The Ordo Sancti Lacena (also called the Order of Knights Hospitaller of Saint Lacena, or simply Hospitallers) is an unofficial military order of the Imperial Cult that was founded in the early 41st Millennium. It is not officially recognized by the Ecclesiarchy but has been informally granted canonical acceptance as a hospitaller and military order of chivalry. Originally a splinter group of the more famous Ordo Templariis, the Ordo Sancti Lacena has since become a prominent organization in its own right.
The Order originated from a company of Templars that were deployed to protect Imperial colonists on a Frontier World in the Calixis Sector from Ork raids. However, this company, under Knight Commander Ferdinand Lacena de Navarette, were ordered to leave and go to the aid of another world nearby. Navarette disobeyed the command as they were not finished with their mission and they refused to abandon the colonists to the Orks. He and his company were then expelled from the Ordo Templariis, and Navarette died in battle a short while later. Other members of his company reformed themselves into a new organization aimed strictly at protecting the followers of the God-Emperor, believing that the Templars were too focused on fighting at the front lines, like the Imperial Guard, and not enough in defending the believers.
Since that event, which some referred to as the "Templar Schism", the Order of Saint Lacena has expanded to include various cells operating throughout the Imperium. Unlike its original order, the Knights of Saint Lacena do not limit themselves to the Segmentum Obscurus, although that is where their headquarters and majority of members are. It remains a secretive underground group which maintains ties to local clergy as well as various charities and medical organizations. Although it is, like the Templars, a borderline violation of the Decree Passive, the Inquisition does not consider it a threat as it only fights to defend the believers of the Imperial Creed and has not demonstrated to have any ulterior motives, earning the Imperial government's tacit approval of their existence.
Role and doctrine
The Order of Knights of Saint Lacena, like their original organization, consists of not only soldiers but also various other members. But in this Order's case the non-combatant members are primarily medical personnel or associated with various charity organizations of the Imperium. The Order's stated goal is to "provide protection to the followers of the God-Emperor, wherever they might be, whenever it is needed." Its knights guard Shrine Worlds or go to planets that are under attack from an enemy force and the people there are not receiving adequate support. In addition to fighting off the threat, the Hospitallers provide medical and other humanitarian assistance to Imperial citizens living on the afflicted world. The organization gets much of its funds from various noble and high-ranking patrons within the Ecclesiarchy, the Administratum, or local governments that are sympathetic to its cause.
The origins of the Ordo Sancti Lacena lie with the larger Ordo Templariis, another Imperial Cult military order that was founded about half a century prior. In the aftermath of the 12th Black Crusade, Arch-Cardinal Emil Rebreanu established a group of some three hundred Crusaders that served him as a personal army. He believed that the Decree Passive, which banned the Ecclesiarchy from maintaining its own military, was outdated and that the masses of followers of the God-Emperor could be effectively mobilized to support the Imperium. After their successful deployment and victory in the Siege of Arabanth of 156.M41, Rebreanu appointed Mario Zenari as the group's Grand Master and helped establish them as an independent chivalric military order, naming it Ordo Templariis after the Ecclesiarchy's original army, the Frateris Templar. The order expanded in numbers and influence over the next few decades under Zenari's leadership, becoming more famous as it took part in campaigns against the Forces of Chaos.
However, an incident in the late 2nd century of the 41st Millennium caused a "Templar Schism" which resulted in the creation of the Order of Saint Lacena. A company of Templars under Knight Commander Ferdinand Lacena de Navarette was deployed to the Frontier World of Ganf Magnus in the Calixis Sector, where Imperial colonists were being frequently attacked by Ork tribes residing on the planet. The Knights spend two years fighting to remove the Ork presence from the world. However, in 198.M41 they were ordered by a Master to leave and go to another world where they were needed. Navarette refused to abandon the colonists as the Orks had not yet been completely removed and decided to stay, along with his company. In response, the Grand Master had them expelled. Lacena stayed there and continued to fighting, falling battle against the Orks a few months later.
The remaining members finished the mission, but finding themselves expelled from the Ordo Templariis, decided to create their own. They believed that the Templars spent too much time either soldiering on the front lines with the Imperial Guard or trying to gain influence in the regional halls of power. Their new organization, which they called the Order of Knights Hospitaller of Saint Lacena, after their fallen leader, or Ordo Sancti Lacena in Low Gothic. The group's main goal is to provide protection to followers of the Imperial Faith, wherever they might be or whenever they need it, and not only in the military sense but also in humanitarian terms. The new group took several years to develop, recruiting from among the thankful colonists of Ganf Magnus and expanding their numbers before sending Hospitallers to other worlds where they were needed.
Recruitment and Training
Unlike the Templars, which have strict guidelines for potential recruits, the Order of Saint Lacena is more open to newcomers and any worshiper of the God-Emperor may join. That being said, it still maintains some recruiting standards and has preferences for those with some talent in a field, especially in either the medical field or combat. The majority of recruits are initially put to work in humanitarian missions where they learn the basics of the Knights Hospitallers while those with an Imperial Guard or PDF background are put into the fighting forces right away. All recruits undergo a military training program, often under the oversight of a full Knight Hospitaller. Those with inclination to serve more permanently in the fighting forces of the Order are given additional training from the veteran members. The training process includes both instruction in the art of war as well as in other fields, such as piloting, medicine, diplomacy, languages, and so forth.
