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Church of Avacyn
Avacyn3
History
Founded on Innistrad
Status Active, but fragmented
Membership
Notable members Avacyn, Arlinn Kord, Bruna, Gisela, Mikaeus, Reika Eberhardt, Order of Saint Traft, Sigarda
Races Angels, Humans and Spirits
Associated Colors
{W}

The Church of Avacyn is a major religious institution on Innistrad. It is the primary religion of humanity for the plane[1][2][3]

Description[ | ]

Avacyn

Avacyn's stained glass window

The central figure of the Church is Avacyn herself, an archangel so pure and extremely powerful that she was able to contain Innistrad's darkness and give humans the faith of a true, eternal rest-in-peace.

Until recently, the presence of Avacyn was so decisive that faith in her gave real power to the clergy and other faithful, a power that pushed back creatures of evil. The blessed silver weapons could destroy the worst horrors and very powerful runes marked with her symbol protected entire villages. The effectiveness of the Church was concrete and visible, a welcome weapon in a world of atrocities.

However, the Archangel Avacyn had not been seen in several seasons, and her absence was starting to be felt with the advancement of darkness. This was a mystery to all but a few of the Church's members, including the Lunarch Mikaeus, and those who knew the reason for Avacyn's absence were helpless to undo it. Since Avacyn had disappeared, the prayers were not enough to prevent terrible attacks of werewolves to remote villages. Sacred symbols were unable to stop the vampires from taking advantage of travelers passing through the mountains. The dead were not protected against tampering and resuscitation of the flesh; alchemists, necromancers and ghoulcallers acted carelessly.

This changed upon Liliana Vess's arrival on Innistrad. She forced the cathar Thalia to destroy the silver Helvault, where Avacyn was held, to reach one of her enemies. Avacyn once again rose over the skies of Innistrad, and the magic of her runes was once again felt. It seemed that peace had returned...

Until Avacyn and her angels became corrupted. Convinced of the evil of humanity, they turned on those they had sworn to protect, to "purify" Innistrad. Her crusades blazed a bloody path across this world until she was destroyed beneath one of her churches, to prevent Avacyn and her hosts from exterminating any more of mankind.

Church and State[ | ]

Writ of Avacyn

A writ of Avacyn from Magic: Legends.

On Innistrad, church, and state are deeply interdependent; there is virtually no separation of the two.

Local governments rely on the power of the Church to keep order and maintain public safety. Often the rule of law is adjudicated by the prelature, lawyers, and judges ordained by the Church. All education is handled by the Church, although different sects sometimes establish their own schools and training grounds. Except for merchants and artisans, all professions are part of the Church. Even merchants and artisans are governed by fellowships, which must be sanctioned by the Church.

Theological Principles[ | ]

Faith in the Church of Avacyn works, but there are no formulas that are consistently successful. Saying the mystical words in the right combination will result in protective magic, but some days it works better than others. Sometimes, the evil it is warding against is more powerful than other times. The unreliability of the wards and blessings has led to disagreements over dogma. Although there is still only one Church, sects have emerged over disagreements about the right way to do things. The goal of the Church is safety, not perfection. Humans want to live in reasonable safety until they die, and then they want to remain peacefully in their graves. Cremation is forbidden because it is believed to result in a restless, angry spirit.

In the Church of Avacyn, there is no conception of heaven and hell. The humans of Innistrad do not believe in a heavenly afterlife to reward their past deeds but only seek rest in death.[4] Their equivalent of hell is a very literal thing: there are actual cracks in the ground where demons dwell. Avacyn is not expected to eliminate evil in the world or to create a perfect life for everyone. Instead, she is the font of safety and protection. She is the authority to whom the faithful must go before something bad happens, to help ward off those evils that have always been a part of the world.

Church Hierarchy[ | ]

Avacyn[ | ]

The archangel Avacyn is the focal point of human worship. She is believed to be the source of all protective magic. It is thought that she controls the seasons and is the force that brings an end to the long and bleak Hunter's Moon. Adherents to Avacyn are called Avacynians, and their church is the Church of Avacyn or the Avacynian Church.

Avacyn's Host[ | ]

Avacyn2

Priest of Avacyn

The archangel Avacyn had a host of angels who served her. These angels existed before Avacyn but revere her power and strength.

