|Church of the Holy Light|
The Church of the Holy Light (aka the Church of Light) is an organization dedicated to creating a world of honor and justice. Its members strive to aid others through wielding the Holy Light, being good in all actions, and following the Three Virtues of Respect, Tenacity, and Compassion. The Church can be found all over Azeroth and includes various races. It is now primarily affiliated with the Grand Alliance, but maintains relationships with several neutral factions - most notably the Argent Crusade. The Church is stronger than it's been in centuries. It's rebuilding, regaining ground, and speaking out against the Scourge and other evils. Now a staunch supporter of the Grand Alliance in its war against the New Horde, the Church of the Holy Light has extended its influence throughout Azeroth and beyond.
- 1 Ideology
- 2 History
- 3 Structure
- 4 Organizations
The clergy of the church is renowned for spreading goodness in its interpretation of the Three Virtues; their vocation typically is of spiritual growth and contemplation. While the priests of the Light heal and restore in times of peace and protect in times of war, the church's Paladins act as its martial branch who seek to be examples of the Light's teachings while enforcing its laws. These crusaders are called to protect the weak, bring justice to the unjust, and vanquish evil from the darkest corners of the world. The Clerics of Northshire once claimed their mission was to achieve "everlasting peace."
The general ideology of the Light is to strive to be good in all actions. Its teachings are depicted in the Tome of Divinity:
- In all things, paladins must reflect the Light, which supplements our strength. To strive to be divine for one of our kind does not mean we strive for godhood--we strive to be good in all actions.
- Although called upon to smite evil in these harsh times, you must always remember that it's aiding others that will truly set you apart from the other citizens. Compassion, patience, bravery--these things mean as much to a paladin as strength in battle.
- Know this well, and never forget it.
The Three Virtues
The philosophy of the Holy Light is rooted in three teachings known as the Three Virtues. These virtues—respect, tenacity, and compassion—are each defined into a principle and a lesson. In the church's world view, acting on these three tenets helps make the world a place everyone can appreciate; a world of honor and justice.
Respect is the first virtue taught to those joining the path of the Light. When looking at an enemy, one must look past the hatred that separates. There are qualities to respect and prowess to be acknowledged. Conducting oneself with honor and treating one's opponent as one wishes to be treated shows respect. Respecting one's opponents on the field is acknowledging a connection, which brings one closer to the Light.
While the Holy Light teaches that awareness of the self and the universe is a goal, one must also see the connection between others and the universe. Destroying other's happiness and severing other's connections with the universe is not serving the world's well being, and therefore not your own. The practitioners of the Holy Light are not naive, however, and understand that trial, conflict, war, and suffering do happen; but they strive to make the universe a better place in spite of these hindrances.
The church teaches that one must also hold respect for the laws of the land and their powers at be. Upholding order and justice is part of the church's ultimate goal of peace.
Tenacity is the second virtue. This is the virtue of persevering through troubling times and painful experiences. In the face of despair and hatred, one must continue to stand true to their beliefs and fight on - avoiding temptation and remaining stalwart in their faith.
The adherence to this virtue is, incidentally, the part of training under the Holy Light that weeds out the unfaithful, as true dedication takes years. Fresh-faced acolytes often lose hope and the true meaning of the Holy Light when they realize that it takes a lifetime to serve the philosophy. The world is much bigger than one lone soul; and while the world can change a soul in a day, it takes much more time to change the world. Only through tenacity can a servant of the Holy Light hope to affect the universe. If some young students feel like this is an impossible task, others take heart in the realization that if you truly believe there is a connection between the self and the universe, one cannot help but affect the other, no matter the size. Affecting the world can include anything from teaching and instilling hope in others to joining with other like-minded individuals to work together to create a bigger change.
Compassion is the last step on the path of the Light. In times of rivalries, it is easy to see differences at every turn. The challenge is in looking beyond appearances and understanding the similarities. Through this understanding, one can feel compassion for the losses others have suffered, even if the victim bears another banner. By feeling and understanding compassion in enemy and ally alike, one reaffirms his or her connection with the world.
The connection between the self and the universe is strong, but it still is only one connection. If a follower of the Light serves another to increase his happiness, his bond with the universe grows stronger. The happiness he receives by helping someone also strengthens himself and the universe, and he is able to affect the universe even more.
Compassion is perhaps the most powerful — and yet most dangerous — virtue.
If someone is too compassionate, he can give help where none is needed — or wanted. This oversight can hinder one's growth and happiness. For example, one may help another with a seemingly impossible quest, when such a quest is not actually out of the abilities of the one making the attempt. Thus, Compassion (However well intentioned) has resulted in that person's inability to grow as the quest was essentially "done for them", hindering their growth and happiness.
