The Lancea et Sanctum
The Lancea et Sanctum claims it was founded by Longinus, the Roman centurion who fulfilled an ancient prophecy by thrusting the Spear of Destiny into the side of Christ on the Cross, revealing the Lord’s divinity even as it damned Longinus. More important to the Sanctified is that the cruel act exposed the lifelong sinner to the true nature of the Damned. Longinus realized at that moment, and later through the intercession of angelic messengers, that while he and others like him might forever be denied the blessing of God and the salvation He offered through His son, Jesus, the Damned were not God’s enemies. Unlike Lucifer and his host, they are not cast into the pits of Hell to spend eternity locked away from the earthly and heavenly realms. Instead, they are given free reign in the world of the living to carry out their divine purpose.
The Damned are to be an example to the kine of the price of sin: they are to prey upon mortals so that the kine will understand that life is brief and only a shadow of the glorious Heaven that awaits. And they are to accept their damnation with pious devotion, knowing that it is God’s Will, despite the weight of the burden. Those who are able to do this truly are Sanctified.
- That, as a vampire, you are Damned, which means that you are no longer capable of receiving God’s forgiveness or salvation.
- That you earned this Damnation somehow.
- That Damnation has transformed you into a predator; or more significantly, a monster.
- That your Damnation has a purpose ordained by God.
- That your purpose is fulfilled by feeding upon men as the predator that you are, and in doing so simultaneously providing them with the suffering they need to strengthen their own moral fiber while exemplifying what happens to someone who unrepentantly lives a life of sin.
- Further, that you should carry the word of Longinus to those that do not yet believe.
Be a predator, the Lancea et Sanctum tells you. Because that is the role that God has chosen for you, and that you earned through your sinful past. When you not only accept this but embrace it, your requiem will become better for it.
The foundation for that belief is found in a collection of very short books known as the Testament of Longinus. Those books (six of them combined) describe the simple mythology of Longinus, an exceptionally sinful man who became the Roman Centurion that raised a spear to pierce the side of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion; they also contain a history of the earliest nights of the Lancea et Sanctum (before it formally became a Covenant), basic instructions for how to live as Sanctified vampires, and finally a series of prophetic visions attributed to Longinus himself about the End of Days from a Sanctified perspective.
Another aspect of the Lancea et Sanctum, no less important to understand, is their function as a society, or culture. Though the Covenant is founded on belief, its existence as a Covenant is based on its ability to act as a society, and that society has rules. If the core of the Covenant’s belief is summed up in the Testament of Longinus, its rules for behavior are covered in detail within the pages of a rather long theological work written by the first disciple of Longinus, known simply as the Monachus (or, the Monk, when translated from Latin). The book is broken down into Canons. Here, we will discuss the First, the Second, and the Ninth Canon.
- The First Canon: Focuses on the theological ramifications of the Testament, covering at great length the concept of Damnation as well as explaining the reasons for it. Vampiric purpose, the fallen nature of the world, the foundation for the relationship between predator and prey, and the very delicate question of vampires and the potential for Heaven are all touched upon within it. To summarize: the vampire is intended to prey upon the kine, and should fulfill that role without regret; if (with a very strong emphasis on if) any vampire seeks to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, acceptance of his role here and now is his only hope of doing so; vampire exists in order to force man into a closer relationship with God via their predations.
- The Second Canon: Elevates the Masquerade from a matter of simple common sense to one of religious imperative; the work of the Sanctified can only be performed effectively in secret.
- The Ninth Canon: Is the backbone of Sanctified society and authority. It firmly establishes the Lancea et Sanctum as a construct of independently functioning cells wherein each body of faithful (known as a diocese or parish, typically consisting of a single city) follows the example of the Sanctified whose predation and understanding of the Testament they consider to be the most perfected. How this is determined may vary from diocese to diocese, but the Canon makes it very clear that deference is owed primarily to that Sanctified. In effect, this means that the Lancea et Sanctum has no centralized authority, and it is a known fact in Sanctified history that this has protected the Church from both deliberate corruption and from the kind that originates of vampiric frailties.
Other important Canons include the Third, which rather harshly limits the act of the Embrace for Sanctified vampires; the Fourth, which condemns diablerie; the Fifth, which encourages evangelism; and the Eighth, which fully defines how the vampiric predator should interact with his human prey. Altogether, there are thirteen Canons.
Perfected Damnation (Standards of Behavior)
Despite the decentralized nature of Sanctified society, the Covenant itself is fairly rigid where its patterns of behavior are concerned. The Sanctified vampire is expected to be a predator. Weakness is not praised. Strength is, though what exactly defines that measure of strength may differ from vampire to vampire. Lesser predators owe respect to greater predators, yet these supposed greater predators are also expected to remember their place as first among equals. Still, there are some simple expectations where behavior is concerned.
- Observance of Sanctified Ritae: To reiterate, the Lancea et Sanctum is a religious order steeped in ritualism. Whatever you do in your private requiem, participation in its Ritae is expected. A pointed lack of participation may have a negative impact on your requiem.
- Observance of the Sanctified faith: Whatever you actually believe, your public behavior and speech should reflect at the very least the basic ideas presented above. Too much variance from the norms of Sanctified belief may attract the attention of Inquisitors and may result in a finding of heresy, a very uncomfortable proposition for any Sanctified vampire.
- Respect for your follow Sanctified: You are all in this boat together. Even if you don’t like each other, you still believe in and pursue the same purpose. When possible, you should try to coexist.
- Deference to leadership: Sanctified who have risen in the ranks, either in terms of respect and power (status) or in terms of position (title) are owed some deference based on the efforts they make for the Covenant. While blatant disrespect may be a viable way to challenge the authority of another Damned (or at least their dominance), it may also be the quickest means by which a new vampire finds himself in torpor, or worse.
- The Ninth Canon: Cannot be emphasized enough. Though individual vampires may for their own reasons devise plans to unify various dioceses under singular leadership or overthrow this Canon, the autonomy of the individual diocese to practice their faith without interference from outside authorities should be the expected norm in Sanctified behavior. Further, deviations from this norm should be viewed with suspicion or wariness.
Titles and Offices
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.
- Archbishop: Typically a priest who is also Prince of the city, and therefore wields temporal (or secular) power. Honorific: Your Excellency.
- Bishop: Usually the foremost Sanctified in a city, particularly in affairs of guidance for the faith, though this may differ in larger or Sanctified dominated cities; typically responsible for the coordination of Sanctified activities. Honorific: Your Grace.
- Cardinal: The leadership for a regional Synod. Honorific: Your Eminence.
- Inquisitor: An ancillary position that only exists in a domain where it is condoned by the local Bishop, this priest is very knowledgeable concerning the faith and effective at determining the presence of heresy: honorific: None.
- Priest: The lowest rung of the clergy, yet often the most accessible when it comes to help with personal Ritae and counsel (also, permitted to perform Apostolica); honorifics: Father/Mother, Reverend, Pastor, or other varients.
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.