Congregation of the Damned
The Lancea Sanctum is nominally the most powerful covenant in Knoxville, although this power is far from uncontested. The Prince of the city, Jeremiah Coalridge, is a member of the Lancea Sanctum, though in honor of the prior political order and the less-formal Tollan Creed to which he belongs he has forgone the ecclesiastical title of Bishop for the secular title of Prince.
The Lancea Sanctum of Knoxville follows the Tollan Creed, also known as the White Sunday Movement after the white robes they wear on formal occasions. This Creed de-emphasizes church ritual, and emphasizes instead evangelism and personal spirituality. In Knoxville the Lancea Sanctum is reminiscent of the Baptists, preferring boisterous meetings with hymns and longer sermons. No ecclesiastical titles are recognized in Knoxville save for that of Deacon, which refers to all vampires specifically anointed by the Lancea Sanctum to perform ritae (the equivalent of Priests in the Lancea Sanctum sourcebook). The Prince is also a Deacon of the Lancea Sanctum. Members of the Tollan Creed never refer to each other by title, instead using the honorific “brother” or “sister”. The only exception to this is the Prince, whose title is secular and thus honored.
This is not to say that specialized offices do not exist. Although only a Deacon in title, the Lancea Sanctum Primogen has all the responsibilities and, more importantly, powers of a Bishop. In addition it is rumored that a number of Deacons are chosen to take a more active role in the Covenant, acting as Inquisitors. Although they possess no formal title beyond Deacon, they are often informally referred to as Elders (regardless of their age), citing passages from the New Testament that places Elders in charge of punishing heresy in the church. The Lancea Sanctum denies rumors of such a “Council of Elders”.
Knoxville Lancea Sanctum Titles
The Knoxville Lancea Sanctum acknowledges, officially or unofficially, the following titles.
Although not technically a Lancea Sanctum title, so long as Jeremiah Coalridge is prince it is a Lancea Sanctum position.
A title granted to all Kindred who have been Anointed. Deacons lead and serve the Covenant. While officially all Deacons are equal, in reality all Deacons are subject to the Lancea Sanctum Primogen. Deacons alone can perform covenant Apostolica.
Officially this title does not exist, and it certainly has nothing to do with a Kindred’s age. If Elders did exist, they would be the Lancea Sanctum’s internal police, seeking out signs of heresy within the covenant and stamping them out. If they existed, Elders would also be Deacons.
Established by Prince Coalridge upon his rise to power, an Ostiary is a Lancea Sanctum member “on loan” to the Sheriff as a deputy. Ostiaries patrol the roads into town, as well as the airport and the bus terminals. When a new Kindred shows up they question them, specifically looking for signs of heresy. By word of the Prince they do not have the authority to “end or violently harass” any heretics they find, but the non-violent harassment is often enough to convince the Kindred to go elsewhere. Of course, the Ostiary cannot be everywhere at once.
An unofficial title, and a holdover from the Monachian creed, a Paladin is a fanatical non-Deacon who has pledged themselves to serve a Deacon. While it is not encouraged, Paladins are often bound to their masters through the Vinculum.
Although not Anointed as Deacons, Teacher is an unofficial title given to those who have proven themselves knowledgeable in the ways of the Covenant. Teachers often perform Ecclesia for their coteries, though they are forbidden from performing Apostolica.
Apostolica in Knoxville
The Knoxville Lancea Sanctum recognizes the following rituals as covenant-wide ritae.
Held weekly at the stroke of midnight as Saturday becomes Sunday, the Midnight Meeting (the Tollan Creed eschews the Catholic term “Mass”) is perhaps the most important of Knoxville’s ritae. The service normally takes place beneath First Presbyterian Church on State Street, and is normally led by the Primogen himself, although sermons by other Deacons are not uncommon. The Midnight Meeting is open to all Kindred, though the communion (held on the first Sunday of each month) is reserved only for members of the Lancea Sanctum.
The Anointing is a private ceremony held when a Kindred of the Lancea Sanctum is promoted to the position of Deacon. The Kindred is tested on their knowledge of the Testament of Longinus, then anointed with olive oil and blood, symbolizing Longinus’s anointing to lead the church of the Damned.
Although the Kindred of Knoxville generally avoid such Catholic trappings as Confession, they encourage troubled Kindred to seek out Deacons for counseling. The Deacon does not grant absolution, but rather suggests penance for the healing of the Kindred’s soul. While the Prince has made it clear that this penance does not absolve the criminal, historically those who have made a sincere confession to a Deacon and accepted penance are treated with leniency by the Prince’s court.
A Baptism ceremony is normally performed at a Midnight Meeting under two circumstances. The first is when a Kindred wishes to embrace a childe into the Covenant. The second is when an existing Kindred wishes to join the Covenant. Both Sire and prospective childe (or the potential convert) are fully immersed in water that has been treated via Theban Sorcery to burn the Damned. Thus mortals pass through this ritual unscathed, but the Kindred feel excruciating pain. Thus the sire is punished for his violation of the Second Tradition. After the ritual the sire takes their childe away to embrace them privately. Any mortal who refuses this ritual is summarily executed, of course, to preserve the Masquerade.
