By Caedmon

The basis of all church architecture is the jumpgate, a large circular hall with four exterior "rooms" (collectively referred to as ambos).

The basis of all church architecture is the jumpgate, a large circular hall with four exterior "rooms" (collectively referred to as ambos).

The primary edifice is not an actual circle but rather a regular octagon or septagon. The septagon (representing the 7 virtuous disciples and their respective virtues) is by far the most common shape. The octagon (which includes Ven Lohji) is generally only found in churches which date back to the Second Republic or in areas with a large Obunish or Eskatonic influence (Obun, Pentateuch, certain Hawkwood and al-Malik churches). Very new churches, built under Imperial auspices, are also returning to this pattern, much to the dissatisfaction of the Avestites and more reactionary elements of the Orthodox.

Height is considered a great virtue in churches, and the walls are generally topped with a great vaulted dome. Even small village churches often reach 20 feet at their highest point and the great cathedrals may arc hundreds of feet over the faithful's head. The ambos on the other hand are usually only as high as the walls under the dome. However, wealthier churches often have bell towers atop each ambo and these towers reach as high as advanced building materials and architects can make them.

The first ambo (also referred to as the narthex or the Entrance of the Faithful) always faces towards where the sun rises. The narthex is generally seperated by a second set of doors from the church proper. In the narthex, one will find an icon of the church's patron saint, candles, poor box, coatracks, a cistern of holy water, possibly literature, etc.

The ambos' to the left and right of the narthex typically form sub-chapels, open to the central space--although in village churches they may be little more than niches. These ambos are where the ashes of the dead are kept and where prayers for the departed are offered (see funeral rites, below). Referred to variously as "morturaries" or "quiet chapels", these ambos often generally contain secondary doors which are used by clergy to enter or exit the building. In larger churches, the quiet chapels are often only 10-20 feet in height with the additional space in the towers given over to clergy offices, records and other storage, parish libraries, and even dormitories for lesser clergy in truly great cathedrals.

The ambo opposite the Entrance is the Sanctuary. It is off-limits to all but clergy and even they are expected to enter only for liturgical purposes. The Sanctuary holds the altar and the Orb. While the sanctuary may have its own tower like the other ambos, these towers are strictly decorational. Unlike the bell towers over the narthex or the offices, etc over the quiet chapels, the space above the Sanctuary is never used.

The main space of the church is always open. Though there may be a few benches around the outside for the aged and infirm, the majority of the congregation stands for services.

In parishes which can afford it, the floor is commonly decorated with an abstract representation of the jumpweb. The pattern in such ancient cathedrals as St. Maya's on Byzantium Secundus and the Emanations on Holy Terra have been the source of much recent controversy as researchers have tried to identify the represented stars with real stars in order to help in the discovery of lost jumproutes. Unfortunately (or fortunately from the perspective of many Church conservatives), the patterns are so complex and modern knowledge so fragmentary that their is no general agreement on how the stars in the floor match up to the stars in the heavens.

"Walking the web" is a common devotional practice. Individuals select a star follow the line from it to another, stop and do a series of prayers and prostrations then move on to the next star. There is said to be a way in the great cathedrals to stop at every star without every recrossing the same star. Successful completion/discovery of this path is considered a mystical exercise among Eskatonic and similar circles.

The dome is always painted except in the most impoverished churches. The most common icon for the dome is the pattern known as the "Celestial Prophet". Eskatonic and Obun temples often replace this with the "Nine Heavens". Avestite temples OTOH generally use simply a huge sunburst.

Windows form an important part of church architecture and generally circle the church as well as opening into the sanctuary. The quiet chapels on the other hand, are usually windowless. The windows generally start slightly above head height and then reach up to the dome itself, below the windows, the walls are covered in mosaics and painted icons. Most commonly, the windows are of clear glass thus freely allowing the light of the Sun in, although the glass may be ornately engraved with icons--particularly those of the Virtuous disciples. Stained glass appears in Obun, Eskatonic, and al-Malik churches but this is heavily frowned upon by conservatives. The windows are also fitted with curtains; the closing and opening of the curtains to shut out and reveal light is an important part of the Church rituals.

In larger churches, the exact center of the church is occupied by a reader's dais. Here the canon (or deacon) and the choir stand to perform their part of the services. In many cases, the reader's dais has been taken over by the local lord and this is where he and his retinue stand, leaving the canon and choir on the floor as in smaller churches. Certain other large churches have balconies above the entrance to the narthex and the quite chapels. Again, these are used primarily for the choir or by the aristocracy.

The Orb, which represents the Celestial Sun, is considered the most important part of any Church. The basic design is a light set within a sphere and hung from the ceiling of the Sanctuary. At the low end, the light may be nothing more than an oil lamp kept perpetually alight by the priest (or if one is assigned to the church, deacon). This is actually favored by Avestites who light their orbs with flame brought from the temple on Pyre. Considering the harsh penalties for allowing an Orb to go out though, even the most conservative non-Avestites prefer some form of technological light source. Care for the light is in the hands of a deacon or priest. Bishops have someone to do it for them and lower clergy are not allowed to touch the orb. A deacon is preferable to a priest for this work. When there are multiple deacons assigned to a church, the senior deacon (called the protodeacon) has responsibility for the Orb, though he may ask other deacons to assist.

The sphere in which the light rests is generally a fine lattice, carved with images from the Omega Gospels. High end Orbs are often cast webs of gold or platinum (gold is preferred though) decorated with gemstones. The canons call for the Orb to be almost completely open in one quarter with the density of decoration increasing to almost opacity on the opposite side. This allow the Orb to be rotated during services so that at some points only a little of it's light can be seen and at other it is turned fully on the people.

Directly beneath the Orb, the Omega Gospels are set on the altar. An altar copy is generally bound in gold. On the front is engraved the "Celestial Prophet" icon, the "Nine Virtues" icon on the back.

Note: One of the difficulties I had early on with what I overall think to be an extremely well-done fictional religion, is that the FS books don't seem to offer any single noun or adjective for the Faith of the Prophet (i.e., Christianity-Christian; Islam-Muslim-Islamic). I'm inconsistent in my own usage, but generally in my campaign when I need something a little shorter than the Church of the Celestial Sun, I refer to Illuminatism; the faithful may be either Illuminateds or Reflectives. with the adjectival forms Illuminated or Reflective. Suggestions appreciated

Illuminated sacramental theology is based on the understanding that the Pancreator is the fundamental source of all Being. The material world, however, is very removed from this source. Accordingly, all material existence is inherently partial and incomplete--and in many cases it has become distorted. The laws of Thermodynamics are understood as religious principle as well as scientific laws--i.e., being removed from the source of being, the material world automatically seeks to devolve to its origin (nothingness).

