The Elene Church is based at Chyrellos, a city-state under the control of the Church and ruled by the Archprelate, much like the Vatican in the Catholic Church. The Basilica of Chyrellos is the chief cathedral for the Elene Church, much like St. Peter's Basilica.
The head of the Elene Church is the Archprelate, who is equivalent to the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. The Archprelate is elected by a congress of Patriarchs, who are analogus to cardinals in the Catholic Church. (In real Christendom, a Patriarch is the head of one of the Orthodox churches). A Patriarch is usually in charge of the religious administration of a city; e.g. Dolmant is the Patriarch of Demos, Bergsten is the Patriarch of Emsat). So a Patriarch also seems to undertake the duties of local diocesan Catholic bishops or archbishops; in fact, the archbishops of several cities are usually made cardinals). The four preceptors of the Militant Orders (the Church Knights) also hold the rank of Patriarch. Each Patriarch (minus the Preceptors) seems to have a squad of Church soldiers at their command to ensure their protection.
Primates are the Elene equivalent of bishops. They rank lower than a Patriarch and seem to do less than a Roman Catholic bishop. They seem to be assistants to the Patriarchs. Annias only runs the church in Cimmura because the Patriarch is old and unable to manage the administration himself. In fact, Annias is the only Primate actually mentioned by name, although it is mentioned that the Primate of Emsat presided at the funeral of Avin Wargunson (because Patriarch Bergsten was accompanying the Church Knights to Tamuli).
Last of all are priests. They seem to fulfil the same position of their Roman Catholic counterparts.
The Archprelate must be elected by a vote of 100 votes, or a like proportion of those Patriarchs present and voting (there are a total of 168 Patriarchs). This is similar to the Papal Conclave, although a conclave requires a 2/3 majority plus one vote. Also, the Papal Conclave is held in the strictest secrecy, with the cardinals locked in the Sistine Chapel until a decision has been reached, whereas the election of the Archprelate takes place in view of other Church officials (Primate Annias, the Church Knights) and the monarchs of the various Eosian nations. Like the Roman Catholic system, the one elected to be Archprelate does not necessarily have to be a Patriarch. Even a priest can become Archprelate.
Theology and PracticeEdit
The Elene Church believes in one God, who is reported to be all-powerful and forgiving. No mention of Jesus Christ is made, but anyone with a knowledge of basic Christian theology can see that the God mentioned is the Judeo-Christian God, although the Trinity is never mentioned. The name of the Elene God is a closely kept secret in the Church. The Elene Church teaches that there is a Devil (this is affirmed by Bevier in The Ruby Knight). The Elene Church does not recognise the existence of any other gods, although the Church Knights are permitted to be trained in the secrets of Styricum, which involves making supplications to the Younger Gods of Styricum. This practice has been approved by all the Archprelates for the last nine hundred years, but there are some in the Church, such as Patriarch Ortzel, who oppose it. The Styric Goddess Aphrael remarks that the Elene God is "stuffy". She says that every time she goes into the Basilica of Chyrellos, she has to talk to him. She also remarks that the infantile Tamul Gods irritate the Elene God. In the background story, a god's strength and power is related to the number of his followers, so the Elene God's quirk in not allowing his followers to acknowledge the existence of other gods is most likely a way to prevent them from converting to other faiths and thus weakening his power. This is similar to the traditional Roman Catholic position of extra ecclesiam nulla salus, "Outside the (Catholic) Church there is no salvation", which teaches that those who worship other gods will be condemned to hell.
The afterlife of the Elene Church seems to be a place known as the "House of the Dead". Unlike the Christian heaven, the House of the Dead does not seem to be a place of paradise, but rather one of loneliness and suffering. It is possible, through necromancy, to communicate with a soul in the House of the Dead, and an oath can call a soul back to perform a task that it left unfinished. Several mentions are made of "the gates of Hell" and Bevier calls the Seeker "Hound of Hell", but whether these references are purely metaphorical or are an actual reference to a real place remains unknown.
The Elene Church maintains chapels, churches, cathedrals and the Basilica at Chyrellos. There is a bejeweled altar in the Basilica, as Sparhawk and his companions kneel before the altar for a period of time in order to irritate Patriarch Makova.. It is noted that incense is used, as incense smoke can be smelt in the Basilica, so it is likely that the altar is a Catholic High Altar, the kind of altar that was used in Catholic Churches prior to Vatican II. Sermons and hymns are part of the average worship service, and usually a collection is taken. All the clergy of the Elene Church, whether priests, primates or Patriarchs, seem to wear black cassocks, although Annias is once seen in a purple cassock. During formal occasions, such as the funeral of an archprelate, the patriarchs wear crimson, the primates the colors of their kingdom of origin, and each of nineteen cloistered orders of monks and nuns has its own color with its own significance. In the Roman Catholic Church, bishops wear purple cassocks as choir dress and a black cassock with purple buttons and sash for normal wear. The dress of a cardinal is identical to that of a bishop, except red replaces purple, and the choir dress is different.
Like the Pope, the Archprelate wears a white cassock, and a mention of the "Archprelate's mitre" is made in The Diamond Throne, so we can assume that the Archprelate wears a mitre, much like the Papal tiara. When Dolmant is elected Archprelate, the mitre is not seen, but his coronation is not shown, and that is presumably when he was presented with it. No mention of mitres for Patriarchs or Primates is ever made.
Corruption in the ChurchEdit
The Elene Church is primarily a representation of the Roman Catholic Church before the Counter-Reformation. Annias is corrupt and would do anything to get the Archprelate's throne. He has received gold from Otha, King of Zemoch, to buy votes in the election. Many of the Patriarchs' votes are for sale, and even the ones who aren't can be extremely devious.
Also, it is mentioned that the dungeons beneath the Basilica are horrible - no-one has come out of them alive, according to Baron Harparin. There are instruments of torture in them, and this is most likely a reference to the Inquisition, when heretics were tortured and killed by the Roman Catholic Church.
Other Elene ChurchesEdit
In Rendor, the predominant form of worship are the Eshandist Heretics, an anti-hierarchical group of people inspired by the shepherd Eshand to reject the main body of the church. This schism has caused much strife over the centuries, and alludes to invasions like the Crusades and suppressions have been mentioned. The leader of the heresy during the beginning of the Elenium is Arasham, who is killed by Martel and replaced with Uleisim.