"There are many who have transgressions against the God-Emperor they need to confess. This simple act of admitting ones own heresy is the first step towards redemption. It is the duty of my Confessors to hear the sins of those in greatest need...the unwilling."
- — Arch-Cardinal Ignato
A Confessor is a free-roaming zealot priest of the Adeptus Ministorum who uses his evangelical platform to agitate the crowds of Imperial citizenry that turn up to hear his preaching. Under the spell of a Confessor, swathes of citizens will rush forwards to confess their personal heresies, reveal their hideous mutations and betray their comrades as psykers or other untrustworthy deviants in the eyes of the God-Emperor. A Confessor might have ecclesiastical responsibility for a hive city or, if it is less populated, an entire world, or in frontier regions a star system or even an entire sub-sector. Just as not every Cardinal leads an entire Ministorum diocese, many Confessors are not responsible for administering a specific geographic area. Many act autonomously, their duties taking them far and wide across the galaxy. Some find themselves attached to other Imperial institutions or Adepta. Often, an Imperial Guard general or Imperial Navy admiral might have as his most trusted confidante a senior Confessor, who advises him on spiritual matters and bolsters his resolve to enact the God-Emperor's will.
With the ever-present threat of heresy hiding in the souls of the weak-willed amongst Mankind, the Ecclesiarchy can take no chances that an apostate is able to fool those who seek to bring their transgressions to light. Arch-Cardinals establish many training shrines within their sectors to prepare their clergy for service as Confessors. It is from these holy sites and institutions that many of the most talented Interrogators of the Inquisition hail. As hardened veterans of the Ecclesiarchy, Confessors know how to obtain the information they want in a timely manner. Many Inquisitors will recruit a Confessor to serve in his Acolyte cell. A Confessor's zeal for uncovering heresy is such that many Confessors who survive their tasks with any semblance of sanity eventually become Inquisitors in their own right.
Filled with the power and fury of faith, legends in the Shrine Worlds tell of Confessors who have turned back armies with a word or incited entire cities to rebel against an apostate dictator. These individuals can be found on almost every world, commanding loyal servants of the God-Emperor to seek out foul Heretics and purge them. Imperial Guard and Planetary Defence Force commanders often retain a Confessor amongst their advisors, bringing their rhetoric and oratory to their soldiers on the eve of battle. Occasionally Cardinals will despatch groups of fiery Confessors to lead regiments of the Frateris Militia on wars of faith against the enemies of the Emperor.
Every Confessor has his or her own unique brand of oratory and interrogation. The two are not vastly dissimilar practices in the mind of a Confessor. While many use finely honed speeches that have been practiced to perfection, others might call out to the crowd for responses to questions, correcting and praising them. In the interrogation chamber these fearsome individuals would ask questions of the shriven, demanding that they incriminate themselves to gain absolution. Others whisper the correct words in the ears of Imperial commanders so that they might deliver their own sermons. In the confession chamber a whisper in the ear and a hot brand can be very persuasive, guiding the pliant subject to a clear conscious.
Becoming a Confessor
The majority of Confessors are trained at one of the Adeptus Ministorum's special shrines. The process is not dissimilar to the training of an Adeptus Arbites Arbitrator or a standard Ecclesiarchy Cleric, in that the Confessor is drilled with the doctrines of the Imperial Creed and the price of straying from it. Along with training in the arts of self-defence, the neophyte Confessors ply their newfound trade upon each other in an attempt to cleanse the weakness and sin from the group. Some keep the scars of this experience for life as a reminder of the pain they must deliver to others in order to offer them the oppotunity to become pure and whole in the eyes of the God-Emperor. While many Imperial clergy are selected to join the ranks of the Confessors directly from the Schola Progenium or other Ecclesiarchal recruiting grounds, there are many more who attend the training facilities at the behest of Arbites Judges or Inquisitors. Those who are not educated at one of the approved Adeptus Ministorum sacred places are trained in private by experienced Confessors, often for a specific duty.
