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Not to be confused with Great Temple.

Great Temple of Sigmar

The Great Cathedral of Sigmar

The Holy Temple of Sigmar, also called the Great Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Sigmar Risen and Transformed[3a] is the centre of the Cult of Sigmar. It is the seat of the Grand Theogonist and is considered one of the true marvels of the Old World. It is, in of itself, the largest and most powerful religious hub within the Empire and beyond. Some argue it holds more power than the Emperor's Palace.[1a]

The Cathedral's magnificent carved stone facades dominate the city around it, and the building demonstrates to all good citizens for miles around the awesome power of the cult, of Sigmar, and of the Empire. The main hall of the temple is truly one of the marvels of the Old World.[1a]

It has a massively high arched ceiling, overlooked by countless balconies and precarious gantries. It is estimated that the Temple can accommodate thousands of worshipers. The building was constructed, renovated, embellished, and enhanced over the centuries, and has ancient wings and almost-forgotten corners and sections forbidden to all but ordained priests of Sigmar. The reliquary below the temple boasts many sacred and powerful artefacts, but pride of place is taken by the Shroud of Magnus, rumoured to be the very burial cloth used when Magnus the Pious was interred. If the rumours are true, the shroud could be one of the most precious relics in the entire Old World.[1a]

History

Johan Helstrum built the original temple of Sigmar in Altdorf during his tenure as Grand Theogonist. [8a] The first stones of today's Cathedral were laid in 580 IC[3a] by Dwarf refugees who designed and constructed this monument to secure a place for themselves in the Empire's capital.[5a] The temple was not completed until 1000 IC, and an eight-volume book called The Life of Sigmar was commissioned to celebrate it. [8b] At the time of its construction, it was purposefully set aside from the Imperial Chapel, whose priesthood were part of the Emperor's retinue and therefore loyal to the master of the throne. The Grand Theogonists, with their long tradition of independent thought, had always seen the danger in letting the Emperor's pet priests monopolise the worship of Sigmar in Altdorf, so funds were set aside to create a rival institution within the city.[3a]

Layout

The great Temple of Sigmar in Altdorf, centre of the Sigmarite cult, is easily the largest temple in the city. Facing the Imperial Palace across the central square, it represents one of the two centres of power in the Empire and has a physical presence that cannot be ignored.[2a] The temple complex includes a large number of buildings, the most important being the main sanctuary of Sigmar. This is a large hall, T-shaped and said to be exactly proportional to Ghal Maraz, the cross bar of the T in the south.[2a][7]

Entrance

Twin spires stand at either side of the entrance at the northern end at the central square, and the door is flanked by enormous statues of Sigmarite warriors that are triple the size of a Human. The double-tailed comet is carved into the door, which towers four times the height of a Human man. Slightly larger than the warriors flanking the door is a statue of Sigmar, set in a niche over the door, holding his warhammer.[2a]

It was carved centuries ago by a priest famed for his battles against Chaos, but, while competent, it is not great art. However, it has holy significance in itself, so the Grand Theogonist has always resisted occasional campaigns to have it moved somewhere else and replaced by a finer statue, of which the temple has several.[2a]

Main Hall

Once within, the smells of the street are overpowered by the smell of hundreds of people in a confined area. The temple is big, but there are still enough people that their sweat dominates the odours. The roof soars over 20 yards into the air, topped by solid vaulting. The hall is aisled, the roof in the aisles a mere 10 yards from the ground. Great arches springing from marble pillars support the upper walls, and in the centre of each arch stands a statue of a great Sigmarite hero, twice the size of a Human. There are 12 arches on each side, honouring a total of 24 heroes.[2a]

The statues are moved when a new hero is judged worthy of a place among them. A strong body of contemporary opinion holds that Valten’s statue should be placed there because even though he was not Sigmar reborn, he was clearly a great hero of the faith. Others think that Valten was a heretic and should not be honoured at all. The windows in the aisles are stained glass, depicting famous scenes from the life of Sigmar. There are 12 on each side, those in the east telling of his rise to power, while those in the west tell of his later years consolidating the Empire. The windows above the aisles are clear glass, making the interior of the temple far brighter than most would think. The crossing point of the T is surmounted by a great dome, pierced with windows about its base. The interior of the dome is decorated with a mosaic showing Sigmar ascending into heaven.[2a]

This current mosaic is the seventh, as the depiction of this event, which had no witnesses, is particularly vulnerable to charges of heresy. Beyond the dome, in the south-central wall of the temple, is a great stained glass window depicting the Battle of Black Fire Pass. Sigmar, larger than all the other figures, stands in the centre surrounded by his Human and Dwarf allies, swinging his great warhammer to crush the twisted Greenskins before him. The Orcs and Goblins in this window are depicted with many mutations, to emphasise the double role of Sigmar’s fight. In the sky over his head, the twin-tailed comet shines brightly. In front of the window is a mighty statue of Sigmar, over 20 feet tall, his warhammer cradled and ready for action. A gift from the Dwarfs, this statue is generally agreed to be an artistic masterpiece. Before the statue, under the centre of the dome, stands the High Altar of Sigmar, the holiest place of the Sigmarite faith.[2a]