The Knoxville version of the Gran Ballo, held not on the ostensibly “pagan” Day of the Dead, but rather on Easter Sunday, celebrating when Longinus pierced the side of Christ and was transformed into one of the Damned. The Gran Ballo begins an hour before midnight on Easter Sunday with a somber procession, a recognition of damnation, but at midnight mortal vessels are revealed, the music starts, and the normally conservative Sanctified celebrate their unlives.
Thus far, the Prince has never called a Crusade since coming to power. Although there have been blood hunts, the Prince has always been careful to ensure such acts are secular, not sacred judgment. However the Prince would not dare deny that the rite of Crusade exists, and many hardliners within the covenant pressure him to give his most terrible of punishments a proper spiritual element.
The 40 Days
The 40 Days, or Quadragesima as it is known by traditionalists, is the most controversial rite within the Lancea Sanctum. Officially the teachings of the Covenant hold that the traditional 40 days of fasting, from January 1 to February 9, are meant to be held in prayer and contemplation. A “fasting of the soul”, and not a literal abstaining from blood. The Prince especially favors this translation, as a literal fast tends to cause frenzy, which tends to break the Masquerade. However, among those few Kindred who dislike Knoxville’s Tollan Creed and would prefer to follow the older Monachian or Westminster traditions, the fast of the 40 days has become something of a protest against the establishment. The actual fasting only takes place during the last week, from February 3 to 9. Despite the party line against a literal fast, those who successfully accomplish the rite of the 40 days are given great honor within the Covenant, and seen as truly spiritual.
A single downtime action is sufficient to attend all Apostolica that happen during downtimes. If an Apostolica is going to be run as an event it will be announced on the Calendar, at which point attendance does not require a downtime action, but instead simply requires attendance or proxy. Lancea Sanctum characters who spend a downtime action to attend Midnight Meetings will take part in communion, and thus will begin the following game with an additional 1 Vitae. Other Apostolica may have additional benefits, listed in downtime reports.
Ecclesia in Knoxville
Unlike Apostolica, Ecclesia are normally performed at the coterie level. Because of this, there are many kinds of Ecclesia that vary by coterie. The following, however, are specifically encouraged by the covenant as a whole.
Sermons and Prayer Meetings
All Covenant members are encouraged, even expected, to attend the Midnight Meeting every Sunday. However, individual coteries are encouraged to have regular prayer meetings during the week, often accompanied by their own sermons. While some hardline coteries have multiple such meetings, even a meeting every single night, most hold a prayer meeting once a week on Wednesdays.
As part of the evangelical Tollan Creed, the Lancea Sanctum of Knoxville actively encourage regular prayer. They tend to believe that God and Longinus actively hear all prayers, and answer them. Prayers of Knoxville Kindred tend to be freeform, rather than by rote, often with specific requests for divine intervention. Covenant members are also encouraged to pray before embarking on the hunt, or before feeding, so that they remember that all they are comes from God and Longinus. These prayers do not have to be aloud, and indeed if hunting in a crowd it is expected that the prayers should be silent.
The Fire Dance
An ecstatic celebration of the Damned nature, the Fire Dance is encouraged as a sign of faith. As the adherents dance around a bonfire they will either succumb to the fear frenzy, or find religious ecstasy fueling their courage. Those who can successfully jump through the flames without succumbing to fear are given great honor.
The Serpent Rite
Considered one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (often considered to be Longinus for the Kindred), the Serpent Rite is not only encouraged among coteries, it is often practiced on special occasions as a covenant-wide ritual. While coteries may inject a mortal vessel with anything from venom to hallucinogens, when performed for the entire covenant the mortal is always bitten by live venomous serpents. As the Kindred drink the tainted blood the presiding Deacon often uses the Curse of Babel ritual to speak in tongues. Though this rite is scoffed at by most other covenants, and more traditional members of the Sanctified, it cannot be denied that a sort of spiritual frenzy does fall upon the hallucinating Kindred, a frenzy that has nothing to do with the Beast.
Not only to the Sanctified preside over funerals for their own fallen, they are often called upon to hold funerals for fallen Kindred of other Covenants as well.
Lancea Sanctum characters who have spent a downtime attending their covenant’s Apostolica are considered to have taken part in a reasonable number of Ecclesia as well. Truly time-consuming Ecclesia, such as nightly prayer meetings, may require additional downtime actions.
Known Members of the Lancea Sanctum
Prince Jeremiah Coalridge
Deacon James Hearse, Primogen
General Attitudes Toward Other Covenants
Invictus: In their quest for power they have forgotten what it means to be a Knoxville Kindred.
Carthians: Useful pawns against the Invictus, so long as they never gain any real power.
Ordo Dracul: Whatever they are doing they keep to themselves, and so can be ignored.
Circle of the Crone: Heretics, yes, but so weak as to be irrelevant.