Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum
The Adeptus Ministorum, more commonly known as the Ecclesiarchy, is the official state church of the Imperium of Man, which maintains and promotes the worship of the Emperor of Mankind as the one, true God of Humanity. It is a massive organisation that guides the worship of billions of people on numberless worlds and across great divides of distance, language, and culture. The core of the Ecclesiarchy's spiritual and temporal power is the Cult Imperialis, also known variously as the Imperial Creed or Imperial Cult. The foundation of the Cult Imperialis is the belief in and worship of the Emperor as a divine being, the power of the Emperor to intercede in matters spiritual and temporal, the power of prayer to bring about a change in circumstances, and the divine right of Mankind to rule the stars. The Adeptus Ministorum also administers and spreads the Imperial Cult throughout the territory of the Imperium.
Though any Imperial religious cult or sect must ultimately adhere to the core theology of the Imperial Creed, the possibility for conflicting interpretation means that in practice the Cult Imperialis is an agglomeration of many differing schools of thought. Whilst agreeing in essence, cults and sects across the galaxy often differ on particular tenets of belief or modes of worship. To many the Emperor is a God of War, to others a saviour and bringer of light, and to some a stern judge of the dead. Inevitably, simple differences of emphasis of faith can become points of hostility and even the cause of bloodshed. Many merciless and savage wars have resulted time and again over such fine points of theological doctrine. Although the interpretation of particular dogmas of the Imperial Creed varies across the many worlds of the Imperium, any extreme deviance from its strictures and theology is considered heresy and dealt with with great severity by the Ecclesiarchy or, in extreme cases, the Ordo Hereticus of the Imperial Inquisition.
The Cult Mechanicus, whilst actually a very different religion from the Imperial Cult, is tolerated by the Ecclesiarchy under the terms of the ancient Treaty of Mars which allowed the Tech-priests of the Red Planet to maintain their faith in the face of the atheistic Imperial Truth. After the Imperium was transformed into essentially a theocracy in the early 32nd Millennium, the Adeptus Mechanicus agreed to a theological compromise with the Ecclesiarchy which saw the Emperor as the Omnissiah or physical embodiment of their Machine God. However, rampant distrust between the adherents of both Imperial faiths continues to simmer just beneath the surface and the Ecclesiarchy and the Mechanicus often view each other as political rivals. The Adeptus Ministorum is based on Terra, its urban Ecclesiarchal Palace covering nearly all of the southernmost continent of Antarctica.
During the Great Crusade, many different religious cults, drawing on the book written by the Primarch Lorgar known as the Lectitio Divinitatus that first proclaimed that the Emperor of Mankind was actually the incarnate God of Humanity, first appeared throughout the Imperium of Man, though each had its own subtle variations and differences in basic theology. These forms of worship appeared first on those primitive planets of the Imperium that had regressed technologically during the long, terror-filled years of the Age of Strife. The number of these cults multiplied exponentially following the Emperor's ultimate sacrifice to save Mankind from the rule of the Warmaster Horus and the Dark Gods at the end of the Horus Heresy and his subsequent internment within the Golden Throne. This event was hailed by believers as the Emperor's "ascension" back to full divinity within the Immaterium. Most of these cults would gradually fade away, while others prospered, eventually absorbing the weaker ones. The more successful Emperor-worship cults spread their forms of worship to other planets.
The strongest of all the early Imperial cults of the Lectitio Divinitatus was called the Temple of the Savior Emperor. This cult had the advantage over the others in that it was based on Terra and that its leader had been a successful and respected officer of the Imperial Army who had fought at the Siege of the Imperial Palace, defending the heart of the Imperium in its darkest hour. This holy man had re-named himself Fatidicus and had begun to preach his teachings concerning the divinity of the Emperor to anyone who would listen. This faith spread among the members of the reformed Imperial Guard and the Imperial Navy who had seen first hand the horrors of Chaos, but also to lowly scribes and minor Adepts of the Adeptus Terra (the Administratum). The faith was then spread by these individuals to other planets. When Fatidicus died at the age of 120 standard Terran years, the Temple had more than a billion followers on Terra and untold faithful throughout the Imperium's Segmentum Solar.
In the wake of the chaos and anarchy of the Horus Heresy, the Temple of the Savior Emperor provided a message of hope and reunification through a common faith. Cults who rejected being absorbed, or who couldn't be absorbed, saw themselves being persecuted by fanatical mobs who preferred the Savior Emperor's increasingly "orthodox" theology. Officially, the Temple rejected this violence performed in its name. This development culminated in the 32nd Millennium by which time almost two-thirds of the Imperium's population followed the teachings of the Temple of the Savior Emperor, the exceptions being the Space Marines, who have never formally acknowledged the divinity of the Emperor in a nod to his wishes and the lost Imperial Truth and the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars, who had their own form of worship in the Cult Mechanicus. The Temple's importance, influence, and power rapidly outmatched that of any other Lectitio Divinitatus cult dedicated to Emperor-worship.