The duty of a soul which has turned towards the Pancreator is to reflect the received light (also known as Grace and understood as transmitted being) out into the material world. Without that reflection the material world inevitably "darkens", loses form, while the reflection reinforces the being of the material world (with being also being understood as conformance to the original, perfect pattern originating in the Pancreator [obviously related to the concepts of Platonic Ideals]).

Therefore, Church theologians of all stripes (except for Avestites who are essentially more interested in morality than theology) argue that *every* action carried out by a reflective soul has a sacramental character (obviously wrong actions are not being carried out by a reflective soul, sin occurs when the soul has turned away from the Pancreator even if only for a moment). Of course some actions "reflect" more Grace than others. This is particularly true for those who hold the doctrine of "Directed Grace" where, for example, the hierarchy receives the grace directly and then reflects it to the laity who in turn reflect it to others. Thus the Church does recognize certain "Sacraments" as being particularly grace-filled. However, it is important to remember that their is no qualitative difference between a peasant's making the sign of the jumpgate cross over his breakfast and the Patriarch ordaining a new bishop.


The first Sacrament undergone by all members of the Church is that of Illumination. The ceremony begins in the narthex where the priest performs an exorcism over the infant (or convert) which culminates in one hand being passed over a candle. In most churches this is strictly pro-forma, but Avestites and converts of extremely deep repentance are known to make sure the candle actually burns the exorcised before continuing. The subject of the ceremony is then stripped naked and brought into the Church. Infants are carried by the priest into the sanctuary itself while adult converts stand immediately before it. The Orb is adjusted so that it shines as brightly and directly as possible on the subject. An infant is turned around and over by the priest so that the light illuminates every part of her body--including the inside of her mouth and nose, etc. The adult turns herself around. The ceremony ends with the priest announcing "The servant of the Pancreator, X, is sealed to the Light" and the congregation responds "Sealed!"

The subject of illumination at this time also receives two "sponsors" a man and a woman who cannot be close relations (at least second cousins). The sponsors bear candles throughout the ceremony, assist in dressing and undressing the convert, and are technically responsible for the further spiritual growth and training of the newly Illuminated. In practice, the relationship is usually more social than spiritual, but one's sponsor can be an important connection if he or she is from among the clergy, nobility, or guilds.

While illumination is normally carried out by a priest under the Orb, canon law recognizes that in extreme cases (a very sickly child, a convert stranded in the desert with only layman) the ceremony can be carried out by any member of the Church (but never by a non-member or totally alone). Any light source is allowable though the natural light of the Sun is preferred after the Orb.


In the Sacrament of Confession, the believer exposes her sins (the cracks and smudges on her mirror) to her confessor in order that they might be purified. Confession may only be given by a priest or higher. During confession, the penitent stands before an image of a jumpgate with the priest to one side. It is often conducted in a quiet chapel but may be done anywhere there is a priest.

After confessing all her sins, the penitent is given advice/direction by the confessor and may also be given a penance, ranging from the repitition of certain prayers to restitution to a pilgrimage or other very onerous task. Failure to fulfill the penance is considered a sin which must be confessed at the next confession. After giving the penance, the penitent kneels and the confessor says a prayer of absolution over her. All confessed sins are now considered to be removed from the soul of the penitent (although failing to complete the given penance results in the stains of the sin returning to the soul "seven-fold").

Confession is generally required at least 4 times a year, although the pious often go much more often. Many hesychast monasteries practice daily confession, and nobles regularly have personal confessors with whom they undergo this sacrament once a week. The Universal Church does teach that the "confessional" is inviolate. Revealing what one has heard in confession is grounds for defrocking.

Funeral Rites & Prayer for the Dead

The Universal Church practices cremation. And while the Church generally denies it, it is generally believed that a body which does not undergo the crematory rites prevents the soul's proper return to the Empyrean.

The rites are normally carried out in the quiet chapels, where the body is laid out for one full day for people to pay their respects. Each quite chapel normally contains a "funeral bier". The funeral bier is a man-sized box. The lower portion is a furnace covered with a grate. The body lies atop the grate, surrounded with casket-high walls. While the priest reads the prayers, a deacon (or canon then descending down the list to laymen if a deacon is unavailable) sets a fire in the furnace which quickly envelops the body. Once the body has caught on fire, the priest usually passes the continued reading (from the Omega Gospel) on to a canon. The Gospels are read until the fire burns itself out. The ashes are then collected and placed in an urn which is stored in the quiet chapel. For most people, this means burial under the chapel, but prominent and or respected people may have their urns placed in niches on the wall of the chapel. Nobles usually have ancestral crypts underneath the quiet chapel where the body is stored with its ancestors. These crypts often include elaborate mortuary carvings, etc.

While the ideal is to completely burn the body with a "clean fuel" that leaves no residue, the varying tech levels and resource availibility mean that the ideal is rarely met. Bones usually survive and are buried with the ashes. It is a trope of sainthood, that the bones of particularly great saints become "reflective" (i.e., mirrored in and of themselves). When such reflective bones are left over from a cremation they become venerated relics stored in the quiet chapels. Village churches which are usually not large enough to have full-sized quiet chapels, may have a bier in the church proper or may even resort to wood bonfires on the village green. The remains however are treated as above.

Freed from it's burnt body, the soul now returns to the Empyrean. However, the journey is generally considered long and hard, and one which may be aided by the prayers of those left behind. Survivors are expected to pray for their dead regularly in private; public services are held in the quiet chapel where the body is buried on the 9th day, the 90th day, and one full solar year. This is the minimum the Church guarantees to all its faithful. The wealthy often arrange for much more extensive services which may be commemorated for decades following their death (the most famous example of this is the chapel of Amalthea on Midian; Count Lazarus Li Halan, a cousin of Cardano who was a notorious sinner, a convert with the rest of his house and a very wealthy man, established a permanent endowment with the Reeves, so that three times a year for the last five centuries, on the equinoxes and the anniversary of his death, a commemoration has been served for his soul).

If cremation is not possible, the Church's next favorite (used on space stations for example) is destruction by acid. Burial at sea is allowed under absolutely necessary circumstances. Burial in space is never, ever allowed. OTOH, burial by being fired into the sun is considered very prestigious. In particular, it has recently become a growing practice under the auspices of the Brotherhood of St. Argus, an Avestite establishment on Criticorum. Critics point out that the brotherhoods enthusiasm for this practice began after they acquired an intrasystem ship allowing them to conduct the services themselves (at a considerable profit). However, the popular idea that being cremated by the sun itself guarantees a quick Empyrean return mean that business is booming.

