THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH - Achaea Online Help
16.4 THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
The Church was founded before written history by Imithia, great-great-great-granddaughter of the Offspring Pasiphae. Last of the sons and daughters of Sinope and Callisto, Pasiphae had lived many hundreds of years and was beloved by many of the gentler humans. To commemorate her life and mourn her passing, Imithia held a ceremony in some forgotten place called the Rite of Passing. If such a complex organisation as the Church has a beginning, this could be said to be it. It should be pointed out, however, that the Church of Imithia consisted of nothing more than some devout friends gathering to give thanks to the Gods for a soul as pure and beautiful as Pasiphae. In time, the Church grew to represent the forces of Goodness, Light, and Order and fought to push back what they viewed as the ever-growing chaos and evil in an increasingly complicated and modern world. To this end, the Church built the Chrysalis Basilica on the isle of Delos, which sits in the middle of the Zaphar River south of the Ithmia forests and founded two orders with which to spread their belief system. The Church also vowed to support the Divine Orders of the Gods that would favour them and who represent the forces of order rather than chaos. The first order, the Priests, were founded to be scholars and healers. It was they who would go amongst the peasants to recruit for the Church and build goodwill amongst the populace of Sapience. The second order, the Paladins, were to be the enforcement arm of the Church. They would be on the front-lines in the battle against the chaotic forces of the land. With the healing abilities of the Priests to support them, the Paladins became the most effective fighting force in the land. Their discipline and cohesion as a fighting unit were and are unparalleled, though their numbers have always been small. Soon after this, the Archprelate Raphael I embarked upon one of the most expensive and forward-looking ventures in Achaean history. Under his direction, the Church began construction of a series of highways crossing the land. Raphael had a number of reasons for doing this. First was that the Church needed revenue and by charging tolls on the use of the highways, and specifically on the bridges they built across the mighty rivers of Sapience, it could bring in a steady stream of money. Second, the Church needed the highways to extend its influence and power more effectively into the growing cities of Shallam and Ashtan, the two most powerful and ancient political and economic entities on the continent. The citizens of Shallam and Ashtan were very grateful for these highways, as they knew that more and more products would flow into the cities, feeding their lust for new and exotic items. So, when Raphael I requested permission to build Church outposts in the cities, the leaders readily agreed. The Church's budding influence was sealed and Raphael I went down as the greatest Archprelate of the pre-modern age. Today, the Church is not much changed from the rule of Raphael, over nine hundred years ago. It is still a force for order but has developed enemies committed to bringing its influence and power to an end. One important difference, however, is that the Church began, about five hundred years ago, to allow non-humans to be members and there is no distinction by race made within the Church today. Although the Church is not officially committed to any particular God, as various Paladins and Priests rise to power within it, the amount of attention it might give to any single God waxes and wanes with the attention the members Paladins and Priests individually give. Naturally there are some Gods who are utterly opposed to the Church and who direct their mortal forces to seek its destruction. The Church is a very wealthy organisation and has been accused of corruption by its enemies, though as with everything, the source of the accusation must be taken into account. Though many dislike the Church, many others consider it one of the greatest institutions ever formed for the benefit of mortalkind. In more recent times, the Church leadership petitioned Sarapis to move the Chrysalis Basilica from Delos to Shallam, and Sarapis consented.