Church of the Holy Light
|Theater of operations|
The Church of the Holy Light (or simply the Church of Light) is an organization affiliated with the Alliance and is dedicated to creating a world of honor and justice. Its members strive to aid others and be good in all actions. By embodying the tenets of their religion, the Church's skilled clergy can wield holy magic called the Light.
- 1 History
- 2 Mission
- 3 Member organizations
- 4 In the RPG
- 5 Notes and trivia
- 6 Speculation
- 7 Gallery
- 8 References
Prior to the unification of humanity by the Empire of Arathor, humans struggled to survive using the limited supplies provided to them by their vrykul parents, who had abandoned them. They occasionally took to gathering around a fire whilst trying to read from scrolls telling of ancient heroes and leaders – tales from the civilization that had cast these creatures out. One of these scrolls spoke of a great leader, a paragon of order and justice, who sacrificed his right hand in a fight against an unfathomable evil. Although it was within this hero's power to fix his hand after the fighting had ended, the hero instead chose to replace it with a closed fist made of the purest silver. In this way, the hero impressed upon those who followed him that true order and justice can only be accomplished through personal sacrifice. This hero, who slipped into memory long ago, went by the name of Tyr. Supposedly, it is from these tales that gave humanity hope in a period of darkness that the philosophies of the Light originated from.
Following the Troll Wars, a number of human priests began having faint dreams and visions of angelic forms thrumming with living light. They did not know it, but they had actually managed to commune with the naaru in the Great Dark Beyond, and through this connection, the Holy Light was introduced to the early humans for the first time. Mereldar was the first of these prophets, receiving visions of holiness, protection, justice, retribution, and compassion. With others who had also reported seeing the visions, they codified and wrote down the wisdom of this higher power. The movement sparked widespread faith in the Light and became the predominant human religion, and centuries later the different Light-based traditions and belief systems were codified by Lordaeron's leaders into the Church of the Holy Light.
Involvement in the First War
During the First War, priests of the Church known as the Clerics of Northshire were in the kingdom of Stormwind and fought with the armies against the Orcish Horde. Using their Light-given abilities, they healed the wounded and protected the citizens of Stormwind.
A Stormwind citizen described them as:
These are the holy men of our kingdom. Their spiritual leadership keeps both the people and the troops of Azeroth focused upon our mission of everlasting peace. Their ability to channel the spirit of humanity through their bodies makes them truly wondrous, and stories of their ability to heal the sick and injured, as well as being able to affect the perceptions of others, are miraculous in nature. The transgressions against Humanity by the orcs have forced them to devise ways to defend themselves, but their true path remains the healing of men's souls.
Unfortunately, their numbers were not great enough to change the outcome of the war and Stormwind fell to the Horde.
The Second War and the Knights of the Silver Hand
Following Anduin Lothar's speech to the leaders of the Alliance of Lordaeron, Archbishop Alonsus Faol called for a meeting with Anduin Lothar and the mage Khadgar. During the meeting, he introduced the followers of the Church that became the first paladins of a new order: the Knights of the Silver Hand. The first paladins were: Uther the Lightbringer, Saidan Dathrohan, Tirion Fordring, Turalyon, and Gavinrad.
The paladins were instrumental in the defeat of the Horde and were the Alliance's best defense against the Horde's death knights. After Anduin Lothar fell to Orgrim Doomhammer, Turalyon took up his broken sword and defeated Doomhammer - effectively ending the Second War.
The Third War
Unaware of the death cults forming in their lands, the leaders of the Alliance nations began to bicker and argue over territorial holdings and decreasing political influence. King Terenas of Lordaeron began to suspect that the fragile pact they had forged during their darkest hour would not last for much longer. Terenas had convinced the Alliance leaders to lend money and laborers to help rebuild the southern kingdom of Stormwind, which had been destroyed during the orcish occupation of Azeroth. The higher taxes that resulted, along with the high expense of maintaining and operating the numerous orc internment camps, led many leaders - Genn Greymane of Gilneas in particular - to believe that their kingdoms would be better off seceding from the Alliance.
