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Erkor

The Church of the Holy Light, the Religion and Clergy of the Seven Kingdoms - A Roleplayer Resource

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The Church of Light has been a central fixture of human society for over a thousand years. Although the earliest origins of Light worship among humans is a mystery, the Church of the Holy Light was founded upon ancient scriptures made by a priestess named Mereldar, who is said to have been the sister of the legendary general Lordain. Within these writings, she codified what she considered to be “visions of Light” and a code of spreading benevolence, respect, good deeds, and compassion throughout one’s life. Through prayer and meditation on the Light, Mereldar wrote, one could conjure “the power of good”, in the modern day simply known as the Light, to perform miracles, and inherently spread goodness in one’s life. Indeed, the Light, over time, naturally predisposes its user to perform morally good and altruistic deeds, regardless of prejudice.

The Church of Light has spent many years in its early history organizing and homogenizing the divergent early religions of the Light in order for all of humanity to be united under this gospel. Although its role was, historically, very passive, and its members were scholars of the mundane and arcane both, holy priests of certain abbeys often traveled out of their homelands as missionaries or caregivers, spreading the Light’s benevolence to other races such as the early dwarves, following their emergence, and the high elves of Quel’Thalas who intermingled with human society.

There is no specific being the Church worships but rather the supernatural, primal “force of goodness”: It is believed in the Church that through invocations of the holy Light a person can move towards holy enlightenment and true, unconditional benevolence. In order to facilitate this enlightenment, the clergy has historically operated on a level independent from the kingdoms: In times of war, priests of the Church of Light would perform triage and healings upon anyone wounded in battle, unconditionally, no matter whose side their patient fought for. This centuries-old tradition of unconditional triage is said to embody the virtue of compassion and has been observed even in the most unconditional battles: Priests of the clergy have been reported to nurse wounded gnolls and even gurubashi trolls to health with the Light’s blessings in the Gnoll Wars and Gurubashi War respectively.

Following the second war, the Church of Light underwent a core change: Historically, the Light has always been viewed as a force of goodness and protection. Although there were isolated instances of humans using the Light in a manner considered “destructive”, the perpetrators of these acts were almost always considered abusers of the Light’s benevolence and excommunicated from their churches.

This practice of excommunication dates back centuries to the border-wars between the kindoms of Alterac and Stromgarde, wherein the Alteraci government formed the “Priesthood of Alterac” – a splinter-group of the Church of Light not beholden to the church’s greater authority across the seven kingdoms, and thus not beholden to the traditional duties of a priest of the Light.

With the Horde’s invasion of Lordaeron, however, the clergy has opted to canonize a force of retribution within the Light – Paladins. Their creation was, at first, controversial among the Lordaeran League of Bishops, but quickly viewed as necessary. With the creation of the Order of the Silver Hand, however, its presence became cemented in the world as an order of warrior-priests embodying the three virtues to bring retribution against evil.

In the modern day, the Church of Light is known as one of the most widespread religions on Azeroth, and is the origin of a variety of orders devoted to the Light as a power. Historically led by an Archbishop, elected from the League of Bishops, has led the Church, its schools of thought, and its public image. Following the Shattering, however, the Church has been unable to elect a new Archbishop in the stead of Benedictus.

Priests of the Holy Light often put great respect and emphasis towards all life, and shun “destructive” beings or things. A long-standing misconception within the Church’s writings – which are still based off of Mereldar’s first scriptures – is that the unknowable arts of magic are inherently destructive, corrupting, and evil. Texts commonly cite the tendency of wizards to grow apathetic towards others, and their often clinical and logic-based view of reality as signs of “corruption of magicks”. This alleged fact of wizardry is a misappropriation of Mereldar’s scriptures, and while technically correct, cross-referencing is impossible without access to the original texts.

Guided to spread the Light’s benevolence, ecclesiastical missionaries often find their way to other cultures to spread their word, although always in a peaceful manner. This behavior, in turn, has caused multiple different peoples to adopt the Light’s worship under the Lordaeran – and, by extension, Stormwindian – Church of Light. Through this expansionism, the churchly canon has expanded to accommodate member-species such as dwarves, high elves, and even gnomes with practical knowledge.

Until the rapid progress in medicinal technology and practice, priests of the Light were the only people readily available to heal extensive and severe injuries, illnesses, or other afflictions of the body and mind. The churchly canon has made public a variety of reading materials said to elaborate on the anatomy of humans, elves, and other “catalogued” species, although the antiquated information is considered far removed from actual facts and closer to “partly educated guesses” by experts of modern medicine.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    • Respect
    • Tenacity
    • Compassion
    • Altruism
Respect, Tenacity, and Compassion are the three core virtues of the Church of the Holy Light. As it is written by Mereldar, the sister of Lordain and first priestess, these three virtues are necessary to embody the goodness that the Light’s radiance bestows upon its users.

Respect must transcend hatred, and must be practiced towards all living and uncorrupt beings. To respect one’s opponent in the field is to acknowledge a connection present in all living things, and thus a step taken closer to enlightenment.

Tenacity must be practiced in times of hardship, as calls for the Light will only be answered by those who have not given up the will to overcome the darkness that surrounds them.

Compassion must exist in spite of rivalry, difference, and misunderstanding. Compassion encompasses the good thoughts performed before any good deed, and must be practiced indiscriminately.

