Church of Sanctaria

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Seal of the Church of Sanctaria
Church of Sanctaria
Ecclesia Terra Sancti
Basilica of St. George in Heaven
OrientationCatholic
PolityEpiscopal
PatriarchLuke VI
Region
Language
  • English
  • Latin
HeadquartersEpiscopal Palace, Sanctus
Sanctaria
Separated fromRoman Catholic Church (985 AD)
Members228 million
Tax statusCharity
Other name(s)Sanctarian Catholic Church
Official websitecos.sct

The Church of Sanctaria (Latin: Ecclesia Terra Sancti), also known as the Sanctarian Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church in Sanctaria, with more than 228 million members worldwide. It is also the state church of Sanctaria. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the region of the International Democratic Union, it has played a prominent part in the history and the development of civilisation in the western part of the region. The church is headed by the Archbishop of Sanctus, who is more commonly known as the Patriarch of the Church of Sanctaria, or, simply, the Patriarch. Its central administration is located in Sanctus, capital of Sanctaria.

The Sanctarian Catholic Church split from the Roman Catholic Church, and renounced the authority of the Roman Pope, in 985 AD when Julius, a missionary sent by the Roman Church, discovered what he believed was "the holy land". Records suggest Julius did not want to cede authority of this new land, located far from any lands previously mapped, to the Church in Rome and he subsequently declared himself head of the Church he was teaching the natives about. Current teaching in the Roman Catholic Church is the missionary known as Julius was presumed dead shortly after his journey began.

The Church's teachings are broadly similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church, in that, while it was founded by Julius, its bishops are the successors of the apostles of Jesus Christ, and that the Patriarch is the successor to Saint Peter to whom primacy was conferred by Christ.

A primary difference, however, between the Church of Sanctaria and the Roman Catholic Church is regarding the sacrament of the Eucharist. While the Roman Catholic Church teaches that consecrated bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ, the Church of Sanctaria maintains that the blood and wine become only blessed symbols of Christ's body and blood. The Virgin Mary is also venerated in the Church of Sanctaria, however the Roman Church's Marion theology is far more dogmatic. Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.[1] The Church of Sanctaria is one of the largest non-government providers of education in Sanctaria.

From the mid 20th century, the Church of Sanctaria has been criticised for its traditionalist beliefs, particularly its attitudes towards women, views on homosexuality, and also for its refusals to publish transparent financial records.

History[edit]

Rise of the Church (985—1380)[edit]

Arrival of Christianity[edit]

According to tradition, Christianity in the form of the Church of Sanctaria arrived in the International Democratic Union, in the land now considered to be western Sanctaria, in the year 985 with the landing of the Roman Catholic missionary known to scholars today only as Julius. The historical evidence of that time suggests that the native people, who were tribal, believed in local polytheistic religions, though the number, names, and variety of the gods they worshipped differed from tribe to tribe. Initially making little progress by way of converting local tribal chieftains, contemporary records believed to have been written by Julius himself, or at the least an assistant or scribe travelling with him, explains that he came across one particular tribe that believed him to be the earthly personification of one their gods.

Although assuming the mantle of a god or idol is forbidden by Christianity, Julius used this leverage to convince the tribe, and more importantly their chieftain, that the one true religion was a monotheistic Christian one, and that while he was not the God himself, he was his earthly messenger. It is believed by scholars today that this initial method of conversion - representing himself as God's representative on earth, which had hitherto in Christianity been the Roman Pope - led Julius to officially break from the Roman Catholic Church, remain in Sanctaria, rename the religion as the Sanctarian Catholic Church, and appoint himself as that sect's Pope-like figure, that he called the Patriarch.

Having initially won over one tribe, Julius used his position as their spiritual leader to convince them to wage war against smaller tribes, using the practice of right of conquest as the basis for spreading Christianity in the area, at least at first. By 989, it is documented that at least six tribes had united under the leadership of one chieftain, a King Aefrid, who had Julius and the Church of Sanctaria as their spiritual leader. Contemporary records suggest that his new united tribe was significant in size and that Julius himself instructed them daily in Christian belief. By 991, records exist of Julius having left that tribe to convert other, similarly sized groups in the region, to great success; the tribe he left remained large, believing in the Christian god and Julius as that god's representative, while these new tribes also began to accept the Sanctarian Catholic Church, and Julius as their spiritual leader.

