The Lancea et Sanctum (Lancea + Sanctum, Lancea Sanctum) is one of the major covenants in Vampire: The Requiem. More than any other Kindred, the "Sanctified," as they call themselves, embrace the theocracy of modern religions. In the neo-feudal political structure vampires have made for themselves, the Lancea et Sanctum represent the Catholic Church, painting themselves as the moral authority for the whole world.
Members of this covenant acknowledge they have been cursed by God. But they also point out that unlike the Devil, they were not cast into Hell. Instead, they walk the modern nights with their free will intact. They were even blessed with special abilities including Disciplines, powers of the blood (such as healing and physical augmentation) and immortality. And, through the curse, they are forced to prey on God's children to survive.
Thus the Kindred of the Lancea et Sanctum conclude that they are to serve as object lessons to humanity; they are the price of sin. By preying on mortals they remind them that life is fleeting and nothing compares to the Heaven the worthy attain. To this end, the Sanctified zealously bear the weight of damnation as they revel in their monstrous nature, knowing that they are part of God's Great Plan. They see the Glory of Heaven as the ultimate carrot for humanity's salvation and themselves as the ultimate stick.
A Sanctified Prince is called an Archbishop
A Shaky Beginning
The Sanctified trace their origin to a passage in the Bible when a Roman soldier stabbed Jesus Christ with his spear while the Savior was being crucified. Thus the name of the covenant, Lancea et Sanctum, or "sanctuary and lance" (often shorted to Lancea Sanctum, which would be incorrect Latin). What the Bible doesn't say is that some of the blood of Christ fell into the mouth of the soldier, whose name was Longinus, and thus he became a vampire. In mortal life, Longinus celebrated every sin to its fullest extent. He was violent, arrogant, lazy and cruel. He would gamble away his mother's earnings, insult her in public and, on one occasion, rape her. As a Roman soldier, he disobeyed orders, abused his authority and even killed a superior. It was only through the Hand of God that he was able to keep his position so he could fulfil his destiny.
After his transformation and a 33 year long "sabbatical," Longinus visited the tomb of Christ to confirm that the body was no longer there. Upon this verification, the Archangel Vahishtael appeared before him and told him his role in God's plan. Longinus would then later Embrace at least one mortal, Monachus, who gave the founder an education. The two oversaw that others accepted Longinus's words with equal devotion; the first five would later give their unlives to the cause and become known as the Five Martyrs. One of them, St. Daniel would perish as he rained down the powers of Theban Sorcery upon some particularly evil Romans. It is this Discipline that the young covenant discovered in Thebes that became the signature power of the organization and a great asset in the centuries ahead.
In 335, Longinus and Monachus founded the Black Abbey. It acted as the first place that the covenant claimed as its own to accept new converts. It also housed important relics, such as the Spear of Destiny, the very same weapon Longinus used to enter damnation, and the Testament of Longinus, five books of history, laws and prophecy the founder wrote over the centuries. Presumably, the Sanctified also researched Theban Sorcery there. In 947, the Abbey witnessed a betrayal that ended with it destroyed, the Spear missing and Monachus a victim of Amaranth. The Night of One Hundred Martyrs was the last time anyone ever saw the Spear.
Since the Sanctified did not rely on Monachus as a spiritual authority (that honor goes to the local Bishop), members turned inwards for ways to strengthen the covenant. Each hold of Sanctified considered itself to be an abbey of sorts, a tactic that insures against attack and continues to this night. Over the centuries that followed, the Lancea et Sanctum grew by leaps and bounds and today encompasses many faiths from all over the world.
While Catholics, and more generally Christians, make up most of the covenant's membership, other monotheistic religions have also found a place. They integrate with the covenant by focusing on the overall message of Longinus and supplementing it with their faiths' rituals and beliefs. Muslim Sanctified might make prayers to the covenant's founder while facing Mecca, for example. The Sanctified continue to attract Kindred of all clans and ages.
Few covenants are as tightly organized as the Lancea et Sanctum. The Church of Longinus borrows many ideas from its mortal counterpart, the Catholic Church, including titles and the distinction between the leaders and the followers.
