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"By the saints and the Sigillite himself! If you don't move, I'll take this hammer to your head!"

Preacher Silon Constantine, Fenksworld
Cleric

An Imperial priest of the Adeptus Ministorum, serving as a Missionary to spread the Imperial Cult to new Human-controlled worlds.

An Ecclesiarchy Priest, also called an Adeptus Ministorum Priest, a Ministorum Priest or simply a priest, is a cleric of the Imperial state church known formally as the Adeptus Ministorum and informally as the Ecclesiarchy.

Ordained Ecclesiarchy priests, who can be men or women, are the clergy of the Imperial Cult who spread the worship of the Emperor as the god of Humanity across the galaxy, take on the various specialty roles and ranks of the church, and minister to the spiritual needs of the Emperor's faithful on a daily basis.

Role[]

EcclesiarchyPriest

A priest of the Adeptus Ministorum armed with a chainsword and ready to begin some "aggressive" counseling of the heathen foe!

The Adeptus Ministorum, or Ecclesiarchy, tends to the religious needs of the Imperium's teeming Human masses. It is completely separate from the Adeptus Terra, concerned with looking after Humanity's spiritual needs rather than maintaining a galaxy-spanning empire. Nevertheless, the Ecclesiarchy is a vast and powerful institution comprising millions of clergymen and hundreds of thousands of dioceses spread across the far reaches of Imperial space. In the past this has led the Ecclesiarchy into abuses of power and outright civil war, such as during the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium before the state church was reformed by the Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor in the wake of the terrible events of the Reign of Blood.

Yet the Ministorum endures, guiding Humanity in its superstitious and dogmatic worship of the Emperor. At the forefront of this vast church are the clerics, preachers, confessors and missionaries. Unlike the cardinals and pontifex that scurry around the ancient corridors of the great cathedrals of Terra and Ophelia VII, the spiritual homes of the Ecclesiarchy, the priests and other such clergy live and work amongst the population. It is here that they preach the word of the Emperor, spread the faith of the Imperial Creed and shepherd the Human race, for if they were negligent in such duties Chaos would surely take hold.

Priests and clerics of the Ecclesiarchy are fiery individuals, who lead from the front. They are charismatic men and women and great orators, able to incite and inspire the common folk with their speeches, commanding loyalty, respect and wonder in the Emperor and His ordained servants. On many occasions the Imperium has used such men to rouse populations to action at a critical moment of a foul xenos invasion or to flush out a deep-rooted Chaos Cult.

Imperial Cathedral

An Imperial cathedral dedicated to the worship of the God-Emperor on an unnamed Shrine World of the Adeptus Ministorum.

A priest has many skills, as they are an orator, they can hold their own in combat and they are usually educated and wise in the ways of the Immperium. However, such a broad base of skills means that they rarely specialise. Still, there are those within the Ministorum that follow a path long after others have moved on to learn a new lesson. This breeds a diverse clergy -- from overly suspicious zealots, who see heresy around every corner and stir up entire populations to burn innocents on a flaming pyre, to those who will steep themselves in ancient lore, spending standard years in great, dusty catacombs studying ageing scrolls on pointless intricacies of ceremonies and rituals.

Despite many attempts by numerous ecclesiarchs to pursue theological unity, the Ministorium is riven by disparate sects and religious ideals. Although all have the common theme of worshiping Him-On-Earth, the God-Emperor, it is in the details of how to pursue that faith where such disagreements and inconsistencies arise. Over the years, this has spawned numerous different orders within the Ecclesiarchy; the majority of clerics belong to one of the different orders and this has a profound effect on how the clergy perform their duties and preach to the masses. Although never acknowledged publicly, it has been rumoured that occasionally these orders have gone to war with each other, though open bloodshed is rare.

Clerical Organisation[]

The Ecclesiarchy

Priests of the Ecclesiarchy preaching to the masses.