The Adeptus Ministorum
In the early 32nd Millennium, in recognition of its unprecedented political power over the minds of Men, the Temple of the Savior Emperor was officially recognized by the High Lords of Terra as the state religion of the Imperium of Man. It also became an official Adepta of the Imperium's government as the Adeptus Ministorum. A few centuries later, the Ecclesiarch Veneris II received a seat on the Senatorum Imperialis and joined the ranks of the High Lords of Terra, and after 300 years, this seat was made permanent. The power of the Ecclesiarchy continued to grow, increasing its hold over the minds and beliefs of the Imperial citizenry. Those who wouldn't follow its teachings were declared unbelievers, ostracized, and on occasion even executed. The vast territories of the Imperium were organised into different dioceses led by the Ecclesiarchy's Cardinals. These powerful religious and political figures were responsible for the hordes of Imperial Missionaries and Preachers that were released to tend to the spiritual needs of the faithful on hundreds of worlds. Lavish shrines, impressive temples, and majestic cathedrals dedicated to the God-Emperor of Mankind were built throughout the Imperium. Millions of religious pilgrims soon began making their way across the galaxy to visit particularly important religious locations, such as the world where a particular Imperial Saint had performed their most famous miracle. In time, the sheer number of pilgrims who arrived on certain worlds became an economic activity in and of itself for the Ecclesiarchy and entire planets were dedicated to worship and directly ruled by the Adeptus Ministorum as Shrine Worlds. Particularly important Shrine Worlds might become the religious seat of an entire diocese stretching across a Sub-sector or Sector and so a Cardinal would take up residence there. These planets became known as Cardinal Worlds.
The Confederation of Light
The only threat to the Ecclesiarchy's spiritual and political dominance in the Imperium was the Confederation of Light. Based upon the planet Dimmamar, this penitent faith's ideals of poverty and humble living clearly contradicted the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy, whose view was that sacrifices of wealth and money to the Adeptus Ministorum in taxes, tithes and other gifts were necessary to enhance the citizens of the Imperium's access to salvation and ensure that the Emperor's light reached every corner of the galaxy through his Missions. The Confederation proved too difficult for Ministorum agents to infiltrate, and the Ecclesiarchy turned to violence, supported in this effort by the unanimous vote of the High Lords of Terra, who declared the onset of the first War of Faith, largely to ensure that Imperial political stability was not damaged by the emergence of religious plurality and possible religious violence. The entire Confederation was declared heretical and the forces of the Imperial Guard, the Imperial Navy, and thousands of fanatical zealots from the Frateris Militia were unleashed upon it, bent on its destruction. Only a few cells and hidden shrines of the Confederation managed to survive and the power of the Ecclesiarchy over the minds of men, for better or worse, was made unassailable.
By the end of the 33rd Millennium every civilised Imperial world was furnished with its own cathedral and the coffers of the Ecclesiarchy were filled with the offerings and tithes from the teeming billions of the God-Emperor's faithful. This wealth was squandered in building increasing numbers of larger and more lavish cathedrals and to fund more Wars of Faith intended not to save the souls of humanity but to secure the Ecclesiarchy's political power and wealth.
Age of Apostasy
Reign of Blood
The Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium was one of the most destabilising periods in Imperial history after the Horus Heresy, beginning during the long struggle between the Ecclesiarchy and the Administratum for ultimate political power over the Imperium. The High Lord Goge Vandire, the 361st Master of the Administratum, was a power-hungry tyrant who eventually gained direct control over the Ecclesiarchy as well as the Administratum by usurping the position of the Ecclesiarch. This made him the single most powerful individual in the Imperium since the Great Crusade, and allowed him to place his own rule above that of the Emperor. His time in power became known as the Reign of Blood, consisting of massive purges of the Ecclesiarchy, and the killings and assassinations of countless perceived Traitors, Heretics and conspirators. This period was eventually ended by the Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor's reborn Confederation of Light, a sect of the Imperial Cult based on the previous Confederation of Light's banned teachings that sought to end Goge Vandire's corruption of Imperial theology. The end of the Reign of Blood resulted in a major reformation of the Ecclesiarchy, the creation of the Imperial Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus to police those enemies of the Imperium who lay within its own structures and the creation of the Adepta Sororitas to serve as both the Eccelsiarchy's new military forces and the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus.
