"Pain is the sister who fights at my side. Pain recalls to me my wrongs that I might strive in pursuit of penance. Pain insists that I stand my ground, steady my aim and fight on though my life blood falls like rain to the thirsting soil. Pain is an ally. Pain is a friend. Pain is truth."
- — Sister Erynica N’botu, Order of the Valorous Heart
The Order of the Valorous Heart is one of the major Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas. The Order of the Valorous Heart was founded in honour of Saint Lucia by the Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII, the long-lived successor of the great reformer, Sebastian Thor, in the 36th Millennium.
At the time of the order's founding, the Convent Sanctorum was split between the convents on Ophelia VII and Terra, which created the Orders Militant of the Ebon Chalice, Valorous Heart, Fiery Heart and the Argent Shroud.
Sisters of the Order of the Valorous Heart are driven by the belief that they still must atone for the sisterhood's acts as an unwitting accomplice to the Renegade High Lord of Terra Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy's Reign of Blood in the 36th Millennium.
Like their patron Saint Lucia, the order is highly penitent, always striving for atonement for even the slightest perceived sin. A disproportionate number of sisters in this order exile themselves to the Sisters Repentia compared to the other major Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas.
Because they are constantly reminded of their part in the Reign of Blood, sisters of the Valorous Heart can be particularly suspicious of those who would call themselves prophets of the Emperor.
The bulk of the Order of the Valorous Heart's sanctuaries lie deep in the Ultima Segmentum, with the vast majority having been established during hard-fought wars against xenos and Traitor forces. Sanctified fortresses stand amidst Death World swamps, jagged mountain ranges and barren wastelands that were scoured of life millennia ago. Relief sculptures and stained armaglass panes within these sanctuaries depict Sororitas obliterating hordes of Orks, driving Necrons back beneath the sands and roasting foul Heretics in cleansing flames.
Many of these sanctuary planets were plunged into darkness when the Great Rift tore open at the start of the Era Indomitus, and were invaded by daemons or subjected to mass Drukhari raids. Yet the order has not wavered in its faith.
Though many of its preceptories are cut off from the light of the Emperor, they believe He still sees their struggles. They refer to this time of great trial as the "Hour of Abacination," for the Imperium Nihilus has been blinded, just as Lucia was. But like their Matriarch, the Order of the Valorous Heart have steeled themselves to endure whatever torments are thrust upon them.
In both their battle tactics and acts of worship, the sisters of the Valorous Heart adhere to doctrines of stoicism and forbearance. Their practices stem from the teachings of their founder and matriarch, Lucia, who amongst Dominica's companions was said to be a paragon of constancy. She was the level-headed counterpoint to Katherine's burning passion.
When the sisters of the Convent Sanctorum were split, Ecclesiarch Alexis XII wrote that Lucia's Order of the Valorous Heart was to be the immovable anvil to the Fiery Heart's crushing hammer. Yet from their inception the Valorous Heart were far from a purely defensive force.
Led by their matriarch, they aggressively sought worlds upon which the roots of heresy had grown deep, where witchcraft and profane mutation ran rampant, and then set themselves to the task of systematically expunging all traces of faithlessness.
The order willingly plunged itself into protracted battles amidst horrific conditions, laying siege to sorcerous cults on Death Worlds and storming xenos planets that were inimical to Human existence. Aside from being undeniably effective in grinding away the enemy, these tactics also served as a form of penance.
In the oldest manuscript of Lucia's teachings, recorded during her first address to her order, she explained that the Adepta Sororitas would for evermore carry the burden of atonement for the actions that she and the Daughters of the Emperor had taken in supporting the pretender Goge Vandire.
Lucia's martyrdom came at the hands of a recidivist sect. She was captured and tortured over long solar months, the Heretics attempting to break her spirit and make her recant her faith in the Emperor. Lucia's eyes were gouged out, and she was forced to listen to the screams of a thousand innocents as they themselves were tortured to death.
Unknown to her, a group of her own sisters were amongst those killed in this way, but it is said that not one of them uttered a sound as they endured their torments, so as not to cause their Matriarch any more pain than she had already suffered. Lucia eventually died, and the recidivists claimed loudly that they had shattered her resolve.
But over the following solar decade, the Order of the Valorous Heart tracked down and captured every last member of the sect, all of whom confessed to lying about the Matriarch's lapse of faith. What became of those Heretics is not known outside the order.
What is known is that a contingent of Sisters Hospitaller from the Order of the Silent Vow has been seconded to the Valorous Heart ever since that time, and have been putting their knowledge of life extension and pain enhancement to use deep beneath the sanctuary of Lucia's Reprisal.