Altruism, be it lesser or greater, is considered deeply virtuous. To give alms to the poor and take on hardship to alleviate others’ is considered one of the greatest deeds that can be done. Enduring in the place of others is considered a great act of altruism, and self-sacrifice is considered to be the ultimate act of selflessness.
 

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    • Wrath
    • Cruelty
    • Unholy Acts
    • Greed
    • Wickedness
Where respect and compassion do not exist, wrath thrives, and helps spurn and fan the flames of violence and battle constantly. Wrath encompasses hatred, intolerance, ignorance, impatience, and all other outwardly negative emotions in the liturgical context. Although it is considered a vice, it is considered worthy of penance.

Cruelty is described in the Church as acts of wickedness relating to the body, but not necessarily out of wanton malice. For example, forcing an injured enemy to endure suffering is considered an act of cruelty, as are unconventional forms of attrition, such as burning foodstuffs or slaying livestock. While it is worthy of penance to the church, it requires a rite of repentance for the sinner to be considered absolved of this act.

Unholy acts are described in Mereldar’s scriptures as dark, wicked, and destructive magicks. Although the early human societies – before the founding of Dalaran – did not have a true comprehension of magic, it is commonly accepted in the modern day that wizardry that affronts life (necromancy, fel magic, and shadow magic) is considered “unholy”. Unholy acts are not worthy of penance unless the perpetrator is found worthy in a trial.

Greed is a lesser sin and considered worthy of penance by a rite of altruism – giving alms to the poor or helping in church-organized events intended to help the public.

Wickedness is a major sin and is broadly defined as conscious, evil acts done unto others with no regard for the repercussions. It is considered worthy of penance only if the perpetrator is considered worthy in a trial. Wickedness constitutes murder, theft, and many other wicked acts done unto others.
 

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    • Prayer
        ◦ Those reverent in the Light perform prayers on a relatively common basis, although not as a form of worship. Instead, these prayers are commonly pleas for protection, prayers for healing, or philosophical reassurances. Prayer is a central part of the Church of Light, and many of its miracles are intrinsically connected to prayers in order to invoke a spiritual state.
    • Charity
        ◦ Considered a virtuous act, members of the clergy and reverents in the Light are often seen practicing charity and giving alms to the needy and poor in order to spread goodness to those around themselves.
    • Confessions of Penance
        ◦ If a person has sinned or performed an evil deed, it is considered virtuous to confess one’s sins and make penance for these actions. Although sometimes done in privacy, these rituals are often performed in an abbey among other repentant sinners and one or more priests (or confessors) who would absolve the repentant after their confession. Commonly, a sinner confesses their act, and is then instructed to recite a prayer of goodwill – a declaration not to commit evil again. After every present person has made this prayer, the confessor(s) would perform a closing sermon. This sermon involves the use of the Holy Light, uplifting the spirits and resolution of the people present.
    • Rite of Repentance
        ◦ If a sinner has performed a deed worthy of penance, sometimes it is required to “undo” this sin by spreading benevolence in turn. In the case of cruelty, for example, the conducting priest may offer – although they are well respected, the Church does not carry any power to command anyone in a legal sense – the repentant to spend a certain time helping a missionary. Although the repentant can decline the offer, it is considered virtuous to accept it – and a reassurance of one’s wickedness should they deny it.
    • Funerary Rites
        ◦ Commonly, members of the Church of Light bury their dead in the ground, but not after reciting psalms and prayers to send the spirit of the deceased to the afterlife. In between these recitals, the conducting priest performs a blessing upon the coffin or the body of the deceased, each intended to grant the soul strength as it passes on to the afterlife. With each flash of light performed by the conducting priest, the attending are instructed to recite a farewell to the spirit. These funerary rites may be performed without a burial, or during the burial.
    • Excommunication
        ◦ The act of excommunicating someone from the Church of Light is much more official a practice than it may be led to believe. Those who perform misdeeds in the clergy’s eyes, abuse their station or holy blessings, or are found to consort with dark powers are often subject to an official Trial of Excommunication: Within this trial, the defendant has only one proper chance to defend themselves and contest allegations made against them. If, however, the evidence outweighs their defense, the defendant is excommunicated, stripped of any and all blessings they may possess, and considered banished from the lands of the Church. The mere act of excommunication, and the sudden and abrupt dispelling of sacred blessings placed upon the body, is often enough punishment to traumatize a wielder of the Light into being unable to consciously use their powers.
    • The Suffusion
        ◦ When a new member is inducted into the order of the Silver Hand, or organizations related to it, a series of rituals is performed in order to confirm the validity of a the squire’s induction. Following these affirmations, often made by mentors and senior comrades of the squire, the conducting priest – often high priest of the clergy, a bishop, or (in very rare cases) the Archbishop himself – performs a ritual to intrinsically bless the Paladin with the Holy Light. The ritual of the Suffusion results in an oppressively hot feeling at first, but as the Light’s blessings mellow out, the heat turns to a comforting and reassuring warmth. Suffused paladins are immune to disease and possess great resolve and a radiant aura of the Light.

 

Edited by Erkor

[Gunmar] says: "I can't believe this 'Arahi' woman went down so fast. Storm my arse."

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