The Plague of Unbelief
The Plague of Unbelief is considered to be a part of the Age of Apostasy by Imperial historians, although it occurred several decades after Sebastian Thor's ascension to the position of Ecclesiarch. The main perpetrator of the Plague of Unbelief was the traitorous Apostate Cardinal Bucharis, who for a time controlled vast swathes of the Imperium under his heretical rule until he was finally brought to the Emperor's justice by the Space Wolves Space Marines and a betrayal by his own enraged people.
Conflicts of Faith
The Imperium of Man is pervaded and dominated by religious faith. It is unsurprising that the Ecclesiarchy often bristles at the presumption of other Imperial organisations, taking easy offence to slights to its position and pride. As many in the Adeptus Ministorum see themselves as the keepers of the faith that unites humanity, they often stray into the presumption of a divine right of authority that extends further than that of other Imperial organisations. Chief amongst those who come into open and occasionally bloody conflict with the Ministorum's more fanatical members are the Tech-priests of Mars, and more rarely the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes, most of whom deny the divinity of the Emperor, preferring to uphold the original, more secular traditions of the Imperium. The openly deviant faith of both these organisations has nagged at the suspicions of the pious for millennia. Some in their pride and zeal feel that it is their right and duty to see the faith of these bodies brought into line and bound to the authority of the Ministorum. Often the result is disastrous, as both the Astartes and the Mechanicus are fiercely independent and wield great powers of their own. More subtly, the Ministorum constantly flexes its secular influence over other branches of the Adeptus Terra to varying degrees. Certainly in the past, certain cardinals and prelates have gone so far as to use blackmail, assassination, and even full-blown civil conflict to enact what they consider the Emperor's holy design. However, any who would see the return to domination of an all-powerful cult must also fear the Ordo Hereticus and its answer to such hubris and presumption.
Heresy is not simply a matter of mutation, witchery, and trafficking with Warp powers. More subtly, it can be a matter of the specifics of faith and worship. The Cult Imperialis is broad in its accommodation of differing tones of faith. However, on the fringe lurk numerous sects and groups who flirt with heresy and deviate from the Imperial Creed to such a degree that their faith is no longer sanctified. The worst cases are declared as abomination by the Ministorum's authorities. The boundary between sanctified faith and heresy is thin, and many sects cross it simply because the ruling centre of the Ecclesiarchy shifts and leaves them suddenly no longer accommodated within the theology of the Cult Imperialis. Countless times over the past ten millennia the Ministorum has gone to war with a part of itself over a point of dogma.
The Ecclesiarchy is not officially part of the Adeptus Terra, but is organised as a wholly separate Imperial Adepta. At its head is the leader of the Imperial Cult, the Ecclesiarch, who, by tradition since the 32nd Millennium, is always one of the Imperium's ruling High Lords of Terra. Below him are the Cardinals, of which there are several thousand, each of whom oversees the Ecclesiarchy's operations and properties in a diocese comprising a Sector, Sub-sector or even a single world of Imperial space. Below the Cardinals are the Pontifices, Confessors, Missionaries and Preachers, in that order, respectively. The clerical orders of the Ecclesiarchy are open to men and women alike, though men seem to have an advantage in achieving high position because many believe that as men, they are closer to the perfection of the God-Emperor, whose perfect embodied form was that of a perfect human male.
The Adeptus Ministorum's own governing body is the Holy Synod, a conclave composed of the Ecclesiarchy's most powerful Arch-Cardinals and Cardinals. The Ministorum divides the Imperium's territory across the galaxy into thousands of dioceses, each generally encompassing an entire Imperial world -- the exception being Terra, the heart of the Imperium, which possesses several dioceses because of its sheer population size and political importance. Some dioceses can encompass several worlds or even an entire Sector in the case of the officials granted the extremely powerful rank of Cardinal-Astra. A diocese is further divided into parishes centered around a shrine or church. Each diocese is headed by a Cardinal, while each parish is headed by an Imperial priest with the title of Preacher. Ranking between these individuals are priests known as Pontifices whose authority extends over several parishes to serve as administrative go-betweens in large dioceses between Preachers and their ruling Cardinal. Priests known as Missionaries have no administrative duties within a single diocese but can be deployed to spread the faith of the Imperial Cult to newly rediscovered human-settled worlds. They are always part of the Ecclesiarchy's missionary wing that is called the Missionaria Galaxia.
