperor, and swore allegiance to Vandire virtually on the spot. Vandire renamed the Sisters the Brides of the Emperor, and they proved to be Vandire's most loyal and fanatical followers.
Vandire's madness soon became all too apparent, and Fabricator-General Gastaph Hediatrix of the Adeptus Mechanicus roused the Senatorum Imperialis to oust Vandire from power. Vandire's answer was to dissolve the Senatorium Imperialis and declare both the Mechanicus and the Adeptus Astartes Heretics and Traitors to the Imperium. This affront made the Space Marines reconsider their neutrality toward Vandire and the Reign of Blood in general, and at the height of the Age of Apostasy in 378.M36, an elite Space Marine strike force composed of forces drawn from the Imperial Fists, Black Templars, Fire Hawks, Soul Drinkers, and the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus assaulted the renegade High Lord Goge Vandire's seat of power -- the Ecclesiarchal Palace on Terra. The Space Marines, believing Vandire to be only protected by legions of zealous but ineffective Frateris Templar troops, launched one of their trademark lightning Drop Pod assaults. However, once on the ground, the Astartes found to their dismay that they had grossly underestimated the opposition. Facing them were a corps of superbly trained warrior women, clad in Power Armour and wielding Bolters, who fought with a passion remarkable even to their Astartes opponents and stood their ground to the last woman, fearless and fanatical in the belief that they were protecting the Emperor Himself. The Space Marines' assault bogged down as they were pushed back with casualties, and the attackers were forced to resort to a long, grinding and bloody siege of the Imperial Palace complex with quarter neither asked for nor given.
During the Siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace on Terra at the end of the Reign of Blood, the Adeptus Custodes, the defenders of the Emperor Himself, tried to approach the Brides and convince them of Vandire's treachery and outright rejection of the Emperor's will in the pursuit of his own power and aggrandisement. In a last ditch effort to convince them that their master had betrayed the Emperor, the Custodes took Alicia Dominica, the leader of the Brides, and her chosen bodyguards deep into the Imperial Palace where they became some of the few human beings in the Imperium's history since the Horus Heresy to stand before the Emperor Himself where He was interred within the mechanisms of the Golden Throne. What happened there remains unknown -- Dominica and her companions were sworn to secrecy -- but it became clear that the Brides, who reverted to their previous title of Daughters of the Emperor, had been awakened to the evil that Vandire represented. Marching into his audience chamber, Dominica paused only to condemn Vandire for his crimes before she beheaded the power-crazed dictator with her Power Sword. Reportedly, Vandire's final words were "I don't have time to die -- I'm too busy!"
After this episode, the Decree Passive was proclaimed by the newly-appointed Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor. Under the literal interpretation of the decree, however, the Adepta Sororitas were not obligated to disband because the decree made only explicit mention of "men under arms." Thor, recognizing the need for the Ecclesiarchy to have some kind of military force and internal regulator at its disposal, allowed them to remain, even if the spirit of his own decree was rather blatantly disregarded.
Trained to the highest levels possible for normal humans and possessed of a phenomenal faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind, the Sisters would go on to engage in Wars of Faith, bringing the light of the Emperor to parts of the galaxy that had fallen into darkness.
The Convocation of Nephilim
The relationship between the newly reorganised Adepta Sororitas and the (then) newborn Ordo Hereticus was codified and formalised by at the legendary Convocation of Nephilim at the height of the Thorian Reformation. From this point onward, as the Chamber Militant of Ordo Hereticus, the Adepta Sororitas has stood apart from the Ministorum, serving as the sword to the throat of apostate, enemy of corrupt or deviant members of the Ecclesiarchy and, in its more familiar role, as the Ecclesiarchy’s protector in times of war. Legend also whispers that, as part of the Convocation, secrets were told to Saint Dominica and the founders of Ordo Hereticus at the very foot of the Golden Throne itself. A path and mission was set for the two organisations, a path known only to those at the highest levels of either, that continues to rule their actions to this very day.
In the 41st Millennium, the Adepta Sororitas is part of the Ecclesiarchy and is divided into two Convents. The Convent Prioris is located on Terra, and the Convent Sanctorum is based on the Shrine World of Ophelia VII. The overall commander and spiritual leader of the entire Sisterhood and all its myriad Orders is the Abbess Sanctorum, the leader of the Convent Prioris on Terra. As the recognised leader of the Adepta Sororitas, the Abbess Sanctorum is sometimes elected to join the ranks of the High Lords of Terra, while other times she is subservient to the commands of the Ecclesiarch.
The Convents of the Sisterhood are organized into several Orders. Each Order follows the same basic hierarchical structure:
- Order: Led by the most senior Canoness, called the Canoness Superior, who runs the entire Order. Each Canoness Superior is subservient only to the will of the Abbess Sanctorum.
- Preceptory: A Preceptory contains a single Convent with up to 1,000 Sisters, so an Adepta Sororitas Preceptory is equivalent in size to a Space Marine Chapter and is lead by a Canoness Preceptor or Prioress.
