Autocephalous Nazarene Church of Alexandria
The Autocephalous Nazarene Church of Alexandria (formerly the Imperial Church of Alexandria), or the Alexandrian Nazarene Church, is the established and former state church of the late Empire of the Alexandrians and the mother church of the Alexandrian Nazarene faith. It was officially incorporated as the state church of Alexandria in 1468 AN by Imperial Decree. The Church was later re-constituted and included in several constitutional documents as an organization receiving the direct financial support of the state through special grants. Acts passed by successive Alexandrian Parliaments, in consultation with the clergy and leadership of the church, further reformed and cemented the church as the main religion of Alexandria.
The Alexandrian Nazarene Church remains the main church of the Alexandrian diaspora, receiving the patronage of the government of Nouvelle Alexandrie through the Proclamation of Punta Santiago. It is currently among the largest religions in the nations of Nouvelle Alexandrie, Western Natopia, Eastern Natopia, Ransenar, and Constancia. It was the second-largest faith in former Caputia, after the Melusinian Faith. After the collapse of Alexandria in 1651 AN, the Alexandrian Nazarene Church became a significant cultural and community pillar for support for the hundreds of millions of stateless Alexandrians, along with the Alexandrian Patriots' Association, the House of Carrillo Association, and the Imperial Order of St. Luis. The work by these organizations and the Alexandrian Nazarene Church helped secure political, financial, and material support to moving millions of Alexandrians to Natopia, Alduria, Constancia, and Ransenar. This also included financial support for families, students, and parishioners in foreign lands that helped many resettle and build a new life.
Headed by the Archbishop of Geneva, currently Archbishop Joseph Bélanger (since 1690 AN), the governing structure of the church is based on diocese, each of them presided by a bishop. Each diocese is subdivided into parishes. The Sacred College of the Autocephalous Nazarene Church is the legislative body for the church and comprises of bishops, other clergy, and laity. The Alexandrian Nazarene Church is centrally administered by the Holy See of St. Luis (the bishopric of Geneva), which has its official and ceremonial base at the Basilica of St. Luis the Protector in the Western Natopian capital and former Alexandrian capital, Geneva. The administrative body of the Holy See of Geneva, the Alexandrian Curia, has its principal offices in Geneva.
The core beliefs of the Alexandrian Nazarene Church are found in the Creed of St. Natsanet. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith as it was passed down by God to St. Natsanet herself, who bathed in the Markion River and revealed the Holy Scripture and the details of the faith.
Legend of St. Natsanet
According to church tradition, St. Natsanet was a divine messenger who received the Holy Scripture directly from God. Her baptism in the Markion River and subsequent revelations form the core of the Alexandrian Nazarene faith.
Collapse of Alexandria
Until the collapse of Alexandria in 1651 AN, the church was known as the Imperial Church of Alexandria because of its Imperial patronage. With the Emperor at its head, the church was considered to be an extension of the Emperor's possessions in-state but his role was limited with much of its administration and direction led by the most senior cleric, the Archbishop of Geneva.
When Imperial patronage was removed after the death of Emperor Edgard II in Dos Gardenias, the Sacred College was convened at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Storms and Sorrows, where a new constitution for the governance of the church was authored and promulgated. At the time, the city of Geneva had been abandoned and ravaged by the Alexandrian flu plague and the church had to reconstitute in a new country and a new city: Dos Gardenias, Natopia. The resulting constitution declared that the church would be renamed as the Autocephalous Nazarene Church of Alexandria. The church declared that the new head of its church would be the Archbishop of Dos Gardenias, establishing the Holy See of Saint Luis in Dos Gardenias. This proved controversial, with many important clerics and lay leaders suggesting that the declining role of the church and a shortfall in membership suggested that the church had no right to separate itself from the Emperor and the House of Carrillo. The new constitution, along with the new details of the rising new church, were approved by the Sacred College in 1652 AN.
In the years after the collapse of Alexandria, the Church reconstituted focused on assisting the Alexandrian diaspora together with the Alexandrian Patriots' Association, the House of Carrillo Association, and the Imperial Order of St. Luis. With the assistance of the Natopian and Constancian governments and other Alexandrian Raspur Pact allies, the Alexandrian Nazarene Church assisted hundreds of millions of Alexandrians find settlement, support, and safety abroad and in many other nations around Micras. It was the work of resettling Alexandrians that led the church to heavily fund and support the foundation of Alduria, which led to the formation of Nouvelle Alexandrie later on.
Move to Dos Gardenias, Natopia
Post-collapse, the church shifted its headquarters to the newly-founded city of Dos Gardenias, in Natopia. The city became the new spiritual center for millions of displaced Alexandrians, with the church playing a crucial role in aiding the diaspora. The church moved the Holy See from Geneva, commissioning the construction of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Storms and Sorrows in the city of Dos Gardenias.