Confessors are evangelical zealots who possess a rank within the Ecclesiarchy somewhere between Preacher and Cardinal. Their oratory skill can stir the emotions of entire worlds, leading them to confess personal heresies and mutations, and to betray their neighbours as psykers, Heretics, mutants or other deviants. They are free to wander within an entire diocese and preach amongst the population. They often work on Imperial colonies and are especially useful on worlds where faith is lacking and the people are rebellious against the Imperium. With special dispensation from the Ecclesiarchy, they may even gather armies of Frateris Militia or the Sisters of Battle and lead Wars of Faith against the enemies of the Imperium. Confessors often wear the Rosariusas both protection and a symbol of their rank.
The Adeptus Ministorum also includes an administrative bureaucracy, headed by priests called Arch-Deacons, who control all secular business within the Ecclesiarchy. Arch-Deacons are the administrative counterparts to Cardinals, responsible for the temporal affairs of an entire diocese. The Arch-Deacon's subordinates, known as Deacons, deal with the money entering and leaving a specific diocese or parish, regulate the construction of new shrines and temples and deal with the other secular requirements of running a galaxy-spanning religion.
Adeptus Ministorum Hierarchy
The priests of the Adeptus Ministorum are members of a rigid ecclesiastical hierarchy which includes the following offices, from highest-ranking to lowest:
- Deacon (Dean)
- Drill Abbott
The Ecclesiarch is the High Priest of the Imperial Cult and is based in a fortress within the Ecclesiarchical Palace on Terra. Elected by the Adeptus Ministorum's ruling Holy Synod of Arch-Cardinals, the Ecclesiarch's main concerns include the pursuit of the Ministorum's interests in the Senatorum Imperialis, the preparation and launch of new Imperial Crusades and wars of faith, and ensuring the continued religious devotion of the Imperial citizenry. The Ecclesiarch has held a position as a ruling High Lord of Terra since the 32nd Millennium, and is always one of the most influenctial voices on the Senatorum Imperialis.
The Arch-Cardinal is the official who stands at the top of the Ministorum's hierarchy leading a Sector Synod, which is more often than not more of an idea or principle than a rigid structure or chain of command. Though an Arch-Cardinal is the head of the Sector Synod and commands (or at least has substantial influence over) each of the dioceses in the sector, the true power of the Ministorum rests in the hands of the individual Diocesan Synods, often known by the world (or location on that world) where the Cardinal resides.
Central to the Ministorum's power within a sector of Imperial space are the dioceses, the demesnes of the faith, each of which is under the command of the Cardinals of the Sector Synod. Some dioceses can encompass several worlds or even an entire sector in the case of the officials granted the extremely powerful rank of Cardinal-Astra. This division allows the Ministorum detailed control over the sub-regions within a sector as well as giving individual worlds or specific problems direct attention. Each Cardinal of the Sector Synod is a powerful individual in his or her own right, having risen to his lofty position through years of sacrifice, devotion to the God-Emperor, and most importantly, cunning and relentless politicking. Each Cardinal maintains his own diocese on the world on which he resides, more commonly referred to as his seat of power -- the centre of the Cardinal's authority and base of operations within his Arch-Diocese, from which he rarely if ever leaves.
An Arch-Deacon is a senior Ministorum priest who is subordinate to a Cardinal and helps to oversee the daily functions and duties of the Creed Temporal. This branch of the Ecclesiarchy oversees the astronomical wealth flowing into its treasuries, wealth which is rendered by the faithful as their right and proper offering to the Imperial Cult i the service of their souls' salvation. It is the Arch-Deacon's duty to administer to the logistics of the diocese, coordinating the construction and maintenance of its cathedrals as well as countless other institutions such as Shrine Worlds, pilgrimage sites, reliquaries and retreats. Each Arch-Deacon is responsible for the distribution of as much wealth as an Imperial Sector Governor or the patriarch of a wealthy interstellar merchant concern, and they are often the subjects of bitter jealousy from such secular lords of the Imperium.
Below the Arch-Deacons are those Ministorum priests known as Deacons and Deans, who are responsible for the distribution of the resources passed down to them from the Sector Synod, as well as the actual collection of dues from the faithful.
Groups of zealots and militant preachers often serve an important purpose in rooting out heresy. Cells of these fiery individuals pray and recite litanies together, often during combat. These Firebrands must be handled with care by whatever controlling entity (be it Ecclesiarchy or Inquisitorial) puts them in the field, as Firebrands are just as likely to report the existence of a heretical enclave as they are to incinerate the city block where the enclave is meeting.