The Obun Church on the other hand, regularly practices both earth burial and air burial (i.e., putting a body on a platform and leaving it for the birds)--giving back to Velasimil (the Intelligence of their planet)--a fact which is one of the major sources of tension between human and Obun followers of the Prophet. It is also rumored that Brother Battle practice earth burial. They strongly deny this. The rumors seem to arise from their insistence on, when possible, shipping their fallen brethren back to their major temples. Seeing Brothers emerge from the closed funerals carrying full sets of Adept Robes powered armor may also contribute to this foul defamation.

Marriage and Bonding

Note: I think it's clear from recent discussion that my take on this in the KW is different from some (a lot?) of others. I agree that the Church and culture don't view homosexuality as "less" moral (much less sinful) than heterosexuality. However, my distinction of two types of sacraments for the two types of relationships is based on the following: a) In a feudal society, lines of descent are particularly important and thus the importance of "marriage" for establishing "legitimate descent" is emphasized; in other words KW marriage is particularly focused on the child-bearing aspects. b) I don't particularly believe that humanity improves over time. I don't think we are better "morally" than, e.g., the Sumerians, nor do I expect the KW to be so in relation to us--the particulars change but humans remain imperfect. c) considering the heavy anti-tech stance of the Church, I think the "unnatural" production of children with artificial wombs, genetic tampering, etc, would be up there with artificial intelligence, etc as a religious abomination. Thus the ability of heterosexual unions to produce children "naturally" would be seen as an important distinction. d) while there are a number of examples of homosexual relationships in the books, outside of the Obun I can't recall any being referred to as "marriages" or "spouses".

With that said, I do think that in the Diaspora and 2nd Republic the Sacrament of marriage was given without distinction as to the gender of the participants. Since the Fall, however, the single sacrament has split into two. Marriage is performed between a male and a female. It is generally understood as the establishment of a special "bond of light". Though it is usually not spoken of directly, there is a general feeling that those born outside the "bond of light" (i.e., bastards, pagans) begin life more seperated from the Celestial Sun and thus are more prone to corruption and evil.

The marriage bond is generally considered indisoluble except for adultery (in which one party has turned his "mirror" from the Pancreator and his partner to another created being), excommunication (a debated canon law topic, some claim that excommunication automatically breaks all flows of Grace to the sinner and thus the marriage is dissolved at the moment of excommunication; others think that the bond continues--but since Grace now flows specifically to the believer and from him to the sinner, not reciprocally, the bond can be broken at the desire of the believer), and soul-death (i.e., those who become "unreflective" automatically sever the marriage bond). Death is not considered to sever the bond, although subsequent marriages are allowed to widows/widowers. In this case, the nature of the bond is assumed to "change" when one member is in the progress of Empyrean return, so a new bond may be established. This practice is however looked down on, since those with multiple marriages will have multiple "bonds" once all die and return to the Empyrean. In other words, the particularly pious will not enter into a second (or more) marriage and doing so is clearly displaying human weakness and a lack of dedication to perfection (though accepting its legality, most Avestites refuse to perform second marriages). Those divorced for canonical reasons are allowed to another marriage, which is considered their "first" since the initial bond has been totally dissolved.

"Bonding", on the other hand, can be conferred upon both heterosexual and homosexual unions. The ritual is very similar to the marriage ceremony, but the blessing of progeny is absent. One can be bonded to only one person at a time. However, since it is seen as a different sacrament than marriage, one can be married to one person and bonded to a second. This is a not uncommon noble arrangement where a marriage is contracted for dynastic/political reasons, but a bonding is based on personal choice (and/or sexual preference). Legally, children produced by a bonded couple are considered illegitimate although they are normally adopted as heirs by both parents. While such adopted children have the "born out of the light" stigma, they are legitimate heirs (although children born to a wedded couple are considered to have priority).

Because bonding lacks some of the ontological force of marriage (as it is not necessary for the legitimization of progeny), it is slightly easier to dissolve than a marriage (though still not as simple as contemporary divorce). Bonding is considered and respected as a serious commitment to the other. Like marriage, it has legal position on such issues as testifying against a bondmate, desertion, and inheritance. The Church frowns on casual sex, so one function of the bonding ceremony is to validate a sexual relationship (i.e., sex outside of marriage and/or bonding is considered a sin; but not within either relationship).

Bonding does not always involve a sexual relationship, however. As a blessing of Grace on the relationship between two people, it is not unusual for hesychasts (vowed to celibacy) to contract a bond to aid each other in their ascetic struggle.

The above is standard for humanity in the KW. Obun, of course, preserve the more ancient ritual which does not distinguish between marriage and bonding. Furthermore, the Obun marriage ceremony can involve more than two people. Both are seen suspiciously by humanity. And while Hawkwood law generally takes these differences into account, those married in the Obun Church (even if it is a "traditional" male-female wedding) will often find Church courts and noble courts outside of Hawkwood space treating the relationship as bonding not marriage.


The Church recognizes the following as distinct sacramental orders: minor orders, deacons, priests, bishops, and Patriarch. Other differences (i.e., bishop vs. archbishop vs. metropolitan) are seen as administrative rather than sacramental differences. A priest may confer minor orders. A bishop may ordain deacons and priests.

New bishops are chosen by planetary synod (or synod of their order for non- Orthodox) and their ordination must be carried out by at least 3 bishops. Ordinations carried out without the concorrence of the synod and its presiding hierarch are considered null and void. The planetary synod also chooses new Archbishops (who must be okayed by the Metropolitan), usually from among their own although it is not unknown for a layman (generally with powerful noble connections) to be raised directly to the Archbishopric. Metropolitans are chosen by the Metropolitan Synod (again with the Patriarch holding a veto power over such selections). In both cases, if the new hierarch is already a bishop then there is only an enthronement ceremony. If not then he undergoes an ordination whose only difference from episcopal ordination is the pomp.

The Patriarch himself is supposedly chosen by the full Synod of the Church. In reality, he is chosen by the full synod from a short list determined by the College of Ethicals. The ordination of the Patriarch requires 8 bishops (one for each virtuous disciple) and the Syneculla (representing the Prophet).

Minor orders (novitiate, which includes formal profession of monasticism, and canons, "readers") are performed before the sanctuary. The priest reads a series of prayers over the ordainee, then a deacon (replaceable by a canon or by the priest himself if necessary) tonsures (see below on tonsures) the new cleric. Following this, the newly ordained enters the sanctuary for the first time, venerates the Omega Gospels and emerges with the ordination fulfilled.

