Unionism has several religious rituals that its believers undergo throughout their lifetime, known as Sanktisms. Each Sanktism is performed to signify a certain period in a Unionist’s life, from birth through adulthood, and ending with death. While there are several Sanktisms, Unionists are only expected to undergo the first and final ones, as some rituals are specific to certain groups of people, such as the nobility or betrothed couples. Each Sanktism is presided over by a Celate, who leads the believers through the rituals. Below is a list of all Unionist Sanktisms.
Sanktism of Birth Blessing
Applicable to: Newborns to at least one Unionist parent
The first Sanktism is the Birth Blessing, which is performed at the start of a Unionist’s life. While in most cases the Sanktism is performed as soon as the baby enters the world, it is permitted to delay the ritual until both the child and mother are in good health, so long as it is performed before the child’s first birthday. During the Sanktism, the Celate recites two prayers to The Everwatcher to signal the entry of a new Unionist into the world, while giving the child their first teachings in the Unionist faith. Between these two prayers to The Everwatcher, a prayer to God Empress Ness is made, during which holy water is sprinkled onto the child to signal a washing away of any sins from their previous life, in order to grant a soul a clean slate for the new life. Following the prayer to Ness, a penultimate prayer is said to God Emperor Theomar in order to bless the creation of a new family and to give them guidance throughout the child’s development. While traditionally, the mother recites a prayer to Ness while the father recites a prayer to Theomar, this is not mandatory, and in the cases of single and same-sex parents, the prayers can be recited by either parent without preference to biological gender.
Sanktism of Harmony
Applicable to: Unionist couples who want to get married
The Sanktism of Harmony is the wedding ritual, where two people are joined together as spouses. It should be noted that marriage in Regalia isn't exactly the same as a Unionist marriage. Unionism and the State do not have the same ideology or legislation concerning marriage (such as barring certain Races from intermarrying, whereas Unionism has no restrictions on paper). As such, having a marriage agreed upon by the State, is not the same as getting married by a Celate. Unionist marriage is always subject to Holy Law, though does not have to particularly come after or before a State marriage, and can in fact be made entirely separately depending on whether the State marriage even took place or not. If divorced or widowed, the Sanktism of Harmony is repeated with every new spouse, meaning the Sanktisms duplicate. A man who divorced his first wife and remarried thus has two Sanktisms of Harmony. Note, it is quite possible to have a Sanktism of Harmony request that is accepted by one Celate, but rejected by another, which tend to vary between Schisms and Sects:
- The Vierzehn Sect only approves of marriages between members of the opposite sex. They also emphasize marriage to the same Race, but only enforce this on Ailor, believing the privileged designation by the Everwatcher should separate them from the rest of creation.
- The Evintarian Schism only approves of same-sex marriages if the couple has already adopted children, or has sired children through past marriages or surrogates. They are tolerant of interracial marriage, though still outwardly state “It is better to marry another Ailor than a non-Ailor.”
- The Vultragon Schism welcomes all marriages and is the most open when it concerns a couple wishing to have the Sanktism performed.
The ritual proceeds in the following order:
- The couple both approach the Celate who is standing by a shrine dedicated to the God Empress of Love, Elia.
- The Celate recites a prayer to Elia, asking for her to bless the couple with devotion to one another, just as she showed devotion to Allest, both during and after his life.
- The couple take turns reciting the Eids, or vows to one another. This part of the ritual is the most unique, as the Celate does not prepare anything for it. Rather, the couple are expected to personalize their Eids, which can be as simple as a declaration of love and future happiness, to a duet sung to those present.
- After the Eids are completed, the couple exchanges a small gift between one another, to symbolize the sharing of personal property. For the nobility and wealthy, this tends to involve the exchanging of wedding rings, while it is not unheard of for poor commoners to exchange two halves of a bread roll between each other. There is no specific gift that must be exchanged, and some couples are known to personalize their presents to one another.
- After the exchange of gifts, the Celate recites a final prayer to the Everwatcher, proclaiming that the couple has joined together in harmony, and calling upon the supreme being to watch over their marriage for the rest of their lives.
At this point, the Sanktism is completed, and any celebrations are entirely upon the shoulders of the married couple, often by calling on God Emperor Vess immediately after the Celate is finished to begin the festivities immediately.