- Commandery: A Commandery normally comprises several smaller Convents or detachments of Orders Militant Sisters from a single Convent with up to 200 Sisters of Battle, led by a Canoness Commander. A Commandery is more or less equal in size to a Space Marine company.
- Mission: The smallest organisation of the Sisters, a Mission consists of a few Sororitas units and can be lead by a Canoness or the lesser rank of Palatine.
Orders of the Adepta Sororitas
- The famed Orders Militant or Sisters of Battle of the Adepta Sororitas pursue the ways of war to spread the Emperor's light. The Orders Militant are often tasked by the Ecclesiarchy with defending its Shrine and Cardinal Worlds or retaking such planets from Heretics, xenos or the blasphemous Forces of Chaos. There are literally dozens of different Orders Militant, with their convents scattered across the galaxy. The Sisters of Battle are also often attached to the Ordo Hereticus of the Imperial Inquisition and indeed serve the Witch Hunters as their Chamber Militant. Battle-Sisters are recruited solely from the female progena or graduates of the Schola Progenium facilities spread across the galaxy. They are the orphans of those Imperial servants who have given their lives in the service of the Imperium, either in the Imperial Guard or some other Imperial Adepta. While being raised within the Schola they receive a strong Ecclesiarchy upbringing and education, coming to regard the Emperor as their spiritual father. Progena recruited into the Sisterhood are indoctrinated even further with the strict orthodox doctrines of the Imperial Creed, becoming ever more fiercely devoted to the Emperor and the Imperial cause. Their duty as part of the Sisterhood is to ensure and enforce the physical and spiritual purity of humanity and the departments of the Adeptus Terra. As they share much the same role within the Imperium as the Ordo Hereticus, Battle-Sisters often form a major part of Ordo Hereticus military forces when a Witch Hunter does not wish to commandeer the forces of the Imperial Guard into his or her service to carry out a military objective. There are six major Orders Militant in the Adepta Sororitas that are widely recognised across the Imperium:
Other Sororitas Orders are not combat-oriented per se and pursue less violent activities such as the copying, study of and commentary upon the Imperial Creed's scriptures, preaching, tending to the sick and injured, educating the young and maintaining the spiritual loyalty and health of the Imperium's various powerful noble families.
- Orders Hospitaller: The Sisters of the Orders Hospitaller aid the poor and heal the sick and the wounded in the many hospitals and clinics across the Imperium operated as charities by the Sisterhood. Some of their hospitals are part of Imperial Crusades and the Sisters serve as medics for the Imperial Guard regiments serving in those conflicts. Several of the more well-known Orders Hospitaller include:
- Order of the Eternal Candle
- Order of the Cleansing Water
- Order of Quiet Sorrow
- Order of Serenity
- Order of the Torch
- Orders Dialogous: The Sisters of the Orders Dialogous help to translate the innumerable dialects and slangs of Low Gothic used throughout the Imperium. At the behest of the Inquisition and certain other parties in the Imperial hierarchy, they also study xenos languages, and translate texts obtained from xenos artefacts. Sisters Dialogous are often employed as Sage Acolytes in Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors' retinues. The better-known Orders Dialogous include:
- Order of the Holy Word
- Order of the Quill
- Order of the Sacred Oath
- Order of the Lexicon
- Orders Famulous: The Sisters of the Orders Famulous organise, educate and maintain the households of certain Imperial Planetary Governors and Imperial nobles, serving as advisers and by their very presence reminding them of their higher loyalties to the Emperor of Mankind. They oppose any disloyalty with the support of faithful followers from the inside of the noble household itself. The Orders Famulous also maintain and update extensive genetic and genealogical records for all the important noble families of the Imperium and can conduct genetic testing at the request of the Inquisition when rampant mutation or heresy on the part of Imperial nobles is suspected. Across the galaxy, the most well-known of the Orders Famulous include:
- Order of the Key
- Order of the Gate
- Order of the Holy Seal
- Order of the Sacred Coin
Besides the more well-known major Orders of the Adepta Sororitas there is also an unknown number of Minor Orders whose functions are widely unknown. Since their inception, the Orders Militant Majoris have established a number of subsidiary convents throughout the galaxy at sites that are significant to the Ecclesiarchy. Sometimes little more than minor garrisons, some of these bases have developed identities distinct from their parent Orders over time, eventually becoming separate Orders all together. The better-known Orders Minoris include:
- Order of the Bleeding Heart: This Minor Order Militant has long been entrusted with the care of the bones of Saint Emiline, upon the Adepta Sororitas Shrine World of Emiline's Hope.
- Order of the Blue Robe: This Minor Order Militant serves under the auspices of the Convent Sanctorum of Terra. The Order aided Inquisitor Halen Jentz during the Second Albonian Genocide.
- Order of the Divine Lamentation: This Minor Order Militant took part in the Imperial defence of the Cadian Sector from the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade. Refused reinforcements despite suffering 83% losses.
- Order of the Ermine Mantle: This Minor Order Militant took part in the Imperial defence of the Cadian Sector from the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade. Self-imposed penance after the loss of the Order Militant Banner.