  • The Flight of Goldnight — These angels were associated with the sun, in contrast with Avacyn herself. Once a year during the Harvest Moon season, the sun will not dip below the horizon for two full days, and during this time the moon isn't visible. Known as the Feast of Goldnight, this is the holiest day for the humans. It is the time when the Avacynian enchantments are strongest throughout Innistrad. This flight of soldier-angels lived on the Elgaud Grounds and were dedicated to destroying the wicked. They were headed by the angel Gisela.
  • The Flight of Alabaster — These angels personified the Blessed Sleep and were associated with the Hunter's Moon season. They provided magic that warded against the desecration of dead humans and lived in the lofts of Thraben Cathedral. This host was led under Avacyn by the angel Bruna.
    • One of the known angels of this flight was named Isobel; she expressed great concern over Avacyn's disappearance, asking any souls she heralded to the Blessed Sleep where their greatest angel had gone. Later driven to madness, Isobel joined Avacyn's rampage against the people of Innistrad and was consequently slain by the humans she once protected.
  • The Flight of Herons — These are the angels of birth and purity, associated with the New Moon season. Their magic is said to ward humans against harm in life (as opposed to the Alabaster host, which wards against harm in death). After the corruption of Avacyn and the other angels, this is the only flight to survive into current times. They are led by the angel Sigarda, who continues to protect humanity, even against a deranged Avacyn, Gisela, and Bruna, as well as other threats.
  • The Flight of Dusk (formerly) - A extinct flight that existed before Avacyn's disappearance. The Flight of Dusk was dedicated to studying creatures of darkness, such as vampires and demons, to learn more about them for combat purposes. This controversial flight was led by the angel Liesa, but when she betrayed the angels by making a pact with a demon, an enraged Avacyn executed Liesa and destroyed the entire flight. Furthermore, Avacyn decreed that Liesa's name never be spoken aloud again, dooming Liesa and the Flight of Dusk to obscurity.
  • The Flight of Moonsilver - After Avacyn's descent into madness, she formed the Flight of Moonsilver, fanatical angels who followed Avacyn's crusade against humanity. They were typically characterized by their bloodstained wings, glowing eyes, and maniacal recitations of "saving" or "purifying" others, even as they killed them in droves.

Clerical Ranks[ | ]

  • Lunarch — The head of the Church and de facto ruler of the plane's human populace.[4] This is a position elected by the council of bishops.
  • Bishop — The highest order of clergy. They reside in the cathedral at Thraben as members of the Thraben Council, the governing body of the Church. Each province has its bishop, and a handful of other senior priests fill out the rest of the council.
  • Mayor — The political leader of a parish. He or she has a mix of administrative and religious duties, but the day-to-day administration is left to the priests.
  • Elder — A senior citizen. A council of elders sometimes replaces the mayor.
  • PriestPriests oversee the Church and attend to parishioners' needs. They all use mana to weave spells but with varying degrees of skill.
  • Monk — These wandering priests are the lowest order of clergy. Some have been sanctioned by the Church to seek out people living alone in the wilderness. But many are fanatics who are no longer formally part of the hierarchy, having said the wrong thing or enforced the wrong dogma and been cast out.

Cathars[ | ]

Cathars are the holy warriors of the Church.[5] The regiments are trained on the Elgaud Grounds in Nephalia.

  • Gavony Riders. The elite cavalry of Innistrad was extensively trained in mounted combat with swords and lances.
  • Mausoleum guards. The rank-and-file soldiers of the cathars, wield little magic but make up for it with their numbers.
  • Nightfall Duelists. Soldiers that patrol the streets of Nephalia, particularly at night, are on the lookout for thieves, vampires, and corpse traders.
    • Diabolists. A group of rogue duelists that go out on their own to hunt down devils.
  • Moor chaplains. Battlefield faithful who wield magic and weapons with equal skill. Their magic focuses on healing and protection, so they don’t usually fight on the front lines. They were one of the few orders within the Church experienced in exorcising demons.[6]
  • Gryffbond Order — Cathars of the Gryffbond Order, or simply the gryff-knights, are a type of cathar dedicated to mounted combat in the skies. Their gryffs seem naturally suited to mounted combat, as their agility and poise translate into a smooth but maneuverable ride. Gryff-knights are paired off one-to-one with their gryff companions and stay with that union until one of them dies.
  • Keepers of the Pale. Cathars specializing in matters surrounding the Blessed Sleep and geists.[7] All members of this mastery live on the Thraben Cathedral grounds, but the Pale undertake long, solitary pilgrimages that last months—sometimes years. They are the most secretive mastery, and their arcane rituals and clandestine nature cause distrust among the other cathars.
  • Inquisitors — Inquisitors are cathars who can be hired out to come to help a parish if they have a particular problem with vampires or devils.
    • During Avacyn's absence, the inquisitors led a series of brutal forays into Kessig and the Gavony Moorland. They executed suspected lycanthropes with little or no proof and punished accused heretics in unsanctioned trials. With Avacyn's madness, this savage form of inquisition has become the norm, and inquisitors who still pry into dark mysteries have become a minority.
    • Knight-Inquisitor of Saint Raban. Taking their name from the legendary investigator and slayer of werewolves, these cathars serve as inquisitors in the classic sense, investigating mysteries and secrets.
  • Parish-blades — Cathars stationed in parishes serve as escorts along roads or protect the cathedral in Thraben. This is an ordained military force that assembles whenever the clergy demands.[6]
    • The Quiver of Kessig. An order split off from the parish-blades. Its members specialize in archery and long-range defense and often guard town walls and church roofs against spirits, vampires, specters, demons, and other flying attackers.