- Confessor Dolan Chirosius - During the Plague of Unbelief during the Age of Apostasy of the 36th Millennium, many false prophets appeared across the galaxy. Some were little more than madmen leading rebel armies, others spiritual demagogues who commanded the armies of entire worlds. The most powerful of these was the Apostate Cardinal of the world of Gathalamor, Bucharis, whose heresies reached such proportions they became known as the Plague of Unbelief. Despite controlling a vast swathe of worlds in a stellar pocket empire controlled by an iron fist, some planets began to revolt against Bucharis' heavy-handed rule. Multiple worlds successfully rebelled against the Apostate Cardinal's forces, as entire planetary populations rose up against their cruel overlords. Eventually, a score of worlds began to free themselves from Bucharis' oppressive regime. Soon Bucharis' coffers began to empty more rapidly than they could be filled. The Apostate Cardinal discovered the driving force behind these unexplained uprisings when he received a defiant messenger proclaiming that he was the envoy of Confessor Dolan Chirosius. The messenger told Bucharis that he was ordered to resign his position and throw himself on the mercy of the God-Emperor. Most importantly, he was to remove his heresies and apostate idea of self-deliverance. The messenger's remains were nailed to the gates of Bucharis' palace where the rats and crows feasted upon them. When the Confessor arrived on Gathalamor, Dolan was chained and driven through the streets. Soldiers from Bucharis' army whipped the Confessor with flails and hurled stones at him. They stuck hooks into his flesh and hung them with weights, driving him onwards with kicks and punches. The crowds, however, were not impressed. There were no cheers of approval, but there were no cries of condemnation either. Dolan was dragged across the entire continent in this manner for over six months. All the while, however, his fiery stare never diminished and he never bowed to the will of Bucharis despite the constant torment. Bucharis ordered a public trial for the Confessor, but it was a complete sham and intended from the start to find Dolan guilty. After five months, the prosecution rested its case and a thousand worlds waited for the results. Dolan represented himself and freely admitted to stirring up the people of all of the rebellious worlds to fight against Bucharis' rule. He used the time to appeal to the masses, although Bucharis did not understand this. It was Dolan's appeals to the masses that Bucharis allowed during the show trial that eventually led to his downfall. Following the conclusion of the show trial, Bucharis had Dolan tortured for eight months. When at last the Confessor died, his maimed body was flung from the walls of the Cardinal Palace of Gathalamor for the scavenging dogs and birds to feast upon. Despite the horrendous torments inflicted upon his body, Dolan's face exuded a calm serenity and peace that lay like an aura across his corpse. Those who saw it wept openly, even though any who exhibited such grief were themselves accused of heresy and put to death. The scavengers never had their meal: Dolan's body disappeared shortly after and was never found. Cardinal Bucharis' plan to shame the Confessor backfired horribly. By allowing Dolan to speak he had given him the ability to rally the masses on all of the worlds ruled by Bucharis. When Dolan's death was announced, the entire apostate empire erupted in rebellion. The populations of a thousand worlds overthrew their cruel overseers, almost at the same time. The men, women and children were inspired by the will of the Confessor and faced their enemies' guns with bare hands. Bucharis' Cardinal Palace was stormed as traitors from within his own ranks opened the gates. Bucharis fled the palace while a small handful of loyal warriors held back the tide of doom coming his way. He used tunnels to escape the palace and ran to the spaceport, giving up all he had worked for to save his own life. Just as he was boarding a shuttle, the inhabitants overran the electric fences by piling on them to make them short-circuit. He was captured by the screaming, enraged mob and his body was torn to pieces.
