"We remember you, Alicia Dominica. You who received the word of our Father and cast down the apostate. You who returned us to our true path of vigilance and devotion. We remember you and honour you with our words, actions, bodies, and souls."
- — from A Prayer of Remembrance
Alicia Dominica, known as the "Patron Saint of the Sisterhood," "Bearer of the Grail of Ages," and "Founder of the Order of the Ebon Chalice," is revered throughout the Imperium of Man as both the founder and patron Imperial Saint of the Adepta Sororitas.
She was canonised as a saint of the Imperial Cult. Alicia Dominica is renowned throughout the Imperium as the Sister who ended the Reign of Blood in the 36th Millennium when she beheaded the tyrannical High Lord Goge Vandire.
In the aftermath of the galaxy-wide strife brought about by Vandire's tyranny, she formally founded the Sisterhood according to the instructions of Sebastian Thor, and established the Order of the Ebon Chalice as her own Order.
Dominica led her Sisters on many crusades, and oversaw the early years of the Adepta Sororitas for several centuries before falling in battle at the Scourging of Frideswide's World.
It is said that she survived literally hundreds of blows throughout the battle, but was finally laid low by a single lasgun blast that penetrated a weakened point in her armour and pierced her heart.
The symbol of Dominica's Order is the skull-filled and flaming Ebon Chalice, a representation of the terrible knowledge imparted to Dominica when she was brought before the Golden Throne. Few are aware of the significance of this symbol in Sororitas art.
Age of Apostasy
Alicia Dominica's origins can be traced back to the late 35th Millennium, during the Age of Apostasy, and the rise of the Apostate High Lord Goge Vandire. Through political maneuvering, blackmail, and outright murder, Vandire managed to assume the mantle of both High Lord of the Administratum and Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum.
Vandire sought to impose his own rule over the Imperium in place of the Emperor and used the power of the two Adepta he controlled to eliminate anyone who opposed him. Thus began the period in Imperial history known as the Reign of Blood. Through trickery and manipulation, Vandire managed to co-opt Alicia Dominica and her Sisters of the newly discovered Daughters of the Emperor from the world of San Leor into his personal bodyguard, renaming them the Brides of the Emperor.
Vandire convinced the Daughters that he was personally blessed by the Emperor when he told Dominica to fire a weapon at him. The shot bounced off of the High Lord, who was secretly wearing a Conversion Field generator, though he pretended that it was the Emperor Himself who would not allow him to be harmed, earning the Daughters' absolute loyalty.
He then took the Daughters as his new Ecclesiarchal bodyguard back with him to Terra. From then on, the warrior women became his personal retinue of soldiers and companions, and Vandire renamed them the Brides of the Emperor.
They were trained by the best mentors in the Astra Militarum to combine their own skills with the modern weapons of war. Word of their dedication to the protection of Vandire spread throughout the Imperium. They were his constant guardians and his silent executioners, who would kill with a word from their lord.
The Brides not only served as Vandire's bodyguard, but also as his servants and companions. They tasted the High Lord's food, fed him when he fell weak with illness, nursed his frail body back to health and entertained him with singing, dancing and other, more exotic, skills.
For all their gaiety on occasion, the Brides of the Emperor were still hardened fighters, and when the Holy Synod of the Ecclesiarchy tried to have Vandire assassinated a few years later to rid themselves of the tyrant, the Brides went into the Synod's meeting chambers, locked the doors, and emerged an hour later carrying the severed heads of every Cardinal present.
This violent repression and wanton slaughter continued for seven solar decades after Vandire's ascension to the Ecclesiarchal Palace, and provided a new name for Vandire's rule -- the Reign of Blood. The immense resources of the Adeptus Ministorum were directed towards bloodthirsty pogroms against often imagined Heretics and the building of immense new monuments to the Emperor and Vandire.
However, Vandire's insanity was always directed outwards, and though distant planets boasted mile-high spires and cathedrals, the Terran Ecclesiarchal Palace was allowed to fall into decay once more.
Soon rebellion against Vandire's tyranny began to foment after a simple preacher named Sebastian Thor, from the world of Dimmamar, began proselytizing the people of the Imperium, leading them in direct opposition of Vandire. The planetary government of Dimmamar even denounced the High Lord as a traitor to the Imperium.
The Adeptus Mechanicus and the mighty Space Marine Chapters continued to play only a small role in the Age of Apostasy. The vagaries of Warp travel made any long distance journeys hazardous at best and impossible in some areas. Instead, the Adeptus Astartes' Chapter planets and the Forge Worlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus became fortresses amidst a sea of anarchy.
These organisations were on the defensive, protecting the few star systems they could from the ravages of the Age of Apostasy and the carnage of Vandire's Reign of Blood. With news of Sebastian Thor and the spread of his mighty army of the faithful -- the Confederation of Light -- many Space Marine Chapter Masters in the Segmentum Solar and the sectors nearest to Terra in the rest of the Imperium began voicing their support for this reform movement.