The Ecclesiarchy is not officially part of the Adeptus Terra, but is organised as a wholly separate Imperial adepta. At its head is the leader of the Imperial Cult, the high priest known as the ecclesiarch, who, by tradition since the mid-32nd Millennium, is always one of the Imperium's ruling High Lords of Terra.

Imperial Cathedral

An Imperial Cult cathedral dedicated to the worship of the God-Emperor on an unnamed Shrine World of the Adeptus Ministorum.

Below him are the cardinals, of which there are several thousand, each of whom oversees the Ecclesiarchy's operations and properties in a diocese comprising a sector, sub-sector or even a single world of Imperial space.

Adeptus Ministorum Icon

Icon of the Adeptus Ministorum

Below the cardinals are the priests known as pontifices, confessors, missionaries and preachers, in that order. The clerical orders of the Ecclesiarchy are open to men and women alike, though men seem to have an advantage in achieving high position in the church's hierarchy because many believe that as men, they are closer to the perfection of the God-Emperor, whose perfect embodied form was that of a Human male.

The Adeptus Ministorum's own governing body is the Holy Synod, a conclave composed of the Ecclesiarchy's most powerful arch-cardinals and cardinals. The Ministorum divides the Imperium's territory across the galaxy into thousands of dioceses, each generally encompassing an entire Imperial world -- the exception being Terra, the heart of the Imperium, which possesses several dioceses because of its sheer population size and political importance.

Some dioceses can encompass several worlds or even an entire sector in the case of the officials granted the extremely powerful rank of Cardinal-Astra. A diocese is further divided into parishes centred around a shrine or church. Each diocese is headed by a cardinal, while each parish is headed by an Imperial priest with the title of preacher.

Ranking between these individuals are priests known as pontifices whose authority extends over several parishes to serve as administrative go-betweens in large dioceses between preachers and their ruling cardinal. Priests known as missionaries have no administrative duties within a single diocese but can be deployed to spread the faith of the Imperial Cult to newly rediscovered Human-settled worlds. They are always part of the Ecclesiarchy's missionary wing that is called the Missionarius Galaxia.

Confessors are evangelical zealots who possess a rank within the Ecclesiarchy somewhere between preacher and cardinal. Their oratory skill can stir the emotions of entire worlds, leading them to confess personal heresies and mutations, and to betray their neighbours as psykers, Heretics, mutants or other deviants.

They are free to wander within an entire diocese and preach amongst the population. They often work on Imperial colonies and are especially useful on worlds where faith is lacking and the people are rebellious against the Imperium. With special dispensation from the Ecclesiarchy, they may even gather armies of Frateris Militia or the Sisters of Battle and lead Wars of Faith against the enemies of the Imperium. Confessors often wear the Rosarius as both protection and a symbol of their rank.

The Adeptus Ministorum also includes an administrative bureaucracy, headed by priests called arch-deacons, who control all secular business within the Ecclesiarchy. Arch-deacons are the administrative counterparts to cardinals, responsible for the temporal affairs of an entire diocese.

The arch-deacon's subordinates, known as deacons, deal with the money entering and leaving a specific diocese or parish, regulate the construction of new shrines and temples and deal with the other secular requirements of running a galaxy-spanning religion.

Adeptus Ministorum Hierarchy[]

The priests of the Adeptus Ministorum are members of a rigid ecclesiastical hierarchy which includes the following offices, from highest-ranking to lowest:

Ecclesiarch[]

The ecclesiarch is the high priest of the Imperial Cult and is based in a fortress within the Ecclesiarchical Palace on Terra.

Elected by the Adeptus Ministorum's ruling Holy Synod of arch-cardinals, the Ecclesiarch's main concerns include the pursuit of the Ministorum's interests in the Senatorum Imperialis, the preparation and launch of new Imperial Crusades and Wars of Faith, and ensuring the continued religious devotion of the Imperial citizenry.

The ecclesiarch has held a position as a ruling High Lord of Terra since the mid-32nd Millennium, and is always one of the most influential voices on the Senatorum Imperialis.

