| "Bide your time if you wish to be successful. Strike too soon, and be destroyed."
This article, Church of the Heavens, is under construction. It contains incomplete sections or is missing crucial information. You may want to wait a little bit before reading this!
The Church of the Heavens, more commonly referred to as the Church was one of the earliest and most widely spread religions in Esria's history. It was the first Adenist religion to be established, having direct ties to the prophet himself.
After its foundation in the Era of Harvest, it held unprecedented amounts of influence and power until its decline during the Blessed Era. At its peak, it was followed by countless individuals of all races, and many different cultures across the world developed their own unique practices in order to worship the Archangels and their servants.
Its existence was said to serve in order to forever preserve the divine connection between mortals and the Archangels who created them, while spreading the word of the ultimate truth through stories, tales and fables carrying important lessons. Those stories are taken from the scriptures of a holy book called the Old Tome, comprising largely of the written accounts of a mortal man named Aden who was said to have been chosen to walk in the Kingdom of Heaven and return to Esria with what he had seen.
The Church at its height was the official state religion of the Kingdom of Vesryn, as well as that of Saint-Astan and Leoben, and it found a particularly devoted following in most of Ostia and El Deya until the closing years of the Blessed Era.
Although specific practices and methods of worship may have differed across Esria, all who called themselves Adenists agreed upon and bowed their heads in respect to the four ultimate divine beings, the Archangels, and the many other Angels who were created to serve them.
Foundation of the Church
In 535 H.E, the world of Esria was one ruled by magic. Religion was largely the domain of druidic gods and Elven pantheons. It was during this year that a Vesryne man named Aden would return to the world in a white flash of light. He claimed that he had been approached by divine beings yet unseen, and that they had invited him to walk within a divine realm known as the Kingdom of Heaven as their guest. By witnessing the truth of this paradisical land of winged gods, he would be able to tell all mortals the truth what he had seen.
Aden's many accounts and stories of Heaven formed the basis for the very first scriptures of the Old Tome, a holy book upon which the Church of the Heavens was founded.
The Beginning of the Blessed Era
After the events of the Long Night in 1381 C.E, when Esria was once again graced with the purity and benevolence of the Holy Messenger Juriel walking among mortals, very few were left with a cynical attitude towards the Church. She communicated the will of the Heavens to see the world illuminated once more, and stood with mortal champions to once again return magic to Esria. This granted the Church a huge increase in both power and influence in the centuries that followed, so much so that such a time became known as the Blessed Era.
Few could dispute the existence of a higher power by the end of the Common Era. In addition, infamous and terrifying events such as the Great Forsaking of Harbrook did much to instil the fear of the Archangels' power in the common populace.
The teachings of the Church outlined three orders of celestial beings. Archangels, who were responsible for all creation, Angels that existed to watch over the mortal world, and Seraphs, their eternally faithful servants.
The four Archangels, Aethidus, Demelea, Cethell and Israphel, were said to be the most powerful beings in existence. They were directly responsible for the creation of the world and the safekeeping of all life within it.
Practices of the Church
Followers of the Church of the Heavens, sometimes known as disciples, or more simply as believers, adhered to certain practices that coincided with their culture. Almost universally, however, worship took place via organised services and sermons inside of a Church or similarly purposed structure. These typically took place on a Friday and Sunday.
It was considered good practice to always carry a symbol of the faith where possible, typically taking the form of a silver cross or the less expensive option of wooden beads denoting the Archangels and patron angels mentioned within holy scriptures. According to the Old Tome itself, such a symbol needed to be utilised in prayer at least once a day. The most common practice was to pray before sleep, asking favor of the Heavens or finding solace in verse during hard times.
Asceticism was a more extreme interpretation of the practices outlined in the Old Tome, but one that was nevertheless followed in monasteries of many pious countries, particularly within Saint-Astan and Leoben. It preached worship of the gods by a life lived in strict moderation, instructing all who walked the same path to discard most unnecessary luxury and to focus the mind on more divine pursuits. An ascetic would drink no alcohol but small portions of Church wine imbibed during services, he would make time for quiet prayers for at least ten minutes a day, and many even went as far as to swear themselves to strict celibacy. Others simply held a similar vow until marriage, or refused to lay with individuals of differing faith, but even asceticism varied between cultures as the years progressed.
Structure and Hierarchy
Structurally, the Church of the Heavens functioned by delegating power down through individual parish churches, with countless branches of the faith around the world. The hierarchy of the Church itself had ranks and roles to which any prospective applicant would have to climb. These could be divided into two main categories:
- The Chamber
- The Mass
sat at the top of the hierarchy, being charged with important tasks relating to the faith as a whole or the organisation of the religion across the world.
Priests wore the distinctive dark blue robes of the Church and were incredibly numerous, being charged with the primary task of spreading the faith and preaching wherever possible.
Monks act as scholars and keepers of the religion's lore. They oversee the preservation of Old Esrian as a language, and ensure that the Old Tome is seeing wide circulation.
There are hundreds of texts written about the Heavens themselves, from accounts of celestial encounters to works of great speculation and artistry, and all are kept within a grand central library in ________. The most prestigious monks are assigned to ensure that such knowledge is able to spread to every corner of the world, while retaining the integrity of the original copies.
- Different sects and practices relating to patron Archangels / Angels