While there is no set dress code for the Sanktism of Harmony, it is traditional for the couple and guests to wear their best clothing, with white being the popular choice as it symbolizes purity. Regardless of choice, the groom must always wear a yellow sash, while the bride must wear a purple sash. In the case of same-sex relations, the older person wears the yellow sash, while the younger wears the purple. These sashes are often provided by a Celate, though some couples wear a family sash that is passed down through the generations.
Sanktism of Celacy
Applicable to: Celates
The Sanktism of Ordination is a ritual that all Celates must go through in order to become ordained as a priest within the Unionist faith. After attending the Divine College for about 8 years (children may attend the College starting at the age of 10), the future Celate is required to recite the opening passage of The Creed, one of the few parts of the ancient document that has been unaltered since Theomar first wrote it. After reciting a prayer to God Emperor Juvin for guidance in the future Celate’s duties, an Arch-Celate (or the Primae-Celate) confirms the entrance of the Celate into the Unionist priesthood and writes their name in one of the Celacy Codices that lists the names of all ordained Celates. Each Schism has a single Celacy Codex located at their respective Divine Colleges (Bastadon and Calemberg for Dogmatics, Etosil for Evintarians, Anglia for Dogartans, and Vultaro for Vultragons). As Dogartans do not have a Divine College, they undergo the Sanktism after 4 years of lay-priesthood at the Thousand Blade Cloister in Axford, where the Primae-Celate keeps the Celacy codex for the Schism.
Due to the emphasis on guiding the faithful, Celates cannot be anything but a priest, and those that choose to enter the priesthood must swear off memberships to previous organizations. For example, a General in the Regalian Army must reject their rank and membership in the officer corps, whereas a Knight must reject their knighthood and abandon their Knightly Order for the priesthood. This is all done to ensure that a person is fully dedicated to their future duties as a Celate, and to not be tempted to return to their past life. There are a few notes to keep in mind with this. For one, while a priest may swear off their past memberships, this does not mean they are fully incapable of performing their former duties in a new capacity. An Evintarian Celate who was once a General is still likely to command Unionist Armies as a priest, while a Dogartan Celate who was once a Knight is still likely to go around with their sword and assist the downtrodden in society. It should also be noted that nobility is an exception to this rejection prerequisite, as nobles are expected to serve the Emperor faithfully, and considered by the priesthood to be additional duties to the Unionist cause beyond priestly functions.
Sanktism of Duty
Applicable to: Unionist Servants to the Regalian Empire
The Sanktism of Duty is performed on Unionists who enter the service of the Regalian Empire, such as soldiers, justicars, bureaucrats, nobles upon their receipt of titles, and other state officials. During this Sanktism, the Celate offers a prayer to The Everwatcher to bless the Servant, after which the Servant says a personal prayer to their God Emperor/Empress of choice, asking them for blessings in their future service to the Empire. This Sanktism is often performed each time a Servant enters a new line of service to the Empire, though only the first ritual is mandatory to Unionists.
Sanktism of Fervent Service
Applicable to: Unionist Knights
The Sanktism of Fervent Service is a ritual in which all Unionist Knights undergo immediately following their graduation from Squire. This Sacrament is one of the most public rituals, as it involves newly graduated Knights to stand guard over a Unionist Temple over the course of a week with nothing but a flask of water while expecting to remain disciplined and orderly throughout the entire ordeal. Knights often remain silent during the ritual, while only breaking this silence to enter in prayer with their fellow Knights inside the Temple to ask The Everwatcher and God Emperors/Empresses for continued strength during the Sanktism, and in their future knightly duties. Knights who undergo this Sanktism often say it is one of the most spiritual experiences any Unionist can go through, only being surpassed by the Cloister Trials.
Sanktism of Conversion
Applicable to: Unionist Converts
The Sanktism of Conversion is one of the most altered rituals of the Unionist faith. While it originally required the convert to commit an act of grand heresy to their previous faith, recent tolerance of other faiths across the Regalian Empire has caused the practice to be discarded in most circumstances, only being conducted in areas with heavy Unionist concentrations and no large communities of other faiths. Besides this one optional action, Sanktism has remained much the same as it always has. It is a ritual undergone by individuals who wish to convert to the Unionist faith by rejecting their past religion.
The ritual is performed as follows:
- The Convert prays to a shrine of God Empress Ness, where the convert asks for forgiveness for not accepting the Unionist faith during their life. Converts often verbally reject their past beliefs during this prayer to indicate a sense of genuineness.
- The Convert speaks a second prayer to The Everwatcher, indicating their desire to become a Unionist and to serve the Emperor dutifully in their new faith.