Arch-Cardinal[]

The arch-cardinal is the official who stands at the top of the Ministorum's hierarchy leading a Sector Synod, which is more often than not more of an idea or principle than a rigid structure or chain of command.

Though an arch-cardinal is the head of the Sector Synod and commands (or at least has substantial influence over) each of the dioceses in the sector, the true power of the Ministorum rests in the hands of the individual Diocesan Synods, often known by the world (or location on that world) where the diocese's cardinal resides.

Cardinal[]

Central to the Ministorum's power within a sector of Imperial space are the dioceses, the demesnes of the faith, each of which is under the command of the cardinals of the Sector Synod. Some dioceses can encompass more than one world or even an entire sector in the case of the church officials granted the extremely powerful rank of Cardinal-Astra.

This division allows the Ministorum detailed control over the sub-regions within a sector as well as giving individual worlds or specific problems direct attention. Each cardinal of the Sector Synod is a powerful individual in his or her own right, having risen to their lofty position through standard years of sacrifice, devotion to the God-Emperor, and most importantly, cunning and relentless politicking.

Each cardinal maintains their own diocese on the world on which they reside, more commonly referred to as their seat of power -- the centre of the cardinal's authority and base of operations within their archdiocese, from which they rarely if ever leave.

Pontifex[]

A pontifex (pl. pontifices) is a priest who ranks between the ruling cardinal and the parish preachers of a diocese and whose authority extends over several parishes to serve as administrative go-betweens in large dioceses between the needs of the local preachers and the administrative apparatus of their ruling cardinal.

Arch-Deacon[]

An arch-deacon is a senior Ministorum priest who is subordinate to a cardinal and helps to oversee the daily functions and duties of the Creed Temporal. This branch of the Ecclesiarchy oversees the astronomical wealth flowing into its treasuries, wealth which is rendered by the faithful as their right and proper offering to the Imperial Cult in the service of their souls' salvation.

It is the arch-deacon's duty to administer to the logistics of the diocese, coordinating the construction and maintenance of its cathedrals as well as countless other institutions such as Shrine Worlds, pilgrimage sites, reliquaries and retreats.

Each arch-deacon is responsible for the distribution of as much wealth as an Imperial sector governor or the patriarch of a wealthy interstellar merchant concern, and they are often the subjects of bitter jealousy from such secular lords of the Imperium.

Deacon (Dean)[]

A deacon, also called a dean, is an intermediate rank of Ministorum priest tasked with secular duties for their sector. Below the arch-deacons are those Ministorum priests known as deacons and deans, who are responsible for the distribution of the resources passed down to them from the Sector Synod, as well as the actual collection of dues from the faithful.

Firebrands[]

Firebrands are groups of fanatical, zealot priests of the Ministorum. Groups of zealots and militant preachers often serve an important purpose in rooting out heresy. Cells of these fiery individuals pray and recite litanies together, often during combat.

These Firebrands must be handled with care by whatever controlling entity (be it Ecclesiarchy or Inquisition) puts them in the field, as Firebrands are just as likely to report the existence of a heretical enclave as they are to incinerate the city block where the enclave is meeting.

Drill Abbot[]

A Drill Abbot is a member of the Ministorum and a decorated veteran of the Imperium's wars who works tirelessly at converting the orphans of martyred Imperial servants into driven and dedicated fanatics prepared for the trials of Imperial life.

Drill abbots run the Scholas Progenium, brutally effective institutions which every Terran year produce untold numbers of future planetary governors, commissars, Adeptus Arbites Arbitrators, Navis Imperialis officers, Storm Troopers and Inquisitors.

Confessor[]

Confessors are free-roaming zealots of the Imperial Cult who use their evangelical platform to agitate the crowds of Imperial citizenry that turn up to hear them. Under the spell of an arch-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.

A confessor might have administrative responsibility for a hive city or, if it is less populated, an entire world, or in frontier regions an entire star system or even a sub-sector. Just as not every Imperial cardinal heads a diocese, not all confessors are responsible for a specific geographic area. Many act autonomously, their duties taking them far and wide across a given region of the Imperium.