Since the start of the Reign of Blood, another organisation had remained apart from the bloodshed and devastation of the era. Within the secure walls of the Imperial Palace, the Adeptus Custodes continued their eternal vigil over the Golden Throne. To escape the anarchy that prevailed in the wider Imperium, and to ensure the protection of the Emperor himself, the Custodians had cut themselves off from the outside completely.
Only scraps of information passed through the sealed walls of the most holy of places in the galaxy, and it was only when the Space Marines and the Adeptus Mechanicus moved against Vandire that the full extent of the treachery perpetrated by the High Lord became known to them. In secret meetings with the commanders of the Space Marines, the Adeptus Custodes learned of the Reign of Blood and how the Brides of the Emperor defended the traitorous High Lord. The mysterious order advised the Space Marines to continue their attack while they would do what they could.
A small contingent of Custodians, led by a Centurion of the Companions, made its way into the very heart of Vandire's domain. Surfacing within the Ecclesiarchal Palace not far from Vandire's audience chamber, they were confronted by the Brides of the Emperor. Calling for a truce and a parley, the Centurion laid down his weapons and walked unarmed to meet the guardians of Vandire.
For an hour he made an impassioned plea for the Brides to revoke their oaths, striving to convince them that they were fighting for evil, not the Emperor. However, they were not to be swayed by his arguments, and the nameless Centurion had only one option left. Leaving his men as hostages, the Centurion guided their leader, Alicia Dominica and her personal bodyguard of five female warriors (Arabella, Katherine, Lucia, Mina, and Silvana), into the center of the Imperial Palace itself -- the Sanctum Imperialis, to stand before the God-Emperor upon his Golden Throne.
What occurred in this most sacred of chambers is not recorded, but when the Brides of the Emperor stepped through the Eternity Gate once more into the Outer Palace, their eyes burned with unparalleled anger and hatred. Without a word, the Centurion led them back through the dark places of the earth, this time leading them directly back to Vandire's Audience Chamber.
Alicia Dominica spoke of the treachery of Vandire and his depraved corruption of the Ecclesiarchy, but most of all she spoke of his twisted perversion of their own Order. Burning with shame and anger, they renounced the name of the Brides of the Emperor and once again became the Daughters of the Emperor.
Alicia Dominica and her vengeful Sisters confronted the corrupt Vandire within his own chambers. The words that she spoke during this confrontation are engraved upon the black marble of her sarcophagus:
"You have committed the ultimate heresy. Not only have you turned your back on the Emperor and stepped from His light, you have profaned His name and almost destroyed everything He has striven to build. You have perverted and twisted the path He has laid for Mankind to tread. As your own decrees have stated, there can be no mercy for such a crime, no pity for such a criminal. I renounce your lordship; you walk in the darkness and cannot be allowed to live. Your sentence has been long overdue and now it is time for you to die."
With this proclamation, Dominica drew her Power Sword and held it aloft for all to see. Vandire glanced around the assembled warriors, his brow knitted in confusion. Shaking his head slightly, the High Lord whispered his last words, "I don't have time to die...I'm too busy!" The Power Sword slashed down, beheading the traitorous High Lord in one stroke. The Reign of Blood had ended.
The Reformation of the Ecclesiarchy unleashed by the newly appointed Ecclesiarch, Sebastian Thor, ended the wars of religious schism and gave birth to the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus, intended to hunt for the enemies of the Emperor within the Imperium.
They owe their power in no small part to Thor's famed Decree Passive that forbade the Ministorum from raising permanent bodies of "men under arms." Following the disbanding of the Ecclesiarchy's standing armies and fleets (the Frateris Templar), the Daughters of the Emperor, now called the Adepta Sororitas, replaced the Templars as the defenders of the Ecclesiarchy and the faith of the Imperial Cult from direct threats.
The Orders Militant of the Sororitas also served as the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus, a zealous and utterly fanatical force of elite soldiers, learned savants and skilled physicians who are today an invaluable part of the Ordo Hereticus’s war on unbelief, witchery, mutation and, of course, heresy.
It was Alicia Dominica who formally established the Sisterhood -- the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, with the Orders of the Sisters divided between the Convents Prioris and Sanctorum on Terra and the Cardinal World of Ophelia VII, respectively. Dominica then became the first Canoness of her own Order Militant, the Order of the Ebon Chalice.
In 650.M36, Alicia Dominica fell at the Battle of Frideswide's World, surviving hundreds of blows but falling to a single Traitor's lasgun blast to her heart. She was canonised as a saint of the Imperial Cult by the Ecclesiarchy she had so long served soon after.
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), pp. 13-14, 16, 18, 35
- Codex: Witch Hunter (3rd Edition), pp. 4, 6
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), p. 36
- White Dwarf Magazine 293 (UK), "Liber Sororitas - The Matriarchs of the Sisterhood," by Andy Hoare, pg. 56