The ordination occurs within the sanctuary. For most of the Horos [the main noon service which I also plan on getting too], the would-be deacon is prostrate in front of the altar. At the end of the service, but before the dismissal, the bishop begins the prayers of ordination. The deacon is stripped of his clothes, goes through the rite of Illumination again, and then winds an extremely long ceremonial white towel about himself. The deacon then takes a bowl of water and using the towel, he washes the feet of the bishop and any other clergy present. He then leaves the sanctuary and washes the feet of 7 (or 8) pre-selected laity. Returning to the Sanctuary, the towel is unwound and what remains of the water dumped over the top over him to the pronouncement, "You are washed clean and pure, that you might serve the Celestial Light". The new deacon is then dressed in vestments and reads the dismissal prayers.

It is not allowed that someone be directly raised to either the priesthood or the episcopate (or the Patriarchate for that matter) from the laity. She must first be made a deacon, then a priest, then a bishop, then a Patriarch. Upon those occasions where a member of the laity has been chosen to be a new bishop, the ceremonies are held on successive Sundays (or days if there is some desperate reason to get her enthroned *now*).

So a prospective priest will have already gone through the diaconate service above. The priestly ordination begins before the Matins. The priest spends the preceding night (from the end of Vespers) in a vigil standing before the sanctuary. The ceremony itself begins dramatically when the bishop slaps (it should be hard and loud) the priest on both cheeks. This is to demonstrate the humility and obedience of the priest. The priest then kneels while the bishop reads the ordination prayers (which include numerous exhortations to "keep and guard the sheep") over her. The bishop then helps the priest to stand, and leads her to a place behind the altar, facing the congregation. For this service, a brazier has been lit and placed on the altar and the priest is expected to place her hands over it. In most places this is a token gesture. OTOH, among Avestites and quite a few Eskatonics, if the bishop and/or congregation don't think the priest undergoes enough "purifying suffering", the priest may find herself rejected. After passing her hands over the brazier, the bishop leads the priest back to the front of the sanctuary where he announces, "Purified by the uncreated Light of the Celestial Sun, I present you the priest X, servant to the servants of the Pancreator." To which the congregation is supposed to respond "Worthy!" (It has been argued that on those occasions when the congregation has cried "unworthy!" this invalidates the sacrament, but so far the hierarchy has ignored such theological speculation). The bishop then stands back and the priest is the primary celebrant of the Matins service, as well as of the Horos and Vespers later in the day.

At this point, I haven't put a lot of thought into the specifics of episcopal and Patriarchal ordinations--other than to assume that the completing "worthy" is to be cried out there as well. If anybody is particularly interested, I may come back to that at a later time.

A note on tonsures: the concept of the tonsure is important for the clergy but it's practical application varies quite a bit both from order to order and from planet to planet--and even sometimes from continent to continent. The following are general guidelines:

Complete: In this tonsure, the new cleric is shaved completely bald. From then on, he (or she) is expected to keep their head and face completely free of hair. This is the standard practice on Li Halan worlds and is common in al- Malik space (though al-Malik male clerics often grow trimmed beards). It is also the Avestite standard. Certain Hesychasts who follow this practice maintain they *all* body hair must be removed.

"Crown" tonsure: here the top of the head is shaved and kept that way (i.e., the classic Latin tonsure). It is common among the male Orthodox on both Hawkwood and Hazat worlds as well as on Byzantium Secundus and Holy Terra. However, it is rarely seen among women clerics.

"Mohawk" tonsure: should be obvious. Representive of Obun clerics, it has also been adopted by many clerics among Orthodox on the al-Malik worlds where it competes with the "complete"

"Prophetic" tonsure: Most common on the Decados worlds and among women clerics in Hazat space, this tonsure is actually just a symbolic cutting of a few hairs. Once performed though, the cleric is expected to never cut either head or facial hair again. This is also the most common Hesychast tonsure, although these orders generally start by completely shaving all hair off and then never touching it again.

"Druidic" tonsure: the front part of the head, from the ears forward is kept shaved. The standard Amalthean tonsure, it is also popular among female clerics of the Hawkwood worlds.

Eskatonics and Brother Battle seem to have no single preferred tonsure, allowing their clergy to choose one at ordination. Complete, Prophetic, and Mohawk are the most popular with Eskatonics. Brother Battle general chooses the crown or complete tonsures. Incarnates are known for *not* using the tonsure, considering it a silly ceremonial (and of course not being tonsure allows them to hide a little better when the Inquisition comes calling).


This sacrament was essentially invented around the time of the Fall, as part of the interplay between Church and nobility in bringing down the old order and finding a balance in the new order. Consecration is a "rite of adulthood" given to members of the nobility at age 12 (this varies quite a bit by House, planet, region, etc, but 12 is the most common). Technically, it recognizes both their right to govern (in the name of the Pancreator) and their state of "extreme penance," giving them Grace to handle the technology and other dispensations they have as nobility.

At various times the Church has also sought to enforce this ceremony on the Guilds, or the Guilds have sought it as a legitimizing force, but it has never become a common rite for guild members--in large part because of resistance on the part of the nobility which desires to keep the symbolism for itself. However, a fair proportion of "pious" Guild members (or those seeking to look pious) still ask for consecration upon being raised to the rank of "Manager" (I'll note I use different guild ranks, more medieval in flavor, in my campaign). Whether or not their request is granted depends largely on whether the clergy it's requested of are liberal or conservative. Ironically, Engineers seek the rite most commonly, apparently in the hope it will reduce Church heat; many religious Charioteers and the Muster tend to ask for it sincerely and are the ones most likely to have their request granted. It is very rare for Scravers or Reeves to seek consecration. Beyond that, it is traditional for the Archbishop of Leagueheim to consecrate the new head of any Guild headquartered on that planet. Guilds located elsewhere rarely have this benefit.

However, for Guild members, consecration or lack thereof has little practical effect. It is largely a matter of their own conscience. For nobles, on the other hand, consecration is a very important legal tenant. Property (including land) and titles are passed on according to bloodlines and secular law. But the right of rule and the right to use technology are legally bound up in consecration. Almost all nobles are consecrated so this rarely has practical effect, but legally, an unconsecrated noble is merely a rich commoner and can be rebelled against with the blessing of the Church or prosecuted for simply owning a handgun.

Consecration is performed as an annointing with oil by a bishop. Of course, as a prestige issue more important nobles should be annointed by more important bishops. Thus, if the heir-apparent to a princedom is not consecrated by the local metropolitan, one can be sure that one side has just gravely insulted the other. The Emperor of course was consecrated by the Patriarch. Normally, a noble only undergoes one consecration, even if her rank later increases. However, because of the symbolic value of consecration, nobles with tenuous position may seek a reconsecration by local bishops (i.e., when a planet was conquered by a new House during the Emperor Wars, the nobles who received fiefs on the planet often sought consecration by the local bishops to strengthen their claim to their new lands).

