Orders of the Vatacine Church
The Vatacine Church is a nation without borders. Within its ranks, there are distinct groupings of clergy and lay servants, each of whom has their own individual perspective on the teachings of the Prophets, yet all bending to the will of the Heirophant and the greater Church.
With the vacuum created by the death of the Heirophant, the past two years have seen greater division between the Orders. This increase in sectarianism has contributed both to the lack of consensus among the Cardinals voting for a new leader, as well as the increase in the power of the Inquisition, which is rapidly rising to fill the void in power at the top of the Church.
While there are many different Vatacine Orders, this document examines only several of the larger ones.
THEUS IRAE: The "Wrath of Theus". This is a largely military order of clerical soldiers, created during the Crusades. For a long period, they acted as the personal guard of the office of the Heirophant, but with the recent absence of that position, they have devoted the majority of their time to protecting Church property, both on land, and especially on the sea-TI monks usually accompany Church vessels, as protection for the passengers and cargo.
Rumours are rampant regarding attempts by the TI to seek out the fabled Vatacine Kingdom of Prester John, supposed to exist somewhere near Cathay. It is said that they seek this legendary ruler as a candidate for the Heirophancy, untainted by the politics that have plagued the Church since the end of the War of the Cross.
Being a military order, members of TI are given dual titles denoting their clerical and military ranks, respectively. For example: Father-Captain, Brother-Sergeant, etc.
Primary Nationalities: Vatacine Eisen, Vatacine, Avalon, Montaigne
THE BENEDICTUS: "The Blessed". This order is the strongest proponent of education within the Vatacine Church, and most often comes at odds with the Inquisition over its stances on scientific experimentation and the definitions of heresy. The Benedictus are most often found teaching at universities, spreading knowledge, as well as the words of the Prophets.
There are the beginnings of rumblings surrounding the Benedictus, specifically in regards to what the Inquisition has planned for them. It doesn't take a scholar to understand that the more the Benedictus place themselves opposed to Inquisition, the closer they come to being branded as heretics and hunted down. As such, the Order is currently attempting to walk the tightrope between following their beliefs (that the increase of intelligence brings one closer to the ideals of the Prophets), and appeasing the powers-that-be.
Primary Nationalities: Castillian, Vendel, Vodacce
THE IUSTITIUS: "The Just". The oldest of the current Vatacine Orders. The Iustitian Order (as it is also known) are a cloistered Order, separating themselves from humanity in distant, inaccessible monasteries. Members of the Order live their lives in contemplation of the mysteries of the Prophets, and many take Vows of Silence to turn their attentions inward, away from the corrupting world.
The Order is revered for its wisdom, and in times past, Thean Kings would make pilgrimages to Iustitian monasteries to ask for judgements regarding matters of diplomacy or law. They would stand outside the monastic gates, while a servant carried their written plea to the monks. Often, many days would pass before the written reply would be received. It was this practice that gave the Order its name.
It cannot be said with certainty, however, what goes on today behind the walls of the Iustitian monasteries. The rulers of Thea no longer come to them for wisdom. As with all Orders, they open their gates for other clergy-the rules of hospitality still apply, after all. But none of the visiting monks of other orders have been permitted into the cloistered towers, and so none can say what occurs therein.
Primary Nationalities: Vodacce, Castillian
Orders of the Vatacine Church, Part II
THE AVESTINE ORDER: An order which follows the writings of the 11th century monk, Avestus. The Avestines are closely connected with two things: The Inquisition (more members of the Inquisition are from this order than any other) and politics (many Avestines find themselves in the position of advisor-the most famous being Esteban Verdugo, the advisor to Good King Sandoval of Castille).
Their involvement in politics might draw criticism from the other Orders, if not for the Avestine's close relationship with the Inquisition. Most critics of the Order are hesitant to object to their actions too loudly, for fear of drawing the attention of the Inquisition. To be sure, many of the most outspoken critics of Avestine policies have found themselves the subjects of investigations into allegations of Heresy. The Avestine-led Inquisition seems to have quite the nose for sniffing out such things.
The political allies garnered by the Avestine Order have made it the wealthiest of the Church organisations. Nobles are generous in their contributions, in an effort to curry favour with the red-robed priests. Naturally, this has led to the main point of contention between the Avestines and their brethren Orders: differing opinions regarding the vow of poverty, traditional among Vatacine priests. The Avestines feel that as long as their wealth isn't personal wealth, but instead used to better spread the Words of the Prophets, then so much the better. Other Orders (notably poorer ones, at that) disagree.
Primary Nationalities: Castillian, Vodacce, Montaigne
ORDO TEMPLI MARIENSIS: "The Order of the Sea Temple"-One of the newer Vatacine Orders, the OTM are a sea-going order. Their members are often found as Chaplains onboard naval vessels, or as ship's doctors (the well-being of the body being fundamental for the well-being of the soul, in OTM opinion). They are a largely solitary order-rarely will you find groups of OTM monks travelling together. Usually a priest works his way across the seas alone, providing comfort for sailors along the way.
Rumours abound that the OTM spread themselves like a net, far and wide, to catch information regarding the location of the 7th Sea. These same rumours claim that the "Sea Temple" referred to in the name of the Order is a direct reference to a location in the 7th Sea. Why these priests would search for such a thing is a fact that the rumours seem to neglect.
Primary Nationalities: Vodacce, Vendel, Vatacine Avalon
THE SUB ROSA: This is not known to be an official Order of the Church. The name by which it is called is a synonym for "secrecy" or "confidentiality" (In Vodacce, meetings which are considered confidential are signified by a rose hung over the table. The events at the meet are said to occur "sub rosa"-beneath the rose).
The Sub Rosa, if they even exist, are thought to be a secret order of assassins and spies who serve the Church as a secular version would serve a nation. They supposedly operate as a secret service, with members knowing only those other members with whom they regularly work or from whom they receive directives. They are said to operate in complete anonymity, taking no credit for their actions. Therefore, there is no concrete proof of their existence. Still, rumours persist, and have for several hundred years.
The most recent rumour is that the Sub Rosa were responsible for the death of the last Heirophant and Imperator Reifenstahl--perhaps to put an end to the War of the Cross. No one can say for sure, of course…and the Sub Rosa aren't telling (if there are any Sub Rosa, that is).
Primary Nationalities: Vodacce, Castillian