- First Savaven Crusade (555.M38) - Having fallen prey to a cult uprising amongst its bloated population of crypt-dwelling tomb-helots, the Cardinal World of Savaven is retaken by the battle-sisters of Order of the Valorous Heart in a decade-long crusade of fire and zeal.
- Orphean War of Faith (903-922.M39) - With several worlds firmly in the grip of the vile adorators of Chaos in the distant Orpheus Sector of Segmentum Tempestus, the order responded to the call to arms issued by Arch-confessor Marduk of Helvamon, who was later beatified. Guided by his sacred visions of the Emperor, the arch-confessor rallied the remaining Imperial worlds behind him. In a gruesome twenty-year-long campaign that would see a full fifth of the sector's population die, the Order of the Valorous Heart purged several worlds of the vile touch of daemons, mutants, Renegades and Chaos Space Marines alike. The order however did not stand alone as it fought alongside their sisters among the Order of the Black Sepulchre, the Space Marines of the Angels Revenant Chapter and the secretive Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus, the Grey Knights.
- Aschen War (307.M40) - The Aschen War was a series of brushfire revolts and incursions that erupted across the Aschen Sub-sector between 300.M40 and 307.M40, after a bloody Chaos Cult-inspired revolt on the Cardinal World of Dimmamar exposed how overstretched Imperial control over the surrounding region had become. Slowly stripped of much of its defences over the course of several generations to provide for the needs of other pressing conflicts nearby, this border region was ill-equipped to stave off catastrophe when it came. The Imperial counter-invasion was led by the combined forces of two Space Marine Chapters -- the Dark Hands and the Exorcists, backed by the Necromundan 54th and 60th Rifles of the Astra Militarum and the battle-sisters of the Order of the Valorous Heart. The Exorcists quickly realised that one of the keys to victory would be locating and destroying the single dark master of many names that lurked behind the divergent Chaos Cults in the region, a daemonic creature that on Dimmamar was known as the "Horned God." The Exorcists finally cornered the Daemon Prince in the maze-like pre-Human ruins of the Dead World of Belphago. The Exorcists, with the aid of a hastily composed Ordo Malleus strike team, managed to banish the Daemon Prince back to the Immaterium, but fully a third of the Exorcists Chapter had perished. But with this victory the tide of the war was now in the Imperium's favour, and within a standard year, the sub-sector was brought back under Imperial control.
- Serpheris Secundus Intervention (Unknown Date.M41) - Several squads from the Order of the Valorous Heart were sent to help augment Inquisitorial forces in quelling a series of mutant riots on the planet of Sepheris Secundus in the Calixis Sector.
- Achilus Crusade (777.M41) - The Order of the Valorous Heart participated in the Achilus Crusade to retake the Jericho Reach in the Ultima Segmentum for the Imperium.
- Battle of the Penitent (938.M41) - The Order of the Ebon Chalice and the Order of the Valorous Heart suffered great losses against Warboss Blackaxe's Ork hordes. They were eventually pushed back to the walls of the Cathedral of Saint Dufaux. The attackers were held back only due to the determination and sacrifice of hundreds of Sisters Repentia. They bought enough time for the battle-sisters to open the vast cathedral gates, and the greenskins were slaughtered shortly after by two dozen Penitent Engines.
- Plague Wars (ca. 100s.M42) - The battle-sisters of the Order of the Valorous Heart aided the Ultramarines in the defence of the Realm of Ultramar from the assaults of the Death Guard and other Nurglite forces in the Plague Wars.
- Unwelcome Resurrection (Unknown Date.M42) - Amidst the darkness of the Imperium Nihilus, the Order of the Valorous Heart established a bastion in the Vesmir System. Nearby Imperial forces flocked to the highly-fortified sanctuary ensconced in the orbital hive city above Vesmir II. There, they pooled what strength they had to fight back against the marauding Heretic Astartes and Chaos daemons. Elevator mineshafts plunging down to the gas-enshrouded planet surface provided a steady flow of raw materials, while the hive's manufactoria implemented exhaustion shifts to ensure that the Sororitas and Astra Militarum troops in the city were stocked with the necessary tools of warfare. The Sisters of Battle and their allies successfully defendde the hive against two Chaos assaults, but as the Heretics prepared for a third siege, the mineshafts suddenly ceased functioning. Massive energy signatures showed that some eldritch force had awakened beneath the toxic clouds of Vesmir II. Canoness Jocindyr recognised the threat, informing her sisters that the planet they were stationed above was a Necron Tomb World that was just now stirring into action. Her tactical assessment was that the hive city could not hold against the invading Heretic Astartes without supplies. However, both enemies could be defeated if they were drawn into battle against one another. The sisters prepared to descend to the surface and draw out the awakening Necron army. Before she disembarked, Jocindyr issued a standing order to the Astra Militarum defending the orbital hive, telling them to hold the line, no matter the cost, until she returned.