The oil ("Holy Myron") used in consecration may only be created in a special ceremony overseen by the Patriarch who then distributes it to the Metropolitans (who distribute it to their archbishop who distribute it to their bishops) for use. This supports the hierarchy's influence since the Metropolitan can cut off an unruly archbishop, thereby causing the nobles to do the dirty work of removing the archbishop for him, since if he can't consecrate their heirs, he endangers their own hold on power.

I do wish I could come up with an eighth major sacrament (thus matching the true number of the Disciples) but as yet nothing has occurred to me. Suggestions appreciated.


From its very beginning, the Universal Church adopted the 'cult of the Divine Images' as practiced in the Orthodox Church in essentially unaltered form. So close are the two, in fact, that recensions of St. John of Damascus' 8th century treatise, "On the Divine Images" still circulate in the KW with only basic alterations in the referents (i.e., Pancreator rather than God, the Prophet rather than Christ, etc).

The first principle of iconic theology is that "the honour which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented." In other words, when one honors an image of the Prophet, one honors the Prophet. The converse is also true; if one, for example, spits on an image of the Prophet, one spits on the Prophet--and KW law tends to penalize such behavior accordingly.

Related to the first principle is the second, which is that if the prototype reflects the Pancreator's grace/light then so does the image. Thus icons of the Prophet, who was a "perfect mirror" of the uncreated light are themselves holy objects reflecting the grace of the Pancreator to all who behold them.

Because icons are understood as "mirrors of the Divine", a fairly clear distinction is made between an icon and a representation (i.e., between the sacred and the artistic and/or realistic). Properly, an icon is not an image of gross reality but of the spiritual nature of the subject. Thus, photographs (or other technological reproductions of reality) and artistic representations (particularly "realistic" portraiture) may be treated with respect, but they are not considered to have the same spiritual quality as an icon which is created according to certain strict (and conservative) principles of abstraction.

It should also be noted that the strength of the mirror image is such that the vast majority of icons are 2-dimensional. Statues and statuettes do exist (among the most famous is the bleeding statue of St. Maya in the Byzantium Secundus Cathedral) but they tend to be rare, with bas-relief icons slightly more common. As the uncreated grace of the Pancreator is not "real" light, reflective theology recognizes 3-d icons as reflecting as effectively as 2-d icons, but popular belief generally sees 2-d icons as better "mirrors of heaven".


Innovation and personal expression are *never* encouraged in an iconographer. Her duty is to portray the eternal truth embodied in the Prophet, saints, etc, and therefore the "best" icon is that which faithfully copies the traditional expression of those truths. However, in a culture as ancient and widely-spread as the KW, several distinct "styles" can be identified.

[Note: in PotCS, the icons of several of the Virtuous Disciples are described as varying according to the ethnic composition of a planet's populace (e.g., St. Paulus might be black on Istakhr or asian on Kish). It is important to remember that such differences are not ideological or symbolic. In each case, the iconographer honestly believes (after 1000 years of Dark Ages with the attendant lack of reliable history) that St. Paulus really *was* black or asian or whatever. This occasionally raises issues when those raised with a specific iconic portrayal go traveling: the Kish monk honestly believes that all those icons of St. Paulus as a black or caucasian are false images.

There are of couse iconographers who have made such changes deliberately but in doing so they were running counter to the Church's understanding of proper iconography. OTOH, such a "false" icon may later be copied and spread by later iconographers who don't realize the prototype there copying was improper. This is, in fact, the most probable way in which the above differences arose--in the late Republic, "liberal" iconographers often produced icons for the sensibility of the populace rather than the standards of the Church. After the Fall, these "liberal" icons were not recognized as such and each planet came to believe that the portrayal based on their own ethnicities was in fact the historical one.]

"Classical" iconography is similar to the Byzantine iconography of the real world. Compositions are strictly geometric and straight lines and sharp angles are emphasized. Figures are usually elongated and colors tend to be bold and contrastive (i.e, little shading). Realistic perspective (in which lines in the picture angle towards a vanishing point on the "horizon") is replace by "reverse" perspective in which the "vanishing point" is the viewer, external to the painting. Classical iconography is of course that of Holy Terra and the most prevalent among the Orthodox. As such it has been adopted strongly by the Li Halan (and, oddly enough on Decados worlds--iconography may be the only thing the two cultures agree on). It is also the preferred Brother Battle style.

As the name implies, "Amalthean" iconography is prevalent among the clerics of Sanctury Aeon. It is also common on Hawkwood worlds and has recently become the "ruling" style on Byzantium Secundus. Amalthean iconography retains the geometric compositions and elongated figures of the classical style but tends to emphasize the curvilinear over angularity. Colors also tend to be more muted, chosen with an eye toward complementarity rather than contrast.

"Istakhr" iconography, originating on that planet, is the prevalent style on al-Malik planets, it is also favored by the Eskatonic order. Istakhr iconography is more heavily influenced by "folk-art" than the classical. Compositions are less rigid and proportion is often treated very freely (i.e., whereas the classical style may portray figures of different sizes to emphasize their importance, the figures themselves are generally consistent in proportion; Istakhr icons, OTOH, may have enlarged heads and hands, St. Lextius may bear a sword twice his size while sitting astride a horse no larger than a sheep in relation to him, etc). As with the classical style, colors are usually bold and contrastive. If anything, Istakhr icons often use many more colors than their classical equivalent.

The fourth major iconographic tradition in the KW is the "Primitive", so named after St. Primitiva Iman Justus de Sancere, daughter of St. Emanuel and a renowned patroness of the Church in the post-Fall era. Due to her influence, the style remains strong on the Hazat worlds though many non-Hazat scorn it as "decadent" and/or "Republican". Similar to pre/-early Renaissance art in the real world, Primitive (a misleading appelation) iconography is particularly distinguished by the "realistic" modelling of flesh (realistic in the sense of "tromp-l'oeil" three-dimensionality, the luminous purity of skin-tone often has little to do with real human flesh) though clothes and other parts of the icon generally retain the two-dimensional appearance of other iconography styles. Primitive icons also tend to the ornate. Where other icons are content with the bare minimum of figures, buildings, etc to convey the icon's message; primitive icons are often replete with detail and little "symbolic" touches: (martyrs hold the instruments of their martyrdom, the Prophet will have a tiny sparrow hidden in his beard, etc.).