- Order of the Maurdlin Countenance: This Minor Order Militant took part in the Imperial defence against the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade. Canoness-Preceptor Dorothea commended for the Order's defence of the world of Sancho Panza.
- Order of the Silver Lily: This Minor Order Militant took part in the Imperial defence against the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade. Canoness Astra was noted for her loyal service during the defence of the world of Subiaco Diablo.
- Order of the Sublime Adoration: This Minor Order Militant took part in the Imperial defence against the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade. Rescued the 188th Cadian Imperial Guard Regiment at Crimson Fell.
- Order of the Wounded Heart: This Minor Order Militant took part in the Imperial defence against the Forces of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade. Purged the 366th Barissa Native Auxilia.
- Order of the Golden Light
- Order of the Silver Shroud
- Order of the Virgin Rose
- Order of the White Rose: This Minor Order Militant split from the Order of the Sacred Rose in the latter part of the 39th Millennium. At least one convent, on Periremunda, worked with the Ordo Hereticus on a regular basis. It is unclear whether other convents did the same. The entire Periremunda convent died in battle against the Tyranids, choosing death to atone for their assistance to the Excommunicate Traitoris Inquisitor Killian.
- Orders Pronatus: These minor Orders specialise in retrieving, guarding, studying and repairing artefacts of value to the Ecclesiarchy. The named Orders Pronatus include:
- Order of the August Vigil: One of the Orders Pronatus, specialising in the guardianship and defence of holy relics across the Imperium.
- Order of the Blessed Enquiry: One of the Orders Pronatus, believed to have been destroyed due to their collection of artefacts of the Chaos Gods.
- Order of the Eternal Gate: One of the Orders Pronatus. Imperial records speak of the Order of the Eternal Gate whose responsibility is the retrieval of ancient or dangerous relics and artefacts for the Ecclesiarchy.
- Orders Sabine: The Sisters of the Orders Sabine accompany the Missionaria Galaxia on missions to rediscover human-settled worlds and to prepare them for re-integration into Imperial society and culture. The Sisters specialise in infiltrating primitive societies and introducing elements of the Imperial Creed to the natives. This process can take generations as the Sisters arrange royal marriages and act as court advisors. When the Missionaria Galaxia arrives on such a world the local leadership is then primed to accept the spread of the Imperial Cult without struggle or strife.
Ranks of the Adepta Sororitas
Common Order Ranks
- Abbess Sanctorum: The Abbess Sanctorum is the leader of the Convent Prioris on Terra; she is also the overall spiritual leader of the Sisterhood. In military matters she is assisted by the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum. In the centuries following the Age of Apostasy, Saint Dominica led the Adepta Sororitas as founder and overall patron. Her martyrdom at the hands of the heretics of Fridewide's World left a great void in the organisation, which experienced a temporary crisis as no leader felt they were able to adequately follow in Dominica's footsteps. Eventually, the Ecclesiarch Equitius XI intervened, and ordered the leaders of each Order to select one of their number to lead. After many weeks debate, the leaders agreed by majority that Sister Palmiro of the Order of the Holy Word was most suited to take up the rank of Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas. However, Sister Palmiro was an exceptionally humble woman, and declined to lead, stating that it was her intention to depart on a pilgrimage to San Leor, and that she had no desire for rank and privilege. After much debate, it was agreed that Sister Palmiro should complete her pilgrimage, but that she would take up the rank of Abbess upon her return, and regard it as a welcome penance. Palmiro agreed to these terms, and after barely a century the tradition of electing the candidate who least desired the rank of Abbess to the post became commonplace, that she should regard it not as a privilege but as a penance, and that she should undertake a pilgrimage to San Leor before taking up the position. This tradition was maintained for most of four millennia, until the election of Sister Sabrina of the Order of the Ermine Mantle. Unfortunately, Sabrina disappeared whilst on her pilgrimage, and never returned to Terra. The last sighting of Sabrina and her entourage was on the Ocean World of Habren IV, and though it is not known whether she fell prey to attack or some other misfortune, the Sisters of the Order of the Ermine Mantle have embarked upon at least a dozen missions to locate her. Until she is found on her fate determined, Ecclesiarchal law dictates that the post of Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas must remain vacant.
- Canoness Superior: A Canoness Superior serves as the overall leader of an entire Order.
- Canoness-Preceptor: A Canoness-Preceptor serves as the leader of a single Preceptory of Sisters.
- Prioress: A Prioress is the overall leader of a single Convent of her Order.
Orders Militant Ranks
- Novice Advance: This is the lowest rank within the Adepta Sororitas. The rule of the Orders is harsh and a Novice Sister must endure many hardships during her training. Self-denial, rigid discipline and religious contemplation are indivisible parts of their training. They are armed not only with skills needed to defend the Ministorum but also with training that teaches them to fan the flames of their faith into a roaring blaze.