Most tend to serve permanently in one branch of the Order, either the humanitarian or military, for most of their career. Some, especially higher-ranking members, serve in both as the situation demands. That is partly why most recruits receive training in both combat as well as other fields. When their assigned Knight deems them ready, they are given a final test and are promoted to the rank of Knight if successful.
New members are often recruited with the help of local clergy on worlds where the Hospitallers possess cells, with clerics making recommendations and introductions. However, as the Order's reputation grew, many have also begun to actively seek it out to join. An extensive testing and vetting process is then used to determine if the individual in question is capable of devoting their entire life to the Order and is not an infiltrator of a force hostile to the Hospitallers.
On deployment their smallest unit is called a mission, which typically consists of ten Hospitallers, but the exact numbers change depending on the situation. In humanitarian assignments this is typically the only organizational unit they use. A mission can be led by anyone from a Knight to a Master, depending on its composition and nature. In combat operations a number of missions are organized into a company, and their exact numbers likewise fluctuate. Companies are assigned to a priory, of which there are two — the God-Emperor's Hospitallers, which are primarily defensive fighters going to aid units under attack, and the God-Emperor's Knights, which are also used for that purpose but primarily specialize in offensive operations against potentially dangerous targets. The two priories are commanded by a Master each, who answers directly to the Grand Master. Both consist of four permanent companies, and some provisional companies are established on special deployments.
- Chevalier — Every member receives this rank after being inducted into the Ordo Sancti Lacena and going through the initiation ritual, in which they bind their lives in service of the Order. Chevaliers are low-ranking Hospitallers and are essentially apprentices who often are tutored by a Knight while they learn the business of the Order. They are typically assigned to a Knight based on whatever specialty they decide to work in. After a certain period of time during which they learn and their master deems them worthy of becoming fully Knights, a Chevalier is then able to take a final test in which his skills are put to use. If he passes then he is able to become a full member.
- Knight — Full members of the Order are given the rank of Knight, and then serve in various capacities. The Knight is the fundamental block of the organization as he does most of the basic tasks in his field, and also carries out the orders of Masters. Various grades of the rank exist within the order, being given additional titles such as knight of grace, knight of devotion, knight of justice, lord-knight, and so forth. It could take nearly a lifetime to progress to be promoted to a higher position.
- Grand Commander — Not like the other grades of the Knight rank, it is a temporary field officer title that is used by leaders of company leaders in the field. Those holding the rank of Commander usually only do so for a campaign or battle, with only some still being referred to as commanders afterwards honorarily.
- Magister — Those who oversee larger humanitarian missions and are more senior than the average Knight are given the rank of Magister. These are strictly non-combat members, instead being doctors, translators, diplomats, and other specialists. Once a Knight who primarily works in a non-military field reaches the point where they can be promoted, then they are usually recommended for a promotion by a local Master who leads their cell or is responsible for the sector that they are in. The Grand Master reviews it and gives his approval, in which case they are promoted to Master.
- Master — Some of the senior-most members of the Order, Masters are responsible for overseeing planetary cells and facilities, as well as managing the organization's operations on a regional level. A Master gives commands to lower-ranking members in his assigned area and serves as an intermediary with the Grand Master. They answer directly to the Grand Master and sit on the Order's ruling body, the Grand Chancery, which serves to advise the leader. When the leader dies, a new Grand Master is chosen from among them in a vote.
- Grand Master — The overall head of the Order, the Grand Master holds supreme authority and can make decisions largely on his own, although the Grand Chancery is able to overturn some of those decisions if they are deemed to be against the interests of the Ordo Sancti Lacena.
Order of Battle
|Grand Master of the Order|
|Priory of the God-Emperor's Hospitallers||Priory of the God-Emperor's Knights|
Order bases and hideouts
The main headquarters of the Hospitallers is now based on the Frontier World of Ganf Magna, which was the original planet on which Saint Lacena and his company of Templars had fought to protect colonists from the Ork raids. It now serves as a de-facto Shrine World and is the home of their main monastery, where the Grand Master resides. The organization maintains many outposts throughout the Imperium, with the majority of them being in their native Segmentum Obscurus. They are organized into the following:
- Cell — The basic administrative unit of the Order is a local cell. A cell usually covers one planet, or in some cases, one city or region on a given world. Cells manage the local activities of the Order on their assigned planet.
- Commandery — An larger office of the Ordo Sancti Lacena, usually found on major worlds.
- Great Priory — One of these regional hubs is located on a major world in each sector that the Order operates in.
Symbols and insignia
A green Maltese Cross set on a white field is the symbol of the Ordo Sancti Lacena, with several variations also being seen in use.
Vehicles and equipment
- Originally the author was inspired to write this after seeing the article on Crusaders on Warhammer 40k Wiki, where it stated "Across the Imperium there exist countless orders that combine martial and religious ideals, each venerating and serving the God-Emperor according to its own ideals and traditions." The author got the idea for this specific organization after reading the Imperial Saint article.
- The Ordo Sancti Lacena is based on the real Order of Saint Lazarus, a Roman Catholic hospitaller and military order that was founded in the 11th century in Jerusalem.