To make matters worse, the high elves of Silvermoon City brusquely rescinded their allegiance to the Alliance, stating that the humans' poor leadership had led to the burning of their forests during the Second War. Terenas fought back his impatience and quietly reminded the elves that nothing of Quel'Thalas would have remained if not for the hundreds of valiant humans who'd given their lives to defend it. Nonetheless, the elves stubbornly decided to go their own way. In the wake of the elves' departure, Gilneas and Stromgarde seceded as well.
Though the Alliance was falling apart, King Terenas still had allies that he could count on. Both Admiral Proudmoore of Kul Tiras and the young king, Varian Wrynn of Stormwind, remained committed to the Alliance. Furthermore, the wizards of the Kirin Tor, led by the Archmage Antonidas, pledged Dalaran's steadfast support to Terenas' rule. Perhaps most reassuring of all was the pledge of the mighty dwarven king, Magni Bronzebeard, who vowed that the dwarves of Ironforge would forever owe a debt of honor to the Alliance for liberating Khaz Modan from the Horde's control.
After preparing for many long months, Kel'Thuzad and his Cult of the Damned finally struck the first blow by releasing the plague of undeath upon Lordaeron. Uther and his fellow paladins investigated the infected regions in the hope of finding a way to stop the plague. Despite their efforts, the plague continued to spread and threatened to tear the Alliance apart.
Despite the high elves' official departure from the Alliance, some elves still remain true to their former human and dwarven allies. The altruistic priests of Quel'Thalas refused to abandon their roles as healers and agreed to remain in Lordaeron despite the edicts from their reclusive masters in Silvermoon. The high elven priests use their Light-given powers to heal the wounded and bolster the spirits of Lordaeron's fighting elite. These high elven priests joined with Prince Arthas in investigating the plague with the goal of healing the land of its strange curse.
Arthas succeeded in killing Kel'Thuzad, but even so, the undead ranks swelled with every soldier that fell defending the land. Frustrated and stymied by the seemingly unstoppable enemy, Arthas took increasingly extreme steps to conquer them. Finally, Arthas' comrades warned him that he was losing his hold on his humanity.
Arthas' fear and resolve proved to be his ultimate undoing. He tracked the plague's source to Northrend, intending to end its threat forever. Instead, Prince Arthas eventually fell prey to the Lich King's tremendous power. Believing that it would save his people, Arthas took up the cursed runeblade, Frostmourne. Though the sword did grant him unfathomable power, it also stole his soul and transformed him into the greatest of the Lich King's death knights. With his soul cast aside and his sanity shattered, Arthas led the Scourge against his own kingdom. Ultimately, Arthas murdered his own father, King Terenas, and crushed Lordaeron under the Lich King's iron heel.
The Cult of the Damned continued to recruit among the despaired people of humanity, adding Death Knights, Necromancers, and Acolytes to bolster the ranks of the Scourge. After years of constant war and suffering, some members of the clergy also lost their sense of the Holy Light, now existing only to spread their frustration and negativity to their fellow men and women.
Many attempts to repel the Scourge ended in vain. Many of the Knights of the Silver Hand died fighting the Scourge, including their famed leader Uther the Lightbringer. After the fall of Lordaeron, Alexandros Mograine formed a Crusade from the remnants of Lordaeron's Knights of the Silver Hand and attempted to retake the shattered kingdom from both the Scourge and the undead renegades known as the Forsaken. In the Eastern Plaguelands, they took control of both the town of Tyr's Hand and the western districts of Stratholme, where they battle the forces of Baron Rivendare to gain control of the destroyed city. After the death of Alexandros Mograine, the Crusade went through a schism; forming factions such as the Brotherhood of the Light and the Argent Dawn which established themselves in Light's Hope Chapel, and with those who remained in the original Crusade renaming themselves the Scarlet Crusade.
World of Warcraft
In his youth, the kindly Benedictus was the student of Lordaeron’s religious leader, Archbishop Alonsus Faol. Benedictus spent many years learning from his pious master and helped the Church of Light construct its most striking monument, the Cathedral in Stormwind. Following Faol's death, Benedictus took charge of the Church as its new Archbishop and swore to continue the good work his mentor had begun so many years ago.