- Sororitas Acolyte: Due to the close ties between the Ordo Hereticus and the Adepta Sororitas' Orders Militant, it is not uncommon practice for these Sisters to serve the Inquisition for some part of their vocation. Sororitas chosen by their superiors for independent or detached service in this way are often among the most capable and self-sufficient of their Noviciate class, deemed strong enough to endure the rigors and perils of such duty. These Sisters often return to the Sororitas even firmer in their convictions and honed in their skills. Sororitas that survive long-term duties with the Inquisition are a very valuable asset for the Adepta in their war against heresy and faithlessness, and are often destined for future high rank.
- Constantia Advance: In the final stage of the Noviciate, before they are inducted in to the full rank of Sister Adepta, the Novice’s learning encompasses the use of the Chamber Militant’s sacredly ordained weaponry such as the Bolter and resistance to the deceits of heresy. At this rank the Sister confirms her complete devotion to the Imperial Creed.
- Dialogus Advance: A Dialogus Advance is a rank of the Orders Dialogous, the Sisters who focus their attention on the arts of the scholar, serving as translators and expert advisors for Imperial and planetary authorities in many fields. The armour of their faith makes them far less subject to petty corruption or hubris than others. The arts of the Dialogous are of obvious use to both the Adeptus Ministorum and, most particularly, the Ordos of the Inquisition, as they are expert at unlocking hidden codes and obscure references, dragging the faintest hint of heresy into the light.
- Famula Advance: A rank common to the Sisters of the Orders Famulous, who devote themselves to diplomacy and the fine arts of negotiation. They are experts at dealing with the different Adepta of the Imperium and broker alliances and agreements between fractious power-blocks, guilds and noble houses of many different Imperial worlds. Their primary goal is to preserve the Imperium’s order and stability and ensure that those who rule or uphold the sinews of Imperial commerce are also working towards this goal. Their task, however, enables them to covertly monitor those they serve for signs of corruption or heresy.
- Nunciate Advance: The rank of Nunciate or “messenger” is afforded to those among the Orders Famulous and Dialogous who excel not only in their crafts, but who are also noted for their skills in leadership and experience at dealing with the Imperium’s hierarchy. Such individuals are often entrusted to act on their own to represent their Order, or are tasked as close advisors to highly important individuals such as Inquisitors and Imperial Commanders.
- Hospitaller Advance: A rank of the Sisters of the Ordos Hospitaller, who serve as physicians and offer palliative care at the frontlines of the Imperium’s many war zones and disaster areas. To the common citizenry, they are saintly figures beyond reproach, but they are no more forgiving nor compassionate than the Orders Militant if confronted by heresy or the works of the Ruinous Powers.
- Curia Advance: A more senior-rank of the Sisters of the Ordos Hospitaller. The Curia Advance has been forged in the crucible of war and catastrophe, honed by faith and discipline. These Sisters' skills encompass not only the healer’s arts, but also personal survival and the stewardship of those under their care in the harshest and most deadly of circumstances. These Hospitallers must know when to heal, when to give the final mercy and when to watch for the hidden enemy.
- Almoness Advance: This is the senior-most rank of the Sister-Hospitallers. These Sisters are as hardened to the horrors of the battlefield as any war veteran. Many of these experienced Hospitallers are called upon by both the Inquisition and the Imperial Guard to put their extensive skills and knowledge to darker ends in the service of the Imperium.
- Battle-Sister: The Battle-Sister is the basic rank of the Sisters of Battle after a woman has completed her training and taken her vows to the Emperor.
- Militant Advance: The Sisters of the Orders Militant are the elite and merciless fighting arm of the Adeptus Ministorum and the Ordo Hereticus, and they are eternally vigilant and ceaselessly loyal to the Imperial Creed. This is the next rank earned by a Battle-Sister.
- Elohiem Advance: As Battle-Sisters advance and gain both in skill and experience, they are granted the mark of the Elohiem, meaning that they have willingly shed blood in the Emperor’s service.
- Sister Superior: A Sister Superior leads a single squad of Battle-Sisters, and is thus equivalent to a Space Marine Sergeant.
- Cantus Advance: By the time a Sister reaches the rank of Cantus she has mastered the fundamentals of her duties and may have already been chosen to serve within a particular Order, but the Adepta demand that each Sister know the fundamental skills of all Orders so she can be a multi-purpose tool in the Emperor's hand -- to cure, learn, counsel or kill.
- Celestian Advance: The most experienced Battle-Sisters are granted the honorific of Celestian, marking them out as highly skilled veterans of hundreds of engagements and combats. Celestians are the equal of any other fighting force humanity has to offer other than the superhuman Space Marines; they are greatly skilled, tactically experienced and resolute in their faith in the God-Emperor.
- Superior Advance: This senior rank is held by Battle-Sisters that have been singled out and nominated for the honour by their fellow Sisters, recognising those who possess the ability to lead. Sister Superiors are inspirational leaders, acting in the forefront of the Adepta’s work, demanding unflinching obedience to the Rule and unwavering faith in their subordinates. They are often given command of forces on the battlefield, field hospitals in active war zones or particular missions of investigation, as the purpose of their individual Order warrants.
