The Adepta Sororitas (also known as "the Sisterhood" or "Daughters of the Emperor") are an all-female subdivision of the religious organisation known as the Ecclesiarchy or Ministorum. The Sisterhood's Orders Militant serve as the Ecclesiarchy's fighting arm, mercilessly rooting out corruption and heresy within humanity and every organisation of the Adeptus Terra.
The terms "Adepta Sororitas" and "Sisters of Battle" are commonly assumed to mean the same thing, but the latter title technically refers only to the Orders Militant - the military arm of the organisation which is the largest and the best-known part of the Sororitas.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Organisation
- 3.1 Structure and Hierarchy
- 3.2 The Orders
- 3.3 Ranks and Positions
- 4 Notable members
- 5 Canon Conflicts
- 6 See also
- 7 Sources
The Sisterhood serves as the Ministorum's only official military forces because the Decree Passive rules that the Ecclesiarchy cannot maintain any "men under arms". This was supposed to limit the power of the Ecclesiarchy. However the Ministorum were able to circumvent this decree by using the all-female force of the Sisterhood.[Needs Citation]
There is naturally some overlap between the duties of the Sisterhood and the Inquisition; for this reason, although the Inquisition and the Sisterhood remain entirely separate organisations, the Orders Militant of the Sisterhood are the go-to favoured option when an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor needs soldiers. 
Daughters of the Emperor
The Adepta Sororitas date their founding from the 36th Millennium, and more specifically from the later events of the Age of Apostasy. The Adepta Sororitas trace their origins to the world of San Leor. An order known as the "Daughters of the Emperor", an all-female cult dedicated to worship of the Emperor, had been discovered on San Leor by members of the Ecclesiarchy. Goge Vandire, the High Lord of the Administratum (and also Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum), decided to visit San Leor and recruit the Daughters into his own private army. The Daughters at first refused to accept his authority. Vandire decided to show them that he was blessed by the Emperor - he instructed a soldier in his entourage to shoot him, which after a brief hesitation, he did. However, thanks to the protective field generated by the Rosarius of the Ecclesiarch (which no one but Vandire himself was aware of), Vandire was not harmed. The Daughters took this to be a sign, and swore allegiance to Vandire virtually on the spot. They were renamed the Brides of the Emperor, and became Vandire's most loyal followers.[1a]
Revelation and retribution
During the Siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace, the Adeptus Custodes, the praetorians of the Emperor himself, tried to approach the Brides and convince them of Vandire's treachery. In a last ditch effort to convince them, the Custodes took Alicia Dominica, leader of the Brides, and her chosen bodyguards deep into the Imperial Palace where they stood before the Emperor himself. What happened there remains unknown - Dominica and her companions were sworn to secrecy - but it became clear that the Brides, who reverted to the title of Daughters of the Emperor, had been awakened to the evil that Vandire represented. Marching into his audience chamber, Dominica paused only to condemn Vandire for his crimes before she beheaded the power-crazed dictator. Reportedly, Vandire's final words were "I don't have time to die - I'm too busy!"[1b]
After this episode, the newly appointed Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor proclaimed the Decree Passive which forbade the Ecclesiarchy from having "men under arms". Under the literal interpretation of the decree the Adepta Sororitas, being female, were not obligated to disband. Thor, recognising the need for the Ecclesiarchy to have some kind of force and internal regulator, allowed them to remain even if the spirit of the decree was rather blatantly disregarded.[1c]
- 378.M36: Ecclesiarch Alexis XXII, Sebastian Thor's successor, divides the Orders Militant of the Convent Sanctorum and Convent Prioris into four Orders[1d]:
- M36: After the death of Alicia Dominica, Ecclesiarch Equitus XI presides over the creation the rank of Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas, the new leader of the Adepta Sororitas. The first to hold the position is Sister Palmiro of the Order of the Holy Word.[3c]
- 878.M38: Ecclesiarch Deacis VI founds two more Orders Militant in honour of the remaining two saints who accompanied Alicia Dominica to the Golden Throne - the Order of the Bloody Rose in honour of Sister Mina and the Order of the Sacred Rose in honour of Sister Arabella.[1d]
- M41: Sister Sabrina of the Order of the Ermine Mantle is elected Abbess but disappears during her pilgrimage to San Leor; since this time the position of Abbess has been vacant.[3c]
Structure and Hierarchy
The Adepta Sororitas is part of the Ecclesiarchy and is divided between two Convents - the Convent Prioris located on Terra and the Convent Sanctorum based on Ophelia VII, although in practice their forces are spread throughout the Galaxy.[1d]
The overall commander and spiritual leader of the entire Sisterhood is the Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas, although the position is currently unoccupied.[3c] As the leader of the Adepta Sororitas, the Abbess is sometimes elected into the High Lords of Terra.[2d]
The Convents of the Sisterhood are organized into several Orders. There are two different kind of Orders: The Orders Militant, or Sisters of Battle, the military arm of the Ecclesiarchy composed of the six Major Orders and countless subsidiary Lesser Orders Militant; and the Non-Militant Orders, each of which has differents roles and responsibilities in the Imperium.[19a][19b]
The largest of the Non-Militant Orders rival the Sisters of Battle in size and notoriety, but there is also hundreds of other orders, the vast majority of which are unknown to the bulk of Mankind. The most well-known are the Orders Hospitaller, composed of surgeons, physicians and nurses, the Orders Dialogous, scholars dealing with languages, cyphers and translations, and the Orders Famulous, acting as diplomats, chamberlains and advisors for Imperial noble families[1d][1e]
It is not uncommon for a Sister to transfer from one of the Orders to another, particularly if a Battle Sister has become injured or is too old for combat they may transfer to one of the non-militant Orders.[3a]
Each of the major Orders follows the same basic hierarchical structure[2c]:
- Order - Led by the head Canoness, called the Canoness Superior, who runs the entire Order.