Beginnings of temporal power[edit]

One of the earliest surviving documents of that era of Sanctarian history is what is known as the Korn Accord. Dated to be from around 997, this document details the meeting of two great tribes, whose lands and holdings were of considerable size, and who had been at war on and off for centuries. The Accord tells us that, tired of warring, and having been "enlightened in the way of Christ", the tribes had decided to unite under one leader. The document, written in Latin, and some scholars believe by Julius' own hand, explains that a "neutral and wise party" that the two chieftains had decided to unite under was "a messenger of Christ himself" - Julius.

The uniting of the two groups, and their significant tribal kingdoms, was the first instance of temporal power, as opposed to spiritual power, that the Church of Sanctaria was to wield. Though the Papal Kingdom of Sanctaria was not to be officially formed for another few hundred years, it is understood from the Korn Accord that Julius intended his Sanctarian Catholic Church to attempt to mirror the Roman Catholic Church in size and influence. Incidentally, the Korn Accord also mentions for the first time in written history what was to become the name of the nation, Sanctaria, when it talks of "the united lands we name Terra Sanctus".

It is documented that Julius died only a year or so later in 998, leaving behind information on how his successor, chosen by him before later formal processes were implemented, was to be treated like the next earthy messenger from God, because God had told Julius who to pick. His successor, whose birth name has been lost to history, took the regnal name of Paul and reigned until 1011. Not much is known about this patriarch, or a number of the subsequent patriarchs, other than they did not seek to expand the religion or their temporal power, instead focusing on education of their new and growing faithful; this can be assumed because of the significant jump in written records over the next forty years, suggesting that Julius and his successor Paul had implemented some sort of education system that taught the tribal natives English and Latin.

It was during the 11th century, generally accepted to be during the reign of Patriarch Christopher I, that the archbishopric of Sanctus was designated as the primary See, and that whoever held the office of Archbishop of Sanctus would be the Patriarch of the Church. Sanctus, a city on the southern coast of the lands referred to as Terra Sanctus, had fertile lands and existing docks for trading ships. No formal declaration exists but tradition holds that Sanctus was designated the capital of the Terra Sanctus in the year 1055, during the reign of Christopher I.

Growth and organisation[edit]

Throughout the remainder of the 11th century, and the beginning of the 12th, successive Patriarch's focused on growing the organisation of the Sanctarian Catholic Church itself, including adopting the name of Ecclesia Terra Sancti, meaning the Church of the Holy Land. This part of Sanctarian history also saw the area's name, Terra Sanctus, quickly corrupt into Sancti Terra, and finally Sanctaria, due to the influx of trade from other nations, and the adoption of Latin and English as commonly spoken languages. By the reign of Gregory IV in the 1160s, the nation was almost exclusively called and referred to as Sanctaria.

Gregory IV's reign also saw the better organisation of Provinces and Dioceses within Sanctaria; prior to Gregory IV's reign, the Patriarch appointed any cleric who pleased him a Bishop, regardless of whether or not that person actually had a diocese or See to run. In 1158, Gregory IV issued what scholars believe to be equivalent to a constitution, in English called The State of the Church, in which he spelled out the organisation as first and foremost parishes, led by a priest, then dioceses led by a bishop, then provinces led by an archbishop. He did, however, include the title and position of Cardinal, something borrowed from the Roman Church, as a personal gift of the Patriarch, which would continue to be given to a cleric who was favoured by the Patriarch. An addendum to The State of the Church was issued in 1168, saying only those bishops who held the title of Cardinal were eligible to be chosen as a successor to the Patriarch. The 1168 amendment also clarified that it would be the bishops sitting as a group who would choose a Cardinal to be Archbishop of Sanctus whenever that See was vacant; previously the Patriarch chose a successor on his deathbed, if he was physically able to. This tradition of Bishops choosing a Cardinal from among their number to be Patriarch continued until 2003 when Simon XVI was the first non-Cardinal to be chosen, the position and title discontinued from 1974.[2]

By the late 1200s, most of the land now considered modern Sanctaria were fully Christian, though not all had ceded temporal authority to the Patriarch. The Church's own ranks of priests and bishops had ballooned and, according to the Church's own records, the vast majority of people in Sanctaria were literate in at least one of English or Latin, a fact which scholars suggest was likely exaggerated, but otherwise very notable in its own right.

