Faith of the Holy Throne
Location: Empire of Tamous
Deities: Aevo, Khoro, Sacrista (an incarnation of The Red Lady)
It should come as no surprise that a nation as expansionistic as Tamous should foster a faith that not only supports such endeavors, but makes of them a virtue. That is the Faith of the Holy Throne: a religious movement that teaches that the reward of virtue and piety in the eyes of the Faith is land and power to one's lords, and thus prosperity to oneself. It teaches that it is the duty of all folk to aid their lords, to uphold the sanctity of the nobility, and to give all one can to war efforts. Military service is accorded almost as highly as ecclesial service, for both are said to be in the direct service of the Gods of the Faith: Aevo, Khoro and Sacrista (as the Red Lady is called locally).
The Faith of the Holy Throne came into being almost as early as Tamous itself did. The lands that King Tamous joined together included a large temple to Aevo, while the king himself was a devotee of Khoro, to the point where he was almost always accompanied by his royal chaplain, the mighty cleric Saint Audæris of Khoro. While those faiths were content to dwell with one another peaceably (typical for Empyrean faiths), it was when his conquests led him to absorb an convent of warrior-nuns dedicated to the Red Lady - whom they knew and revered as Sacrista, the Battlemaid - that things became rocky.
It is said that King Tamous became fascinated with the disciplines of the Abbey of Sacrista (and perhaps even with the beauty of one or more of the war-nuns themselves). As much of his reign involved active warfare, he turned to them often for their tactical advice, and was said to be enchanted with their bloodlust. According to history, It was his wife, Queen Væsiara who approached the patriarch of Aevo and Saint Audæris about some kind of unifying religious structure with room for them all.
Thus was born the first Council of the Holy Throne, with Patriarch Bandur (called Silverhelm for his hair of shining silver hair) and Saint Audæris approaching the Mother-General of Sacrista, the Reverend Ællina of the Blade. She agreed to their proposal and the three set to work. To this day, the Faith of the Throne reveres these three founders as the Three Wisdoms of the Holy Throne, founding saints of the faith.
The Faith of the Holy Throne focuses exclusively on the Gods of the Holy Throne: Aevo, Khoro and Sacrista. These three deities bring to the world divine order by virtue of each of their gifts. It maintains that Aevo (spelled Ævo in the local dialect) is the Father and Lawgiver, and that his daughters Khoro and Sacrista take his Law and apply it in peace and war, respectively.
In many ways, the Faith of the Holy Throne is clearly a sect intended to bolster up the expansionistic tendencies of Tamous. Not only is the Faith of the Holy Throne aware of this, though, they turn the tables and claim that Tamous' warlike nature is a virtue and delight unto the gods. It is a holy undertaking to bring the light of civilization to the wilderness (defined by the Faith as any nation that isn't Tamous, or any unsettled areas).
The Faith of the Throne acknowledges the other gods, Empyrean and Talion alike, but consider them unworthy of reverence by those who revere the Light of the Law. The worship of other gods is not opposed, though the people of Tamous are expected to hold to the Faith of the Holy Throne first, and any other gods second. Even the priests of other gods are expected to attend services of the Faith - any citizen who fails to do so is considered guilty of treason by the nation's laws. Nor may other religions establish organizations or orders within the nation of Tamous - all temples to other gods must be independent and unaffiliated with one another.
The Faith of the Holy Throne considers the worship of heretical sects to also be treason, particularly that of the Primal Spirits revered by the elves and shifters of the Delannwood. The Faith of the Holy Throne conflates the Primordials with the Primal Spirits often in sermons, particularly during times of war with the Delannwood, assuring its faithful that as the victory of the gods over the Primordials was inevitable, so too is their victory over those who worship them.
The Faith of the Holy Throne fosters a belief that there are Three Foundations of all civilization: the Scepter, the Sword and the Sun. These symbols form the basis for all civilized and virtuous behavior in the Faith, and are used in its symbolism over and over.
- The Virtue of the Scepter: Also called the Precept of Lords, this virtue upholds the proper authority of Tamous' lordly Houses as rulers, affirming that they were put in their place not merely by accident of birth, but by divine appointment. It calls on the faithful to serve these lords as they serve the nation.
- The Virtue of the Sword: Also called the Precept of Knights, this virtue holds that it is by war that the virtuous conquer the uncivilized and bring to them not just proper culture, but the Faith of the Holy Throne. It calls on the faithful to aid the war effort to their best ability, whether as soldier or simply someone who produces food and clothing for those soldiers.
- The Virtue of the Sun: Also called the Precept of the People, this virtue holds that it is the building of civilization that brings divine order to the world, which is the highest good to which one can aspire. It calls on the faithful to perform their duties in life with skill, diligence, and good cheer, whether they be lord, clerk or serf.