While the Avestites are forced to accept the fact that icons have always formed a part of the Universal Church's practice, there is a very strong strain of iconoclasm in the order. There is a general feeling that the act of portraying the holy in material terms denigrates its sanctity. Accordingly, there is no real "Avestite" iconographic tradition. The Cathedra Avesti on Pyre is contains almost no iconography at all and when it is reluctantly used in churches and chapels elsewhere the rationale is that it is a necessary concession for "the weak" among the flock (one of the few such concessions by Temple Avesti and essentially a recognition that the average believer is unlikely to understand or support an "icon-less" temple).


Since the Fall, there has been great emphasis on the production of icons only from "natural" materials. A "traditional" icon is painted on wood using egg tempera. Occasionally oils are used but acrylics and other "technological" paints are avoided. When possible, the background of the icon is usually done with gold leaf. Color selection is generally influenced by the actually "reflectivity" of the color. In other words, white and yellow/gold are the most common with the most brilliant shades of red, green, and blue coming next.

A common practice for particularly venerated icons is to "cover" the icon with gold (silver, bronze, or enamel are also used in descending order of desirability). The cover leaves has an open space for the "main" portion of the icon (the face and hands or perhaps the whole bust) but covers the entire background. The cover itself often reproduces in low relief that portion of the icon which is covered.

After paint, either as paintings or murals, the most common form of icon is the mosaic. As with icons, the color choices lean toward the most "reflective" materials, brightly colored glass being the most common choice.

When they exist, statues are carved from stone or wood. They are then painted with the same paint selection as used in two-dimensional icons.

As the demand for icons is much higher than the number of iconographers, it is common practice to create "icon photos". A photograph is taken of a real icon and then mounted on a piece of wood. These reproductions are relatively cheap and are the primary type available to serfs and the urban poor. Hand-painted icons are much more prized. Serfs who manage to acquire one often pass it down as a family heirloom while no noble would be caught dead without at least hand-painted icons of the Prophet and his patron saint. Churches go to considerable effort to make sure all the icons they use are hand-painted.

Common or important icons

"The Celestial Prophet": Probably the single most common icon in the KW, this icon consists of the head of the Prophet floating in the middle of a jumpgate on a golden background.

"Seven Virtues" and "Synaxis of the Seven" (or 8): The "Seven Virtues" icon is a composite icon consisting of seperate icons of each of the Virtuous disciples (generally the upper half though occasionally full-figured) set together. In many cases, one disciple will form the center with the other six set in two lines of three down either side. The Synaxis on the other hand portrays the Virtuous disciples together as a group.

"St. Palamedes": St. Palamedes is always portrayed in full Patriarchal regalia. In his left hand is a jumpgate cross, in his right, raised palm is a church.

"Nine Emanations": Particularly popular among Eskatonics and disliked by Avestites, this icon displays a stylized golden sun surrounded by nine concentric circles. Thin, triangular rays extend from the Sun, through the circles to the very edge of the icon. Traditionally, the circles are unadorned white or gold, but Eskatonic variations often show the circles in different colors, the exact shades and order supposedly conveying esoteric secrets. Such icons also often have symbolic faces (the ruling power of each emanation) on each circle.

"St. Amalthea of the Grail": An icon of St. Amalthea in which she extends a cup full of golden liquid toward the viewer. Icons of this type have a particular reputation as "miracle-working". Accordingly one will hear of the "Icon of the Grail of Thuringia" credited with saving the city from destruction by barbarians in the pre-Vladimir period; or the "Icon of the Grail of Aylon" which once prevented the assassination of the Archbishop of Aylon by Ukari extremists by speaking. Once recognized as miracle-working, such icons are reproduced absolutely faithfully (in a sense icons of icons) as they have shown themselves particularly powerful "mirrors". Such icons are considered very precious.

(First direct story hook: the theft of a miracle-working icon, or saint's relics can produce a vast array of potential suspects, from Antinomists to rival parishes to Avestite extremists fighting idolatry)


Iconographer (1 point) the character has received a blessing (from a bishop) to produce icons. This grants the character a modicum of additional respect among the faithful. It can also provide a steady source of income. While clerics are most likely to receive this blessing it is quite possible for anyone with the requisite talent and piety (or appearance thereof) to receive it.

Produced a miracle-working icon: (5 points) an icon previously produced by the character has displayed "miraculous" properties (see below). While it is understood that such properties come from the saint or the Pancreator and do not necessarily "reflect" on the iconographer himself, the character will still receive a great deal of respect from the pious. Furthermore, his services as an iconographer will be heavily sought by higher church officials and nobles seeking to lend prestige to their local church (not always a good thing).


Miracle-working icon (7 points) The character has in his possession an icon which has previously shown "miraculous" properties. Someone touched by it may have been healed of an incurable disease, it may have wept (blood or myrrh are the most common), or it may have shown with "uncreated light" which emanated from the picture itself. The icon will most likely (Storyteller's option; however an icon that "regularly" produces supernatural effects should be considerably more expensive; furthermore such items are *always* miraculous, they do not perfom on command) never do anything "supernatural" again but the fact that it was once the conduit of such grace makes it imminently sacred. It also automatically functions as a "vestment" for any theurgic ritual.

Services and Liturgical Calendar

The Church calendar is made up of four cycles: daily, weekly, yearly, and Universal (which is really the Terran yearly calender). The daily cycle is made up of four services: Matins (at dawn), Horos ("the Hour" at noon), Vespers (sunset), and Supplicoros ("the hour of supplication" at midnight). In general, the full cycle is only kept in monasteries and major cathedrals. Parish churches more commonly hold the full cycle only on Sundays and major feastdays. Horos and vespers are also celebrated "as needed" (see below).

The most important of the services is Horos. Laity are expected to attend Horos every Sunday and very few miss it (missing Horos regularly is sure to get one marked as a "free-thinker" or probably worse). Horos may be divided into the two parts, the Liturgy of Truth and the Liturgy of Light. The Liturgy of Truth is devoted to the Omega Gospels and the teaching of the Church. It includes a number of hymns which vary based on the yearly calender (i.e., hymns to the saint commemorated that day, etc). The central liturgical act is the Great Procession in which the priest, bearing the Omega Gospels from the altar before him progresses around the inside of the Church. As he walks someone (usually a canon) in his wake opens the curtains over the windows, which have been drawn until this time. When he arrives back at the Sanctuary, he makes the sign of the jumpgate over the people with the Gospels. He then hands the Gospels to the Deacon (assuming there is one, a canon can do this if there is no deacon present, otherwise the priest must do it) who reads the assigned lectionary for the day. This lectionary is based on the Universal calendar, although there may be subsidiary readings assigned based on the yearly calendar. At this point, the priest may give a short sermon (short because the Liturgy of Light is supposed to start precisely at noon). Those who enjoy preaching however, usually defer the sermon until the end of the service when they face no time limit.