Militancy and cementing of temporal rule[edit]

Between 1369 and 1386, the Archbishopric of Sanctus was held by successive Patriarch who academics commonly refer to as "The Warrior Patriarchs". These individuals, Adrian II, Adrian III, and Gregory VI, are known more for their militancy and thirst for warfare and conquest than they are for any spiritual or religious dogma or acts. Beginning with Adrian II, who was elected Patriarch in 1369, these Patriarchs unified any vestiges of tribal military that still existed even centuries after the unification of tribes and tribal life, such as separate armies or militia for certain parts of Sanctaria. Called the Blessed Army of the Patriarch, this unified force was dispatched by the successive Patriarch to the lands who, while Christian, had not ceded sovereignty to the Church of Sanctaria. Adrian III in particular, who reigned from 1377 to 1380, often personally led this Army into battle against local tribal chieftains and Kings, who were no match for the numbers the Blessed Army possessed. In October 1380, Adrian III was wounded at the Battle of the Mountain Pass by a stray arrow from, contemporary records say, one of his own soldiers. The Battle of the Mountain Pass was the final battle in the Papal Wars, as they are referred to, and ended with the local tribal king pledging loyalty, subservience, and fealty to the dying Adrian III. Adrian III was said to be less than gracious in victory and apparently with his dying breath ordered the surrendered king beheaded, an order which his captains dutifully carried out.

In December 1380, Gregory VI was chosen as the new Patriarch, and immediately declared in his inaugural homily that "Sanctaria must move forward as one. No more tribes. No more kings - save one. The Holy King. God's own King. The Papal King". On Christmas Day 1380, Gregory declared that all tribes and tribal customs and laws were to be disbanded, and that all individuals were now part of one Sanctaria that was united fully, in all aspects, under the rule of the Church of Sanctaria. He declared himself Sovereign of the Kingdom of Sanctaria in addition to his title of Patriarch of the Church of Sanctaria, and decreed that whomever held the latter would also be the former.

Though there were some rebellions in the last few days of 1380 and the early part of 1381, Gregory ensured his Blessed Army was on hand to quell any dissent saying in a letter to a friend "they profess to be Catholic, but they reject the authority of God. God has chosen me and has chosen this path. God alone shall judge them for their heresy, and it is my duty to ensure they meet God in judgement expeditiously". Scholars now date the Papal Kingdom of Sanctaria, as it came to be known, to Christmas Day 1380, and the declaration by Gregory VI that he was a Sovereign over one, united, Catholic Sanctaria.

Development of the established Church (1380—1528)[edit]

Nation-building[edit]

Gregory VI's official declaration of the Papal Kingdom of Sanctaria in 1380, and the subsequent swift quelling of rebellions, was just the first step the Church took in the late 14th century to assert their temporal power. In 1397, Patriarch Michael II announced all citizens were to pay tithes[3] regardless of their income "to support the governing of the Church". The income generated from these tithes, which often left struggling farmers and members of the lower-working class destitute because of their severity, predominately went to the Patriarch's own purse, with a nominal amount each year used to support the soldiers of the Blessed Army.

In 1413, to ensure the Church had eyes and control over every corner of the Kingdom, Patriarch Paul V created regional governors, called Doges, who would act as governors or managers of newly created duchies; whole swathes of lands, townships, and even cities across the Kingdom divided up for easier organisation and control. These Doges, all of whom were either favoured Archbishops or wealthy landowners, were originally given a limited degree of authority in how to run their duchies, with many decisions needed the approval of the Patriarch back in Sanctus, however as time went on, these Doges were given even more authority in how to rule. Paul V's successor, Stephan V, in 1418 began to appoint Nuncios, or Ambassadors, to neighbouring countries and further afield, ostensibly with the motive of improving relations and trade, but, as time later proved, with the more duplicitous aim of missionary work and the encouragement of subversive faith militant groups to grow the influence of the Church in those nations too. Scholars now suggest that it was Stephan V's groundwork in this that later led to the successful, and relatively bloodless, coups in countries like Munsteran which resulted in the creation of the Papal States.

