My Fantasy Reference Guide – Religion

The previous post was about a book called “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference“.  When I first wrote my fantasy novel, I did not have this book as reference.  I had to do my own research.  Much of what I found was the same as in “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference”.  But in some cases I found more information.

“The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference” briefly touched on religion.  Even though my book only briefly touches on a religion in some form, I needed more information.  I needed to know the differences between the different ranks of religious groups as well as the type of clothing they wore.  Here is a list of some of the terminology I found:

Religious Persons
archbishop – highest rank below he pope, in charge of more than one diocese
bishop – ranks below the archbishop, in charge of a diocese
archdeacon – works with the bishop, performs administrative and religious tasks
priest – an ordained minister responsible for administering the sacraments, preaching, and ministering to the needs of the congregation – in charge of a parish
deacon – an ordained minister who performs the administrative duties with the priests
prelate – high-ranking member of the clergy
chaplain – member of the clergy employed to give religious guidance to a household or public institution
minister – member of the clergy
friar – members of a religious order who practice the principals of monastic life and devote themselves to the service of humanity – no allowed to own property – worked as an individual in the secular world
monk – worked and lived with a specific community within which they led a cloistered life apart from the secular world
abbot – superior of a monastery
abbess – woman superior of a convent
prioress – nun ranking next below the abbess
oblate – young initiative dedicated to the church by their parents
novice – a person new to a religious order who has not taken their vows

Religious Terms
alms – money or other assistance given to the poor as charity
altar – raised area where sacrifices are offered or other religious ceremonies are performed
clergy – body of people ordained for a religious service (generic term)
convent – community of nuns bound together by religious vows or the buildings occupied by such a community
ordain – to appoint somebody officially as a priest
sacrament – something considered to be sacred or have a special significance
shrine – a holy place of worship

Religious Vestments
amice – white linen napkin or veil put on the head then adjusted round the neck and over the shoulders – bottommost garment under any other head pieces
alb – long white tunic of linen, worn over the amice or cassock
dalmatic – short version of the alb with shorter sleeves – worn over the alb
orphreys of the dalmatic – elaborate embroidery, often done in gold
tunicle – shorter than the dalmatic and not so ample – work over the dalmatic
chasuble – round cloth with hole in center for the head – short at the sides – the front and back fall into long points – worn over the tunicle
cassock – long coat fastened up front – tight sleeves – the bottommost garment
surplice – ample garment of wide linen with full sleeves – worn over the cassock
almuce – large cape with attached hood – turned down over the shoulders – lined with fur – worn over the surplice
cowl – monk’s hooded robe
habit – long and loose gown of ordinary color
maniple – kerchief-type – narrow band of plain or richly decorated material looped over the left wrist
mitre – pointed hat or crown of plain white linen or richly decorated
sack cloth – coarse material worn by penitents

These are just a few of the terms and they are mostly European.  Other religions or pagan religions may have different terminology.  If you are writing a fantasy novel, you can get ideas from “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference“, from my research, or you can start of scratch and do your own research.

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