A Drill Abbot is a member of the Ministorum and a decorated veteran of the Imperium's wars who works tirelessly at converting the orphans of martyred Imperial servants into driven and dedicated fanatics prepared for the trials of Imperial life. Drill Abbots run the Scholas Progenium, brutally effective institutions which every year produce untold numbers of Planetary Governors, Imperial Guard Commissars, Adeptus Arbites Arbitrators, Imperial Navy officers, Storm Troopers and Inquisitors.
Confessors are free-roaming zealots of the Imperial Cult who use their evangelical platform to agitate the crowds of Imperial citizenry that turn up to hear them. Under the spell of an Arch-Confessor, swathes of citizens will rush forwards to confess their personal heresies, reveal their hideous mutations and betray their comrades as psykers or other untrustworthy deviants. A Confessor might have administrative responsibility for a hive city or, if it is less populated, an entire world, or in frontier regions an entire star system or even a sub-sector. Just as not every Imperial Cardinal heads a diocese, not all Confessors are not responsible for a specific geographic area. Many act autonomously, their duties taking them far and wide across a given region of the Imperium. Some find themselves attached to other Imperial institutions and Adepta. Often, an Imperial Guard general or Imperial Navy admiral might have as his most trusted confidante a senior Confessor, who advises him on spiritual matters and bolsters his resolve to enact the Emperor's will.
A Preacher is the lowest ranking member of the Imperial clergy within the Ecclesiarchy. They are known as the Defenders of the Faith. Often individual regiments of the Imperial Guard and vessels of the Imperial Navy are accompanied by dozens of Preachers, many of whom regard it as their duty to personally take the field of battle and provide religious inspiration to those in their care. A Preacher is also the rank of Ministorum priest who is given a parish of his own to run which is centred on an Imperial shrine. A Preacher is the priest of the Imperial Cult who will have the most day-to-day contact with ordinary worshipers. Especially vigorous and charismatic Preachers may be lucky enough to be promoted to become Confessors.
Adeptus Ministorum Specialty Ranks
The Adeptus Ministorum hierarchy also maintains a number of speciality ranks, which include:
- Iron Evangelist
- Sanction Warden
Within the Ministorum of the Calixis Sector, there are those priests who chafe at the political restrictions that only allows the Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus to combat the unclean and unquiet entities known as daemons. A large proportion of those clerics who are aware of the existence and nature of daemonkind yearn to take the fight to them, to dispel them and cast them out of the material realm and back to the myriad hells that spawned them. These zealots, known as Arch-Exorcists, relish in combating the daemonic as a holy work that follows the example of the God-Emperor Himself.
A Banisher is a specialised holy warrior who is a member of a special religious order of the Adeptus Ministorum known as the Collegia Exterminatus that was formed by the Ordo Malleus of the Calixis Sector. A Banisher is equally skilled at both delving into the forbidden knowledge required to understand the nature of daemons and eradicating daemonic forces with fire and Chainsword. Chosen at a young age from the most pious of children in the Calixian Schola Progenium, their training takes a great deal of time and effort as they earn the faith necessary to fortify their souls against the information they might uncover during their studies of forbidden knowledge. As a result, many Banishers are relatively advanced in age by the time they become Acolytes in service to an Inquisitor. The intensity of their training often leaves a Banisher with scars and augmetic replacements. Their bodies show the sacrifices they have made to keep themselves pure in the eyes of the God-Emperor.
A Crusader is a holy warrior of the Adeptus Ministorum who is recruited for his or her unflagging devotion to the God-Emperor. Most are inducted into the ranks of the Ecclesiarchy from a Schola Progenium, selected for their unflagging devotion to the Emperor. To be selected is a great honour, though it leads not only to a gruelling life of asceticism and martial perfection, but also inevitably to an unmourned death in battle against the forces of heresy and apostasy. Nonetheless, such a calling guarantees the opportunity to test sword and shield against Mankind's greatest enemies. Equipped with a Power Sword and Storm Shield, the Crusader is a stalwart warrior whose place is in the heat of battle, surrounded by his foes. Some Inquisitors recruit Crusaders from the honour guard of the Cardinals Crimson -- that most mysterious of all the Ecclesiarchy's many orders. It is said that nowhere else in the Imperium of Man can more devout warriors be found -- save perhaps within the ranks of the famed Adeptus Sororitas. It is improbable that a Crusader's fate will differ greatly in an Inquisitor's service.
The Missionaries of the Missionaria Galaxia are a special breed of Imperial servant, and although they operate under the auspices of the Cardinals Palatine, they are in practice a nigh autonomous body within the Adeptus Ministorum. Missionaries are tasked with accompanying all manner of Imperial expeditions into regions of the galaxy lost or previously unknown to the Imperium. Missionaries bear the flame of the Imperial Creed wherever they go, and with it kindle the belief of those long separated from the True Faith.