The Cathedral of Light now serves as the main spiritual hub for the Church of Light as well as for Stormwind, humanity, and the new Alliance. Under the Church of Light's leadership, the Knights of the Silver Hand and the Church's clergy were reformed, spreading its religion and inducting new races to its various organizations. The Light's teachings have also spread to Stormwind's dwarven and gnome allies who have adopted its philosophies as well.
The Church wishes to bolster its ranks, but it understands the sacrifices needed to ensure the paladins serving it are worthy.
During the Scourge Invasion, multiple necropolises appeared in the skies of Azeroth, transmitting communications and other assistance to the Scourge's ground forces. While the Forsaken dealt with curing the plague, the Church of the Holy Light pledged itself to destroy the necropolises. Using the concentration of Light energy from the naaru of Shattrath City and the shared benedictions from its faithful, the Church created holy artifacts able to strike down the flying structures.
- Main article: Archbishop Benedictus (tactics)
According to Bishop Farthing, Archbishop Benedictus had left Stormwind on an important mission to assist the dragon aspects at Wyrmrest Temple. The truth of this matter, however, was far more nefarious.
For years, Benedictus' wise guidance had been instrumental in seeing humanity through bleak times. Yet beneath his apparent benevolence lied the shocking truth that he had pledged himself to the eradication of all life on Azeroth through the agency of his dark master... Deathwing and their masters. He could later be found in the Chamber of Aspects of Wyrmrest Temple during the beginning of the Hour of Twilight.
It was there that he made his final assault against Thrall, attempting to assassinate him personally, but was killed during the battle by Thrall's companions. When adventurers returned to Stormwind after his death and told Bishop Farthing that Benedictus was the Twilight Prophet and betrayed the people of Stormwind, he would not believe it, telling the adventurers that he heard another grim rumor about Bolvar Fordragon and asking them to spread their lies elsewhere.
Purge of Dalaran
|This section is a lore stub.|
Farthing joined the Twilight's Hammer as well.
Battle for Azeroth
The Church's clergy is renowned for spreading goodness. The vocation of a priest is one of spiritual growth and contemplation. The priests of the Light heal and restore in times of peace, protect in times of war. Paladins are the martial branch of the Church and seek to be an example of the Light's teachings as well as enforce its laws. These crusaders are called to protect the weak, to bring justice to the unjust, and to vanquish evil from the darkest corners of the world. The Clerics of Northshire once claimed their mission was to achieve "everlasting peace."
In all things, paladins must reflect the Light, which supplements our strength. To strive to be divine for one of our kind does not mean we strive for godhood--we strive to be good in all actions.
Although called upon to smite evil in these harsh times, you must always remember that it's aiding others that will truly set you apart from the other citizens. Compassion, patience, bravery--these things mean as much to a paladin as strength in battle.
Know this well, and never forget it.
The Three Virtues
The philosophy of the Holy Light boils down to the three teachings, called the Three Virtues. These virtues—respect, tenacity, and compassion—are each defined into a principle and a lesson. Acting on these three tenets helps make the world a place everyone can appreciate; a world of honor and justice.
Respect is the first virtue taught to those joining the path of the Light. When looking at an enemy, one must look past the hatred that separates. There are qualities to respect and prowess to be acknowledged. Conducting oneself with honor and treating one's opponent as one wishes to be treated shows respect. Respecting one's opponents on the field is acknowledging a connection, which brings one closer to the Light.
Tenacity is the second virtue. This is the virtue of persevering through troubling times and painful experiences. In the face of despair and hatred, one must continue to stand true to their beliefs and fight on.
Compassion is the last step on the path of the Light. In times of rivalries, it is easy to see differences at every turn. The challenge is in looking beyond appearances and understanding the similarities. Through this understanding, one can feel compassion for the losses others have suffered, even if the victim bears another banner. By feeling and understanding compassion in enemy and ally alike, one reaffirms his or her connection with the world.
