Saint Arabella, known also as "The Liberator", is the founder and patron saint of the Order of the Sacred Rose of the Adepta Sororitas. Like the Order of the Bloody Rose, the Order of the Sacred Rose was not formally created until the reign of the Ecclesiarch Deacis VI in the middle of the 38th Millennium. Saint Arabella was known as a particularly serene, even-tempered sister, renowned for her calm nature in the face of adversity. She was one of five companions of Alicia Dominica, the patron saint and founder of the Adepta Sororitas. She is said to have been instrumental in the negotiations that led to Dominica accepting the plan of the Adeptus Custodes and was the last of the surviving six Sisters to enter the Emperor's Throne Room when they were brought before the Golden Throne for a personal audience with Him during the Reign of Blood in the 36th Millennium.
Arabella has earned the honorific "The Liberator" because many sisters pray to her for liberation from doubt and rash action at times when a cool head is required. Arabella disappeared in the late 36th Millennium shortly after the death of Saint Mina and her ultimate fate remains unknown. It is not known whether Arabella was martyred or died of old age, or some other fate overtook her, and any inquiry into the subject with the Sisters of her Order is always met with a stony silence. Although this long-dead martyr never led her Order in battle, it was founded in her name. Arabella's symbol is a white rose, held aloft in a mailed gauntlet.
Arabella's origins can be traced back to the late 35th Millennium, during the Age of Apostasy, and the rise of the Apostate High Lord Goge Vandire. Through political maneuvering, blackmail, and outright murder, Vandire managed to assume the mantle of both High Lord of the Administratum and Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum. Vandire sought to impose his own rule over the Imperium in place of the Emperor and used the power of the two Adepta he controlled to eliminate anyone who opposed him. Thus began the period in Imperial history known as the Reign of Blood. Through trickery and manipulation, the newly discovered sect known as the Daughters of the Emperor from the world of San Leor were co-opted into becoming Vandire's personal bodyguard, and were renamed the Brides of the Emperor.
When the Holy Synod of the Ecclesiarchy attempted to have Vandire assassinated a few standard years later to rid themselves of the tyrant, the Brides went into the Synod's meeting chambers, locked the doors, and emerged a solar hour later carrying the severed heads of every Cardinal present. This violent repression and wanton slaughter continued for seven solar decades after Vandire's ascension.
Soon rebellion against Vandire's tyranny began to foment after a simple preacher named Sebastian Thor, from the world of Dimmamar, began to rail against the excesses of Vandire and called for a holy Crusade to restore the Emperor's rightful rule. At the height of the Age of Apostasy in 378.M36, an elite Space Marine strike force composed of 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.
Ultimately, it was not the armies of the Space Marines and the Tech-priests that brought about the doom of High Lord Vandire. It was his most trusted companions, the sisterhood of the Brides of the Emperor. Only one Imperial Adepta had remained apart from the bloodshed and devastation of the era. Within the secure walls of the Imperial Palace, the Adeptus Custodes continued their eternal vigil over the Golden Throne. To escape the anarchy that prevailed in the wider Imperium, and to ensure the protection of the Emperor Himself, the Custodians had cut themselves off from the outside completely.
Only scraps of information passed through the sealed walls of the most sacred of places in the galaxy, and it was only when the Space Marines and the Adeptus Mechanicus moved against Vandire that the full extent of the treachery perpetrated by the High Lord became known to them. In secret meetings with the commanders of the Space Marines, the Adeptus Custodes learned of the Reign of Blood and how the Brides of the Emperor defended the traitorous High Lord. The mysterious order advised the Space Marines to continue their attack while they would do what they could.
The Captain-General of the Custodes led a small force through the secret passages deep beneath the surface of Terra. After many solar days of travel, the group emerged in the bowels of the Ecclesiarchal Palace, and approached Alicia Dominica, the leader of the Brides of the Emperor. Calling for a truce and a parley, the Custodian laid down his weapons and walked unarmed to meet the guardians of Vandire. For an hour he made an impassioned plea for the Brides to revoke their oaths, striving to convince them that they were fighting for evil, not the Emperor. However, they were not to be swayed by his arguments. The nameless Captain-General had only one option left. Leaving his men as hostages, the Custodian guided Alicia Dominica and her personal bodyguard of five female warriors (Arabella, Katherine, Lucia, Mina, and Silvana), into the heart of the Imperial Palace, the Sanctum Imperialis, to stand before the God-Emperor upon His Golden Throne.
What occurred in this most sacred of chambers is not recorded, but when the Brides of the Emperor stepped through the Eternity Gate once more into the Outer Palace, their eyes burned with unparalleled anger and hatred. Without a word, the Captain-General led them back through the dark places of the earth, this time leading them directly to Vandire's Audience Chamber. Alicia Dominica spoke of the treachery of Vandire and his depraved corruption of the Ecclesiarchy, but most of all she spoke of his twisted perversion of their own Order.
Burning with shame and anger, they renounced the name of the Brides of the Emperor and once again became the Daughters of the Emperor. Alicia Dominica and her vengeful Sisters confronted the corrupt Vandire within his own chambers. Dominica pronounced judgement on the apostate Vandire, and in front of 4,000 assembled Brides of the Emperor, drew her Power Sword and held it aloft for all to see. Vandire glanced around the assembled warriors, his brow knitted in confusion. In the end the High Lord appeared so divorced from reality that he could scarcely comprehend Alicia's words. The Power Sword slashed down, beheading the traitorous High Lord in one stroke. The Reign of Blood had ended.
Despite Vandire's death, the Age of Apostasy was to rage for several more centuries after the death of the Renegade High Lord as a result of the political destabilisation that he had caused. With the appointment of Sebastian Thor as the new Ecclesiarch, he unleashed a reformation of the Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Creed's doctrine and ended the wars of the religious schism, giving birth to the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus, intended to hunt for the enemies of the Emperor within the Imperium.
They owed their power in no small part to Thor's famed Decree Passive that forbade the Adeptus Ministorum from raising permanent bodies of "men under arms." Following the disbanding of the Ecclesiarchy's standing armies and fleets (the Frateris Templar), the Daughters of the Emperor, now called the Adepta Sororitas, replaced the Templar as the defenders of the Ecclesiarchy and the faith of the Imperial Cult from direct threats. Alicia Dominica formally established the Sisterhood -- the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, with the Orders of the Sisters divided between the Convent Prioris on Terra and the Convent Sanctorum on the Cardinal World of Ophelia VII.
Dominica then became the first Canoness Superior of her own Order Militant, the Order of the Ebon Chalice. Over the next few centuries, Dominica and her original companion Sisters succumbed to their various fates. By the late 36th Millennium, Arabella was the only survivor of the six Sisters who went before the Golden Throne during the end of the Reign of Blood, and soon disappeared from the history books shortly after. Her ultimate fate remains a mystery. Two and a half thousand Terran years later, two Orders Militant were created by Eclessiarch Deacis VI, the Order of the Bloody Rose and the Order of the Sacred Rose. The Order of the Sacred Rose was founded in memory of Saint Arabella, the last of the six sisters to enter the Emperor's Throne Room, formed at the Convent Prioris.
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), pp. 13-14, 16, 18, 35
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs, pp. 10-13, 41
- White Dwarf Magazine 293 (UK), "Liber Sororitas - Matriarchs of the Sisterhood," by Andy Hoare, pg. 56