The Church of the White Shield
The Church of the White Shield
The Church of the White Shield (or more commonly just called The Church) is the primary religious organization for the eastern regions of the continent. It is largely comprised of human worshippers, although adherants of all races are not unknown. The Church maintains that there are only two deities, Fader and Moder, who are the creators of the universe. Among the earliest creations of these two gods are the First, thirteen powerful entities who then birthed the major known races. After the Banishment, five of the thirteen First were expelled and one was slain, thus reducing the number of worshipped First to seven, although two of these (Onrachd and Usga) are rarely worshipped by humans despite their official standing within the Church.
In the Kingdom of the White Sword, the Church and the King are seen as two equal pillars. The Kingdom is the official protector of the Church, and will intervene in other countries if the Church’s interests are threatened, while the Church supports and upholds the political hierarchy in the Kingdom.
Brief History of the Church
The Church was founded by Ernand the Holy. Hagiographies tell that Ernand was a baker in the town of Shallow Mound in the southern lands. He was known to be an honest, upright individual, but not particularly religious. This changed the day when, during a visit to the mound outside of town that gave the village its name, Ernand was visited by Kuroz. Fearful, Ernand fell to his knees but was bade to stand by the celestial entity. Kuroz explained that faith in the Creators had all but vanished in the land and it was Ernand’s mission to change this. For the remaining thirty-six years of his life Ernand would dedicate himself to fulfilling his mission.
Although the Church’s calender begins in the year of Ernand’s conversion, the official date of the Church’s founding is CY 23 when construction was commenced on the Gleaming Basillica in the city of Casteal. Although Ernand would not live to see the great temple completed, he did draw up the plans and initiate the work.
Structure of the Church
The Church of the Creators is a highly hierarchical organization. At the top wielding ultimate power is the Caput Sanctus, sometimes simply called the Caput. Next are the cardinals, twenty-three individuals who serve in the College of Cardinals and assist the Caput. Most cardinals will also hold others titles and responsibilities and it is from this pool that the chief administrators of the Church are appointed by the Caput.
Next are the archbishops, religious leaders over a whole province. Although these offices are seen to be primarily theological in nature, archbishops are also responsible for the administration of their provinces. It is official policy, however, that archbishops (and bishops) will appoint others to handle administrative matters so that they may free themselves for more spiritual concerns. In practice, however, most archbishops take an active role in temporal affairs. Officially, archbishops are appointed by the Caput. In practice, however, secular rulers tend to play a role in the selection process, their degree of influence commencerate with their domain’s power.
Reporting to the archbishops are the bishops, who oversee Church affairs in smaller regions. Typically a single archbishopric will contain from three to seven bishoprics. Most bishops achieve their office in the same manner, through appointment by an archbishop with the approval of the Caput (and, as above, with secular rulers having some influence). Some bishoprics, however, have different rules for succession. Several are hereditary in nature, passing from parent to child without any possibility of interruption. Some are elected by the priests and abbots of the bishopric.
Immediately below the bishops are the priests and abbots/abbotesses. These oversee individual churches or monestaries. Unlike the higher ranking offices, these positions are not specifically life-long, although frequently a person may hold such an office until death. A church, if it is particularly large, may actually have several priests, although one will be senior to the others. A monestary will always have only one abbot.
Below priests and abbots are deacons, priors, and novitiates. Depending on the temple’s size and proximity to the Exalted City, deacons may or may not be lay people. Similarly a church might have none, few, or a larger number of novitiates, young men and woman who are in training to become clergy. In monestaries, an abbot may have any number of priors to assist him.