Most Sanctified are considered laity. While devoted to the religion, they do not swim in it as a theologian might. Only the very powerful and influential lay Kindred hold political sway. Such persons, however, are the exception to the rule; the reigns of the covenant fall into the hands of the clergy. They are the ones that can hold political title. They are the ones that make the decisions. They are the ones that immerse themselves into the finer points of religion.
Familiar titles are abound. The Archbishop is the leader of the covenant in a city and is often prince. When there is no Archbishop, the Bishop holds the reigns of the local Sanctified. While most cities only have one Bishop, larger ones can have as many as five (these cities tend to have an Archbishop). Bishops perform rites and train Priests, who act as counselors and advisors to individual Kindred. The rare Cardinal takes on the duties of Archbishops and Bishops. Inquisitors typically keep the Sanctified (and sometimes other covenants) free of heresy and traitors.
The Lancea et Sanctum also recognize numerous minor offices. An Ostiary is in charge of defending a particular Sanctified-held city, often keeping watch over routes into the metropolitan area. A Parish Archivist keeps and protects hard copies concerning the covenant's past. Legates are temporary positions that involve some kind of travel. Their exact purpose varies widely, from delivery boy to spy to diplomat, but acts have one thing in common: the Legate has to leave the city to perform her duty. The little-used elite army of the Lancea et Sanctum are the Crusaders. Finally, Saints are Sanctified who take piety and devotion to an idealized level and thus holding sway as the covenant's holiest members. They are almost always elders.
As one looks deeper into the organization of the Lancea et Sanctum, their organizational structure becomes more fluid than its mortal equivalent. This counter-intuitive reality doesn't make sense for most vampires as it is often the other way: Kindred are less flexible, not more, than humans. But the shadow of the Night of One-Hundred Marytrs is long and the covenant learned long ago that too much power in one place is dangerous for covenant with so many enemies.
Unlike in the mortal realm, being Anointed to a higher position is not a matter following a well-trodden path that your superiors lay out for you. Instead, Sanctified priests start their education with self-teachings. When they feel they are ready they claim a title, but only get them when a peer or superior Anoints them in a ceremony. Advancing is thus a formalized, but risky, endeavour because those that claim title but don't get verification look arrogant and naive.
The Sanctified are truly the world's biggest "big-tent" religion; its followers are Baptist and Mormon, Muslim and Jew, young and old, Ventrue and Gangrel, and everything in between. While predominately Catholic, their decentralized organization enables multiple views to meld Sanctified dogma with personal belief. While rites and interpretation vary widely, all Sanctified practice certain customs.
The Lancea et Sanctum’s divine monsters are the archivists and librarians of the Kindred. Just as medieval monks were the keepers of knowledge, the Sanctified maintain some of the oldest records of the Kindred, and most cities with a significant Lancea et Sanctum presence have a Black Collection of histories, diaries and sacred texts.
They also hide secrets and texts that would be a threat to the Kindred community (or, as some cynics claim, to their own position of power).
Creeds and Heresies
The Lancea et Sanctum is a broad religion, covering several denominations and interpretations of important scriptures like the Sanguineous Catechism or the Testament of Longinus. They are:
- The Monachal Creed, the greatest and most influential Creed, centered strongly around the interpretations of the Monachus and Catholicism
- The Tollison Creed, a version that centers around pentecostalism, known for a focus on personal revelation and "angelic" visits, currently only active in the United States
- The Westminster Creed, a version centered around the Anglican Church, seeking to keep over-ritualized formalia outside the congregation
- The Iblic Creed, a version dominant in Islamic countries, which reinterpretates Longinus as a prophet for the Kindred, in line with several other prophets that came before Mohammad
- The Dammitic Creed, a version more in tune with Judaism, which abandons any references to the nature of Jesus to indicate that Longinus was cursed solely because of his own sinful nature.
- The Exotheists, a secularized attempt to interpret the Testament not as religious revelation, but as a philosophical tractise over the nature of vampirism, often forming their own rites apart from the Apostolicae.
Heresies within the Church exist, forming when a denomination rejects some core principle of Sanctified faith, when it deifies some figure from the local covenant’s history or folklore or when it challenges the infallibility of The Testament of Longinus in a particularly offensive way. Active Heresies include:
- The Livian Heresy, which revers Longinus' mother, Livia, as a "mother of vampires".