In the RPG
No one knows how the Church was founded, and no one remembers when people first discovered the Holy Light - or were discovered by it. In a time prior to the First War, humans began preaching about the Holy Light; explaining that it is a great and benevolent force that sought out mortal spirits interested in helping others and protecting life.
Because the philosophy involves a significant amount of study and contemplation, they likely built libraries before churches. As the organization grew, the places of teaching and study grew as well. Eventually, all of the individual churches began working together and formed the Church of the Holy Light.
The Third War
Many remaining paladins who served the Silver Hand and now make their new home in Kalimdor are attempting to form a new Church, but the going is slow. As the study of the Holy Light was more of a philosophical pursuit than a faith, the destroyed Church resembled a library instead of a house of worship. Its texts were destroyed along with the Church, many of them burned, most of them buried in thousands of pounds of rubble. What with the wars, settling a new Alliance stronghold and dealing with frequent skirmishes, the remaining scholars and priests have found little time to work on transcribing old information into new books for initiates. Most young followers of the Holy Light learn by experience at the heel of a more experienced person instead of in libraries surrounded by texts.
Some self-appointed sages are taking up the mantle of rewriting the pontifications on the Holy Light, but there is no regulation or overseer. There are fresh looks at old ideas, as well as old ideas copied word for word by diligent old priests with perfect memories. As one would expect, sometimes these scholars clash when someone realizes that the texts are beginning to contradict one another. There is tension within the church: Younger priests feel the Third War gave the Holy Light a chance to renew itself just as the Alliance was renewing itself on Kalimdor, while others demand to keep to old traditions.
Secular citizens care little for the debates but prefer their rituals to remain the same. With everything around them changing, faith represents one of the few constants.
Some claim that the Third War was the best thing that could have happened to the Church, and suggest that the Church take this opportunity to rebuild itself. They claimed that the Church had strayed from the path of the Three Virtues and needed to pare back down to essentials. According to these younger priests, their elders had lost touch with the Light and it was time to reclaim that holy communion.
It is said that the Church is finally organizing again and looking at all these texts for consistency and accuracy, but it's unknown if that's true. It is known that the Church is stronger than it's been in centuries. It's rebuilding, regaining ground, and speaking out against the Scourge and other evils.
The Church has an archbishop which is in charge, and he has a council of bishops to advise him. Usually the archbishop was a bishop himself before he was selected, and once he's been chosen he's in charge until he dies or chooses to step down. The bishops do more than advise the archbishop, of course. Each bishop has charge of a region, in some cases an entire continent. The regions are based more on population than area, so in some cases a bishop might only be responsible for a large city, while others have an entire countryside. Stormwind City has its own bishop, as does Northrend. Priests work for the bishops, and they do most of the actual community work: preaching, tending to the wounded, teaching the children, and so on. They lay priests as well, who aren't ordained and cannot preach, but handle most of the daily chores around the temples and monasteries.
The Church of the Holy Light can only get so much through donations. In order to feed the priests, the religious institution has to make money. It has farms all over the countryside, most of them housing monasteries, and the priests there raise crops and cattle and whatever else the Church needs, and sell the surplus. In some regions the Church owns land and rents it to farmers, merchants or businessmen. They don't keep much of the profit, though — and the Church is always giving food, clothing and tools to the poor. It also teaches people about prayer, about health and farming, and generally how to be a good person.
Before the First War, the Church had three major locations: Northshire Abbey in Azeroth's western countryside, the Temple of Light in Stratholme, and Cathedral of Light in Stormwind City. The Horde destroyed Northshire Abbey in the First War, tearing it apart and burning the rubble. The Temple of Light fell with the rest of Stratholme to the Scourge. Only the Cathedral of Light remains, and this has become the Church's headquarters. A grand structure with many wings and spires, the Cathedral houses Archbishop Benedictus, the bishop of Stormwind City, and various other priests. It also contains the Grand Chamber, a vast meeting room where the council of bishops meets with the archbishop to discuss issues and plot the Church's actions. The Northshire Abbey was later rebuilt, but is only an outpost of the Cathedral of Light.