Stephan V also created what could be considered an early equivalent to the nation's Treasury in 1420, called the Atria Caritatum, or Halls of Charities, which essentially took stock of the finances of the Patriarch and decided how much, if any at all, would be given to the destitute of the nation via alms or other charitable measures.

Faith-based community development[edit]

Despite the Church's control of the Kingdom of Sanctaria, and its presence in every day life, priests and bishops across the nation noted a drop in attendance at daily and weekly Masses across Sanctaria, particularly in urban centres, during the 15th century. Successive Patriarchs' concentration on the building of their temporal power meant their focus on the spiritual matters of the citizenry and the nation had slipped. Patriarch Francis I took steps to combat this in 1444 when he issued his decree Educationem ad Pauperem, or Education for the Poor. He mandated that all male children under the age of 12 be forced to attend catholic schooling, run by one of the Church's various mendicant orders. Though illiteracy had, by this time, become very rare in Sanctaria, families taught each other to read as opposed to people learning in a strict educational setting. As men were considered the head of the family, and of society, in Sanctaria at this stage in its history, the focus was solely on male schooling. The education was to be entirely faith-based, with subjects like maths and science disposed of in favour of theology and (approved) philosophy. It was hoped, and proved to be successful, that this policy of education would encourage people to return to the Church for regular instruction through Mass.

When an outbreak of cholera in Corpus threatened to turn into a nation-wide epidemic in 1479, Patriarch Simon VI directed that women in the service of the Church i.e. nuns train as nurses and travel throughout the affected areas, treating as much as they could. In what would become one of the first public hospitals in Sanctaria, the Hospital of St. Michael was established in 1483 in Sanctus as a permanent base for people with serious illness to travel to in the hopes of being cured. While much of the early treatments were solely faith-based, such as prayer, Sanctaria's trade with other countries in the IDU led to the import of medicines, which Patriarch Francis II in 1486 lauded as "miracles sent by the Lord himself, not to replace prayer, but to supplement it".

These early educational and medical facilities were the first indications of what would become cornerstones of how the Church grew and maintained its faithful, though patronage of schools and hospitals, a tradition that lasts to this day in modern Sanctaria.

Council of Haven (1488—1508)[edit]

Patriarchs in this era of history also concerned themselves with doctrinal matters of the Church and its faith, as well as focusing on community and temporal matters. In 1488, Francis II established the Council of Haven to meet biannually and to iron out differences in doctrine of the different theological factions of the Church who, while usually happy to co-exist peacefully, had in recent years become a distraction for the head of the Church. Francis II decreed that the resulting opinions of the Council of Haven, made up equally of different Church factions, would be the doctrine of the Church going forward, and required the leaders of all the groupings to agree to this stipulation before entering the Council. The Council, which would meet in the Archdiocese of Haven in the eastern part of Sanctaria, ended up lasting far longer than Francis II intended, outliving both Francis himself, who died in 1490, and his successor Gregory VII, who died in 1505.

Modern scholars generally accept that the biannual meetings of the Council, and their deliberations, were likely more of a headache for the Patriarchs of the time than the groupings individually ever could have been, but all accept that if not for the Council's existence and task, the groupings in later years would have likely ended up splitting the Church. Many theological scholars praise Francis II for his foresight in establishing the Council, and some within the Church still refer to him with the appellation of "Saviour of the Church".

The Council of Haven met until 1508 when, in the reign of Patriarch Thomas III, they issued what they said "shall be the doctrine of this, our Church, for all eternity". Their deliberations, which had focused on two central points of faith which all the groupings in attendance had hitherto had different opinions on, resulted in the following declarations being made, and sanctified, by Thomas III on 18 April 1508:

  • The Church of Sanctaria "recognises the inherent holiness of individuals, but decries the belief these individuals can rise to rival or equal the beloved messengers and angels of the Lord our God", and;
  • The Church of Sanctaria "acknowledges the role of the priest in the consecration of the wine and bread, but declares it heresy to assume mere mortals can achieve miracles of transubstantiation that rival Christ".