- Legatine Advance: The Legatine is among the highest ranking Sisters in any Order Militant of the Adepta Sororitas. The most skilled of warriors and the greatest spiritual leaders the Sororitas possess, they inspire great devotion in those that follow them and are political powers in their own right in the Imperium. Most Legatines go on to serve as a Canoness Preceptor, Prioress or even the Canoness Superior of their Order.
- Seraphim: Only the very best Battle-Sisters are able to join the ranks of the Seraphim, the elite warriors of the Orders Militant. Seraphim receive special training and equipment and are the equivalent of Assault Space Marines. A Seraphim Squad is comprised of Sisters of Battle who are trained in using Jump Packs. They have the ability to fire two Bolt Pistols simultaneously, making them experts at close combat. Seraphim Squads are deployed as a fast attack squad with the Sisters of Battle. The squad can be accompanied by a Sister Superior. Occasionally Seraphim carry a pair of Hand Flamers (a single-hand version of the regular Flamer) or Inferno Pistols.
- Dominion: A Dominion is a standard Battle-Sister who is outfitted with special weapons such as Flamers, Storm Bolters and Meltaguns. Each Adepta Sororitas Order Militant maintains several units of Dominions.
- Retributor: A Retributor is a standard Battle-Sister who is outfitted with heavy weapons. A Retributor squad consists of between 4 to 9 Retributor Sisters armed with Boltguns and one Sister Superior armed with a Boltgun which may be upgraded to a Bolt Pistol and another close combat weapon. The Sister Superior may be upgraded to a Veteran Sister Superior who has access to the Witch Hunters Armoury and one Sister may be upgraded to an Imagifier. Up to four Sisters may be upgraded with heavy weapons, chosing either Heavy Bolters or Multi-meltas.
- Celestian: Celestians are Battle Sisters who have proven themselves above and beyond the call of duty in their devotion to the Emperor during battle. The senior Celestians in an Order are called Celestians Superior and they aid the Canoness with the day-to-day running of the Order. They specifically act as administrative liaisons between the Sisters Superior and the Canoness, and may even lead Battle-Sisters into combat when the Canoness is otherwise engaged.
The primary individual weapon of the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas is the Boltgun. Weapon specialists like Dominions and Retributors tend to use flame and heat-based weapons such as Flamers and Multi-meltas, and other weapons with a purifying spiritual effect. Battle-Sisters use a form of modified Power Armour in battle -- however, since they lack the Black Carapace gene-seed organ implant of the Space Marines, they cannot interface with the armour to the same degree as the Astartes and thus are somewhat less mobile in combat. The Sisters of Battle also make use of very strong faith-based powers in battle, which may or may not be related to the psychic powers of the Warp. The Sisters believe these abilities are granted by the divine will of the Emperor himself, though they are more likely the psychic manifestations of the Sisters' incredible faith and devotion to him, as the Immaterium is shaped by belief.
Notable Sisters of Battle
- Saint Alicia Dominica - Patron Saint of the Sisterhood, Bearer of the Grail of Ages, Founder of the Order of the Ebon Chalice, Alicia Dominica is revered throughout the Imperium as both the founder and patron saint of all the Orders of the Adepta Sororitas. In the 36th Millennium, she ended High Lord Goge Vandire's Reign of Blood after condemning him for his crimes against the Emperor and beheading him. Shortly after, under the instruction of the newly appointed reformist Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor, Dominica established the Sisterhood -- the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, with the Sisters divided between the Convents on Terra and Ophelia VII. She herself became the first Canoness of the Order of the Ebon Chalice. In 650.M36, Alicia Dominica fell at the Battle of Frideswide's World, surviving hundreds of blows but falling to a single Traitor's lasgun blast to her heart. She was declared a saint of the Imperial Creed soon after.
- Saint Arabella - Saint Arabella is the patron saint of the Order of the Sacred Rose. Although this long-dead martyr never led her Order in battle, it was founded in her name. She was one of five companions of Alicia Dominica, the patron saint and founder of the Adepta Sororitas. She was the last of the surviving six Sisters to enter the Emperor's Throne Room when they were brought before him for a personal audience during the Reign of Blood in the 36th Millennium by the Adeptus Custodes. Arabella disappeared in the late 36th Millennium shortly after the death of Saint Mina -- her ultimate fate remains unknown
- Saint Katherine - Saint Katherine is the patron saint of the Order of Our Martyred Lady. Originally, she was the founder of the Order of the Fiery Heart. She was one of five companions of Alicia Dominica, the patron saint and founder of the Adepta Sororitas. Known as the Shield Bearer, Katherine was regarded as Alicia Dominica's second-in-command and was the bearer of Dominica's Praesidium Protectiva -- a large shield said to contain a shard of the Emperor's own personal Power Armour, which is said to be impervious to physical attacks. Katherine was well-known for her fiery determination and vengeful spirit, ever leading her Sisters at the forefront of innumerable battles and pursuing the prosecution of numerous Wars of Faith against Heretics in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. She was the founder of the Order of the Fiery Heart. Her Sisters came to reflect her vengeful and fiery nature. Leading her Order for many decades, she was declared a Living Saint within her lifetime for performing legendary acts. Eventually, Katherine met her end at the hands of evil men, when she was murdered by the Witch-Cult of Mnestteus. So deeply did her Sisters mourn Katherine's loss that they renamed their Order the Order of Our Martyred Lady. Unknown to her Order, sometime before her untimely death, Saint Katherine visited the world of Sanctus Lys in the Palatine Sector. Beneath a shrine, in a hidden crypt, she interred her golden Power Armour and her legendary Power Sword, the Ardent Blade. These powerful artefacts were found centuries later and retrieved by the Living Saint, Saint Celestine.
