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The Order of Zakarum, otherwise known as the Church of Light, Zakarum Church and Religion of the Light, is a religious organization on Sanctuary. It is dedicated to the worship of the Light and its tenets, but often, its faith has led to fanaticism.

This article is an expansion on an original organization. For further information, see here.

Organization[]

Administration[]

The Zakarum Church is a hierarchal body, composed of differing offices. It is divided geopolitcally into various small districts, known as bishoprics or dioceses, ruled from a local cathedral by a bishop.

Numerous priests take care of even smaller regions. A test had to be taken to become a priest of the faith, which could be taken as early as the age of fourteen. Followers of the faith can make the "sign of the Light" in the air, and have to undergo intensive education and training by the Church itself.

Above regional bishops are the archbishops, who adminstor larger regions and territories. The highest authority is that of the Que-Hegan. Under this figure, attendant archbishops of the High Council were tasked with administering the various territories under Zakarum control.

Military[]

The Church has maintained arms militant for centurues. The Church had twelve Grand Inquisitors originally to detect corruption within the populace. The number of inquisitors increased as the influence of the Prime Evils spread. Eventually, the priesthood itself took on the role of judge and jury, and sent out the Zakarum Zealots to play the role of executioner to any who were considered corrupted. Additionally, the Church has possessed at least two Paladin orders—the Protectors of the Word and the Hand of Zakarum. The former has long been defunct, while the latter collapsed under the weight of the Zakarum's corruption.

In the modern day, however, the military structure of the church is handled by various holy and knightly orders within the Church (see Holy Orders, below). Different groups exist to protect travellers, local churches, holy sites, as well as to go out into the world and smite any demonic corruption.

The Zakarum Inquistition has also been reformed and remade. Individual inquistors make their rounds in local communities, investigating for any signs of heresy or corruption within the region. If any is found, the inquisitor will make known the error of the indiviual's ways, and if neccesary, take action to prevent further corruption. The Inquisition also serves to constantly protect the Church itself from corruption, having learned from matter with Mephisto.

Holy Orders[]

The Church created and mainted numerous holy orders and minor organizations created for various tasks and missions. Following the Second Reformation a vast reworkign of the church saw the creation of new orders, inigration of previously aloof orgnization, and the restructuring of several hierarchies to create a compatable and unified series of political orders.

Each holy order is different, with diverse numbers, age, origin, purpose, and structure. Each order usually is not controlled by regional priests and clergy, but is instead answerable to higher church leaders, ruled by local chapterhouses that answer to the order's leader, who in turn answers to the High Council and the Que-Hegan. Each holy order itself can only be legitmized and recognized by a the High Council, and over time orders may dissolve, be abolished, reformed, or splinter into vairous smaller groups.

Seekers of the Light/Order of St. Leah[]

Symbol of the Order of St. Leah

The original Seekers of the Light were an ancient woman-warrior order dedicated to battling evil across Khandurus. However, after the madness of King Leoric their numbers dwindled and the order seemed to dissappear. Survivors held on for decades, but the order seemed to be doomed.

However, any remained Seekers were gathered together during the Battle of Tristram, and began to reorganize during the long demonic invasion of Sanctuary, After the Battle of Westmarch and the ascenion of Leah into Sainthood, the remaining Seekers pledged themselves to Leah herself, and thus they were rechristened the Order of St. Leah, and choosing to remain in Khandurus as its holy protectors.

The order is specifically commanded by Leah herself and her second-in-command, the Grandmaster of the Order. The Seekers serves as the church's warriors and protectors in Khandurus, ensuring that any remaining blights and monsters are taken care off. Every Seekers is a skilled female warrior, as well as taleneted in the arts of basic magic, making them an incredible force to be reckoned with.

Order of the Sacred Oath/Johannites[]

The emblem of the Johannites, based off the symbol for crusaders

Formed and commanded by the indomitable crusading hero Grandmaster Johanna, the paladins of the Sacred Oath function as the preeminent holy order within the church today. Their names comes from the intensive and rigorous oath that each member is sworn to obey, essentially living life as warrior-monks for the church, but the members are often referred to as Johannites after their leader and founder. The order has established several fortress-monestaries around Sanctuary, each commanded by a Captain, and from where members of the order live out their lives with prayer, fasting, meditation, and rigorous training.