- Preceptory - A subsidiary convent or a large tactical detachment with up to 1,000 Sisters led by a Canoness Preceptor.
- Commandery - Normally smaller convents or detachments of militant Sisters with up to 200 Sisters, led by a Canoness Commander.
- Mission - The smallest organisation of Sisters, consisting of a few units and can be led by a Canoness or the lesser Palatine.
It should be noted that the non-militant Orders operate mainly at Mission and Commandery levels - Preceptory is a largely organisational tier. For example, a Commandery of the Order Hospitallier could be a staff of sisters working in a field hospital whilst a Mission of the Orders Famulous could be a handful of Sisters engaged in a trade delegation.[2c]
Commonly known as the Sisters of Battle, the Orders Militant are the most numerous and well known of the Adepta Soritas. They are the only official fighting force of the Ecclesiarchy and often prosecute Wars of Faith. They also form the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus and often fight alongside the Inquisitors of that Ordo.[2b][2c]
|Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII)||Convent Prioris (Terra)|
|Order of the Bloody Rose||Order of the Sacred Rose|
|Order of Our Martyred Lady||Order of the Ebon Chalice|
|Order of the Valorous Heart||Order of the Argent Shroud|
Lesser Orders Militant
Since their founding the Major Orders Militant have established a number of subsidiary convents at sites significant to the Ecclesiarchy. Sometimes little more than small Garrisons, these bases have developed identities distinct from their parent Orders over time, eventually becoming separate Orders all together. These smaller Orders are referred to as the Orders Minoris or Lesser Orders Militant. In theory the leaders of the Lesser Orders are answerable to the leaders of the Major Order that spawned them.[2a]
Named Lesser Orders Militant include
- Order of the Broken Sword
- Order of the Crimson Oath
- Order of the Ermine Mantle
- Order of the Fiery Tear
- Order of the Golden Light[2d]
- Order of the White Rose
- Order of the Bleeding Heart
- Order of the Wounded Heart
- Order of the Blue Robe
- Order of the Vermilion Hand
- Order of the Glowing Chalice
- Order of the Crimson Shroud
- Order of the Sanctified Shield
- Order of the Silver Shroud
- Order of Lamentations
- Order of the Martyr's Shroud
- Order of the Maurdlin Countenance
- Order of the Sublime Adoration
- Order of the Silver Lilly
- Order of the Divine Lamentation
- Order of the Last Prioress
The Sisters Hospitaller are surgeons, physicians and nurses. They aid the poor, and heal the sick and the wounded in many hospitals and clinics of the Sisterhood and serve in all departments of the Imperiums armed services except the Adeptus Astartes.[2c]
- Order of the Eternal Candle based in the Convent Sanctorum (Ophelia VII)
- Order of Serenity based in the Convent Sanctorum
- Order of the Cleansing Water based in the Convent Prioris (Terra)
- Order of the Torch based in the Convent Prioris
The Sisters Dialogus help to translate the innumerable dialects and slangs used throughout the Imperium. At the behest of the Inquisition and certain parties they also study Xenos languages, also translating texts obtained from Xeno artefacts. Sisters Dialogous are often employed as Sages in Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors' retinues.