- The presiding Celate sprinkles a few drops of holy water over the Convert, to indicate that their past life of heathenry has been washed away and that they are now a member of the Unionist faith.
Sanktism of Soul Grant
Applicable to: non-Ailor Unionists
The Sanktism of Soul Grant is the rarest Sanktism within Unionism, as it can only be performed by the Emperor, and lacks the ceremony of the other rituals. What the Sanktism of Soul Grant does, is declare a non-Ailor's soul to be Ailor, granting them the citizenship and benefits that go along side it. For all legal and spiritual purposes, a recipient of a Soul Grant is an Ailor, even if they may physically look like their former Race. The reasons for Emperors granting Ailor souls through this Sanktism have varied over the centuries, as the relationship between Ailor and non-Ailor has been equally steeped in theological debate over the exact meaning of the Creed. In modern times, Soul Grants are often used to allow non-Ailors to rise higher in the priestly ranks, especially within the Evintarian and Vierzehner communities, where Arch-Celates are exclusively Ailor by cultural norms. Other Soul grants are given to non-Ailor who prove their loyalty to the Emperor through years of sacrifice to the Empire (which means that even non-Unionists are also able to receive Ailor souls).
Sanktism of Final Judgement
Applicable to: Dead Unionists
The Sanktism of Final Judgement is the final ritual a Unionist undergoes on Aloria, and is done to ensure that their soul is able to be permitted onto the Grand Staircase until paradise comes. Upon the death of a Unionist, one of several things happens to their body to prepare it for the Sanktism:
- For most Unionists, the body is cremated and the ashes placed into an urn, which will be buried in a small grave in a cemetery.
- For wealthy and/or nobility, the head and heart are removed from the body, the latter of which is placed into its own urn, which will then be placed in a second location that the Unionist has chosen (often an area of importance during their life, such as a Knightly Order’s crypt or the City of Regalia). The head and body are then placed into a sarcophagus, and placed within a family crypt in their homeland. As there is both an urn and a sarcophagus for the remains, the Sanktism of Final Judgement is performed twice, so that both locations may give the soul a blessing before being judged by The Everwatcher. During the mourning period, is it tradition for the remains to be placed into a Unionist Temple, during which mourners may pay their respects before the ritual is performed.
- For Ithanian and Breizh Unionists (and their adjacent Cultures), the body is allowed to decompose to remove all flesh, after which the clean bones will be placed into a catacombs (Ithanian) or a sepulchre (Breizh). During a Sanktism, the bones are placed into a decorated container, which is often kept by the Temple for this specific circumstance.
- Criminals executed by the government are not granted this Sanktism, as Unionists believe that those who are executed are automatically condemned to reincarnation for a second chance at proving their value.
- Vultdragons do nothing to the body besides placing them in coffins, which will be placed in crypts overseen by the Waymenders to await the Undead that may arise after the Sanktism is performed.
The Sanktism of Final Judgement is performed as follows:
- The urn, sarcophagus, or container is placed in the center of a Unionist Temple on the day of the Sanktism by the Silent Sisters.
- The Celate opens with a general greeting to the mourners, giving a small biography of the deceased to speak of their accomplishments in life.
- Mourners are invited near the remains to deliver eulogies or private words to make peace with the soul of the deceased.
- The Celate delivers a prayer to God Emperor Almar, asking that he may speak favorably to The Everwatcher as a spiritual version of a Trial Maker for the deceased’s soul.
- For wealthy/noble deaths, the Celate swings an incense thurible around the remains of the deceased, praying to The Everwatcher to receive the soul for its judgment.
- The Celate, Silent Sisters, and Mourners take the remains, and move to the burial location. Unionists bystanders often stand by the side of the path for the procession to pass by them, offering prayers to The Everwatcher to judge the soul favorably. Even if the bystander never knew who the deceased was, it is considered a show of respect between fellow Unionists.
- Once at the burial group, the Celate delivers a final blessing to the dead and sympathy to the living, as the Silent Sisters bury the remains.
During the Sacrament, Mourners are expected to dress in all white with limited jewelry, to indicate the purity of the soul as it is judged by The Everwacther. Unionists are incredibly serious about this dress code, believing that any showing of vanity or excessive colors will condemn the soul to reincarnation, to the point where Mourners may forcefully remove an offender from the Temple beforehand to ensure that the soul may pass on with favor from The Everwatcher. This is not considered rude to Unionists, as they believe offenders should know better than to disrespect the sanctity of the Sanktism.