- Saint Lucia - Lucia was the youngest of the five companions of Alicia Dominica, the founder and patron of the Adepta Sororitas. Lucia went on to become the founder of the Order of the Valorous Heart. In the late 36th Millennium, Saint Lucia was captured by recidivists, who gouged out her eyes and forced her to endure the death screams of a thousand innocents, and the murder of a number of her own Sisters, who remained resolutely silent. Mere days after word of her death reached the Holy Synod, Lucia was canonised as an Imperial Saint.
- Saint Mina - Saint Mina is the patron saint of the Order of the Bloody Rose. Although this long-dead martyr never led her Order in battle, it was founded in her name. She was one of the five companions of Alicia Dominica, the patron and founder of the Adepta Sororitas. In the late 36th Millennium, Saint Mina was martyred by a sanguinary Chaos Cult whilst at prayer in a shrine on Hydraphur. When her body was found along with the shrine, she was surrounded by the corpses of twenty of her attackers -- her body covered in their blood. Her personal symbol, the red rose, represents her strong character and her final death.
- Saint Silvana - Silvana is the patron saint and founder of the Order of the Argent Shroud. She was one of five companions of Alicia Dominica, the patron saint and founder of the Adepta Sororitas. She was one of the first Sisters to lead Holy Crusades in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. In the late 36th Millennium, Silvana met her fate at the hands of a Death Cult Assassin. Her remains disappeared whilst lying in state at the Convent Prioris. She was declared an Imperial Saint by the unanimous vote of the Holy Synod of the Ecclesiarchy.
- Saint Anais - Anais was a Living Saint that fought in the War of Faith in the Kaurava System. Saint Anais was placed by Confessor Turgenum March alongside the Order of the Sacred Rose in the defence of the Order's primary bastion in the Sama District, on the planet of Kaurava I. When in battle, Saint Anais was imbued with the "Inviolable Aura" -- a powerful psychic aura which rendered every Battle-Sister in her presence nigh invincible. However, this gift had one flaw, for if the holy shrines used in the blessing of this powerful aura were to be destroyed, the Inviolable Aura could be rendered impotent. This could make even the Living Saint subject to mortal wounds and allow her to be slain.
- Saint Celestine - Very little is known of the life of the Battle-Sister known as Celestine before she was declared a Living Saint, other than that she was once a Sister Repentia of the Order of Our Martyred Lady that fought alongside the multitudes of Imperial faithful during the protracted war against the Heretics of the Palatine Schism. Celestine was at the forefront of the first wave of the deadliest fighting and was thought to have been killed in battle before the capital city of the planet Eurytion. She fell that day, alongside every other Repentia, but despite her defeat, it was said that she accounted for the deaths of over one hundred schismatics during the assault. As Celestine's body was reclaimed by her Sisters and set amongst the honoured dead, her Sisters saw that life still lingered within her, and the light of one touched by the divine will of the Emperor glowed within her eyes. Cleansing her body of the blood and filth of battle, the Sisters were astonished to find that she stood flawless before them. The next day the assault resumed, with Celestine at the head of the Imperial forces. The Heretics fell within hours as Celestine wreaked her bloody vengeance. She was hailed as the Crusade's figurehead as the entire Sector was scoured of schismatics and those deemed unworthy of existing upon the worlds of humanity. The Crusade's leader, Lord Ansgar, believed the Crusade would reach its conclusion on the capital world of the Palatine Sector, but Celestine insisted upon first liberating the small backwater planet of Sanctus Lys. Unknown to all but her, the world was home to the Shrine of Saint Katherine of the Order of the Fiery Heart, a holy place visited by that Living Saint in secret just before her death. Celestine's followers found a broken altar amidst some ruins and were ordered by Celestine to remove it. Beneath the shattered remains, a hidden crypt was found. Barring any from following her, Celestine descended the dusty steps that none had trod in millennia. As the dawn of first light broke above the ruined shrine, Celestine rose from the tomb, borne aloft on a column of divine radiance and attended by cherubs and doves. She was now clad in a suit of shining golden Power Armour, and wielded a vibrant blade that none could look upon -- the Ardent Blade of Saint Katherine. Celestine was declared a Living Saint by Lord Ansgar and a conclave of Thorian compatriots shortly thereafter. Saint Celestine was hailed as the Hieromartyr of the Palatine Crusade, as she dispatched thousands of Heretics during the prosecution of multiple Wars of Faith. The veneration by the Sisters of Battle was miraculous; she was a Living Saint, whom the Sisters would follow even unto the very center of the Eye of Terror. Alas, Saint Celestine was lost to the Imperium whilst fighting the Renegade Warmaster of Forrax. Many believed she perished during her moment of triumph, yet none survived to give a true account of the battle's conclusion.