Priests willing to deliver the doctrine of the Imperial Cult are not rare within the Imperium. There are many who repair the bulwark of the faith with the cement of sermon. Inquisitors who value a strong indoctrination in the Imperial Creed as a bulwark against heresy often recruit these men and women and assemble cells led by an Iron Evangelist to root out heresy within the bowels of the vessels of the Imperial Navy or in the twisting labyrinth of a hive city. Iron Evangelists are groups of Inquisitorial Acolytes who take the word of the Emperor to those who may go years without being given His blessings and thus are in grave danger of falling into heresy through their ignorance.
The dangers posed by the psyker are well-documented. According to the doctrine of the Imperial Creed, the witch must be hunted and purged with holy Promethium at every opportunity. However, there are those psykers who are officially sanctioned by the Imperium to use the power of the Warp towards the Emperor's divine purpose, their souls tempered into weapons of the God-Emperor's will. Sanctioned Wardens are groups of Inquisitorial Acolytes chosen from amongst the priests of the Ministorum who monitor Imperial sanctioned psykers at all times for the first signs of corruption.
A Redemptionist is a fanatical priest of the Adeptus Ministorum who follows an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of faith in which redemption in the eyes of the God-Emperor can only be found in death. Many Redemptionists seek their own redemption on the battlefield for the sins they have committed against the God-Emperor. They also desire to bring redemption to others, finding one sin particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor's final judgement to xenos, Heretics or those who traffic with daemons. The Redemptionist movement first began on the Hive World of Necromunda, but has since spread to every corner of the galaxy.
Adeptus Ministorum Minoris Ranks
- Relic-Keeper - Relic-Keepers are priests of the Ministorum who have been charged with preserving and safekeeping the most holy relics of the Imperial Cult, including the relics of the myriad Imperial Saints.
- Shrouded Cenobite - A Shrouded Cenobite is a member of a monastic order of the Ministorum who is dedicated to spending his or her life in contemplation and prayer concerning the mysteries of the God-Emperor. As their name implies, Cenobites often dress in habits with deep cowls that shroud their faces from sight.
- Chapel-Master - A Chapel-Master is a priest of the Ministorum who has been assigned the task of overseeing the sanctity and carrying out the day-to-day administrative tasks of maintaining an Imperial chapel and other places of worship for the faithful.
- Quire Masters
Adeptus Ministorum Sects
The Holy Synod of the Ecclesiarchy and its subordinate Sector Synods and their governing Cardinals are only a part of the Ministorum's presence within each sector. There are many other layers of leadership, synods and cults stretching all the way down to the average Imperial worshipper. System Synods and the variety of the worlds and cultures on which they thrive have given rise to a myriad of Imperial Cults and variances on the orthodox Imperial Creed. The following is a listing of just a fraction of the known Imperial sects:
- Black Priests of Maccabeus - The Black Priests of Maccabeus, known by some as the Black Clerics or the Ashen Confessors (and in secret by the more fearful nickname of "pyre-crows"), are clerics that form a loose-knit order of militant priests organised at the behest of the Ordo Malleus to aid those daemon-hunting Inquisitors in their work. The Ordo Malleus chose to base their Black Order on Maccabeus Quintus, an often overlooked Shrine World and home to a particularly mystical interpretation of the Imperial Creed. Black Priests are selected from promising candidates taken from the Ministorum’s clergy and chosen for their strength of will, the power of their faith and, in many cases, by dint of their survival when confronted by malefic forces in the past. Entrusted with knowledge otherwise forbidden, even to other priests of the Ecclesiarchy, and taught how to focus their will and the purity of their faith to achieve extraordinary things, not least of all the castigation of daemons, clerics who undergo the "Maccabean rites" are forever changed by the experience, and set apart from their fellows in the Ministorum by the nature of their faith and the dark and secret truths about the nature of reality they now carry.
- Cult of the Emperor Revenant - The Cult of the Emperor Revenant is a sect that practices a variance of the Imperial Creed that has a strong funerary nature based upon the God-Emperor's own deathless state. Death is an ever-present reality on most Imperial worlds and how citizens deal with it is often as important as how they live. The members of this sect are found on many worlds within the Calixis Sector, administering to the dead and fostering belief in the power of the Imperium and the countless dead that its glory is built upon. Of all the Imperial Creed's sects, the Revenant Cult is perhaps the one closest to the orthodox doctrines of the Imperial Creed, so much so that many Ministorum servants do not see a difference between it and the more mainstream worship of the God-Emperor. The Cult of the Emperor Revenant is unfortunately also the progenitor of such organisations as the heretical Night Cult. According to some apocryphal sources, the Night Cult can trace their origins to the founding of the Calixis Sector, at a time when the Angevin Crusade was faltering and a man became a saint. It concerns a heretical faction of the Imperial Creed long forbidden, the darkest of proscribed technologies, an apocalyptic prophesy of the End of Days, and the power to make the dead walk.