- Order of the Holy Word based in the Convent Sanctorum
- Order of the Quill based in the Convent Sanctorum
- Order of the Sacred Oath based in the Convent Prioris
- Order of the Lexicon based in the Convent Prioris
The Sisters Famulous organise and maintain households of certain Imperial governors and Imperial nobles, serving as advisors and by their very presence reminding them of their higher loyalties. They oppose any disloyalty with the support of faithful followers from the inside of the household itself.
- Order of the Holy Seal based in the Convent Prioris
- Order of the Sacred Coin based in the Convent Prioris
The Sisters of the Orders Sabine accompany the Missionarius Galaxia on missions to rediscover new worlds. The Sisters specialise in infiltrating primitive societies and introduce elements of the Imperial Creed to the natives.[3b]
Specialise in the retrieving, guarding, studying and repairing of artefacts of value to the Ecclesiarchy.[3b]
- The Order of the Eternal Gate - one of the orders whose responsibility is the retrieval of relics and artefacts for the Ecclesiarchy.
- The Order of the Blessed Enquiry - believed to have been destroyed due to their collection of artefacts of the Chaos Gods [3b]
- The Order of the August Vigil - specializing in the guardianship and defense of holy relics across the Imperium.
The Orders Madriga provide choirs in temples.[19b]
The Orders Planxilium form thousand-strong processionals leading weeping and wailing pilgrims upon the remembrance and high holy days of Veneris.[19b]
The ‘dark sisters’ of the Orders Vespila are tasked by Cardinal Kregory Hestor with the sanctification of the bodies of fallen kin, and are sometimes called upon to serve as forensic specialists when a Throne Agent has recourse to disinter a long dead corpse.[19b]
Ranks and Positions
- Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas - the commander of the Convent Sanctorum on Terra; also the overall spiritual leader of the Sisterhood. In military matters she is assisted the Prioress of the Convent Sanctorum. Although there is only a single Abbess, her full title is Abbess Sanctorum. Presently the position is vacant.
- Prioress - the overall commander of a single convent.
- Canoness - command rank, there are several subdivisions-
- Canoness Superior - In command of an entire Order
- Canoness Preceptor - In command of a Preceptory
- Canoness Comander - In command of a Commandry
- Palatine - command rank below Canoness
- Sister Superior
Ranks of the Orders Militant
- Celestian - Elite Battle Sisters, they often form squads of bodyguards for Cannonesses and Palatines.
- Seraphim - only the very best Battle Sisters are elevated to the rank of Seraphim and are generally organized into specialize squads. Seraphim receive special training and equipment, primarily jump packs.
- Dominion - Standard battle sisters with special weapons.
- Retributor - Standard battle sisters with heavy weapons.
- Battle Sister - the basic rank of Adepta Sororitas.
- Saint Alicia Dominica, KIA
- Saint Arabella, KIA
- Saint Katherine, KIA
- Saint Silvana, KIA
- Saint Lucia, KIA
- Saint Mina, KIA
- Saint Praxedes, MIA
- Saint Celestine, KIA
- Helena the Virtuous
- Saint Anais
- Sister Miriya
- Canoness Veridyan
- Prior to the publication of Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), the Convent Sanctorum was described as being located on Terra, while the Prioris was located on Ophelia IV. In said Codex, Gav Thorpe reverses the locations of these Convents, and changes the name of Ophelia IV to Ophelia VII.[1f]
- 1: Codex: Sisters of Battle
- 2: Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition)
- 3: White Dwarf 293 (UK)[Needs Citation]
- 4: Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pg. 5, An Eldar tablet of regarding the C'tan translated by Sister Superior Meritia, Order Dialogus, pg. 146
- 5: Legacy (Novel), [Needs Citation], p. 203
- 6: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Soulstorm
- 7: The Inquisition (Background Book), pg. 5
- 8: Crossfire (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 258
- 9: Execution Hour (Novel), [Needs Citation], pg. 146
- 10: Codex Imperialis (1993), pgs. 14, 39
- 11: Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pgs. 56–57, thoughts on Tau language by Sister Verity, Order Dialogous
- 12: Legion of the Damned (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 13: Dawn of War: Soulstorm
- 14: Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition)
- 15: Games-Workshop Sisters of Battle Hospitaller (last accessed 11 March 2015)
- 16: Games-Workshop Sisters of Battle Dialogus (last accessed 11 March 2015)
- 17: Warhammer_40,000_6th_Edition_Rulebook, pg. 180
- 18: Sons of the Hydra (Novel), Part II, θ Cold Blooded
- 19: Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs
- 20: Apocalypse (Novel) - Chapter 2
- Duty Calls (Novel), Chapter Five
- Dawn of War: Ascension (Novel) by C.S. Goto, [Needs Citation] pg. 332
- Daemonifuge (Graphic Novel Series), [Needs Citation]