- Confessor Helmor Krass - Confessors are the burning heart of the Imperial Guardsman's faith, stirring him to great deeds and steadying him in the face of terrible odds. Many Confessors consequently have a very short life-span, leading from the front and being the first to charge into the fray, so it is not surprising that those who survive earn great reputations. One such devotee of the Imperial Creed is Confessor Helmor Krass, attached to the Cadian 212th Shock Infantry Division. Covered in scars of a hundred battles, Helmor's grizzled face can stop a man at his tracks with just a look. His vestment are as torn and tattered as his flesh, hanging in blood-stained rags about his powerful frame. The one thing that has not been diminished by his trials in combat is the fire of faith that burns brightly in his eyes and seems to radiate out from him. It is said that the mere presence of the Confessor on the battlefield can incite rage in Imperial Guardsmen, his deep disdain for the alien, heretic, and mutants are instantly infectious. Before he was attached to the 212, the tale goes that Helmore served with the Drusians in the first battle of the Achilus Crusade, against the dread Forces of Chaos. Though his entire was destroyed, Helmor alone returned in the blood of his foes, the motor of his chainsword clogged with the gore of his enemies. Relocated to a new regiment, Helmor's fury not be abated. Such is his righteous hatred of the enemies of mankind, those who would profane all that the Emperor has built, that when faced with such foes, the Confessor loses all thought of survival or preservation. Confronted with the darkness of heresy or betrayal, Helmor's wrath is unmatched, his mercy is only offered in bloodletting.
- Arch-Confessor Redemptor Kyrinov - Arch-Confessor Redemptor Kyrinov has been the scourge of blasphemers and Heretics across a hundred worlds. He purged the Chaotic legions of the Demagogue Lord of Valaan, accompanied the Valhallan Ice Warriors on the Crusade of Repentance and crushed the Jihad of Duke Selda. Kyrinov is known for unflinching adherence to his duties and his harsh treatment of those who deviate from his strict interpretations of the Imperial Cult's doctrine. Kyrinov often quotes from the scriptures of Confessor Dolan and strongly agrees with the Great Confessor's belief that no sacrifice is too great in the service of the God-Emperor. Though seen as a vocal, tyrannical figure, Kyrinov possesses a shrewd mind that often serves him better than any amount of sermonising and lambasting of the masses. The Arch-Confessor's fiery speeches, wild gestures and melodramatic acts of faith hide a very cold and logical approach to his work. A prime schemer and manipulator of people, Kyrinov is an impossible foe to out-think or placate.
- Saint Lucius of Agatha - A famed Confessor later canonised as an Imperial Saint from the world of Agatha, Saint Lucius is now best known as the author of the Book of Saint Lucius containing his sermons. This sacred tome is carried by many members of the Ecclesiarchy and the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas onto the battlefield. It is read aloud by members of the Adeptus Ministorum during combat to inspire those around them and to serve as a reminder of their solemn duty to the God-Emperor.
- Arch-Confessor Quadicus - The Arch-Confessor provides religious council to the senior Officers in the Black Zone. He knows most of its stationed command staff (including the deceased) well, although it is his duty to hold their secrets in confidence. He firmly believes that the Tau will try to use the Imperial faith against its citizens, suggesting that the Imperium (including the Ministorum) has strayed from the Emperor. This belief inflames Quadicus’s considerable temper and, as such, he passionately despises Tau Sympathisers. He is, by nature, a reasonable man, but he believes strongly that the Tau are more of a moral threat than a military one. While he would like to see less collateral damage done to the Canis Salient’s loyal population, he believes the excessive deaths under Ebongrave are preferable to a weak rule that tolerates heresy.
- Confessor Von Schteil - The world of Veneris is well known for its massive statues of the Emperor and Imperial saints so large they dwarf nearby mountains. These colossi must be maintained with constant repairs to fend off the elements. The quarry, therefore, near the planet’s southern pole is one of the most important locations on the planet. When the quarry was infected with recidivists who believed their toil too great, the mining of stone halted and demands were sent to the local Ecclesiarchal authorities. Confessor Von Schteil rallied a force of unknowable size from the pilgrims come to Veneris to weep. He whipped his Fraeteris Militia into a frenzy with sermons on the heresy of sloth and fuelled the hatred for those who would allow the monuments to die rather than perform their sacred duty. Over the course of three bloody days the Fraeteris Militia killed nearly half of the workers. Confessor Von Schteil accepted the confession of the leaders and they were put to death in front of an ocean of praying pilgrims.
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), pp. 41-44, 63
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition), pg. 12
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), pp. 60-61
- Deathwatch: Rising Tempest (RPG), pg. 11
- Only War: Shield of Humanity (RPG), pg. 8