The order itself is based from the former church capitol of Kurast, from the Citadel of Dawn. Local chapters submit to the Grandmaster, but are generally called upon by local Church leadership, such as local priests or wandering inquisitors, to handle dangerous threats or protect priests, churches, or local communities. Thanks to their large numbers, the Order is also the main military force for the Zakarum Church, function as a small but highly skilled army. In dire circumstances, Archbishops, the High Council, and even the Que-Hegan can summon local chapters and units together to handle a larger threat. In the most extreme circumstances, the Grandmaster can call upon the entire order, bringing together thousans of holy warriors devoted to battling the enemies of the Church.

Johannites are heavily armored and trained with extensive weaponry, but frequently favor maces, swords, and heavy weaponry. They are famous for their tenacity and courage, known for launching near suicidal attacks or defending against numerically larger forces.

Sisterhood of the Light[]

The Sisterhood's symbol is based off a specific cross design within the Church.

The Sisterhood is a unique organization within the church, formed by the High Enchantress Eirena (who currently leads the order) and is composed of female mages, specifically those who are skilled in holy magic. Eirena herself is not Zakarumite per se, but was instead a former member of the Hand of the Prophot, a group of female mages trained by the disguised angel known as the Prophet. During the demonic invasion of Sanctuary Eirena gathered together abandoned and young female sorceress, who were granted sanctuary by the Church. Following the defeat of Diablo at the Battle of Westmarch, Eirena was offered the chance to lead her own order of holy mages, and accepted, thus creating the Sisterhood of the Light.

The Sisterhood is composed of skilled female mages, a specific requirement partially required by the various mage clans, who feared that the Church would take away all their potential future mages. Most members were either abondoned sorceresses, outcasts from the mage clans, or potential mages discovered within Church communities. Each one is taken in and sent to Magari Sanctum in Caldeum, specifically trained to harness their magic against demonic and supernatural threats and emerge as knowledgable indivuals able to use holy magic for the good of Sanctuary.

The Sisterhood is still quite small, but has provided greatly to the Zakarum Church. The enchantresses and mages among the order are very intelligent and capable, and frequently are tasked with trekking into lost lands and discovering ancient secrets, adding further knowledge that can be used against the forces of evil. In particular, the Sisterhood is given the task fo ensuring that any demonic and magical corruption is kept at bay, preventing further demonic summoning into the world of Sanctuary.

Templar Order[]

Symbol of the Templar Order

The Templar Order was originally founded from the remnants of the Hand of Zakarum, and was not offically sanctioned by the church. Instead, the order operated around Westmarch, based from the city itself, but corruption began to sink into the order, just as it had the Templar's predecesser. Innocents were abducted and tortured in order to supply warriors for the soldier, and the process only exacerbated with time, as overzealousness took root within the Templars. However, the Templars leadership was nearly wiped out by one of their own, Kormac, and the Nephalem during the period of Diablo's rampage. Following this, Kormac hunt down and stop his remaining brothers, and destroyed the corruption at the heart of the order.

However, Kormac would eventually meet with the Servant, and would begrudingly take on the position of Grand Maester, convinced that it was his duty to right the wrongs of his former masters and return the Templars to the path of the Light. During the reorganization of the Church, the Templars were reorganized and eventually officially sanctioned by the Church, serving as a vital force in the region of Westmarch and the surounding territories.

The Templars continue their service in the modern day, based from their headquarters within the city of Westmarch. The Templars have a close relationship to the Sisterhood of the Light, thanks in know small part to the close bond between Kormac and Eirena. Every Templar is a capable paladin, but largely function in the western portions of Sanctuary. Uniquely, they are known to call upon any who seek redemption, allowing former criminals, crooks, and even cultists, who are rigorously trained and have to serve within the field in order to gain redemption.

Order of Righteous Wanderers/Crusaders[]

Symbol for the Order of Righteous Wanderers, based off the original symbol for crusaders

The crusaders were specifically as a loose alliance of warriors without any connection to the church, to prevent them from being corrupted as they clerical brethren. Over the centuries the crusaders continued to wander and smite evil wherever they found it, Modern crusaders still continue their eteranal crusade, but are now fully sanctioned members of the Zakarum Church.