In effect, the Council decided, to end decades of debate, that in the Eucharist, the wine and bread would be symbols of the blood and body of Christ, and not become them itself. They also decided that the Church would acknowledge Saints created prior to the establishment of the Church, but would designate no individual going forward as a Saint, and any individual so recognised from the establishment of the Church until the result of the Council of Haven would be stripped of their sainthood.

Contemporary letters of the time suggest the declaration had little effect on the faith of ordinary citizens, who didn't understand the finer points of theology or doctrine anyway, but that the theologians who had argued for years on either side of the debate all accepted the Patriarch's declaration; that the Council also declared that "statements of faith made by the Archbishop of Sanctus shall be infallible and inviolable, save by a later Archbishop of the same See" probably contributed to the swift end of the matter, despite almost a century of arguments.

International missionary efforts[edit]

The Church's increasing forays in globalisation and international relations heightened its influence in the IDU, and the number of Nuncios and missionary outposts increased dramatically. Successive Patriarchs were quick to understand that the larger the presence that the Church had in other nations or regions, the more that people there would be exposed to its teachings, increasing its spiritual reach. An increased spiritual reach resulted in greater numbers of donations from abroad, as well as the pilgrimage of many new members of the Church, bringing with them new cultures, experiences, and riches.

Simultaneously, the Church began to leverage this growing adherence to its teachings by citizens of other countries to its benefit in temporal and political matters. In August 1436, a group of Catholic-adherents in the nation of Mount Solace successfully lobbied the Royal Court there to acknowledge the Church of Sanctaria as a protected religion; a Church of Sanctaria priest, Monsignor Frederick Callary, was later appointed Chancellor of the Royal Court of Mount Solace, the most important civilian role, in December 1488. Callery, a close confident and puppet of the then-Patriarch Francis II, implemented a lot of policies favourable to the Kingdom of Sanctaria while he was in office, including designating the theocratic Kingdom a preferred trading partner in many mineral goods, which eastern Sanctaria was rich in.

However the direct involvement of the Church wasn't always necessary for the exponential growth of the religion. In Atlantaena, a nation which for thousands of years followed an aquatic-based belief system with a pantheon of gods, the Church of Sanctaria's sole missionary there - a Bishop by the name of Alfonsus - conveyed a spiritual message that was apparently so convincing that within ten years, sixty percent of the Atlantaen population had converted; by March 1511 the entire nation of Atlantaena adhered to the Church of Sanctaria as a religion. On 14 August 1515, Atlantaena declared the Church of Sanctaria its official religion.

The Church of Sanctaria's missionary work also extended beyond the confines of the IDU; nations in other regions saw an increase in adherents to the Sanctarian Catholic Church, most notably nations such as Galway and Athlone and Buckingham.

A natural part of the growth of the Church's spiritual flock was the execution of its guiding principles, such as that the Patriarch was the voice of God on Earth and was in practice the King of Kings on God's behalf. This culminated in 1528 when, on 05 May, the Grand Duke of Atlantaena declared that, in accordance with the teachings of the Sanctarian Catholic Church, he and his successors would forever be subservient to the Patriarch of the Kingdom of Sanctaria. Thomas IV seized on the declaration by the Atlantaen Sovereign to declare that the nation of Atlantaena would now be considered a part of the "greater Sanctarian nation and, now, empire".

On 11 May 1528, Thomas IV declared the formation of the Papal States of Sanctaria, a new global federal monarchical state, with Sanctaria the jewel in the Crown. By the end of 1528, Mount Solace and Galway and Athlone had also joined the new Papal States of Sanctaria. By the end of the century, the number of nations who had joined the Papal States would number fourteen.

Height of the Church (1580—1865)[edit]

Temporal sovereignty[edit]

Clashes with science[edit]

Spiritual development[edit]

Modern Church (1865—present)[edit]

Decline[edit]

Theological challenges[edit]

Future-proofing[edit]

Doctrine[edit]

Membership[edit]

Structure[edit]

References[edit]

  1. "Corporal works of mercy" concern the material needs of others. "Spiritual works of mercy" concern the spiritual needs of others.
  2. Cardinals appointed prior to 1974 and who were still alive were grandfathered in.
  3. A form of church tax.