Priests of the Faith are not dedicated to singular deities within the sect - an ordained priest of the Holy Throne is a priest to Aevo, Khoro, and Sacrista alike. The head of the Faith of the Holy Throne is the Blessed Patriarch, a powerful and influential archpriest of the faith, who is based out of the Cathedral of the Holy Throne and its surrounding estates. He (as the role has never been filled by a woman) is advised by three priests of high degree, the Preceptors: the Preceptor of the Scepter, the Preceptor of the Sword and the Preceptor of the Sun. Before the Blessed Patriarch dies, he appoints his own heir. If he dies without naming an heir, then the Preceptors choose among themselves, so long as they are in united agreement; if they cannot come to such an agreement within one week, it falls to the emperor to make the choice from among them.
The Preceptor of the Scepter oversees the ecclesial needs of the nobility, and the priests who serve in his preceptory (as his order is called) act as confessors and chaplains to the noble Houses, serving in household chapels and assisting in the education of the youth. The Preceptory of the Scepter also serves in the Cathedral of the Holy Throne, fulfilling every role there from the meanest acolytes to its upper priesthood. Because they are accustomed to governance and are all literate, its priests are also given positions of authority over monasteries of the Faith, although the monks themselves belong to none of the preceptories. Priests of this preceptory are called reverend, both as a noun and as a title, with their high priests being called most reverend. The proper title of address is "your reverence."
The Preceptor of the Sword oversees the ecclesial needs of the military, and are the foremost allies and advocates of the knightly orders in Tamous. The priests of the Preceptory of the Sword accompany fighting men into battle, acting as battle-field chaplains and invokers of the blessings of the Holy Throne on the righteous soldiers of Tamous. The Preceptor of the Sword makes his headquarters in the chapel of one of the knightly orders. This is a different order each year, although the choice is only made from among those that extend an invitation, something that those without the room for the Preceptor's household of a level of luxury fitting to his station would never do. Priests of this preceptory are called knight-chaplain, both as a noun and as a title, with their high priests being called high chaplain. The proper form of address is "your eminence."
The Preceptor of the Sun oversees the ecclesial needs of the people who are neither soldier nor noble. This preceptory is the most populous of the preceptories in Tamous, for the common temples of the Faith fall under their bulwark. Whether a modest country chapel or one of the grand arch-cathedrals, these temples are overseen by the Preceptory of the Sun. The Preceptor of the Sun's headquarters is the great monastery-keep called the Halls of the New Day, just outside of Candorall, from which he oversees the governance of the temples in his keeping. Priests of this preceptory are called radiant, both as a noun and a title, with their high priests being called most radiant. The proper form of address is "your radiance."
The least of the Faith's clergy are the monks and nuns of the myriad monasteries and convents scattered around the empire, who are called the Cloistered as a body. Though they are governed by the Preceptor of the Scepter, these cloistered belong to no one preceptory, but indeed offer their aid to the Faith as a whole where they may. Monasteries and convents are sponsored by the Preceptories, however, so the Cloistered cannot afford to alienate the priesthood. Any facet of church life that requires a degree of separation from society might be undertaken by a cloistered enclave - there are scriptora and healing retreats for nobility sponsored by the Preceptory of the Scepter, smithy-monasteries and convents of warrior-nuns sponsored by the Preceptory of the Sword, and plague hospitals, simple farming enclaves and orphanage-cloisters run by the Preceptory of the Sun. It is a point of understanding among the people of Tamous that if one cannot make it through life as a noble, a soldier or a serf, then the cloistered life awaits, and service to the Holy Throne may come in another way.
The last place of hierarchy in the church is its roster of living saints. The Sainted are those special men and women with proven miraculous gifts from the Holy Throne, such as clerics and paladins. The Sainted answer to the Blessed Patriarch alone, though they may come from and even possibly still work as a part of any of the other preceptories or even among the Cloistered. Those who are dedicated members of the Preceptories often find themselves pushed into positions of importance to the Faith and their preceptory quickly, and when the Blessed Patriarch can justify it, are given roles as Preceptors for the Faith as quickly as possible.
Each Preceptory has its own set of rituals, but there are those common to the Faith as a whole.
- Confession: A member in good standing with his temple may attend a ritual declaration of personal violations against the Precepts, attended by a priest of the Preceptory to which the individual belongs. Confessions are required before attendance at most important rites of the church, including an individual's wedding or confirmation.
- Weddings: Unlike many such traditions, marriages are not overseen by the Faith, save in a role as one of three witnesses.
