A Sanguinary Priest is a specialist officer unique to the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter and its Successors. The Sanguinary Priest performs the duties of an Apothecary in a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter as well as other services peculiar to the genetic inheritance of the Primarch Sanguinius. While the Apothecaries of other Chapters monitor their charges for genetic purity and provide all needed biomedical services, the duties of the Sanguinary Priests transcend this mundane medical need.
Some Scions of Sanguinius are driven by a terrible death-seeking madness called the Black Rage, brought on by visions of the death of their Primarch when he confronted the Warmaster Horus aboard his flagship the Vengeful Spirit in orbit of Terra during the closing days of the terrible Horus Heresy. Others are afflicted by the terrible Red Thirst, a craving for blood which some claim may be the first signs of corruption by Chaos. The Sanguinary Priests tend to Astartes afflicted with these genetic curses. They are also responsible for inducting all Aspirants into the Chapter as Neophytes as well as overseeing their implantation with the gene-seed and Astartes organs.
Every Space Marine Legion, and every Chapter since the Second Founding, has maintained a corps of Apothecaries to safeguard its gene-seed and the health of its Battle-Brothers. Yet the Primarch Sanguinius knew that his sons would require more than physical curatives if they were to endure the endless war that was to be their mission in the years to come. The Blood Angels Primarch foresaw the darkness that would manifest itself in his children, and knew that it must be guarded against. He knew the shadow of death would come to nestle in his scions' hearts -- though he knew not how it would descend -- and judged that constant guidance would be needed to put this darkness to the proper use. So he transformed the IX Legion's Apothecaries into Sanguinary Priests, setting them as high in honour as the Chaplains of the Reclusiam, and just as vital to the spiritual guidance of the Blood Angels.
The Sanguinary Priests keep a vigilant watch upon the genetic and spiritual well-being of their charges, and counsel them through the darkness of their Chapter's Flaw. It is known that some amongst the Blood Angels spend much time seeking a cure for these conditions, although most have resigned themselves to the slow and terrible decline of their Chapter. Some savants say that it is because Sanguinius was more touched by Chaos than the other Primarchs during his gestation capsule's flight through the Warp after he and his superhuman brothers were stolen from the Emperor's gene-laboratory. They cite the fact that he possessed wings -- an obvious mutation -- to support their case. Their argument runs that the gene-seed that was extracted from him was genetically flawed and corrupted even before the IX Legion was created from it by the Emperor, and thus terrible consequences were preordained. Other savants of the Astartes deny this, citing that the Emperor Himself trusted Sanguinius implicitly, and personally oversaw the creation of the Blood Angels. Certain Heretics counter this with the argument that the Emperor also once trusted Horus above all others in his Imperium, and that even He could make mistakes.
Whilst the sermons and ceremonies of the Chapter's Chaplains exhort their Battle-Brothers to reject the anger within, those performed by the Sanguinary Priests call upon the Blood Angels to embrace the Red Thirst and wrest it to their control; unleashing its strength to buttress theirs when the day is darkest and the battle goes ill. Even to this day, the Sanguine Tower of the Priesthood, also known as the Tower of Amareo, is the only part of the Blood Angels' fortress-monastery that challenges the dark glory of the Chapter's Reclusiam. There are tales told of a secret chamber atop the Sanguine Tower from which emerge howling cries that demand the blood of the living, but none are willing to say for certain what secrets lie hidden in that haunted, desolate place. These two towers - one a shining beacon of redemption and renewal, the other sinister and sombre - remain a physical monument to the dual nature of every Blood Angels' soul.
RoleEditSanguinary Priests are both medics and mystics, for they are called upon to counsel the Battle-Brothers of their Chapter in regards to the Flaw, to preach how it might be overcome, or, when needed, harnessed. While it is the task of the Blood Angels' Chaplains to guard for the onset of the Black Rage, it is the duty of the Sanguinary Priests to guide the brethren through the worst excesses of the Red Thirst, and to remain noble and pure throughout. The Sanguinary Priests call upon the Blood Angels to embrace the Red Thirst and wrest it to their control; unleashing its strength to buttress theirs when the day is darkest and the battle goes ill.
For those Astartes who are wounded in battle and can be saved from the clutches of death, the Sanguinary Priest will do his utmost to preserve his Battle-Brother's life. The injured Battle-Brother is returned to full fighting health, so the gene-seed within him will survive and the Chapter endure. Yet for those Space Marines that are mortally wounded in battle and rendered incapable of recovery, the Sanguinary Priest can do little but calm the spirit in preparation for oblivion, sometimes relieving his charge's mortal agonies with a single shot. Once death has come, the Sanguinary Priest performs one final act for his fallen comrade, extracting the Progenoid Glands -- the reservoirs of gene-seed -- from the corpse. This is by far the hardest part of a Sanguinary Priest's duties, for the Red Thirst cares little for the nature of blood -- only that it is warm and flowing. So it is that every gene-seed extraction performed by a Sanguinary Priest becomes not only a ritual necessary for the continuation of the Chapter, but also a trial for the mind and soul of the Sanguinary Priest himself.
Within the veins of every Sanguinary Priest runs the blood of Sanguinius, so that they might continue to Insanguinate the Chapter’s Aspirants -- the process by which the gene-seed is activated using a sample of Sanguinius' blood drawn from a Sanguinary Priest's body and drunk from the artefact known as the Red Grail. As befits so potent and blessed a legacy, there are few Sanguinary Priests who do not in some way share the tiniest fraction of their Primarch’s legendary grace. The presence of a Sanguinary Priest is heartening for all those who descend from the blessed Sanguinius, and few Astartes can deny the presence of a Primarch’s blood. However, so vital to the Blood Angels are the Sanguinary Priests that it does not bode well if one is permitted to fall in battle and be abandoned. If a Sanguinary Priest is slain, and his body and wargear not recovered, the dishonour of such an act reduces the honour of the Chapter as a whole.
