Adepta Sororitas

The Adepta Sororitas (also known as “the Sisterhood” or “Daughters of the Emperor”) are an all-female subdivision of the religious organisation known as the Ecclesiarchy or Ministorum. The Sisterhood’s Orders Militant serve as the Ecclesiarchy’s fighting arm, mercilessly rooting out corruption and heresy within humanity and every organisation of the Adeptus Terra.

The Sisterhood serves as Ministorum’s only official military forces because the Decree Passive rules that the Ecclesiarchy cannot maintain any “men under arms”. This was supposed to limit the power of the Ecclesiarchy. However the Ministorum were able to circumvent this decree by using the all-female force of the Sisterhood.

The terms “Adepta Sororitas” and “Sisters of Battle” are commonly regarded to mean the same thing, but the latter title technically refers only to the Orders Militant – the military arm of the organisation which is the largest and the best-known part of the Sororitas.

There is naturally some overlap between the duties of the Sisterhood and the Inquisition; for this reason, although the Inquisition and the Sisterhood remain entirely separate organisations, the Orders Militant of the Sisterhood also act as the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition’s Ordo Hereticus.

History

Founding

“Daughters of the Emperor”
The Adepta Sororitas date their founding from the 36th millennium, and more specifically from the later events of the Age of Apostasy. The Adepta Sororitas trace their origins to the world of San Leor. An order known as the “Daughters of the Emperor”, an all-female cult dedicated to worship of the Emperor, had been discovered on San Leor by members of the Ecclesiarchy. Goge Vandire, the High Lord of the Administratum (and also Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum), decided to visit San Leor and recruit the Daughters into his own private army. The Daughters at first refused to accept his authority. Vandire decided to show them that he was blessed by the Emperor – he instructed a soldier in his entourage to shoot him, which after a brief hesitation, he did. However, thanks to the protective field generated by the Rosarius of the Ecclesiarch (which no one but Vandire himself was aware of), Vandire was not harmed. The Daughters took this to be a sign, and swore allegiance to Vandire virtually on the spot. They were renamed the Brides of the Emperor, and became Vandire’s most loyal followers.

Revelation and retribution

During the Siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace, the Adeptus Custodes, the praetorians of the Emperor himself, tried to approach the Brides and convince them of Vandire’s treachery. In a last ditch effort to convince them, the Custodes took Alicia Dominica, leader of the Brides, and her chosen bodyguards deep into the Imperial Palace where they stood before the Emperor himself. What happened there remains unknown – Dominica and her companions were sworn to secrecy – but it became clear that the Brides, who reverted to the title of Daughters of the Emperor, had been awakened to the evil that Vandire represented. Marching into his audience chamber, Dominica paused only to condemn Vandire for his crimes before she beheaded the power-crazed dictator. Reportedly, Vandire’s final words were “I don’t have time to die – I’m too busy!”

Reformation

After this episode, the newly appointed Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor proclaimed the Decree Passive which forbade the Ecclesiarchy from having “men under arms”. Under the literal interpretation of the decree the Adepta Sororitas, being female, were not obligated to disband. Thor, recognising the need for the Ecclesiarchy to have some kind of force and internal regulator, allowed them to remain even if the spirit of the decree was rather blatantly disregarded.

Later History

  • 378.M36 – Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII, Sebastian Thor’s successor, divides the Orders Militant of the Convent Sanctorum and Convent Prioris into four Orders -
  1. Order of the Ebon Chalice
  2. Order of the Valorous Heart
  3. Order of the Fiery Heart
  4. Order of the Argent Shroud
  • M36 – After the death of Alicia Dominica, Ecclesiarch Equitus XI presides over the creation the rank of Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas , the new leader of the Adepta Sororitas. The first to hold the position is Sister Palmiro of the Order of the Holy Word.
  • 878.M38 – Ecclesiarch Deacis VI founds two more Orders Militant in honour of the remaining two saints who accompanied Alicia Dominica to the Golden Throne – the Order of the Bloody Rose in honour of Sister Mina and the Order of the Sacred Rose in honour of Sister Arabella.
  • M41 – Sister Sabrina of the Order of the Ermine Mantle is elected Abbess but disappears during her pilgrimage to San Leor, since this time the position of Abbess has been vacant.

OrganisationStructure and Hierarchy

The Adepta Sororitas is part of the Ecclesiarchy and is divided between two Convents – the Convent Prioris located on Terra and the Convent Sanctorum based on Ophelia VII, although in practice their forces are spread throughout the Galaxy.

The overall commander and spiritual leader of the entire Sisterhood is the Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas , although the position is currently unoccupied3pg57. As the leader of the Adepta Sororitas, the Abbess is sometimes elected into the High Lords of Terra.

Below the Abbess are the Prioresses of the two Convents who are in charge of their Convent and the various Orders based there.

The Convents of the Sisterhood are organized into several Orders. The Orders each have different roles and responsibilities, there are four distinct classes of major Order, plus an unknown number of minor orders. The types of major Order are -

  • Orders Militant – The “Sisters of Battle”, the military arm of the Sororitas
  • Orders Hospitaller – Surgeons, physicians and Nurses
  • Orders Dialogous – Scholars dealing with languages and translation
  • Orders Famulous – Diplomats, chamberlains and advisers for Imperial noble families

It is not uncommon for a Sister to transfer from one of the Orders to another, particularly if a Battle Sister has become injured or is too old for combat they may transfer to one of the non-militant Orders.