Anyone can follow the path of the Holy Light, and anyone who follows the Holy Light is welcomed by the Church. Most of its members are human, but the Church does not discriminate. High elves and Ironforge dwarves have long been members.
Though anyone can become a member of the Church, becoming an actual priest is a long and difficult process. First come various classes, taught by lay priests, all about the Church's history, principles and activities. If the applicant does well in class he graduates to the next level, taking personal instruction with a priest, learning prayers and other devotions. Most applicants become lay priests, working for the Church while studying. They can spend several years in instruction, until the priest feels they're ready. Then there's an audience with the bishop, and a stay in one of the Church's monasteries — several months to several years away from everyone except other faithful. During this time many of them experience true communion with the Light for the first time. If the applicant maintains his faith and still seems suitable, the monastery's head priest sponsors him for ordination. Once a priest is ordained, his life belongs to the Church. The council decides where he goes and what he will do, whether that's working a farm or preaching in a city. Most priests stay with the Church until they die, though as they get older they do more studious and clerical work and less physical labor. A few lose faith and break away, forsaking their vows. Those who do stay, and who distinguish themselves spiritually and politically, can rise through the ranks and eventually become a bishop.
After the Second War, the Church of the Holy Light had very few members — in large part because so many died in Lordaeron — and most temples had a single priest or were actually shut down. People have begun applying again since the Third War, however, and now the temples are all fully staffed again.
The council has many bishops, though naturally not all of them can attend every meeting. Many handle their own regions well but are quiet during meetings, expressing opinions with nods or frowns and voting without a word. Others are more boisterous, more aggressive, and more political. Three of these have formed their own power bases within the council, and they and the archbishop are the true powers of the Church — some might say the three bishops are the power and the archbishop dances desperately among them, attempting to prevent a schism.
|Archbishop Benedictus||Cathedral of Light, Stormwind City|
|Hylan||Cathedral of Light, Stormwind City|
|Leander||Cathedral of Light, Stormwind City|
|Neheri||Cathedral of Light, Stormwind City|
The Three Virtues
The philosophy of the Holy Light boils down to the three teachings, called the Three Virtues. These virtues — respect, tenacity and compassion — are each defined into a principle and a lesson.
The first virtue taught is respect. While the Holy Light teaches that awareness of the self and the universe is a goal, one must also see the connection between others and the universe. Destroying other's happiness and severing other's connections with the universe is not serving the world's well being, and therefore not your own. The practitioners of the Holy Light are not naive, however, and understand that trial, conflict, war, and suffering do happen; but they strive to make the universe a better place in spite of these hindrances.
The second virtue is tenacity. The adherence to this virtue is, incidentally, the part of training under the Holy Light that weeds out the unfaithful, as true dedication takes years. Fresh-faced acolytes often lose hope and the true meaning of the Holy Light when they realize that it takes a lifetime to serve the philosophy. The world is much bigger than one lone soul; and while the world can change a soul in a day, it takes much more time to change the world. Only through tenacity can a servant of the Holy Light hope to affect the universe. If some young students feel like this is an impossible task, others take heart in the realization that if you truly believe there is a connection between the self and the universe, one cannot help but affect the other, no matter the size. Affecting the world can include anything from teaching and instilling hope in others to joining with other like-minded individuals to work together to create a bigger change.
After the first two concepts are mastered, the student can take on the final virtue: compassion. The connection between the self and the universe is strong, but it still is only one connection. If a follower of the Light serves another to increase his happiness, his bond with the universe grows stronger. The happiness he receives by helping someone also strengthens himself and the universe, and he is able to affect the universe even more.
Compassion is perhaps the most powerful — and yet most dangerous — virtue.
If someone is too compassionate, he can give help where none is needed — or wanted. This oversight can hinder one's growth and happiness. For example, one may help another with a seemingly impossible quest, when such a quest is not actually out of the abilities of the one making the attempt. Thus, Compassion (However well-intentioned) has resulted in that person's inability to grow as the quest was essentially "done for them", hindering their growth and happiness.