- Drusians - The Drusians are perhaps the largest and most powerful of the Imperial Cult's sects within the Calixis Sector. Their members are the followers of Saint Drusus, the Lord Militant who successfully completed the Imperium's conquest of the Calyx Expanse that became the Calixis Sector during the Angevin Crusade. This cult is as old as the sector itself. So-called "Drusianism" pervades much of the Cult Imperialis in the Calixian worlds, particularly those that are distant from the sector capital world of Scintilla. Drusianism is a hard and uncompromising reading of the Imperial Creed, emphasising the purifying quality of suffering, the power of holy relics, and the endurance of hardship. An ascetic and largely mystical tradition for the main part, it is somewhat at odds with the cult authorities on Scintilla, who hold to more traditionalist modes of worship but also claim the sector's saint as their own. Many hard-line Drusians consider the sector's noble and mercantile classes to be fundamentally venial and corrupt by nature, and hold little regard for any power or supposed rights such individuals possess. Though they are publicly supported by the Calixian Ministorum and the sector's Arch-Cardinal, the Drusians are often seen as a rival to the orthodox Ecclesiarchy's power and its focused faith in the God-Emperor.
- Red Redemption - The Red Redemption is drawn to the poor underhives, wild Frontier Worlds and primitive feudal cities of the Calixis Sector, feeding on the fears of common men. An extreme variation of the Imperial Creed, the Redemption preaches a zealotry and intolerance beyond even that of the greater Ministorum. They teach that only through pain, cleansing fire and the complete rejection of anything that does not show total and utter devotion to the God-Emperor can a citizen hope to be saved from damnation and the touch of the Dark Gods. While at times the Ministorum and the Red Redemption are at odds, the Imperial church's hierarchy finds them more useful than not and is happy for them to do the dirty work of the faith.
- Redemptionists - Redemptionists are those Ministorum priests who follow an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of faith in which redemption in the eyes of the Emperor can only be found in death. Many Redemptionists seek their own redemption on the battlefield for the sins they have committed against the God-Emperor. They also seek to bring redemption to others, finding one sin particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor's final judgement to xenos, Heretics or those who traffic with daemons. The Redemptionist sect was originially founded on the Hive World of Necromunda where it remains a potent religious and political force, but the movement has since found adherents all across the galaxy.
- Sisters of the Void - A benevolent all-female sect of the Ecclesiarchy, the Sisters of the Void travel the pilgrim paths and Warp routes of the Calixis Sector bringing comfort and aid to crewmen and pilgrims alike. Exemplifying the kind and gentle aspect of the God-Emperor, the Sisters believe in the healing power of His light and the protection He brings through the blazing icon of the Astronomican. They are seen as little threat (either politically or to the faith) by the Sector Synod of the Calixis Sector and are accepted as a fairly benign sect. Some whisper, however, that the Sisters of the Void are in fact a front for something more sinister as the Sisters have spent years plying the void so that they might pass invisibly from one world to the next. What their true purpose could be if it actually differs from their stated role is difficult to fathom and certainly neither the Inquisition nor the church have shown an overt interest in them.
- Vitrian Covenant - The Vitrian Covenant is more of an unofficial Imperial Crusade in the Calixis Sector than a religious sect. They are named for the battle that saw the rise of Saint Vidicus and undertake the dual purpose of spreading the faith of the God-Emperor beyond the edges of the Imperium and combating the foul xenos known as Orks. For this reason the Covenant is mostly found on the edges of the Calixis Sector, supporting armies or helping missionaries to settle new and wild Frontier Worlds. Their fanatical hatred of the Greenskins has also seen them travel around the sector using their influence and skills to drum up support for the Margin Crusade, a venture which they view as a vital part of both bringing the Imperial Creed to the lawless void and also curtailing the spread of xenos from their worlds within the Halo Stars. Of course, the fact that the Vitrian Covenant is not wholly aware of the truth behind the Margin Crusade has not stopped the Calixian Sector Synod from using them to raise troops and resources for it.