Some helpers can be awkward and do more harm than good with their actions, increasing the suffering and unhappiness in the world. A well meaning follower of the Light may rush to the aid of an adventurer(s) and wind up gaining too much interest of those attacking, and thus force those they try to help to rush to the follower's aid.
This is why compassion is taught last; only the wise and those fully understanding compassion may identify who is truly in need and who can grow on their own.
Farming and Charity
The Church of the Holy Light can only do so much with the donations of the faithful. In order to feed its clergy, the religious institution maintains farms across the Eastern Kingdoms, most of them housing monasteries. These farms raise crops, cattle, and whatever else the Church needs, then sells the surplus. In some regions the Church owns land and rents it to farmers, merchants or businessmen. They don't keep much of the profit, however — the Church is always giving food, clothing and tools to the poor. It also teaches its flock about prayer, health, farming, and generally how to act in line with the faith.
The history of the Church of the Holy Light is often contested, but all interpretations agree that the earliest inspirations of the church were fueled by folk lore of a hero known as Tyr.
From the Book of Metzenic Histories:
- Long ago, on the continent that would eventually become known as the Eastern Kingdoms, the young race of humans struggled to survive using the limited supplies provided to them by their Vrykul parents, who had abandoned them. They occasionally took to gathering around a fire whilst trying to read from scrolls telling of ancient heroes and leaders – tales from the civilization that had cast these creatures out. One of these scrolls spoke of a great leader, a paragon of order and justice, who sacrificed his right hand in a fight against an unfathomable evil. Although it was within this hero's power to fix his hand after the fighting had ended, the hero instead chose to replace it with a closed fist made of the purest silver.
- In this way, the hero impressed upon those who followed him that true order and justice can only be accomplished through personal sacrifice. This hero, who slipped into memory long ago, went by the name of Tyr. Supposedly, it is from these tales that gave humanity hope in a period of darkness that the philosophies of the Light originated from.
While most texts were lost to the destruction wrought by the Orcish Wars, many scholars agree that the Church of the Holy Light existed and was thriving in what was known as the Warring Kingdoms Period that gripped the Eastern Kingdoms in the millennia before the First War.
The First War
During the First War, priests of the Church known as the Clerics of Northshire fought with the armies of the Kingdom of Azeroth against the Orcish Horde. Using their Light-given abilities, they healed the wounded and protected the citizens of the kingdom. A Stormwind citizen described them as:
- These are the holy men of our kingdom. Their spiritual leadership keeps both the people and the troops of Azeroth focused upon our mission of everlasting peace. Their ability to channel the spirit of humanity through their bodies makes them truly wondrous, and stories of their ability to heal the sick and injured, as well as being able to affect the perceptions of others, are miraculous in nature. The transgressions against Humanity by the Orcs have forced them to devise ways to defend themselves, but their true path remains the healing of men’s souls.
Unfortunately, their numbers were not great enough to change the outcome of the war and the Kingdom of Azeroth fell to the Horde. The Horde destroyed Northshire Abbey in the First War, tearing it apart and burning the rubble.
The Second War
Following Anduin Lothar's speech to the leaders of the Alliance of Lordaeron, Archbishop Alonsus Faol called for a meeting with Anduin Lothar and the mage Khadgar. During the meeting, he introduced the first Paladins and a new order: the Order of the Silver Hand.
Anduin Lothar took Turalyon as his second-in-command. After the Alliance armies were forced to split, Turalyon led the majority of the Alliance army in some of the most critical battles including battles at the edge of Quel'thalas and the siege at Capital City. The church of the holy light supplied battle-clerics, paladins, and healers to the war, competing chiefly with the Orcish Horde's warlocks and necromancers.
The Order of the Silver Hand was instrumental in the defeat of the Horde, and were the Alliance's best defense against the Horde's Death Knights. After Anduin Lothar fell to Orgrim Doomhammer, Turalyon took up his broken sword and defeated Doomhammer - effectively ending the Second War.
In the aftermath of the Second War, the Alliance set out to rebuild the reforged Kingdom of Stormwind and Archbishop Alonsus Faol was instrumental in reforming the Clerics of Northshire. The Cathedral of Light was constructed in Stormwind City during this period - a grand structure with many wings and spires housed the bishop of Stormwind City and various other priests.