Some helpers can be awkward and do more harm than good with their actions, increasing the suffering and unhappiness in the world. A well-meaning follower of the Light may rush to the aid of an adventurer(s) and wind up gaining too much interest of those attacking, and thus force those they try to help to rush to the follower's aid.
This is why compassion is taught last; only the wise and those fully understanding compassion may identify who is truly in need and who can grow on their own.
Notes and trivia
- Jordan and Daphne Stilwell were known to have helped the Church greatly.
- Many human members of the Church are wearing a and a matching hat. On the other hand, several Ironforge dwarf priests wear the same orange-colored robe, including High Priest Rohan, Toldren Deepiron, Theodrus Frostbeard and Ironforge Priests.
- According to Chris Metzen, the Church of the Holy Light fully supports the Argent Crusade and hates the Scarlet Crusade.
- The codices written by Mereldar and the other human prophets might have become the five librams given to the first Knights of the Silver Hand. It is possible that the five codices were somehow condensed into the three virtues, or that two of the codices were voluntarily ignored by the modern Church.
- The Argent Dawn and its successor the Argent Crusade both have an unusually high number of undead holy men and women in their ranks compared to any other faction, including the Forsaken. They come as Clerics, Priests, Healers, Initiates and Lightbringers. As such, it is possible that these faithful of the Light are members of the Lordaeron branch of the Church of the Holy Light who were initially freed with the other undead and decided to band apart because of the tendency of the Forsaken to instead be shadow priests.
- The amount of members from the Stormwind branch of the Church who joined the Twilight's Hammer cult is quite high - Archbishop Benedictus, Bishop Farthing, the Black Bishop. It is known that the Twilight's Hammer occupied Northshire Abbey during the Second War; maybe they left behind some books (such as the Twilight Canticle) that eventually ended up in the hands of impressionable members of the Church.
- The Conclave's Brothers and Sisters of the Light are presumably members.
Sapiency of the Light
- Main article: Light#Sapiency
The Light has been personified many times by its followers and others, believing that it had a "will", or that it made deliberate choices, or that it was "good", while the Void and other magics were "evil".
- There are human sayings such as "Light be with you".
- Others such as Revil Kost and Ambrose also believed that the Light was some kind of abstract deity that guided mortals for some benign purpose and all actions and fates were all constructs of its design.
- The general belief was that mortals were chosen to act as vessels for the Light's will.
- Tirion Fordring directly addressed the Light and asked it to grant him one last blessing.
- Dansel Adams interpreted the disappearance of Naxxramas when it teleported as "a miracle of the Light".
A random grave at Raven Hill cemetery with the symbol on top.
Another random grave at Stormwind City Cemetery with the symbol.
A marker in front of the burning bodies at Aderic's Repose.
Another random grave at the Twilight Highlands.
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2
- ^ Tides of Darkness, chapter 3
- ^ Ask CDev#Ask CDev Answers - Round 1
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. 142
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 126
- ^ a b Warcraft: Orcs & Humans manual, Azeroth Army of the First War, Cleric
- ^ Warcraft: Orcs & Humans
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual, Nations of the Alliance, Lordaeron
- ^ Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness
- ^ Tides of Darkness
- ^ Alonsus Faol#Death and remembrance
- ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos manual, pg. 10
- ^ Ravages of the Plague
- ^ World of Warcraft manual, pg. 170
- ^ Argent Emissary#Quotes
- ^ Bishop Lazaril#Quotes
- ^ The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, chapter 6
- ^ Before the Storm, chapter 8
- ^ Before the Storm, chapter 1
- ^ Stromgarde Priest
- ^ a b c d Argent Confessor Paletress
- ^ a b c d Alliance Player's Guide, pg. 152
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 169-170
- ^ Alliance Player's Guide, pg. 152-153
- ^ Lands of Conflict, pg. 49
- ^ a b Alliance Player's Guide, pg. 153
- ^ World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, pg. 168 - 169
- ^ Chris Metzen on Twitter
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 154
- ^ Dark Riders
- ^ Lich King (tactics)