Way of the Wicked
The Church of Mitra
If there is any organization that may rival the royal house in power in Talingarde today, it is the Church of Mitra. There is no community of any size that does not have at least a church house and a single priest of this religion. There are involved in the daily lives of the peasants like no other group. Every birth, every death, every marriage, and every festival is presided over by a priest of Mitra.
Led by the High Cardinal Vitalian of Estyllis, the Church is experiencing a zenith of influence and culture. In Matharyn, the kingdom’s capital, the great Cathedral of the Sanctum Solaris has just been completed. Its soaring frescoes and magnificent statuary are without equal on the isle.
Mitran priests are allowed to marry and in fact about half do so. These priest-wives hold an honored place in the Church and often become temple care-takers. Many of the more monastic orders of the church either require celibacy or strongly encourage it. This has less to do with the teachings of Mitra and much more to do with the practical matters of living in a monastery.
Mitran priests are not required to be male. In fact some of the most famous orders of the Church (for example the Abbey of Saint Cynthia-Celeste) are entirely female. Still the majority of priests in the hierarchy of the Church are male and this shows no signs of changing. This again has far more to with Talirean culture than any requirements of Mitra himself. The teachings of Mitra are completely gender equitable. Neither man nor woman is called superior to other. Both must seek the light of the blessed Mitra.
There is a difference between being a member of the Church of Mitra and being a priest of Mitra. Though the overlap between these two groups is almost total, there are occassionally exceptions. The Church of Mitra includes the seven levels of service (detailed below) and all the associated minor orders (for example the Order of St. Macarius fits here). These individuals have all taken an oath not just to Mitra but also to serve the Church and its High Cardinal.
A priest of Mitra is simply anyone who chooses to worship Mitra and in particular anyone who Mitra chooses to grant the ability to use divine magic. Every once in a while someone will manifest the ability to use divine magic who has never taken the oath to the church and who has never perhaps even worn a priest’s robe.
These are rarities to be sure. The relationship between these “freelance” priests and the Church has always been a strained one. The Church would prefer that as soon as such a priest is revealed that he take the oath and join the Church hierarchy. However, sometime the priest refuses and goes his own way. These rogue priests often become adventurers or wandering servants of Mitra. Their very existence is infuriating to the Church. They cannot deny that Mitra has chosen these individuals, they just don’t understand why they can’t join with their brothers and support the Church.
Hierarchy of the Church
First Tier – The Novices
Second Tier – The Initiates
Third Tier – The Priests
Fourth Tier – The High Priests
Fifth Tier – The Bischops
Sixth Tier- The Seven Cardinals
Seventh Tier – The High Cardinal, Most Holy