Order Combat Doctrine
The example set by Lucia in her life, as well as through her martyrdom, has led to the Order of the Valorous Heart employing methods of warfare that are unique among the Adepta Sororitas. At the outset of battle the sisters pray to the Emperor and their Matriarch for the strength to endure the horrors to come. They then launch offensives to cut off their foe's supply routes and lines of retreat.
With the enemy locked in place, the order begins sabotaging any infrastructure in the area -- water supplies are drained, fuel reserves destroyed and pipelines transporting noxious substances are vented into the atmosphere. On Feral Worlds, anything that could provide the enemy with the least sustenance is incinerated.
In short order, the battlefield is transformed into a harrowing desert, with a grinding war of attrition remaining as the only path to victory for either side.
It is in these conditions that the sisters of the Valorous Heart excel. No hardship is too great to shake their resolve, no pain so severe that they waver in their duty. They press the attack with one measured advance after another, inexorably driving their way into hostile territory and paving a path before them with the corpses of their foes.
The glacial press of power-armoured warriors moving forwards is enough to erode the morale of even the most dauntless enemies -- as is the sight of Sororitas who continue to stand and fight after enduring multiple grievous wounds.
When the sisters find themselves on the defensive, their unmatched grit allows them to withstand punishment that would scatter a less faithful force.
Their hymns ring loud as barrages are levelled against them, and should the frustrated foe resort to an all-out assault, the sisters sally forth with unfailing vigour.
Due to the methods of combat they employ, the preceptories of the Valorous Heart typically boast greater numbers of Exorcists and Retributor Squads than those of other orders. They use their heavy weaponry to establish solid bases of long-range fire, raining death upon the enemy's position and punishing anyone foolish enough to advance towards them.
Many amongst the order say that they can feel the beating of Lucia's noble heart in the lightning-fast thud of bolt shells. Others hear her cries of defiance resounding within the sky-tearing crack of Exorcist missiles.
It is little wonder that they see miracles manifesting in the fires of their bombardments, and are so eager to charge into the infernos they have wrought.
Given the nightmarish conditions in which they choose to battle, it is no surprise that many sisters of the Valorous Heart bear gruesome scars. The stigmata of torn flesh is seen as a badge of honour amongst the order, for it is a reminder of the sufferings of Lucia.
A sister who loses an eye in battle is considered truly blessed, for it allows her to better understand the pain endured by her Matriarch, and to see more clearly the path of faith before her.
Sisters of the Valorous Heart rarely accept numbing agents or pain-reducing stimms when their wounds are being tended to, even where surgery or amputation is required. To avoid the experience of pain in this way would be to deny the power of faith to overcome all suffering.
The training procedures and rites of worship of the Order of the Valorous Heart have also been adapted to pay homage to the trial of its founder. Upon induction, each battle-sister must memorise the hymnal known as the Passion of Saint Lucia, reciting all five hundred and fifty-five verses at specific points throughout the day.
The sisters also submit themselves to various acts of excruciation. These serve as penance for the sins committed by their spiritual forebears. They pray for the Daughters of the Emperor with their hands held over open flames, and they ask for absolution whilst pressing the teeth of ceremonial chainswords into their flesh.
Notable Sisters of the Valorous Heart
- Saint Lucia - Lucia was the youngest of the five sisters of Alicia Dominica, the founder and patron of the Adepta Sororitas. Lucia went on to become the founder of the Order of the Valorous Heart. In the mid to late 36th Millennium, Lucia was captured by Imperial recidivists, who gouged out her eyes and forced her to endure the death screams of a thousand innocents and the murder of a number of her own sisters, who remained resolutely silent, before she met her own martyrdom. Mere days after word of her death reached the Holy Synod, Lucia was canonised as a Saint by the Ecclesiarchy.
- Canoness Aurea - Aurea is a canoness of the Order of the Valorous Heart, whose forces were stationed within a cathedral-fortress on Daronch. Sometime after the Great Rift's creation, however, the world was invaded by the Ork horde of Warboss Grashbakh. Though the sisters were charged with defending Daronch, they were overwhelmed when the Warboss crashed his scrap-ship into their fortress. The canoness and surviving sisters were then forced to retreat, while Grashbakh's Orks emerged to attack Daronch. The later arrival of the Black Templars' Edioch Crusade, however, gave the world's population a chance at survival. The Black Templars, led by Marshal Adelbert and the surviving sisters of the Valorous Heart led by Aurea, were then able to fight their way to the fortress, which the Warboss now ruled. While the ensuing battle cost the Imperial forces dearly, they were able to kill Grashbakh and destroy his horde's forces within the fortress. This broke the Orks' hold on Daronch. The Emperor's Champion Cenric, who had taken command of the crusade after Adelbert's death in the battle, vowed to Aurea that they would work together to fortify the world from any further attacks.
- Canoness Jocindyr - Jocindyr is the canoness of the Valorous Heart who aided the defence of the Vesmir System from both Heretic Astartes and awakening Necron forces.
- Sister Repentia Osyth (Penance) (KIA) - Osyth was a Sister Repentia of the Order of the Valorous Heart, who was among its forces stationed within a cathedral-fortress on the world of Daronch, under the command of Canoness Aurea. Before she took the Oath of Repentia, however, Osyth was a Sister Superior charged with defending Daronch's outer shrineholds, when the Ork Warboss Grashbakh invaded the world. The Orks' sheer numbers, though, led them to overwhelm the sisters under Osyth's command and they died while she survived. The xenos also desecrated the shrines and destroyed relics and thousands of years of Imperial religious history. This led Osyth to become a Sister Repentia, and claim the name Penance, as she was no longer worthy of bearing her original name. Osyth was among the sisters that survived the loss of the order's fortress when it was captured by Grashbakh, but the later arrival of the Black Templars' Edioch Crusade gave the world's population a chance at survival. The Black Templars, led by Marshal Adelbert and the surviving sisters of the Valorous Heart led by Aurea, were then able to fight their way to the fortress, which the Warboss now ruled. As they advanced into the fortress the Orks deployed an explosive attack on Osyth's position, which caused the ground to collapse. While she emerged unscathed, Osyth found herself alone within the tunnels that lay beneath the battlefield and led into the fortress itself. She soon found the crusade's Emperor's Champion Cenric who had also survived the ground's collapse. Together they fought their way to Warboss Grashbakh's sanctum within the fortress, which proved undefended. While he was outnumbered, Grashbakh still proved to be more than a match for the two warriors until Osyth rushed at the Warboss with a Krak Grenade. Though the Warboss was able to grab hold of the Sister Repentia, Osyth sacrificed herself by activating the grenade. With that act she gained the redemption she had sought and earned back her name, even as the resulting explosion killed her and heavily wounded Grashbakh. This allowed Cenric to kill the Warboss and Grashbakh's horde within the fortress was destroyed by the crusade and Osyth's remaining sisters.
The Sisters of Battle of the Order of the Valorous Heart wear black power armour as well as black cloaks with white or sometimes red linings.
Their order badge and Ecclesiarchy symbol is red.
The icon used by the order is a white Maltese cross with a red heart in the centre.
The order's banner depicts Saint Lucia, a single drop of blood running down her cheek.
Sometimes, she is represented with Goge Vandire's severed head, which the Daughters of the Emperor received after Alicia Dominica executed him. These depictions reinforce her image as an ideal battle-sister.
- Champions, All (Short Story) by Marc Collins
- Codex: Adepta Sororitas (8th Edition), pp. 20-21, 39
- Codex: Adepta Sororitas (6th Edition), pg. 13
- Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), pp. 19, 35
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition), pp. 6, 58
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs, pg. 76
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pg. 18
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two, pg. 126
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pp. 21-22
- The Inquisition (Background Book), pp. 5, 65
- White Dwarf 293 (UK), "Liber Sororitas - Matriarchs of the Sisterhood," by Andy Hoare, pg. 56
|Adepta Sororitas Orders Militant|
|Orders Majoris||Order of the Argent Shroud • Order of the Bloody Rose • Order of the Ebon Chalice • Order of Our Martyred Lady • Order of the Sacred Rose • Order of the Valorous Heart|
|Orders Minoris||Order of the Black Sepulchre • Order of the Blue Robe • Order of the Crimson Oath • Order of the Bleeding Heart • Order of the Fiery Tear • Order of the Glowing Chalice • Order of the Thorn • Order of the Iron Veil • Order of the Ashen Shrine • Order of the Wounded Heart • Order of the Golden Light|