The Third War
The outbreak of the Undead Scourge and the rise of the Cult of the Damned in the Kingdom of Lordaeron led to the church's downfall in the north. Many attempts to repel the Scourge ended in vain. Countless Knights of the Silver Hand died fighting the Scourge, including their famed leader Uther the Lightbringer. The Temple of Light, the headquarters of the northern church, fell with the rest of Stratholme to the Scourge after Arthas Menethil purged the city.
After the fall of Lordaeron, Alexandros Mograine formed a Crusade from the remnants of Lordaeron's knights and attempted to retake the shattered kingdom from both the Scourge and the undead renegades known as the Forsaken. In the Eastern Plaguelands, they took control of both the town of Tyr's Hand and the western districts of Stratholme, where they battled the forces of the scourge to gain control of the destroyed city. After the death of Alexandros Mograine, the Crusade went through a schism; forming factions such as the Brotherhood of the Light and the Argent Dawn which established themselves in Light's Hope Chapel, and with those who remained in the original Crusade renaming themselves the Scarlet Crusade.
The center of the church shifted from Lordaeron to Stormwind's Cathedral of Light. Scores of refugees from the northern kingdoms poured into the south, bringing the northern interpretations of the faith to contend with those of the Clerics of Northshire who followed the teachings of Alonsus Faol. When Alonsus Faol passed on, Archbishop Benedictus was elected by the Council of Bishops as its new leader. Under the church's leadership, the Order of the Silver Hand and the Church's clergy were reformed, spreading its religion and inducting new races to its various organizations. The Light's teachings spread to Stormwind's dwarven and gnomish allies who have adopted its philosophies as well.
At the climax of the War against the Twilight's Hammer, Archbishop Benedictus mysteriously disappeared. According to Farthing, Archbishop Benedictus had left Stormwind on an important mission to assist the dragon aspects at Wyrmrest Temple. The truth of this matter, however, was far more nefarious.
For years, Benedictus' wise guidance had been instrumental in seeing humanity through bleak times. Yet beneath his apparent benevolence lied the shocking truth that he had pledged himself to the Cult of the Twilight's Hammer through the agency of his dark master Deathwing and his masters.
It was in the temple of Wyrmrest that he attempted to kill Thrall, but was killed during the battle by Thrall's companions. When adventurers returned to Stormwind after his death and told Bishop Farthing that Benedictus betrayed the people of Stormwind, he would not believe it, telling the adventurers that he heard another grim rumor about Bolvar Fordragon and asking them to spread their lies elsewhere.
Some claim that the Third War was the best thing that could have happened to the Church. In the turmoil following Lordaeron's collapse and the consolidation of the Alliance afterwards, some of the younger priests suggested that the Church take this opportunity to rebuild itself, setting aside many of its older traditions and starting new ones. These priests claimed that the Church had strayed from the path of the Three Virtues and needed to pare back down to the essentials of the faith - that it was time to reclaim that holy communion.
There are rumors of a break within the Church itself. Most of the Church's texts were lost during the Orcish Wars, prompting many to draft new scripture. It is said that the members are fighting amongst themselves about whether to cling to the old traditions or forge new ones.
The Church of the Holy Light has historically held a rigid structure of priests and paladins with a code of law organizing their duties and responsibilities. However, following the destruction wrought by the Third War and the disappearance of Archbishop Benedictus, there have been several schisms that have divided the overall organization of the Church of the Holy Light over disagreements of who should be the next Archbishop. Despite this turmoil, many have attempted to maintain the traditional structure of the church under the Council of Bishops.
Anyone can follow the path of the Holy Light, and anyone who follows the Holy Light is welcomed by the Church. Most of its members are human, but the Church does not discriminate. High Elves and Ironforge Dwarves have long been members.
Though anyone can become a member of the Church, becoming an actual priest is a long and difficult process. Once someone is inducted as a lay-priest, they cannot preach, but handle most of the daily chores around the temples and monasteries. First come various classes, taught by lay priests outlining the Church's history, principles and activities. If the applicant does well in class he graduates to the next level, taking personal instruction with a priest, learning prayers and other devotions. Most applicants become lay priests, working for the Church while studying. They can spend several years in instruction, until the priest feels they're ready.
Should the priest wish to advance, they must swear vow to the church before a bishop and a stay in one of the Church's monasteries — several months to several years away from everyone except other faithful. During this time many of them experience true communion with the Light for the first time. If the applicant maintains his faith and still seems suitable, the monastery's head priest sponsors him for ordination.