Avacynian Archmages[ | ]

The Avacynian archmages are gifted spellcasters with the inborn ability to channel some of the divine power of the archangels.[5] Each lineage of the archmages practices unique techniques passed down from master to student for generations, ultimately tracing back to the archangels and Avacyn herself.

  • Spearsages. The archmages of Goldnight, use powerful and aggressive spells associated with the sun, channeling blinding rays of holy light and powerful prayers to bolster their allies’ speed and courage.[6]
  • Moonsages. The archmages of Alabaster, are concerned with preserving the Blessed Sleep, preventing humans from returning as zombies. They use preventative and warding spells, banishing the undead to the void and making sure graves remain sealed.
  • Springsages. The archmages of Herons, are healers who use their magic to aid individuals, whole villages, and even the land itself. They act much like wandering priests or monks, traveling the remote reaches to minister to the people and heal the sick.

Church Artisans[ | ]

  • Devisers — Architects and magical engineers. They infuse the walls, tombs, ossuaries, and chapels of Thraben with protective magic.[6]
  • Lunar-smiths — Blessed weapons are an important part of Avacynian magic, and these clergy are trained in the art of weapon-making. Certain blessings must be said at certain times during the forging process to make a weapon magically effective against a particular foe. Silversmiths are particularly revered because of the difficulty in imbuing the silver with strong magic, especially anti-lycanthropic magic.
  • Runechanters — Runechanters are a specialized branch of the clergy that specializes in engraving blessings on material objects, including weapons. Everything from swords to axes to children's toys has words written on it to protect its owner. The best runechanters can write so small that hundreds of these blessings can be squeezed into a small space.

Lunarch Council[ | ]

After Lunarch Mikaeus died during the siege of Thraben, and his successor Macher was killed in the early days of Avacyn's madness,[8] a Lunarch Council was established, made up of senior bishops of the Church with a few cathar leaders in advisory positions. This council was exposed to be controlled by the Skirsdag.[9] After the destruction of Thraben, the council was moved to Ollenbock.[4]

Post-Avacyn's betrayal[ | ]

Due to Nahiri's machinations, Avacyn and most other angels became insane and began killing the people of Innistrad. This led to a mass crisis of faith and severe fragmentation of the Church: a central branch that became a full-blown inquisition, and the Order of Saint Traft. The members of the inquisition, led by Seeta, were partly Eldrazified and called themselves the 'sinpurged', claiming the transformation was the result of the sin being purged from their bodies.[10]

Some denizens of Innistrad have begun to direct their prayers to the archangel Sigarda, the most powerful angel left in the wake of The Travails.[11] Sigarda (and her Flight) was one of the few angels who never succumbed to Emrakul's influence, and she fought nobly to defend humanity from Eldrazi monstrosities.[12] She has taken up Avacyn's role as best she can, answering the fervent prayers of the lost and endangered. In the two years since The Travails, this reverence for Sigarda has become a new sect within the Avacynian Church. Some members of the Church have begun styling themselves as "Sigardian priests." The Sigardian Sect is a return to a more small-town religion, with less of the grandeur of Thraben. The terror of the mad angels during The Travails has pushed many villagers away from distant symbols of divinity and toward one other. The Lunarch Council still leads the Church overall, but the Sigardians are more focused on their parish's local elder, their local communities, and traditional holidays and practices.[13]

Throughout the provinces, villagers have taken it upon themselves to do rough, handcrafted repairs of the twisted symbols of Avacyn.[11] The elongated shapes of the warped stones have been shattered, their stone harvested for the repairs. Today, cemetery headstones, church shrines, and roadside monuments all display restored symbols of Avacyn. Each was mended by rough stonework by hand: broken and cemented back together or lashed together with wire and twine. These are symbols of hope and self-reliance — even when no angel came forward to fix the world, the people have come forward to fix what they can.

Notable members[ | ]

Gallery[ | ]

In-game references[ | ]

Quoted or referred to:

References[ | ]

  1. The Magic Creative Team (September 27, 2011). "A Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad: Gavony and Humans". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Magic Creative Team (April 11, 2012). "Planeswalker's Guide to Avacyn Restored: Part 1". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. The Magic Creative Team (April 18, 2012). "Planeswalker's Guide to Avacyn Restored: Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  4. a b c Jay Annelli (2022). Magic: The Gathering - The Visual Guide, DK. ISBN-13 978-0744061055.
  5. a b Plane Shift Innistrad
  6. a b c d Reinhardt Suarez (November 12, 2021). "Survivors". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Aysha U. Farah (October 29, 2021). "The Edge of the World". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Ken Troop (March 9, 2016). "A Gaze Blank and Pitiless". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. James Wyatt (May 4, 2016). "The Lunarch Inquisition". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. James Wyatt (July 13, 2016). "Saint Traft and the Flight of Nightmares". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. a b Doug Beyer and Ari Zirulnik (September 9, 2021). "Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad: Midnight Hunt". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Rhiannon Rasmussen (October 1, 2021). "The Dusk Reborn". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Doug Beyer, Ari Zirulnik and Grace Fong (September 17, 2021). "The Returning Legends of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
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