The Order of the Righteous Wanderers was formed after the Battle of Westmarch, and takes great inspiration from the figure of the Servant. It is sometimes referred to as the Order of the Servant for this reason. It is a very loose organization, with only one central headquarters in Caldeum, and does not have a clear leadership. Every crusader constantly travels and lives as simple warrior-beggars, with few wordly possessions. The members of the order frequently travel in pairs, as master and apprentice, and the apprentice will take on the armor and weapons of their master when they die. They wander Sanctuary, preaching the words of Zakarum, battling corruption, and facing down evil wherever they find it. While each crusader is answerable to the church authority, they have a considerable degree of autonomy, and inspire devotion in the faithful and fear in the unholy wherever they travel.

Former or Defunct Orders[]

Several other holy orders and groups have existed within the church, but are now defunct or reorganized into newer ones. These include the Order of the Gauntlet, the Protectors of the Word, and the Hand of Zakarum. The Knights of Westmarch were formerly a part of the church, but eventually began to split away, absorbing the Order of Paladins into their fold and specifically serving only the kingdom of Westmarch itself. Due to this, the knights were officially de-sanctioned from the church, and are thus no longer considered a holy order.

Tenets & Beliefs[]

Looking at available sources, Zakarum's tenets can be summarized as such:

  • The Light exists in everyone, regardless of race, religion, or social status (the most basic tenet of the faith).
  • Embrace the Light with total devotion.
  • Trust in the glory of the Light, for its authority supersedes all power in the mortal world.
  • Resist all things evil.
  • Do what is right in the way of the Light.
  • Do not worship angels, but have a reverence for them, for they are fellow servants of the Light.
  • Zakarumites have a negative view of the Priests of Rathma.

Sacred Texts[]

Tomes of the religion include The Visions of Akarat and The Holy Scriptures of Zakarum.

Saintly & Angelic Cults[]

With the rise of St. Leah, many have turned to worshipping and praying to Leah herself. Others do the same with the Servant, worshipped as St. William. A few radicals within the Church preach that angels are to be worshipped as well, and many communities send prayers up to Auriel, Tyrael, Imperius, or other angels of the High Heavens. However, such actions are condemned Church itself, notably from the Synod of Kurast, though saintly cults continue to grow, especially in isolated and poorer regions. Other figures within the saint-cults include Father Akarat himself, as well as St. Zebulon and St. Khalim.

History[]

Origins[]

Zakarum has its origins in Akarat, an ascetic who claimed to have been visited by the angel Yaerius who revealed to him the teachings of what would form the basis of Zakarum. These teachings stressed the necessity of resisting all things evil, and embracing, with total devotion, the Light. The angel appointed Akarat to be the prophet of these new teachings, and bade him take the word to the people of all lands.

Deckard Cain had his own views on this event however. In his mind, what Akarat had really seen was an echo of sorts of Uldyssian's final sacrifice, an act that some Mystics have been reported to have seen. He believed this act echoed throughout space and time, and can only be seen by those deep in meditation. Thus, Cain believed that Akarat had witnessed the phenomenon himself and interpreted it as the being Yaerius, "Yaerius" translating as "son of light" in his own language. Whatever the truth of the matter, Akarat now had the fundamental belief that humans were powerful vessels of light, and that all should seek their "inner light" in order to live good lives.

Spread[]

Akarat's philosophy spoke directly to the common man, and the people of Kurast embraced it. They sent disciples throughout Kehjistan to spread the word and Akarat went himself, spreading the Word through Kehjistan's ancient cities. Over time, a number of disciples flocked to Akarat's side. In reality, Akarat never set out to create an organized religion, but simply wanted to spread word of the wonderous things he had seen so that people could live with goodness in their hearts. At some point (accounts vary on the date), Akarat disappeared into the jungles of Kehjistan, content that he had spread his word to as many people as he could. He was never seen again.

Over the following years, Akarat's ideals were carried on and preached in the streets of Kehjistan's cities by a devout few. Akarat had never given a name to his beliefs, for he had never intended them to become an actual institution. But nonetheless, the term "Zakarum" came into use in this period, a term used to describe those who followed the ideals of Zakara, or "inner Light." With the use of such a name, it was clear that the followers of Zakarum were becoming an organized group.