Other Ecclesiarchy Organisations
The military arm of the Ecclesiarchy are the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, who are dedicated to eradicating heresy across the Imperium. The Ecclesiarchy also often works with the Inquisition, especially the Ordo Hereticus, to achieve its goals. The priests of the Ecclesiarchy will, however, often see Radical Inquisitors as little more than Heretics themselves and actively oppose their missions. The Sisterhood, as it is generally known, is expected to maintain a close watch on all servants and departments of the Imperium for heresy, but especially the Ecclesiarchy itself. The Adepta Sororitas' Militant Orders act as the military arm of the Ecclesiarchy defending shrine and Cardinal worlds from attacks by xenos like the Orks or the Forces of Chaos, but are also tasked to serve as the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus of the Imperial Inquisition when so order by an Inquisitor.
The Frateris Templar were the original, all-male army of High Lord Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy's Reign of Blood in the 36th Millennium. They were destroyed by a Warp Storm while en route to Dimmamar to pacify the rebellious reborn Confederation of Light raised by Sebastian Thor. The Warp Storm, which is still raging to this day, became known as the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath and many believe that it was created within the Warp by the Emperor to show his anger at Vandire's usurpation of his will. The Frateris Templar have since been disbanded, and their role has instead been assumed by the Sisters of Battle since the Ecclesiarch who ended the Reign of Blood and Goge Vandire's tyrannical rule of the Imperium, Sebastian Thor, declared that no man would ever again bear arms for the Adeptus Ministorum.
The Frateris Militia are the unofficial armies of the Ministorum made up of religious zealots who will fight for their faith. The religiously-motivated Frateris fight Wars of Faith against the enemies of the Imperium, often led by a particularly fanatical Confessor, though these forces are rarely well-trained or equipped. Members of the Frateris Militia are not professional soldiers, and receive no training in their role. However, their faith is strong, and they often go on to perform great and terrible deeds in the name of the Master of Mankind.
Missionary work is an important activity of the Ecclesiarchy, and its purpose is to bring rediscovered human-settled worlds into the full fold of the Imperial Cult and the worship of the God-Emperor of Mankind. For this purpose, the Missionaries of the Ecclesiarchy's Missionaria Galaxia organisation always accompany Imperial Explorators or even Rogue Traders on their voyages into unknown space in case human worlds are rediscovered. Missionaries of the Missionaria Galaxia also run charitable Missions, which are schools or hospitals on newly discovered Feral or Feudal Worlds that lack advanced technology. When human worlds are rediscovered, Imperial Missions are immediately established alongside any Imperial planetary government. Part of the purpose of these Missions is to further the worship of the Emperor and spread the ideals and culture of Imperial civilisation. They are also vital in evaluating newly-discovered planetary populations for signs of psychic and genetic mutation or the corruption of Chaos.
The Schola Progenium are the orphanages run by the Ministorum specifically to raise and train the sons and daughters of Imperial servants who have given their lives in the service of the Emperor. The orphans receive a strict orthodox education in the Imperial Creed, and soon come to regard the Emperor as their spiritual father. Their upbringing will have made them absolutely loyal and devoted servants of the Imperial cause and will have instilled in them a selfless ambition to serve the Imperium and Mankind as a whole just as the Emperor does. These qualities make them well-suited to service in many of the governmental and military branches of the Imperium -- the schools of the Schola Progenium provide a large portion of the officers of the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, Imperial Guard Commissars, Assassins, the Judges and Arbitrators of the Adeptus Arbites and even, eventually, new members of the Inquisition. Female Progena often enter the Adepta Sororitas. Other Progena become members of the Adeptus Ministorum's clergy, which is open to men and woman alike.
- Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG)
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pg. 61-64, 169-171
- Inquisitor (Sourcebook), pp. 108-109
- Necromunda (Sourcebook) (2nd Edition), pp. 123, 191-198
- Necromunda (Sourcebook) (1st Edition), pg. 81
- Necromunda Magazine Vol. 1, 2, "House of Iron", pp. 28-29
- Necromunda Magazine 2, pp. 30-35
- Necromunda: Outlanders Rulebook, pp. 33, 77
- Necromunda: Underhive (Living Rulebook edition), pg. 79
- Sisters of Battle (5th Edition)
- Warhammer Monthly 18, pg. 3
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (Digital Edition) (7th Edition), pp. 274-275, 277, 313-316, 372-374, 380-382, 460-461, 464, 539, 541-542, 550
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 158-159
- White Dwarf 302 (US), "Necromunda - The Iron Lords", p. 91
- White Dwarf 196 (UK), "'Eavy Metal: Redemptionists - The Witch Hunters", pp. 5, 54
- Outlander (Novel) by Matt Keefe, pp. 12, 34, 163-164, 207
- The Redeemer (Graphic Novel) written by Pat Mills and Debbie Gallagher and illustrated by Wayne Reynolds