At the beginning of the Liturgy of Light, the curtains over the windows are reclosed and the Orb is turned so that it's light can show most clearly on the congregation. A number of hymns (this time fixed hymns) are sung accompanied by prayers on the part of the priest, the primary thrust of which is imploring the Pancreator to "blind us with the uncreated Light". The priest then takes the jumpgate cross from the altar . . .

[just checked and it seems I forgot to describe this piece of paraphenalia back when I discussed the altar: The jumpgate cross which is kept on a church altar is generally about a foot in diameter. As one would expect, considerable expense is often lavished on this piece--even poor parishes often have a gold one, donated by the local lord. The jumpgate cross holds a magnifying lens in the central circle.]

Holding the jumpgate cross above his head so that the light from the Orb is focused from it, the priest administers communion. As the communion hymn is sung ("Come receive ye light, from the everlasting Light"), the faithful approach the priest one at a time and kneel, arms spread, head back (infants are held by their sponsors or parents for this). The priest focuses the light from the Orb on the communicants heart and should leave it there until he is sure the communicant feels it. An experienced priest is very good at focusing the light to a burning heat and then unfocusing it properly. However, most churches have a slight burnt spot before the sanctuary from inexperienced priests focusing before a communicant is in place or keeping it too long.

The focused light in the context of the service is believed to be a direct impartation of Grace. As such, it is always approached with the place over the heart where the light is to land bared. The specifics of this can vary quite a bit. In places with low nudity taboos, Horos is commonly celebrated without any shirt for both sexes. In areas where nudity is less acceptable, "Sunday best" may be the equivalent of a strapless dress or may have an "patch" over the heart which can unbuttoned/zipped to reveal the heart during communion. Technically, the communicant only needs to feel the heat. Ascetics of course often go much farther, taking the communion until their flesh begins to smoke.

In larger churches, the entry between the Sanctuary and church proper is designed so that multiple priests can stand in a semi-circle outside the entrance, each bearing one of the lensed jumpgates and allowing communion to be administered to more than one person at a time.

Unlike laity, priests and bishops receive communion not on their hearts but on their heads--when there is only one such cleric in a parish, the priest administers communion to himself by focusing the lens on his own head before the people come forward. If there is more than one, the clergy confer this communion on each other before it is given to the deacons, then to the canons, and finally to the laity.

Following communion, the Orb is turned back away from the congregation and the service ends quickly with a hymn of thanksgiving, a prayer of dismissal and a final blessing.

Matins & Vespers: These two services are fairly similar although the thrust of each is somewhat opposite. Both are primarily a series of prayers, Matins of thanksgiving, accompanied by an opening of all the curtains with daybreak, and Vespers of supplication, accompanied by closing all the curtains at sunset. Both are generally well-attended on Sunday. Matins is also when the sacraments of illumination, consecration, and funerals are performed. Commemorations of the dead are performed at Vespers.

While Vespers and Matins are not celebrated on most days, an abbreviated form of the prayers is said by most Illuminated when they wake in the morning and before they go to sleep. It should also be noted that the hour around noon is normally a "mandated" rest period throughout the KW when individuals are expected to engage in prayer (and maybe lunch).

As it occurs at midnight, Supplicoros is generally ignored by all but the most devout. During the Diaspora and Second Republic it was essentially a very minor service which existed for monks to balance the other three. Since the suns began to fade, however, it has become a very important service to many. At the very beginning of Supplicoros, the Orb is turned to beam fully on the Church and it remains that way throughout the service (and is left so at the end, the first part of Matins involves turning it away while the people say a prayer of thanksgiving that the Light has preserved them through the darkness). As its name implies, Supplicoros is devoted to supplications that the Pancreator will not abandon His people completely but "turn again to illuminate our paths".

The weekly cycle: Sunday remains The Holy Day for the Illuminated. In fact, most assume it received it's name from the Prophet because it is the day on which all gather to celebrate the Celestial Sun. Sunday is considered a "day of rest" and unnecessary work is to be avoided. On Church and Li Halan worlds, the law forbids most forms of commerce and may even restrict travel on Sunday. The law on other worlds often varies from fief to fief but Sunday commerce is always frowned upon. Leagueheim is an exception (though the Academy Interatta does shut down for Sundays)--solid proof to most visitors that Leagueheim is unreflective.

In addition to Sunday, the other days of the week also have their specific meanings. Monday--St. Paulus; accordingly this is a particularly propitious day for beginnings or starting journeys Tuesday--Sts. Lextius & Mantius; though the Church frowns on it, more duels are fought on Tuesday than any other day. It is also the most common day for consecrations (if it's not Tuesday then it is generally the noble's nameday which is used) Wednesday--St. Hombor and the Empyrean Powers; Eskatonic priests almost always celebrate the full Horos on this day. The school-year also starts on a Wednesday, even on Leagueheim Thursday--the Death of the Prophet; a fast day, considered a very unpropitious day for starting anything Friday--Sts. Hombor & Maya; considered the best day to give alms Saturday--St. Amalthea; first note that Saturday is *not* a restday in the KW, most people only get one Sunday off. However, Saturday is considered a day of preparation for Sunday. Most churches hold regular Saturday Vespers. It is also a fast day.

Yearly calendar: Based on the actual solar orbit of each planet, the yearly calendar (lc, "local calendar) is the most variable of the liturgical calendars. Various local saints and events are celebrated based on it (e.g., Tethys celebrates the Birthday of St. Amalthea on the lc date on which she was born, as well as the Universal calendar Feast of St. Amalthea on Mar. 25).

Beyond the local feasts there are four major feasts based on the yearly solstices and equinoxes; obviously, northern and southern hemispheres celebrate these at opposite times.

High Sunday (Summer Solstice and so-called no matter what day of the week it falls on). The greatest feastday of the yearly calendar, the Horos of High Sunday is celebrated in the open air, with the light of the local sun rather than the Orb used to give communion--when weather prevents this it is believed to be a bad omen for the rest of the year. Local rebellions often begin when High Sunday has to be celebrated inside. The day before and after High Sunday is also considered a restday.

Springday: (Spring Equinox) A light-hearted celebration, the day before Springday is normally occupied with preparation, particularly the gathering of fragrant flowers and herbs (or whatever equivalent the local environment may provide). These are woven into crowns which the faithful wear throughout the day. Springday is considered the best day to be married (or bonded) on and the whole morning is usually taken up with such ceremonies. At Horos, immediately before communion a large collection of the fragrant flora is placed before the sanctuary. Then, before the faithful approach, the priest will use the jumpgate cross to light the pile on fire, filling the church with the fragrance. After Horos, the priest goes out to the fields and blesses them.