- Saint Praxedes - Saint Praxedes of Ophelia VII was the Canoness of the Order of Our Martyred Lady at the start of the Second Tyrannic War. With a force of Battle-Sisters she reinforced the Caladenian Imperial Guard on the Cardinal World of Okassis. As the Tyranids assaulted the Cardinal Palace, she led her Battle-Sisters and a company of Guardsmen in a gallant counter-attack. Leading from the front of the fighting, she bested a Hive Tyrant and broke the Tyranid attack, buying the thousands of refugees fleeing from the conflict the time needed to evacuate the planet. Not content with this success, the Canoness pressed deep into the heart of the Tyranid swarms, leading her small army in a guerrilla war against the armies of the Hive Mind. The disruption and havoc she wreaked seriously weakened the Tyranid attack on the spaceport, saving even more lives. As the last of the shuttles soared into orbit and safety, all contact was lost with her army. She was the first Martyr to the Kraken and her name is revered all across the Ultima Segmentum. Some claim that she yet lives, fighting on against the dreaded hordes of the Tyranids from within their swarms.
- Saint Sabbat - Saint Sabbat is described as a beautiful, diminutive girl with short ebon-coloured hair and piercing green eyes. She was born to a simple shepherd on the pastoral world of Hagia in the region of the galaxy that would later become known as the Sabbat Worlds. Though humans loyal to the Imperium had established minor footholds within the region, much of this sector was quite wild and untamed, ruled by hostile xenos and the blasphemous followers of Chaos. Even those few worlds that were ostensibly loyal to the Emperor of Mankind were well outside the bounds of the Civitas Imperialis, whose main task was to guarantee the safety and assurance of any citizen of the Imperium of Mankind, wherever he or she traveled or set foot within the length and breadth of the galaxy. Little is known of her early life, save that the young girl experienced a powerful vision of the Emperor that helped inspire her to rally Mankind within this wild region of space and liberate it from those that would follow the Ruinous Powers. Her numerous achievements went on to overshadow many Imperial Commanders, whilst her teachings inspired Imperial citizens through their sheer simplicity and power, an understanding of the Imperial Creed that belied her humble origins. Saint Sabbat continued her Crusade to reclaim the Sabbat Worlds Sector for 105 years, until her eventual martyrdom on the world of Harkalon, where she suffered the Nine Holy Wounds. Her body was retrieved by the Space Marines of the White Scars Chapter and was later interred on the world of Hagia where they built the Shrinehold of Saint Sabbat. The Sector that would go on to bear her name was already considered fully incorporated within the Imperium at the time of her death. During the Sabbat Worlds Crusade that began anew in the 41st Millennium, the saint was said to have been reincarnated as an Esholi girl from Hagia who then led Imperial forces on the planet of Herodor and joined the Crusade's Warmaster at the front lines to inspire Imperial forces.
- Ephrael Stern - Known as the Thrice-Born and the Daemonifuge, Ephrael Stern had been promised by her parents before her birth to the Adepta Sororitas. She was raised on the planet Antigone's Harbour by the Saint Sabbat Schola Progenium. The Arch Drill-Abbot of the school submitted the young Ephrael for induction within the Sisterhood and was accepted by Sister Patricia from the Order of the Holy Seal. The Novice Stern excelled at her new monastic duties as a Battle-Sister-in-training. She eventually completed her training and along with 500 other Novices took her sacred Oaths of Adherence at the Ecclesiarchal Palace on Terra. Sister Stern was then chosen to become a member of the Order of Our Martyred Lady. Shortly after her induction into the Order, she was sent to the Ecclesiarchy Cardinal World of Ophelia VII. Whilst stationed there, her exemplary service record helped elevate her to the esteemed ranks of the Order Seraphim within record time. Only three years later she would be ordained as a Sister Superior. Sister Stern was eventually sent on a mission on behalf of the Order, to investigate a lost convent of Sisters of the Orders Pronatus on the world of Parnis. There, Stern and her Sisters discovered what had become of their fellow Sisters. A powerful Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, a Keeper of Secrets named Asteroth, had been freed from its bonds and destroyed the convent. He then took the ruined bodies of 700 Battle-Sisters and forged them, body and mind, into a terrifying construct of living flesh known as the Screaming Cage. Though the fallen Sisters were forced to share their torment and suffering, the daemon failed to take into account that they were also able to inadvertently share their faith as well. As the daemon sought to kill the remaining Sisters sent to investigate the convent, Ephrael Stern fell in battle. Seizing this one chance, the fallen Sisters within the Screaming Cage used their combined powers to bring her back to life -- filling her with the full might of their combined faith in the God-Emperor to combat the Forces of Chaos. Once returned to life, the resurrected Stern was told to flee as the fallen Sisters hid her presence from the daemon and its Chaotic servants. Stern's memory of these events was erased. She was the only one who managed to return to her Order on Ophelia VII, being the sole survivor of the expedition to Parnis, her sanity stretched to the limit. Her seemingly unnatural power made her the object of suspicion amongst members of her Order, with many of her Sisters viewing her as having been corrupted by the Ruinous Powers. Stern was placed within a holding