Before they can take up the robes and chalice of the priesthood, a Blood Angel must first serve time as a Sanguinary Novitiate. Trained in the arts of surgery, they are equipped with the Narthecium and Reductor common to all Apothecaries, and attend to the wounded under even the heaviest enemy fire. Should a patient prove beyond saving, they provide the Emperor's mercy and extract their fallen comrade's gene-seed. Once a Novitiate proves himself, he is then properly inducted into the priesthood's hallowed ranks, where he is made privy to the order's secrets.
The Sanguinary Priests have as the symbol of their office a gold-wrought cup called a Blood Chalice, a vessel into which it is said a portion of the blood of Sanguinius himself was once poured. The very first Blood Chalices were presented to the priesthood by Sanguinius himself. Legend has it that the Primarch somehow placed a part of his being into each vessel, and that the bearer of the relic and all Battle-Brothers near to it can hear Sanguinius' voice in their mind, urging them to greater glories.
Over the long centuries, many Blood Chalices have been lost to the caprice of war and, though there are no longer Blood Chalices equal to the number of Sanguinary Priests, each Exsanguinator -- the Sanguinary Priest's chief tool of healing -- contains a shard from a shattered Blood Chalice so that the blessing is not lost. The greatest of the Blood Chalices is known as the Red Grail, into which the blood of the slain Primarch was poured and from which every Sanguinary Priest and Blood Angels Aspirant will drink, but every Blood Chalice is a relic of the utmost reverence.
In the 41st Millennium, there are more Sanguinary Priests than there are Blood Chalices, for the capricious ebb and flow of galactic war has led to some being lost or destroyed. Yet, the Blood Chalice is such a potent symbol of the Chapter's inheritance that those Sanguinary Priests who are considered worthy bear one into battle in order to inspire their fellow Space Marines. Even Battle-Brothers not of the Blood Angels' line cannot help but feel inspired by the proximity of such a relic, for the blood of a Primarch is a potent essence to all of the Adeptus Astartes.
Should such a holy relic be lost upon the field of battle, or its bearer fall to enemy fire, the Blood Angels and their allies will fight as savage animals to recover it or to avenge its loss. Entire campaigns have been launched by the Blood Angels and their Successors to recover a lost Blood Chalice, and the mere rumour that one has been identified is sufficient to drive the Blood Angels to the edges of the galaxy and beyond to retrieve it.
A rare few Sanguinary Priests come to take the Apocryphon Oath and serve a Vigil of the Long Watch with the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos. When doing so, they perform all of the usual duties of an Apothecary: monitoring their Battle-Brothers' genetic purity, healing wounds, and recovering the Progenoids of the fallen. In addition, they are highly gifted in oratory, and the very best of them is able to inspire not only the Sons of Sanguinius but any Space Marines they serve alongside. However, there is one duty above all others that a Sanguinary Priest serving in the Deathwatch must attend to, and that is the counselling and monitoring of others of his kin serving in the same Watch Station. Should he detect any sign of the Black Rage, he must act for the good of all, and ensure that his lost Battle-Brother is returned to the Chapter, or that his suffering is ended through the administration of the Emperor's Peace.
- Power Armour
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Exsanguinator - Used by Sanguinary Priests to harvest the gene-seed of fallen comrades, the Exsanguinator is both a sophisticated medical device and close quarters weapon. When a Battle-Brother falls in combat, it is the duty of the Sanguinary Priests to either restore him or safeguard his genetic heritage for future Battle-Brothers, storing it away in the Exsanguinator. An Exsanguinator is identical to a Narthecium in all respects. The tool of a Sanguinary Priest's trade, an Exsanguinator contains implements specially designed for Astartes physiology and for performing first aid without having to remove the patient's Power Armour. It also comprises various counterseptics, synthetic skin patches, transfusions and other compounds engineered for the Space Marines' physiology, and several stasis tubes for storing any recovered gene-seed.
- Blood Chalice - The very first Blood Chalices were presented to the Sanguinary Priesthood long ago by Sanguinius himself. Legend has it that the Primarch somehow instilled a part of his being into each vessel, making them repositories of his divine power. Over the long centuries, many Blood Chalices have been lost to the caprices of war. Any Battle-Brother that drinks from a Blood Chalice will find himself with new found vitality, his wounds healing rapidly and the fatigue disappearing from his body. Drinking from the Chalice is not without its cost, however, and every time a Battle-Brother does so he risks losing himself to the Red Thirst. Entrusted to the members of the Sanguinary Priesthood, those few Blood Chalices that remain are considered highly sacred, and must be protected at all costs. To lose such a priceless relic is a black mark of shame that can never be expunged, and so Blood Angels will fight to the death rather than allow a Blood Chalice to fall into the hands of the foe.
Notable Sanguinary PriestsEdit
- Brother Corbulo - Corbulo is mightiest amongst the ranks of the Blood Angels' Sanguinary Priests and serves as the Bearer of the Red Grail. As sometimes happens with Blood Angels Battle-Brothers, Corbulo bears a great physical resemblance to the Chapter's lost Primarch Sanguinius.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Blood Angels (8th Edition), pp. 30, 79
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Blood Angels (7th Edition), pp. 110-113
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 48-49
- Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition), pg. 5
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pg. 96
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 43-45