Some find themselves attached to other Imperial institutions and adepta. Often, an Astra Militarum general or Navis Imperialis admiral might have as their most trusted confidante a senior confessor, who advises them on spiritual matters and bolsters their resolve to enact the Emperor's will.

Preacher[]

A Preacher is the lowest-ranking ordained member of the Imperial clergy within the Ecclesiarchy. They are known as the "Defenders of the Faith." Often individual regiments of the Astra Militarum and vessels of the Navis Imperialis are accompanied by dozens of preachers, many of whom regard it as their duty to personally take the field of battle and provide religious inspiration to those in their care.

A preacher is also the rank of Ministorum priest who is given a parish of their own to run which is centred on an Imperial shrine or church. A preacher is the priest of the Imperial Cult who will have the most day-to-day contact with ordinary lay worshippers of the Emperor. Especially vigorous and charismatic preachers may be lucky enough to be promoted to become confessors.

Adeptus Ministorum Specialty Ranks[]

The Adeptus Ministorum hierarchy also maintains a number of specialty ranks for its priests, which include:

Arch-Exorcist[]

Within the Ministorum of the Calixis Sector, there are those priests who chafe at the political restrictions that only allows the Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus to combat the unclean and unquiet Warp entities known as Daemons.

A large proportion of those clerics who are aware of the existence and nature of Daemonkind yearn to take the fight to them, to dispel them and cast them out of the material realm and back to the myriad hells that spawned them.

These zealots, known as Arch Exorcists, relish in combating the Daemonic as a holy work that follows the example of the God-Emperor Himself.

Banisher[]

A Banisher is a holy warrior who is a member of a special religious order of the Adeptus Ministorum known as the Collegia Exterminatus that was formed by the Ordo Malleus of the Calixis Sector. A Banisher is equally skilled at both delving into the forbidden knowledge required to understand the nature of Daemons and eradicating Daemonic forces with fire and chainsword.

Chosen at a young age from the most pious of children in the Calixian Schola Progenium, their training takes a great deal of time and effort as they earn the faith necessary to fortify their souls against the information they might uncover during their studies of forbidden knowledge. As a result, many Banishers are relatively advanced in age by the time they become Acolytes in service to an Inquisitor.

The intensity of their training often leaves a Banisher with scars and augmetic replacements. Their bodies show the sacrifices they have made to keep themselves pure in the eyes of the God-Emperor.

Crusader[]

A Crusader is a holy warrior of the Adeptus Ministorum who is recruited for his or her unflagging devotion to the God-Emperor. Most are inducted into the ranks of the Ecclesiarchy from a Schola Progenium, selected for their unflagging devotion to the Emperor.

To be selected is a great honour, though it leads not only to a gruelling life of asceticism and martial perfection, but also inevitably to an unmourned death in battle against the forces of heresy and apostasy. Nonetheless, such a calling guarantees the opportunity to test sword and shield against Mankind's greatest enemies.

Equipped with a Power Sword and Storm Shield, the Crusader is a stalwart warrior whose place is in the heat of battle, surrounded by their foes.

Some Inquisitors recruit Crusaders from the honour guard of the Cardinals Crimson -- that most mysterious of all the Ecclesiarchy's many orders. It is said that nowhere else in the Imperium of Man can more devout warriors be found -- save perhaps within the ranks of the famed Adeptus Sororitas. It is improbable that a Crusader's fate will differ greatly in an Inquisitor's service.

Missionary[]

The missionaries of the Missionarius Galaxia are a special breed of Imperial servant, and although they operate under the auspices of the Cardinals Palatine, they are in practice a nigh-autonomous body within the Adeptus Ministorum.

Though they possess no administrative duties within a diocese or the larger Ecclesiarchal structure, missionaries are tasked with accompanying all manner of Imperial expeditions, including those of Rogue Traders, into regions of the galaxy lost or previously unknown to the Imperium.

