Hell of a Summer
Church of the Silver Flame
Of all the varied faiths of Eberron, the Silver Flame stands apart. The Purified, as followers of the faith call themselves, worship a divine entity of nonmortal origin, unlike the elves of Aerenal or the cultists of Rhashaak. Still, their god claims no dominion of the world, nor that it has existed since the Dragons formed that world, unlike the Sovereign Host and the Dark Six. The Silver Flame is a god with a purpose, and only those of equal principle are drawn to serve.
The Church of the Silver Flame has a rigid hierarchy formed from four formal orders. These orders are supplemented by various smaller brotherhoods and branches.
The Order Of Ministers
This order includes what most people would consider standard priests. They lead services at local temples, act as community leaders, conduct research and liturgical debate, or serve in Thrane’s military. Most priests of this order are experts, but adepts and clerics make up a significant minority.
The Order Of Templars
These are the true warriors of the Church. They might be temple guards, crusaders against evil creatures, wandering adventurers in search of wrongs to right, or soldiers in the armies of Thrane. The templars consist largely of warriors, with a substantial number of fighters and monks, and a few clerics. Most of the Silver Flame’s paladins serve as templars.
The Order Of Friars
In the argot of the Silver Flame, friars are priests who serve a missionary purpose. Rather than being assigned a specific region or community, friars travel from land to land, bringing the light of the Flame into dark places and converting all who seem receptive. A smaller proportion of the order’s members are pilgrims rather than friars. They are also wandering priests, but their duties are less well defined. They serve where they can, lead by example, conduct services and offer sermons, and aid those who require assistance. Friars are also called “priests errant,” particularly among older Purified.
The Council Of Cardinals
The previous three orders are largely equal in the eyes of the Church. The Council of Cardinals stands above them. Seminarians can enter the Ministers, Friars, or Templars immediately upon graduation, but only experienced and well-respected priests are promoted to the Council of Cardinals. Most Cardinals are from the Order of Ministers, with a notable few coming from the Order of Templars. Only rare individuals rise from the Order of Friars.
Most outside the Church of the Silver Flame believe that the Council of Cardinals refers to the governing body of the Church. In truth, that body is properly entitled the Diet of Cardinals, and its members are drawn from the ranks of the Council. The Council itself is simply another order, like the others, albeit a higher one. As in any specialized profession, nomenclature helps separate the insiders from the outsiders. Scholarly pursuits are no different from religious ones in this manner.
The Voice Of The Silver Flame
This is the highest position in the Church hierarchy, though one could argue that it is not a position at all, so much as it is part of the god itself. The paladin Tira Miron joined with the Silver Flame in 299 YK, binding a couatl and the escaped demon lord they were attempting to destroy. Since being joined with the paladin, the Flame has communicated with mortals—Tira serves literally as the Flame’s voice.
The Keeper Of The Flame
This individual serves as the intermediary between the Voice of the Silver Flame and the Diet of Cardinals. The Keeper is not elected but is called by the Voice. The current Keeper is an eleven-year-old girl named Jaela Daran.
A cardinal is a member of the Council of Cardinals, the most senior priests of the Church. Cardinals rarely conduct ceremonies of their own and have little to do with governing affairs in individual cities, as they are too busy running the Church itself. Only a cardinal can serve on the Diet of Cardinals—the actual ruling body—but not all cardinals are members of the Diet. Because cardinals must be nominated and elected by other cardinals, the overwhelming majority of them come from the ranks of the archbishops, since the cardinals have regular discourse with few others.
A priest who holds authority over the bishops of several major cities is an archbishop. Only the Order of Ministers has members of this rank, and it is the highest rank clergy can obtain without joining the Council of Cardinals.
A bishop holds authority over all the priests of a given city or other large community. The term is used primarily by the Order of Ministers. The equivalent title in the Order of Templars is “Prefect.” There is no equivalent among the Order of Friars. A friar who wishes to advance farther in the hierarchy must change orders.
Those who have successfully joined the priesthood, but have obtained no higher position, are simply called priests. The overwhelming majority of Silver Flame functionaries never rise higher than this rank. A priest in the Order of Ministers is referred to as “Father” or “Mother.” A priest in the Order of Friars is referred to as “Brother” or “Sister.” A priest in the Order of Templars is “Sir” or “Lady.”
The lowest rank of true priests, pilgrims are beginning members of the Order of Friars. They are lower in the hierarchy than starting members of the other orders, because their responsibilities are fewer and less well defined.
These two designations do not technically count as ranks in the priesthood, since those who hold them have not yet become priests.