cell for four years until her exact nature could be determined. At this time she was attacked by a Sister who was being controlled by a daemon of Slaanesh intending to silence her. But the enraged Ephrael managed to defeat her attacker with her bare hands. This set new events into motion. An Inquisitorial investigation, under the command of Inquisitor Silas Hand, was sent to the Order on Ophelia VII to investigate the sole survivor of the Parnis Expedition. Whilst at the Sanctorum, Stern underwent numerous trials to test her purity and her soul for corruption. Not found wanting during these trials, Sister Stern was declared uncorrupted, was reinstated within the ranks of her fellow Battle-Sisters, and granted her former position of Seraphim and rank of Sister Superior. Inquisitor Hand, not fully trusting Sister Stern, nevertheless took her with him to investigate the former convent on Parnis. During the investigation the fallen Sisters of the Screaming Cage finished their holy work -- pouring all of their remaining knowledge and power into Sister Stern to fight the corruption of Chaos. Inquisitor Hand sacrificed himself to defeat Asteroth and banish the daemon back to the Warp. Sister Stern went missing after this second expedition, once again being the sole survivor. Hunted by both the Imperium as well as the Forces of Chaos, Stern remains aloof from both. She even sacrificed herself, stabbing herself in the heart, to escape the foul machinations of the vile Chaos Sorcerer Ahriman of the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion. Resurrected once again by the power of the faith within her, Stern finally embraced her power and used it freely for the first time. She has even been able to use her newfound abilities to defeat a Culexus Assassin that had been sent to kill her by the Inquisition. Her current whereabouts remain unknown
- Helena the Virtuous - Raised from infancy in an Ophelian Schola Progenium, Helena proved to be remarkably gifted even during her earliest childhood. Exceptionally intelligent, eloquent and inquisitive, she was destined to become a high authority in whatever vocation she chose. After thirty years' service in the Order of the Key, Helena had risen to the position of Canoness and was responsible for a great increase in the power of the Ecclesiarchy. Her efforts did not go unnoticed and when the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum died, Helena's was the first name on the Ecclesiarch's lips to serve as her replacement. Although Helena's duties are mainly of an organisational and spiritual nature, she has always possessed the gift of involving herself personally at the right moment. As a Prioress, Helena is a member of all the Orders of the Adepta Sororitas, including the Orders Militant. Although she lacks the lifelong training of one of the Sisters of Battle, it has been known for Helena to personally intervene in combat when necessary. With her own strict regime of training and exercise, she keeps her ageing body in the best condition possible and she is very skilled in the theories of battle. Helena's greatest asset is the holiness and serenity she radiates. Her presence has an underlying strength which reassures others and imbues her followers with an undying love and respect. Combined with her encyclopedic knowledge and shining charisma, these qualities make Helena a truly great battlefield commander, administrator and politician.
Until the release of Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition's Codex: Sisters of Battle, the Convent Sanctorum was described as being on Terra, with the Convent Prioris on Ophelia IV. In the 2nd Edition Codex, Gav Thorpe reverses the locations of the Convents; he also changed the name of Ophelia IV to Ophelia VII.
The following statement comes from the Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition): "A sign of the Sisters' strength is the fact that in their entire history only a single Sister, Miriael Sabathiel, has fallen to the lure of Chaos. How Miriael fell is unknown, only that she was turned from the Emperor's light to Slaanesh worship, and now serves as one of the Prince of Chaos' greatest warriors."
However this is clearly contradicted by the graphic novel Daemonifuge in which a Sister was seduced by a Navigator (who had been corrupted by a daemonic servant of Slaanesh) and several Sisters were completely corrupted by a Keeper of Secrets, a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh. In the novel Cain's Last Stand, it is also stated that an entire Mission of Sisters were seen engaging Imperial forces alongside Chaos Cultists and Cain is also confronted by two Sisters under daemonic influence.
- Codex: Eye of Terror, "Force Dispositions" (Chart), p. 16
- Codex Imperialis (1st Edition), pp. 14, 39
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pp. 5, 146
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pp. 56–57
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition)
- Daemonifuge (Graphic Novel Series)
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), pp. 77-78, 92-97
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG)
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pg. 231
- The Inquisition (Background Book), pp. 64-65
- The 13th Black Crusade (Background Book), "Roll of Honour", pg. 90
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- White Dwarf 379, "Codex: Sisters of Battle, Part 1 and Part 2" (5th Edition)
- White Dwarf 293 (UK), "The Liber Sororitas", by Andy Hoare, pp. 52-57
- White Dwarf 269, "Index Astartes:Armoured Personnel Carrier," pg. 12
- Crossfire (Novel) by Matthew Farrer, pg. 258
- Duty Calls (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Execution Hour (Novel) by Gordon Rennie, pg. 146
- Legacy (Novel), by Matthew Farrer, pg. 203
- Dawn of War - Soulstorm (PC Game)