- Confirmation of Adulthood: The Faith does oversee specific rites for those young men and women entering adulthood. These rites are performed by each of the Preceptories for congregants associated with that Preceptory - thus, merchant parents would seek out a radiant to perform their child's confirmation, a knight would seek out a chaplain for his child, and a noble mother arranges for a reverend to oversee that of her child. The age at which these happen tend to be fourteen among the common classes, and sixteen among the nobility and soldiering families.
- Vigil Consecration: When someone is about to be elevated to a position of importance in their society - craftsmen made a master, a noble about to be coronated, a soldier or squire about to be knighted - the Faith requires that person to undertake a holy vigil, remaining awake in a temple all night, and then receiving a ritual consecration the day of their rite. Though these rites are performed by secular authorities, by Tamousan law, they cannot be performed if the individual in question has not undergone Vigil Consecration.
- Censure: Those who perform the greatest sins against the Faith - blasphemy against the Holy Throne and its gods, treachery against the Empire, or similarly fell deeds - face the rite of Censure, in which one is cast out of the Faith. The Censured are denied the protection of the three Preceptories: neither noble, nor law, nor common man will raise an effort to protect him from the predation of others.
The Holy Throne
After the founding of Tamous, the Three Saints of Tamous - Patriarch Bandur Silverhelm, Saint Audæris of Khoro, and Reverend Ællina of the Blade - oversaw the creation and consecration of the Holy Throne, gifting it to King Tamous I as a reminder that his rulership was a gift to him from Aevo, Khoro and Sacrista. It is crafted of gold-engraved white stone, inset with gems, and its surfaces etched with holy sigils. Fine quilted velvets and furs are laid across its seat for comfort, and at the feet of the monarch are six gemstones, each blessed by each of the Saints: the diamond of Vigilance, the opal of Wisdom, the emerald of Patience, the ruby of Cunning, the citrine of Piety and the onyx of Generosity.
This throne has stood in the throne-room of the Tamousan capital since its founding, and is rumored to be the center of various blessings, miracles and magical emanations over the years. The Faith of the Holy Throne treats it as a legitimately holy relic of the faith, so much so that there is even a knightly order - the Knights of the Holy Throne - whose duty to the emperor involves not merely service to the ruler, but to safeguard the Holy Throne itself.
Individual Preceptories take charge of the organization of each of these observances and holy days, but they are observed by the Faith as a whole.
Preceptory of the Sword
- Saint Audæris Eve: Every year, squires are nominated for knighthood by their master knights. If the knight-commander of an order reviews the squire's accomplishments and agrees, that squire will be part of the Vigil of Consecration that happens on this evening, held in the main chapel of the order's chapterhouse.
Though the Faith of the Holy Throne has no individual knightly orders among its number, all Tamousan knightly orders are required to have sponsorship from the Faith, meaning that they have some say and hand in every knightly order in the land. Indeed, a knightly order may lose its imperial commission if the Faith withdraws its sponsorship, so the orders take great care to retain the favor of the Faith in general, and the Preceptor of the Sword in particular.
While there are no individual orders within the Preceptories, there are a few "holy brotherhoods of recognition and accomplishment" that transcend the Preceptories as a whole. These include the Blessed of the Holy Kiss, the best and brightest of each of the Preceptories acknowledged for individual contributions to the Faith, acknowledged in a ritual that permits them to approach the Holy Throne of Tamous and place a kiss upon the gemstone at its base which represents Piety. Others include the Brotherhood of the Sandal, or "Sandalites" for short, an honor give to those priests who venture outside of Tamous to learn of the faiths of other lands and spread the Faith of the Holy Throne to those who wish to know of it.
Finally, over the years, a variety of monastic orders have developed, always based around influential Saints of the Faith. The Ællinian Order, an order of warrior-nuns who follow the teachings of Ællina of the Blade, are the oldest of the orders, established even before their founder died. The Moscuval Order, made up of monks and nuns clad in the order's distinctive green vestments, are dedicated gardeners and wanderers in wilderness, who are skilled growers and tenders of green things, often showing up when blight threatens farming communities to help out. In contrast, many folk dread seeing the grey-clad Domani Order, who travel in groups of ten to twenty and set up camps outside of settled areas where they can take in the sick. They frequently show up to areas that are in the grips of plague, or have been recently.
The Scrivenati Order are small but influential, an order of Scepter-sponsored scriveners, illuminators, and bookbinders who copy the important texts of the realm and keep vast archives of their own. Finally, the Lantern Order was founded by the unnamed Great Pilgrim, a paladin who protected the faithful on pilgrimages from holy site to holy site in the history of Tamous, and the monks and nuns who take up the lantern swear oaths of silence and protection in his memory.