Missionaries bear the flame of the Imperial Creed wherever they go, and with it kindle the belief of those long separated from the True Faith.

Iron Evangelist[]

Priests willing to deliver the doctrine of the Imperial Cult are not rare within the Imperium. There are many who repair the bulwark of the faith with the cement of sermon.

Inquisitors who value a strong indoctrination in the Imperial Creed as a bulwark against heresy often recruit these men and women and assemble cells led by an Iron Evangelist to root out heresy within the bowels of the vessels of the Navis Imperialis or in the twisting labyrinth of a hive city.

Iron Evangelists are groups of Inquisitorial Acolytes who take the word of the Emperor to those who may go many Terran years without being given His blessings and thus are in grave danger of falling into heresy through their ignorance.

Sanction Warden[]

The dangers posed by the psyker are well-documented. According to the doctrine of the Imperial Creed, the witch must be hunted and purged with holy promethium at every opportunity.

However, there are those psykers who are officially sanctioned by the Imperium to use the power of the Warp towards the Emperor's divine purpose, their souls tempered into weapons of the God-Emperor's will. Sanctioned Wardens are groups of Inquisitorial Acolytes chosen from amongst the priests of the Ministorum who monitor Imperial Sanctioned Psykers at all times for the first signs of corruption.

Redemptionist[]

A Redemptionist is a fanatical priest of the Adeptus Ministorum who follows an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of faith in which redemption in the eyes of the God-Emperor can only be found in death.

Many Redemptionists seek their own redemption on the battlefield for the sins they have committed against the God-Emperor. They also desire to bring redemption to others, finding one sin particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor's final judgement to xenos, Heretics or those who traffic with Daemons.

The Redemptionist movement first began on the Hive World of Necromunda, but has since spread to every corner of the galaxy.

Adeptus Ministorum Minoris Ranks[]

  • Relic-Keeper - Relic-keepers are priests of the Ministorum who have been charged with preserving and safekeeping the most holy relics of the Imperial Cult, including the relics of the myriad Imperial saints.
  • Shrouded Cenobite - A shrouded cenobite is a member of a monastic order of the Ministorum who is dedicated to spending his or her life in contemplation and prayer concerning the mysteries of the God-Emperor. As their name implies, cenobites often dress in habits with deep cowls that shroud their faces from sight.
  • Chapel-Master - A chapel-master is a priest of the Ministorum who has been assigned the task of overseeing the sanctity and carrying out the day-to-day administrative tasks of maintaining an Imperial chapel and other places of worship for the faithful.
  • Logistoras
  • Quire Masters
  • Reliquindus

Adeptus Ministorum Alternate Career Ranks[]

Incinerant Priest[]

The cleansing purity of flame is closely tied to many elements of the Ecclesiarchy in the Calixis Sector, from candles and incense burners to flamers and incinerators. Missionaries heading into the nearby Koronus Expanse are sometimes known as "Torchbearers," while a special breed of experienced Imperial Guardsmen combine their faith with a fierce love of flame weapons to become warriors of the Inquisition known as "Pyroclasts."

Firebrands in every sense of the word, these preachers are sometimes called "Incinerant Priests," referring to their predilection for flame-based weapons and their ability to ignite a blazing centre of hatred in the hearts of their allies. These priests are often found on the front lines of the Spinward Front's raging conflicts, wielding a flamer whilst exhorting the Imperial Guardsmen to greater efforts.

When an Astra Militarum unit that survives after taking heavy casualties have shaky morale, it is the Incinerant Priest who steps forward to fill the role of spiritual leader -- who can uplift men and women's souls and efficiently focus their hatred upon the enemy.

Praecentor of Penance[]

Priests of the Ministorum serve many vital roles in the Spinward Front, and some might say the most important is shepherding the spiritual health of the men and women involved in that conflict. The fires of war can bring out the worst in all people, and the preacher is often the last hope for a wayward soul led astray by desperate circumstances or the depths of despair.