Rise[]

During the 11th century, the Horadrim were engaged in a hunt for the Prime Evils, who had been banished to the mortal realm in the Dark Exile. With the capture ofMephisto and the binding of the Lord of Hatred in a soulstone, the Horadrim turned to the Zakarum believers, who were at that time, still a small and humble order. Tal Rasha, who had an affinity with the faith's monks, believed that they were the only individuals who could be trusted with guarding the soulstone and entrusted it to them. As the Horadrim continued their hunt for the Primes, the Zakarumites set about building a Temple of Light in which they could safeguard Mephisto's soulstone. It was in the jungles of Kurast that they thus founded what would be known as Travincal. This humble place of worship would later grow into a massive temple city at the heart of eastern civilization.

Thus, Zakarum grew even more. Popular religious leaders soon sprung up, endorsed by the new church, and within half a century Zakarum was the dominant order of faith and binding political force in the East. As the religion of Zakarum took hold in the East, they encountered many enclaves of demonic followers. Some of these were fully corrupted, and easily identified, but many were under subtle demonic influence, and appeared to be noble and good. With this, the Zakarum codified their beliefs and created a religious hierarchy composed of differing offices.

The Crusades[]

During the mid-twelfth century, after the Church of Zakarum had gained prominence in the East, the Church decreed that the visions of Akarat would be spread throughout the known world in order to redeem the masses. Thus, the Church selected a group of its most charismatic and devoted priests and sent them on a mission to proselytize the people of the West.

Unfortunately, the Church had not prepared these men for the rigors of travel nor the hazards of the world. The priests who survived their missions recounted tales of harsh weather, inadequate supplies, attacks from bandits and even encounters with horrible monsters. To ensure the success of future missions, the Church set about training holy warriors, Paladins, to accompany and safeguard their missionaries. In practice, these "Protectors of the Word" proved to be more successful at converting the native peoples than the Priests that they were assigned to defend. Impressing the locals with daring deeds, powerful weapons, and martial prowess was far more convincing than the condemnations of a soft-spoken monk. However, once the Word had been spread to every major city of the West, the "Protectors of the Word" faded from public view.

Some decades later, Paladins were again called into service. During the height of the Time of Troubles, the Church commenced a second campaign of conversion. This time, however, the inconvincible were deemed evil. The Zakarum Inquisition spread through the lands like a tempest, laying waste to all suspected of demonic possession or corruption. Leading this crusade was a new generation of Paladins, known as the "Hand of Zakarum" These cavaliers of righteousness swept through the lands, expunging the taint of demonic contamination wherever they found it.

In the midst of this bloody crusade, a rebellion arose within the ranks of the Paladins of Zakarum. The rebels condemned the methods of the Inquisition, proclaiming that the new Order of Paladins should protect the innocent, and that the evil corruption was rooted in their forebear's failure. They resolved to fight the true source of corruption, the Prime Evils. And so, these rebellious Paladins left their Zakarum brethren and ventured west.

With the end of these crusades, Zakarum had spread to almost every corner of the world, with few regions untouched by its influence.

Corruption[]

By the 13th century, tensions existed between Westmarch and Khanduras, as the priests of Zakarum began to preach their foreign dogma in Khanduras whether they were welcomed or not.

By this same century, Mephisto had succeeded in corrupting the High Council of Zakarum, and the body became a mockery of its former glory. Mephisto's corruption stemmed back at least two centuries, but now, the Lord of Hatred had control of the Church. He had been able to overcome the soulstone enough to have the Zakarum priests to work spells to shatter the soulstone into seven shards, breaking the mystic seal and freeing him. The Que-Hegan Khalim proved immune to his corruption, so Mephisto had the priesthood slay and dismember him. The priest Sankekur became the new Que-Hegan and consequently, Mephisto's embodiment on the mortal plane. The corrupted High Council fashioned the Compelling Orb to control the rest of the Zakarum faithful and used their powers to conceal the lair of their master. Years passed, and eventually, Lazarus was sent west to reawaken Diablo in Khanduras. This was in the company of Leoric, declaring himself to be king. That Tristram was chosen by Lazarus to be his seat of power was no coincidence, as it was here that Diablo was sealed beneath the Tristram Cathedral.