Each of the major Orders follows the same basic hierarchical structure:

  • Order – Led by the head Canoness called the Canoness Superior who runs the entire Order.
  • Preceptory – An subsidiary convent or a large tactical detatchment with up to 1,000 Sisters led by a Canoness Preceptor.
  • Commandery – Normally smaller convents or detachments of militant Sisters with up to 200 Sisters, led by a Canoness Commander.
  • Mission – The smallest organisation of Sisters, consisting of a few units and can be lead by a Canoness or the lesser Palatine.

It should be noted that the non-militant Orders operate mainly at Mission and Commandery levels – Preceptory is a largely organisational tier. For example, a Commandery of the Order Hospitallier could be a staff of sisters working in a field hospital whilst a Mission of the Orders Famulous could be a handful of Sisters engaged in a trade delegation.2pg11

The Orders

Orders Militant

Commonly known as the Sisters of Battle, the Orders Militant are the most numerous and well known of the Adepta Soritas. The are the only official fighting force of the Ecclesiarchy and often prosecute Wars of Faith, they also form the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus and often fight alongside the Inquisitors of that Ordo.2pg10,11

List of the Orders Militant (Location)

  • Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII)
  • Convent Prioris (Terra)
  • Order of the Bloody Rose
  • Order of the Sacred Rose
  • Order of Our Martyred Lady
  • Order of the Ebon Chalice
  • Order of the Valorous Heart
  • Order of the Argent Shroud

Lesser Orders Militant

Since their founding the Major Orders Militant have established a number of subsidiary convents at sites significant to the Ecclesiarchy. Sometimes little more than small Garrisons, these bases have developed identities distinct from their parent Orders over time, eventually becoming separate Orders all together. These smaller Orders are refereed to as the Lesser Orders Militant. In theory the leaders of the Lesser Orders are answerable to the leaders of the Major Order that spawned them.

Named Lesser Orders Militant

  • The Order of the White Rose – This order split away from the Order of the Sacred Rose in the latter part of M39.6
  • The Order of the Golden Light – due to their small size occasionally accompany non-militant Orders’ Sisters while on missions throughout less hospitable parts of the Imperium.
  • Order of the Storm- Originally named Order of the Shining Light.

Orders Hospitaller

The Sisters Hospitaller are surgeons, physicians and nurses. They aid the poor, and heal the sick and the wounded in many hospitals and clinics of the Sisterhood and serve in all departments of the Imperiums armed services except the Adeptus Astartes.

List of the Orders Hospitaller (Location)

  • Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII)
  • Convent Prioris (Terra)
  • Order of the Eternal Candle
  • Order of the Cleansing Water
  • Order of Serenity
  • Order of the Torch

Orders Dialogous

The Sisters Dialogous help to translate the innumerable dialects and slangs used throughout the Imperium.13 At the behest of the Inquisition and certain parties they also study Xenos languages4, also translating texts obtained from Xeno artefacts. Sisters Dialogous are often employed as Sages in Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors’ retinues.

List of the Orders Dialogous (location)

  • Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII)
  • Convent Prioris (Terra)
  • Order of the Holy Word
  • Order of the Sacred Oath
  • Order of the Quill
  • Order of the Lexicon

Orders Famulous

The Sisters Famulous organise and maintain households of certain Imperial governors11 and Imperial nobles, serving as advisors and by their very presence reminding them of their higher loyalties. They oppose any disloyalty with the support of faithful followers from the inside of the household itself.

List of the Orders Famulous (Location)

  • Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII)
  • Convent Prioris (Terra)
  • Order of the Key
  • Order of the Holy Seal
  • Order of the Gate
  • Order of the Sacred Coin

Lesser Order Famulous

  • Orders Sabine – The Sisters of the Orders Sabine accompany the Missionarius Galaxia on missions to rediscover new worlds. The Sisters specialize in infiltrating primitive societies and introduce elements of the Imperial Creed to the natives.
  • Orders Pronatus – Specialize in the retrieving, guarding, studying and repairing of artifacts of value to the Ecclesiarchy.

Orders Pronatus

The Orders Pronatus is a non-militant order of the Adepta Sororitas. They are considered a minor order or a minor range of orders who have a duty to locate any relics and sacred items. Once discovered, these objects are acquired and brought to the Ecclesiarchy’s care.

Named Orders Pronatus

  • The Order of the Eternal Gate – One of the sisterhoods that belong to the Orders Pronatus.
  • The Order of the Blessed Enquiry – one of the Orders Pronatus, believed to have been destroyed due to their collection of artifacts of the Chaos Gods.

Ranks and Positions

  • Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas – the commander of the Convent Sanctorum on Terra; also the overall spiritual leader of the Sisterhood. In military matters she is assisted the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum. Although there is only a single Abbess, her full title is Abbess Sanctorum. Presently the position is vacant.
  • Prioress – the overall commander of a single convent.
  • Canoness – command rank

there are several subdivisions of the Canoness rank-

  1. Canoness Superior – In command of an entire Order
  2. Canoness Preceptor – In command of a Preceptory
  3. Canoness Comander – In command of a Commandry
  • Palatine – command rank below Canoness
  • Sister Superior
  • Battle Sister – the basic rank of Adepta Sororitas.

Special designations of the Orders Militant

  • Celestian – Elite Battle Sisters, they often form squads of bodyguards for Cannonesses and Palatines.
  • Seraphim – only the very best Battle Sisters are elevated to the position of Seraphim and are generally organized into specialize squads. Seraphim receive special training and equipment, primarily jump packs.
  • Dominion – Standard battle sisters with special weapons.
  • Retributor – Standard battle sisters with heavy weapons.

Adepta Sororitas

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