Once a priest is ordained, his life belongs to the Church. The council decides where he goes and what he will do, whether that's working a farm or preaching in a city. Most priests stay with the Church until they die, though as they get older they do more studious and clerical work and less physical labor. Priests work for the bishops, and they do most of the actual community work: preaching, tending to the wounded, teaching the children, and so on. A few lose faith and break away, forsaking their vows. Those who do stay, and who distinguish themselves spiritually and politically, can rise through the ranks and eventually become a bishop.
Each bishop has charge of a region; in some cases an entire continent. The regions are based more on population than area, so in some cases a bishop might only be responsible for a large city, while others have an entire countryside. Stormwind City has its own bishop, as does Northrend. All bishops are part of what is known as the Council of Bishops. The council has many bishops, though naturally not all of them can attend every meeting. Many handle their own regions well but are quiet during meetings, expressing opinions with nods or frowns and voting without a word. Others are more boisterous, more aggressive, and more political. In recent years, some bishops have broken away from the church based in Stormwind to found their own interpretations of the faith.
The leader of the Church is typically known as its Archbishop. The Archbishop historically led the church alongside the Council of Bishops who acted as advisers that may elect a new Archbishop if necessary. Several bishops have formed their own power bases within the council, solidifying the true powers of the Church — some might say the these bishops are the power that any new archbishop must dance between to prevent further schism.
The Church of the Holy Light is broken into several organizations and sects. While many operate together in harmony, others are openly hostile to one another, having broken away to practice their own interpretations of scripture.
Please note that the following sections contain player-centric organizations.
Council of Bishops
|Council of Bishops|
Archbishop (Alonsus II)
Holy See • Council of Bishops
Church Council • Diocese Congregation • Dicastery
Episcopal Polity • Canon Law
Holy Light • Three Virtues
(Respect, Tenacity, Compassion)
Paradise • Saints • Apotheosis
Sacred Lineage • Prayer
Mysteries • Teaching Authority
Texts and Rituals
Codex of Rites
(Liturgy, Initiation, Marriage, Coronation, Exorcism,
Codex of Scripture
Codex of Hours
The Council of Bishops of the Church of the Holy Light is one of the largest and oldest religious societies in the world. Historically affiliated with the Alliance, the Council has played a major role in the development of human, dwarven, and high elven society. The members and followers of the Council, from believer to bishop, strive to bring goodness and hope to the world through right action and justice as a society.
Mellar Servus was elected on the first vote of the fourth day of the conclave following the Church's acceptance of the death of the late Archbishop Benedictus. On the first day of his election he named Bishop Caspius Greenleaf the Vicar-General of the Church and Erich Gottfried Manstein as his Metropolitan Secretary of State. He took on the name of Columban V as spiritual successor of Columban IV.
After experiencing a series of three visions, Archbishop Columban V was compelled by the Light to travel to the region of Lordaeron where he willingly gave himself up to be captured, tortured, and executed before Lordaeron City as an atonement for the sins of the Church against the Forsaken people by the Undercity Nexus. After reclaiming his remains and performing an extensive ritural, the soul of the late of Archbishop was finally released to the Eternal Dawn he so long desired.
Caspius Eustasius Greenleaf was elected as Archbishop on 12 January, 624 K.C. in an Archepiscopal Conclave following the death of Archbishop Columban V. At an age of 20 years and 295 days, he was the youngest Archbishop in history. After a short but eventful reign, Caspius voluntarily departed the office of Archbishop in April of 624K.C., His resignation became effective on 29 April, 624K.C. He is the first Archbishop to resign office. As Archbishop Emeritus, Caspius retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of Archbishop, and continues to dress in the Archepiscopal colours of white and red. He was succeeded by Archbishop Alonsus II on 10 May, 624K.C., and moved to Winterspring for his retirement. In January, 625K.C., he received and accepted an Archepiscopal invitation to reside in private apartments at Northshire Abbey.
After the abdication of Caspius, the Council of Bishops, widely viewed by the world to be in shambled and on the verge of schism, entered into the third conclave since the Third War. After the third vote and the third hour, Johannes Moorwhelp was elected unanimously and chose the name Alonsus Secundus in homage to the patron saint of Stormwind City, Alonsus Faol. His unprecedented, swift election was very well received by the wider public who had excepted him to be elected in the previous conclave. Since the election, His Holiness has dedicated himself to the revival of the Silver Hand, the reform of Council of Bishops legal code, peace among believers, and the unification of the Church of the Holy Light.
Order of the Silver Hand
See: Argent Dawn
See: Scarlet Crusade
See: Argent Crusade
Northern Orthodox Church
Clergy of True Light
See: Clergy of True Light
Canon information sourced from Wowpedia.