The arms of the T are brightly lit through their south-facing windows, ending in a mighty tower. However, the arms are divided by pillars and bays into over two dozen semi-private chapels, each with its own altar and Sigmarite icon where the faithful can pray in peace. Even when a service is held in the main body of the temple, those who wish to pray privately here are not disturbed. The altar in the far south-eastern corner is not dedicated to Sigmar. Instead, it is dedicated to all the Gods of the Dwarfs in recognition of their importance in Sigmar’s life. The image behind it depicts many Dwarfish figures, but only experts in Dwarfish culture can identify them. This altar is usually deserted; although, the priests ensure that it is kept in a good state, to do otherwise would show a lack of respect. There are always at least a dozen priests in the temple, praying, counselling the faithful, and keeping an eye out for potential trouble. During the day there are at least twice that number and over a hundred lay folk as well, rising to several hundred if there is a service.[2a]

The temple is never quiet, and characters who just want to speak to a priest of Sigmar can do so here within a few minutes. If they have an important message and can prove it, they will be escorted to the complex of buildings surrounding the sanctuary for a meeting with the appropriate figure.[2a]

Prior to leading a service in the sanctuary, the priest prays in the temple's sacristry. The wall of the room is decorated with a map of the Empire carved in stone, resplendent with lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl. The priest swears an oath towards this map to preserve the unity of the Empire. The map, in turn, seems almost to be mocking the priest, as it was created before the province of Westerland broke away from the Empire.[10a]

Surrounding Buildings

The complex of buildings surrounding the main hall covers a larger surface area than the sanctuary itself. The sprawling campus is dotted with cloistered courtyards, and in the heart of it all, the smells of the street are imperceptible, replaced by a faint scent of incense. Clustered around the courtyards are structures of all sorts: libararies, meeting and lecture halls, refectories, residences ranging from the austere cells of lowly initiates to the luxurious quarters of the Lectors, and more than a dozen smaller chapels to Sigmar.[2a]

In theory, only residents and those with business are allowed into the complex, but the place is normally so busy that no one has any idea who is there. Only if something happens does security tighten for a few days or weeks, until it becomes apparent that it is almost impossible for the temple to function under those conditions. One rumour that has spread throughout Altdorf is grounded in fact. The food served in the refectories of the temple is superb, among the best that you can get. Unfortunately, it is only available to residents and their guests, and the serving staff is far more vigilant than the gate guards.[2a]

Palace of the Grand Theogonist

The palace of the Grand Theogonist is also found here, although it is not a discrete building. Rather, it sprawls through a dozen ranges of rooms, making a spectacular palace once you are within but presenting a more humble facade. The main entrance is a simple spiral staircase, just large enough for two people to climb abreast, which gives out into a huge reception hall that takes up most of a range. The entrance may not look spectacular, but it is always guarded by six Sigmarite Templars.[2a]

Sun Chapel

Among the buildings surrounding the Holy Temple, the Sun Chapel is particularly notable. It is the private chapel of the Grand Theogonist, and being allowed inside is a great privilege, as it is considered one of the holiest places in the Empire.[2a][7] It is called so because it is round and domed, and the exterior of the dome is plated in gold, making it shine like the sun. The interior has an altar to Sigmar at the centre, while the walls and underside of the dome are decorated with the most superb mosaics to be found in the Empire. These mosaics depict the whole of Sigmar’s life story, the Battle of Black Fire Pass raging around the bottom of the dome as the twin-tailed comet flares across its sky. The figure of Sigmar is in the east of the dome on the same side as the door. Thus, in order to see him in battle, it is necessary to enter the chapel, cross it, and turn around.[2a]

Other Locations

The Holy Temple is also the location of the Well of Sigmar. Holy Water is drawn from this well on Sigmar's feast days and distributed to Witch Hunters.[4a]

Vaults Below

While grand and storied, the fascinating aspects of the temple are not in the hundreds of stained glass windows or the flying buttresses, but the vaults below it.[5a]

Hidden away from mortal eyes are warded rooms designed to safeguard the most damaging and dangerous writings ever known. What’s contained there represents nearly ten centuries of work by Priests and Witch Hunters to collect and conceal these heretical texts. They might have burned them, but for one reason or another, they chose not to, seeing them too awful (and too insightful) to consign to fire. And so these volumes are locked away, guarded by blind and mute Zealots.[5a]

On occasion, the vaults are opened so that a ranking member of the Cult can reference the tomes to learn something of the enemy. But, only the purest and strongest of conviction are allowed inside. This has been the case ever ever since an unnamed Templar entered the halls and read the hateful words of Necrodomo soon the Great War against Chaos, and later vanished. Despite every effort to protect these volumes, invariably one escapes to wreak havoc from time to time. And with each escape, copies of these tomes spread, working their evil among the well-intentioned people of the Empire and beyond.[5a]

Staff

The Holy Temple is never quiet;[2a] it is staffed by hundreds of priests and guarded by at least two Templar Orders.[6a] Within the sanctuary itself, there are never fewer than a dozen priests praying, counselling the faithful, and keeping an eye out for potential trouble.[2a]

Canon Conflict

Older sources state that the Holy Temple is octagonal, rather than T-shaped.[9a]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd ED -- Signs of Faith
    • 1a: pg. 13
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Spires of Altdorf
    • 2a: pg. 31 - 32
  • 3: Sword of Vengeance, by Chris Wraight
    • 3a: Chapter 5
  • 4: White Dwarf 236 (US)
    • 4a: pg. 39
  • 5: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Corruption
    • 5a: pg. 18
  • 6: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th ED -- Core Rulebook
    • 6a: pg. 211
  • 7: Death’s Legacy (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • 8: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Sigmar's Heirs
    • 8a: pg. 14
    • 8b: pg. 15
  • 9: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 1st ED -- Shadows Over Bögenhafen
    • 9a: pg. 22
  • 10: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Marienburg: Sold Down the River

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