Harvest (Fall equinox): Essentially the reflective version of "Thanksgiving," Harvest is the annual day for the collection of Church tithes. In villages, this means the people bring pumpkins, lambs, cows, crafts, etc to church. Just about everything (except large livestock) is actually brought into the Church for Vespers, where the priest blesses the people and their offering.

All Saints (Winter Solstice): At the Vespers preceding All Saints, every availible light is lit and kept lit through the longest night of the year. The folk believe that on this day in particular those unreflective souls who got lost on their Empyrean Return again roam the earth seeking to prey on the light of the living. It is also well-known as the unholiest day for necromancers. At Matins, the people breathe a collective sigh of relief, for at dawn, the dead who did *not* get lost return to drive off the unreflective and to share the day with their survivors. All Saints is a solemn day and places are left empty at the table for the returning ancestors.

Landing Day: This day commemorates the day humanity first landed on the planet. The major service occurs after Horos when the priest goes out to a nearby river or well and conducts the Blessing of the Waters which produces the holy water which the people gather in containers and use throughout the year. There are many local variations on this rite because of local conditions. On Cadavus, for example, it is not the rivers but the glaciers which are blessed, the people then carve out huge blocks which are stored until "holy water" is desired at which point they chip some off and melt it. On Pyre, it is not the water that is blessed but the sand.

Universal Calendar: as already stated, this is actually the Terran calendar which serves as the "official" calendar of the KW for secular as well as ecclesiastic purposes. The calendar (and related typikon and rubrics) are maintained by the Sisterhood of St. Grenwich (an obscure saint said to have been a witch converted to the true faith by study of the heavenly bodies) whose monastery is located on the island of Grey Britain. The calendar is reviewed by the Great Chartophylax and the Patriarch and then dessiminated to the Archbishop of every planet (and the Emperor and Princes) a year in advance. The Archbishop is then responsible for integrating the yearly calendar with the Universal one and distributing the specifics to his own bishops who then give instructions to their parishes.

The most important feast of the Universal Church is Epiphany (June 21/22), the celebration of the Revelation of the Prophet on Yathrib. Supposedly the revelation occurred on a day when the summer solstice of wherever the Prophet was on Yathrib and in the northern hemisphere of Holy Terra coincided. Among other features of Epiphany, Vespers and Matins are not celebrated. Instead, beginning at midnight the Omega Gospels are to be read aloud in their entirety at every church, with a short break for a unique service at daybreak, and sundown, + an Horos service that lasts at least 3 hours.

Epiphany is preceded by Great Lent, a 40 day fast (Sundays not included in the count) which begins with Ashday (May 6/7). This service remains very similar to the Ash Wednesday service of Roman Catholicism from which it is borrowed. The week after Epiphany (Holy Week) is also considered special. The KW practically shut down for the entirety of this period which is devoted to feasting and religious services--the full daily cycle is served throughout Holy Week in most Churches.

The disappearance of the Prophet into a jumpgate is commemorated on Mortus (the Fall equinox, c. Sep 23). This is not a feastday. Those over the age of 12 are expected not to eat at all, for this is a day of penitence before the Pancreator. Any activity besides prayer and reconciliation is firmly discouraged (illegal in many places). At the end of the Vespers of Mortus, also known as Forgiveness Vespers, the Rite of Forgiveness is observed. The faithful line up. Then the first approaches the priest, both ask the other for forgiveness and prostrate themselves to each other. That layman then stands to the side of the priest and the next individual repeats the ceremony with the priest and then with the first. Then the third and so on, until each person has prostrated before and asked forgiveness of everyone else in the parish. For those of an ascetic turn of mind, Mortus is also a time of particularly violent mortifications of the flesh. Monasteries often report death rates of up to 10% of their population following Mortus. The Church tries to discourage this aspect but has had little success. Mortus is followed by Small Lent, another 40-day fast.

Nativity, the birthday of the Prophet, is celebrated at the Winter Solstice (Dec 21/22). The preceding week is a fast period. Following Vespers on Nativity's Eve, every light (except the Orb of course) is to be extinguished. They are relit, to much rejoicing as part of the Matins service. In rural parishes, the relighting takes the form of an actual procession, with the priest leading the way through the village stopping in each house to relight a candle/lamp/etc from which the faithful relight any other light sources they have. On Li Halan worlds, many cities have a priest turn off the power generators at Vespers and turn them back on at Matins (hospitals, military installations, etc, obviously have emergency generators they use at this time). Following Horos on Nativity, the people exchange gifts.

Other important days determined from the universal calendar are the feastdays of major saints such as the Eight Virtuous Disciples. Of these the most important to note are St. Amalthea's day (March 25) at which time the Terran Church performs the blessing of the waters; St. Palamedes' Day (Jan. 1, New Year's Day), and St. Hombor's day (Apr. 30, also known as All Fool's Day) St. Hombor's day precedes Ashday by a week and in many areas is the kick-off for a week-long "Mardi gras" style carnival.

All the above is very important to inhabitants of the KW whose lives are generally shaped by the liturgical calendar. A summary of important dates is:

Days on which all clergy are expected to be serving liturgically and laity are expected to attend Horos: Every Sunday, Epiphany, Mortuus, Nativity, High Sunday, Springday, Harvest, All Soul's day.

Also important is the feastday of a parish's patron saint.

Fasting periods: Thu and Sat (unless a major feast falls), Mortuus and the following 40 days, Ashday and the 40 days preceding Epiphany, the week prior to nativity (Dec: 14-21).

A note on fasting. Like the yearly calendar, the different circumstances of different planets (or areas on a planet) mean that the fasting rules vary quite a bit. However, the general guidelines from which the local bishops develop the specific rules for their people (obviously, the Archbishop of Leagueheim interprets things liberally, while the Archbishop of Midian tends to be very strict) are that animal products--meaning any food produced from creatures with blood (chicken eggs, milk, always meat)--is forbidden. Also, of course, alcohol and other drugs (whether caffeine or nicotine is included in this category varies) are strictly forbidden.

In addition to dictating what can be eaten, the canons on fasting restrict everyone to two small meals a day, one after the hour of Horos, and one after sundown. Breaking the fast or eating too much at these meals is considered a confessable sin.

Because the entire society at least nominally recognizes these fasts, it can actually be difficult to break them. For instance, it is illegal to sell meat on Li Halan worlds during a fast period; and on Pyre possession of alcohol during Great or Small Lent is punishable by 40 lashes.

Second note: Very little of this applies of course to the Obun Church. They do celebrate Nativity and Epiphany with the rest of the KW but there calendar is otherwise quite different.