Ophelia VII is the oldest of the Imperium of Man's Cardinal Worlds, second in sanctity to the faithful of the Imperial Cult only to Holy Terra itself. It is the site of the Synod Ministra and the Adepta Sororitas' Convent Sanctorum.
The world is given over entirely to the worship of the Emperor of Mankind as the god of humanity. Its surface is covered in mile-high cathedrals and bell towers, linked by avenues lined with the statues of thousands of Imperial Saints.
Dungeons plunge deep into the bowels of the world, where Heretics are made to repent their sins, subject to such methods of soul-cleansing as Arco-flagellation, death-masking, soul-scouring and the feared Trial of Castigation.
Ophelia VII, rather than Terra, was the actual headquarters of the Adeptus Ministorum from the time of Ecclesiarch Benedin IV to Greigor XI and is still one of the main centres of Ministorum power to this day, now second only to Terra.
It is located far from its sister planet of Terra, in the galactic south or near the Eastern Fringe (depending on the source) in the Segmentum Tempestus. The world has sometimes erroneously been called "Ophelia 4" or "Ophelia IV" in Imperial records.
Ophelia VII was the diocese of Benedin IV as an Imperial Cardinal before his ascent to the position of Ecclesiarch and is said to have been the wealthiest planet in the human-settled galaxy after Terra and Mars. This made it an ideal world to host the Adeptus Ministorum when Terra became too much of a politically confining force for the Ecclesiarchy's hierarchy in the 36th Millennium.
In the 30th Millennium during the Great Crusade, Ophelia VII was claimed for the newborn Imperium during a battle led by the Emperor of Mankind Himself. He lead a charge against the enemy alongside one hundred Custodians and ten thousand Astartes of the Imperial Fists Legion.
Arrival of the Ecclesiarchy
Benedin IV moved the entirety of the Adeptus Ministorum's apparatus to Ophelia VII and built vast cathedrals over 90,000 Terran square miles of land and 4,000 miles into the sky. Only the Imperial Palace on Terra was a more dominating example of Imperial Gothic architecture.
There were three factors in the choice of Ophelia VII to host the Adeptus Ministorum: Benedin IV's personal connection with the world, its vast wealth and the distance it placed between the other High Lords of Terra and the general governance of the Adeptus Ministorum.
Its distant location from Terra allowed the princes of the Ecclesiarchy to raise vast tithes to replenish and invigorate the Ministorum's funds, and encouraged competition between Cardinals on other worlds to build the biggest and most impressive cathedrals and monuments dedicated to the worship of the God-Emperor and the veneration of His saints. Cults which posed a threat to the Ministorum were rooted out and destroyed by zealous Cardinals, Preachers and Confessors throughout the Imperium and the Ministorum's control over the faith of humanity grew rapidly.
Departure of the Ecclesiarchy
Almost three hundred Terran years after the Ministorum's arrival in the 36th Millennium, Ecclesiarch Greigor XI decided it was time that the Adeptus Ministorum returned to Terra to take its place among the other High Lords of the Senatorum Imperialis now that the Ecclesiarchy's political position in the Imperium was largely unimpeachable.
It took twelve standard years and a good deal of the Adeptus Ministorum's funds, however, before the doors to the Ecclesiarchal Palace on Terra were opened again and refurbished. Ophelia VII would no longer be the centre of the state religion of the Imperium, but it would still be one of the Ecclesiarchy's most sacred sites and its greatest Cardinal World, as it is in the 41st Millennium.
High Lord Vandire and the Age of Apostasy
High Lord Goge Vandire rose to power as the Ecclesiarch of both the Adeptus Ministorum and the Master of the Administratum, gaining almost absolute power in the Imperium as a result since no other institution could rival the might of the two united factions that controlled both the secular and religious bureaucracies of the state.
Vandire brought his iron fist down on the Cardinals of the Ministorum and eventually his enemies decided it was time to escape the treacherous corridors of Terra; they chose Ophelia VII as their destination; however their ship never managed to translate out of the Warp, lost forever in its shifting eddies.
Reforms of Sebastian Thor
After the fall of Vandire at the end of his Reign of Blood, Sebastian Thor was elected (some would say elected himself) to the position of Ecclesiarch. He initiated a series of reforms and created the Synod Ministra on Ophelia VII. It was intended to act as a secondary governing body for the Adeptus Ministorum far from Terra.
It would disseminate the laws and actions of the Holy Synod on Terra but also provide a defence against other forces, or even a single Ecclesiarch, attempting to gain control of the Ministorum for nefarious purposes as Vandire had done. Also, the Astra Ministra, the administrative body for the Ministorum's functionaries who serve aboard the starships of the Imperium, is based on Ophelia VII and makes up part of the Synod Ministra.
The Indomitus Crusade - Battle of Ophelia VII
After the 13th Black Crusade and the fall of Cadia in 999.M41, Ophelia VII was caught within the newly-formed Great Rift that divided the galaxy in twain and the Cardinal World was exposed to invasion from daemons. The planet was enslaved by the Greater Daemon known as the Tyrant of Blueflame, a Lord of Change in service to Tzeentch.
Adepta Sororitas forces on the world from the Order of Our Martyred Lady resisted the Chaos assault fiercely, but were facing total defeat and resigned themselves to death.
Ophelia VII was freed from the clutches of Chaos by the resurrected Primarch Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade and the forces of the Black Templars Chapter. However the Tyrant himself escaped Imperial justice. The Adepta Sororitas forces suffered almost 50% casualties before they were rescued by the arrival of the crusade.
Sisters of Battle
The Sisters of Battle, the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas who have served as the Ecclesiarchy's armed forces since they were founded during the reign of Goge Vandire in the midst of the 36th Millennium's Age of Apostasy, were split between Terra and Ophelia VII, to insure that no single person could gain control of the whole organisation.
There are extensive facilities for the sisters on both planets, but each order has a home on both worlds if need be. One of the Adepta Sororitas' two headquarters, the Convent Sanctorum, is located on Ophelia VII. Ophelia VII is the primary base of half of the Adepta Sororitas' Orders Militant, Orders Dialogous, Orders Famulous and Orders Hospitaller.
In the 1st Edition of Warhammer 40,000, Ophelia VII was originally designated "Ophelia IV" or "Ophelia 4."
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 20
- Codex Imperialis (1st Edition), pg. 39
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG)
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 224, 231
- Mark of Faith (Novel) by Rachel Harrison, Book 1, Chs. 1-2
- The Horus Heresy Book Three - Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 61
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition)