The Imperial Church of Canthartism
For nearly 500 years, the Imperial Church of Canthartism has been the official state religion of the Empire of Turelion. The Church is centred on the worship of Canthart, a deity associated with light, prosperity and military strength. The Church’s current preeminent position is founded in the sheer fluke that the sixth Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar, Orthax II ‘the Pious’ was a fervent devotee of the faith, and promoted it above all others, something that the Emperors that followed him were happy to maintain. State sponsorship has enabled the Imperial Church of Canthartism to spread across the whole of Kelbonnar, to every province and Imperial Colony.
The Imperial Church of Canthartism exists to promote the worship of Canthart and to look after the spiritual health of the Empire of Turelion, its Emperor and its people. All important Imperial and many important Provincial events involve the Imperial Church, varying in extent from a simple sacrifice to enormous national services of thanksgiving.
Because it holds the privileged position of being the state religion of the Empire of Turelion, the Imperial Church benefits from an annual grant from the Imperial Treasury and it received the most donations of any faith group in the whole of Kelbonnar, mostly from wealthy individuals or families wishing to ingratiate themselves within the Imperial system. As well as healthy cash reserves, the Imperial Church has thousands of temple complexes spread across Kelbonnar, with a presence in every large town and city and in many smaller settlements. In addition, the Imperial Church owns large tracts of land, where they rear cattle specifically for sacrifice in their myriad temples.
Acts of worship in the Imperial Church revolve around the sacrifice of animals to Canthart, with the internal organs and fat being burned on the central altar in each Canathartic temple. Normally, once a week a service of sacrifice will be offered by the temple on behalf of the community that it sits in, but sacrifices will also be carried out on all of the other days of the week, at the behest of individuals in the community who wish to have a sacrifice made in their specific benefit, and who provide the animal or animals to be killed. All sacrifices offered by the Imperial Church directly always use bulls as the animal of choice, but sacrifices requested by private individuals and families often take place with whatever animal can be afforded, with the general rule being that the larger the animal the more favour it is likely to curry from the divine personage of Canthart. In addition, temples of Canthart remain open at all times of the day and there are numerous small alters where people can light incense and sit in quiet contemplation and prayer. As Canthart is a deity that personifies, light, prosperity and martial strength, sacrifices to Canthart are offered for variety of purposes, from people hoping for good harvests to those praying for the health of their loved ones whilst they are out on campaign.
All would be priests in the Imperial Church are trained as Acolytes in the enormous complex of the Grand Canthartic Temple in the Imperial capital Meltaro. Where they receive detailed instruction on the doctrine of the faith, its history and the many minute details surrounding the proper etiquette for dedicating and performing sacrifices to Canthart. After five years, Acolytes are fully ordained as Priests of Canthart in a specially annual ceremony held in the Grand Canthartic Temple, in a ceremony where they are ritually sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice, through which they receive Canthart’s blessing to work on his behalf. From then the newly ordained Priests are dispatched wherever the Imperial Church needs them, a matter in which they do not get a choice. This is something that they must get used to as Priests in the Imperial Church rarely get a say in where they will be posted and must simply go where the Church commands. However, this is open to abuse, with Priests with good connections always managing to get plum appointments. However, those who show a particular aptitude for something are likely to be given specific duties that match their skills once their abilities are spotted by someone with enough authority. Above the Priests are twelve Provincial Priests, each of whom is given authority over the activities and organisation of the Imperial Church in one of the eleven Provinces and the Imperial Colonies of the Empire of Turelion. The Provincial Priests are appointed by the Arch Priest of Canthart, who is themselves appointed via a vote of the 12 Provincial Priests. The Arch Priest of Canthart is the head of the Imperial Church of Canthartism and acts as the figure head on an Imperial level, as well as acting as the personal chaplain to the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar.
Political Influence & Intrigue
On the face of it, the Imperial Church of Canthartism wields and incredible amount of influence across Kelbonnar. After all, it is the faith that sparked the conquests of Machestaro I in the first place, leading to the creation of the Empire of Turelion, and it has continued to be the faith of the Emperors, the Imperial family and anyone who aspires to the highest levels of power within the Empire ever since. The faith has spread across the entirety of the known world, and temples dedicated to Canthart can be found in the deepest depths of the Yalthar Jungle, to the rolling grassland of the Pokipewi to the biting sands of the Jem’Hal Desert and well beyond. However, despite this surge in its spread and success, behind closed doors many people can be heard to say that the Imperial Church vastly overestimates its influence in the Empire of Turelion. It’s closeness to the Emperors and its status as the ‘official’ religion of the Empire of Turelion help it yes, but in reality the percentage of those who are true believers is far smaller than the number of people who claim to be such. This problem, which by all accounts is ignored by the Imperial Church, is best exemplified by the fact that during the monthly services held in the Grand Canthartic Temple in Meltaro in honour of the Emperor and the Imperial Family the temple is packed, with people queuing for hours to get a seat within the temple, but for the rest of the month, only a fraction of those people turn up for any of the other services. It is easy then for cynics to claim that the upper echelons of society only care about the Imperial Church and its faith, when it guarantees they have a chance of being close to the Imperial personage.
Whilst there are no official sects of the Imperial Church, the Makalites are a widely recognised sect that has stemmed from them, though they have been regarded as heretical ever since their emergence.
Religious, Organised Religion
Related Ranks & Titles