Some priests make it their mission to rescue such imperilled individuals, to take them under their wing and guide them back into the full glory of the Emperor's light. There are many who crave spiritual leadership, who thrive only when shown the way through the example of the Imperial Creed -- and within the Spinward Front, the preachers that answer that call are sometimes named Praecentors of Penance.

Praecentors are not just leaders and spiritual guides; they are agitators, able to stir the hearts and minds of Imperial citizens and guardsmen alike.

Prelate-At-Arms[]

Warzones like the Spinward Front can bring out the fiercest warriors from unusual places; sometimes, these warriors are found amongst the ranks of the Ministorum rather than the Imperial Guardsmen to whom they minister. The presence of a priest can be critical when the Astra Militarum must face alien terrors or the dire moral threats of treachery and heresy, chanting prayers in the midst of the most furious conflict and bolstering the faith of the troops.

However, some priests go a step further to inspire fervour in the God-Emperor's name; these priests find themselves compelled to close with the enemy in savage melee, clashing with the foe in close combat as the ultimate test of their faith. Those few preachers that emerge triumphant from such assaults are emboldened, their faith strengthened.

Some in the Spinward Front call priests such as these "Prelates-at-Arms," referring to their single-minded pursuit of utterly eliminating a foe in hand-to-hand combat. Faith and fervour drive these Prelates-at-Arms nearly into a berserk state, defying any fear of death with a hearty determination to spill the enemy's blood at all costs.

Rector Erudite[]

Priests of the Ministorum fill many roles in the Imperium; they are spiritual leaders, guiders of the citizenry, and often even warriors in the God-Emperor's name. Those that accompany the Astra Militarum into battle often fit into the latter category, but that is not to say that such preachers know only catechisms and chainswords.

Instead, it is often true that such priests bring quite a bit of hard-earned wisdom and knowledge collected by the Ecclesiarchy over the millennia. Such learned priests are valued by many Imperial Guard commanders to provide additional perspective on particular battlegrounds dealing with Traitors, heresy, and other moral threats.

Priests that have this kind of knowledge can lend their influence to help Imperial Guard commanders cut through the red tape and bureaucracy of the Administratum. Additionally, many priests understand additional ciphers and traditions of the Ministorum that can be of advantage to a typical Imperial Guard regiment when requisitioning gear from pious Departmento Munitorum agents or delicately translating Imperial Guard orders into a "request" for assistance from the Adepta Sororitas.

In the Spinward Front, priests with these unique skills and knowledge are sometimes known as Rectors Erudite. However, it is not just knowledge that sets these priests apart -- it is also wisdom, an understanding of faith amongst the Astra Militarum, from the typical soldier serving in an infantry squad to the highly trained and elite Storm Troopers.

Priests and the Inquisition[]

Inquisitors of the Holy Ordos sometimes find priests to be useful Acolytes as their abilities to interact with, and influence, the local population on many worlds have proved valuable on innumerable occasions. From a priest's point of view their reasons for becoming an agent of the Inquisition and shunning the duties of the Adeptus Ministorum can be manifold.

Some see it as a form of penance; others view Inquisitors with awe and unthinkingly follow these most worthy of the Emperor's servants; the more zealous see service with an Inquisitor as a way of fighting Heretics up close, the chance to purge the galaxy of foul deviants too much of an opportunity to ignore.

Unit Composition[]

Wargear[]

The following wargear is standard for the Ecclesiarchy priests who take on the role of preachers and accompany Adepta Sororitas or other Imperial forces like the Astra Militarum, Inquisitors or Rogue Traders into battle.

  • Auto Pistol (Optional Replacement for Zealot's Vindictor)
  • Chainsword (Optional Replacement for Zealot's Vindictor)

Sources[]

  • Codex: Adepta Sororitas (9th Edition), pg. 104
  • Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 62-67
  • Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG)
  • Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 61-64, 169-171
  • Inquisitor (Sourcebook), pp. 108-109
  • Only War: Shield of Humanity (RPG), pp. 82-98
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