Diablo was freed and arrived in Travincal in the form of the Dark Wanderer, alongside Baal, possessing the body of Tal Rasha. By this point, many of Zakarum's Paladins and their commanders had been corrupted by Mephisto's influence. However, there were still those in Travincal who had not been corrupted, for all the good it did them. Reportedly, when the Wanderer arrived, many of the temple's defenders fell prey to overwhelming fear and fled the complex altogether. Additional reports suggest that many more turned on each other, further decimating Zakarum's ranks. Regardless, Diablo and Baal freed Mephisto, who took Sankekur's body as his own.

However, the Wanderer had been pursued by a group of heroes, who fought their way into Travincal, killing demons, corrupted zealots, and the High Council's members.Deckard Cain would later reflect that it was unlikely that any of the heroes gave thought to the fact that they were toppling the world's greatest religion. Regardless, they made their way to Mephisto and slew him.

Reorganization[]

The revelations of Mephisto's corruption nearly destroyed the faith. The church moved its headquarters from Kurast to the Saldencal in Caldeum. Under the leadership of a new Que-Hegan, Dirae, the Zakarum faithful began nursing their wounds and mending their reputation. Of note, the Zakarum faithful in Westmarch further distanced themselves from their eastern breathren, hastening a process that had been going on for some time. The church had always held great sway in Westmarch, but with the revelations of Mephisto's corruption, Zakarum lost any influence over the affairs of state in the country. Zakarum has been held responsible for many of the world's ills, and the year of its founding has even been counted as one of the Bleaked Years.

After the death of Hakan I, Emperor of Kehjistan, the Zakarum priests were forced to find a new heir to the throne. Through a series of elaborate rituals (possibly a spectacle for the sake of appearances), they determined an impoverished infant in the north was Hakan I's spiritual successor. After the priests' rituals were complete, they employed the Iron Wolves, to retrieve the child. They dubbed him Hakan II and installed him on the throne despite his scant years. Caldeum immediately fell into decline.

Over two decades later, Zakarum was still recovering from the effects of Mephisto's corruption and the actions of the heroes that defeated the Lord of Hatred. The Zakarum remained an intolerant organization and remained based in Caldeum, where it quarreled with the city's mage class.

Resurgence[]

After Malthael's genocide, a power vacuum developed within Sanctuary. The Zakarum was among those who rose to fill it. However, they ended up being confined toKehjistan, and even then, years of decadence and corruption caused the faith to fall apart and lose the hearts and minds of the people who lived in the region. The church desparately tried to gain that faith back, but initially found little success.

In 1290, however, things began to change in Sanctuary. The mysterious Servant emerged and began his legendary march towards Caldeum, calling for reform in the church. Thanks to his zealous nature, miraculous feats, and encouragement of the people, the High Council and Que-Hegan ordered the Synod of Saldencal, beginning what is now known as the Second Reformation. Church doctrine was redifined and codified, the administration of the church was reorganized, and a general feeling renewed vigor and religious optimism spread across the Church, and then to the rest of the population.

The staggering and massive political and theological undertaking had a great positive effect, and over several months a renewed vigor and zeal spread across the church, as corrupt priests were exiled and the populouce became reencouraged by their faith. Thanks to the efforts of the Second Reformation, and the rebuilding of the Kehjistan Empire under Hakan III, the Zakarum Church began to restore its place of prominance, as thousands were reconverted and placed their hope and faith in the church once more.

The Demonic Invasion[]

The Zakarum Church would only truly return to its former position following the devastating invasion by the monsters of the Burning Hells. The Prime Evils attacked from Tristram, and led their forces to raze the countryside. However, the demons were defeated at the Battle of Tristram by a series of bold heroes and the collection of the finest warriors and paladins of the church, who had been reassembled during the Second Reformation.

During the length of the continuing conflict, the High Council created numerous holy orders filled with zealous crusaders and paladins who fough in the name of the Light. Their zeal and strenght helped carry many victories, and when the final demons were imprisioned after the Battle of Westmarch, the church was looked upon once more as a symbol of hope, courage, and redemption.

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