- The Crimson Cavalry, which takes elements from the Christian Identity Movement and espouses an apocalyptic message of a holy war against the lesser races and seeks to bring this about by toppling all political and social orders and eradicating Theban Sorcery.
- The Messianic Spear, which accepts the "Book of Tribulations" of the Sons of the Serpent as orthodoxy, regarding it as the "Old Testament" to the "New Testament" that is the Testament of Longinus.
The Lancea et Sanctum recognizes almost as many holy rites as there are Sanctified to enact them. Each denomination celebrates its own unique rituals and observances, but some rites are universal in nature. The names and descriptions of the various rites also vary from creed to creed. The most common, however, is the Latin term "ritus".
Rites are divided into two types: Apostolica and Ecclesia. Apostolica are official covenant ceremonies, while Ecclesia are unofficial rituals or even simple prayers. The chief distinction is that a Sanctified Priest must officiate over Apostolica. Lay members may officiate over Ecclesia, and in fact, even non-Sanctified may be permitted to officiate over some of the minor ones, in much the same way mortals might invite an honored guest to say the blessing over a meal.
- The Anointing, the ritus used for promotions within the Covenant
- The Confessional, a ritus where the vampire confesses minor sins to the local priest to save his standing in the Covenant
- The Creation Rite, a ritus that formalized the introduction of a vampire into the Covenant
- The Crusade, a ritus to declare war against an enemy of the Covenant
- The Gran Ballo, a traditional festival held on November 1 to celebrate the unity of the Covenant
- The Midnight Mass, a ritus styled after the Christian Eucharist, but with recitations from the testament and the usage of vitae
- The Quadragesima, a ritus of fasting for forty days and nights in remembrance of Longinus, from January 1 to February 9
See Theban Sorcery
There are many different factions within the Church, as diverse as the creeds it includes. These factions are not monolithic entities and are not engaged in an abstract war to dominate the Sanctified. They are ideological groupings, like various denominations within the same overarching religion. Mainstream factions are the generalizations made of philosophies and behavior that exist beyond the local bodies of the Lancea et Sanctum, whether due to the popularity of their ideals, orthodoxy of thought, or the sheer commonality of their ideals.
- Hardliners: Conservatives in the extreme, the Hardliners believe that they alone are right in their interpretation of the Testament and reject any attempts of reformation or moderation. They are hard to argue with, but include some of the most devout, scholary and flexible (for interpretation of the Testament) Kindred within the Covenant.
- Unifiers: Moderates that seek to mediate and eventually unite the various factions and denominations within the Covenant to one great entity, balancing its secular and spiritual duties in the process. Despite this, they want to preserve its diversity and often act as ambassadors of the Covenant to the other Covenants.
- Neo-Reformists: The Neo-Reformists seek to bring the Lancea et Sanctum into the modern nights. They seek to reinterpretate the Testament to fit modern themes and appeal to the Kindred of today.
Other groups include the Mendicants, wandering ascetics also including the bloodline of the Nepheshim, and Proselytizers, who preach the gospel of Longinus to other Kindred, trying to convert them to save their damned souls. Minor groups that represent fringes of the greater Church are the Exorcists, who have sworn themselves to protect the Kindred from other supernaturals, the Godslayers, who seek the destabilize polytheistic religions and the Monastics, who seek an unlife of contemplation and seclusion, away from the politics of their fellow Damned.
Within the Covenant, Bloodlines can quickly evolve parallel to factions and some bloodlines have risen on a local level to such prominence that they are treated as factions of their own.
Known Bloodlines include:
- Icarians: A Ventrue-dominated bloodline that see themselves as the heirs of the famous Archbishop Icarius and strive to rule over their fellow Damned as devout priest-kings.
- Mortifiers of the Flesh: A Daeva-dominated bloodline that seek penitence for their existence through self-mutilation
- Nepheshim: A Gangrel-dominated bloodline, the Nepheshim are offspring of the Mendicants faction within the Church, who seek independence from cities in order to live after Longinus words
- Osites: Dominated by the seclusive Mekhet, the so-called Bone Monks seek understanding of the Requiem by studying what has been withheld from them - Death.