Rise of Nouvelle Alexandrie
Restoration of the Holy See in Geneva
Holy See of St. Natsanet
The Archbishop of Geneva
Until the collapse of Alexandria and removal of Imperial patronage, the most senior cleric was the Archbishop of Geneva. Under the new constitution, the Archbishop of Geneva assumed the title of Primate of the Church, which conferred leadership of the church onto the Archbishop.
The current incumbent is Archbishop Joseph Bélanger (since 1690 AN). The Archbishop of Geneva is elected from within the Alexandrian Curia. He must be of the senior rank of Metropolitan Archbishop and is considered to be primarily responsible not for the Curia or the church as a whole but for also for the Archdiocese of Geneva. He must be in good health and not over the age of 75 at the time of his election though members of the Curia are not expected to formally retire until the age of 80. Upon his election, the Patriarch-Archbishop chooses a regnal name and is formally enthroned at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Storms and Sorrows.
The Archbishop of Geneva is not considered to be God's representative on Micras. Rather, he is considered to be the spiritual leader of the faithful who gives endorsement to the rulings of the Curia - the representatives (plural) of God on Micras. On rare occasions, the Archbishop may insist that a ruling be changed or introduced according to his wishes without the recommendation or endorsement of the Curia. This is known as an Ordinance and cannot be challenged or questioned by the faithful. In the past, such ordinances were issued by Archbishops within the Imperial and Royal Church but they could be nullified by the Emperor.
Clergy and Religious Life
The Autocephalous Nazarene Church of Alexandria maintains a hierarchical structure, with a clearly defined ecclesiastical order and distinct roles for clergy and religious members. The church's hierarchy is overseen by the Archbishop of Geneva and governed by the Alexandrian Curia, which plays a significant role in clerical appointments and church governance.
Hierarchy of Clergy
- Archbishop of Geneva: As the spiritual leader of the church, the Archbishop holds the highest clerical position. The incumbent is responsible for guiding the church's spiritual direction and overseeing its administrative functions.
- Cardinals: Cardinals serve as the principal advisers to the Archbishop and are involved in the governance of the church at the highest levels. They are appointed by the Archbishop and are responsible for various dioceses or departments within the church. In the event of the Archbishop's death, the College of Cardinals convenes to elect a successor.
- Bishops: Bishops oversee individual dioceses and are responsible for the spiritual and administrative leadership within their jurisdictions. They are appointed by the Archbishop and play a crucial role in local church governance and pastoral care.
- Priests: Priests are responsible for the spiritual care of the faithful at the parish level. They administer sacraments, provide pastoral counseling, and lead religious services. Priests report to their respective bishops and are essential to the church's day-to-day operations.
The Autocephalous Nazarene Church of Alexandria also encompasses various religious orders, each with its unique charism and focus. These orders include both contemplative and active communities dedicated to prayer, service, and the promotion of the church's teachings.
- Monastic Orders: These orders are primarily focused on contemplative life, with members living in monasteries dedicated to prayer, meditation, and communal living.
- Mendicant Orders: These orders are characterized by their commitment to poverty and service. Members often engage in missionary work, education, and social services.
- Secular Institutes: Members of these institutes live in the world and strive to combine the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience with their secular professions.
Members of religious orders take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and are dedicated to living out the church's teachings through various ministries. These orders play a vital role in the church's outreach and social service efforts, contributing significantly to its mission.
The four largest religious orders in the Church of Alexandria are:
- The Congregation of the Sacred Blood;
- The Congregation of the Brothers & Sisters of St Luis (also known as the Luisians);
- The Warriors of the Lord;
- The Order of Our Lady of Storms and Sorrows.
The church also recognizes individuals who have dedicated themselves to a life of consecrated service. This includes hermits, consecrated virgins, and lay members who commit to living according to evangelical counsels within the context of their secular lives. The church provides guidance and support to these individuals, integrating their unique vocations into its broader mission.
Major religious sites
- The Basilica of St. Luis the Protector; Geneva
- The Basilica of Our Lady of the Storms and Sorrows
- The Holy Nazarene Cathedral of Santa Paula
- The Holy Nazarene Cathedral of Parap
Alexandrian Nazarene Sects
There are many groups outside the Autocephalous Nazarene Church of Alexandria which regard themselves as Alexandrian Nazarene, such as:
- The Movement of the Most Holy Nazarene Church: a decentralized and organized movement on a largely cellular basis that started in Ciudad Santa, Alduria. There are several denominations, known as the "Bastions of the Holy Church", the most prominent of which is the Most Holy Bastion of Ciudad Santa, each offering a different interpretation of the movement's beliefs. There are an estimated 700,000 to 1 million "Naztas" (as followers of this movement are commonly known) across Micras; the largest population is in Alduria, although communities can be found in many major population centers. The majority of practitioners are of black Alexandrian descent, although a minority come from other Alexandrian groups.
- The Neridian Alexandrian Church: The church regards the last Archbishop of Geneva, whom they revere as a martyr, and his predecessors as true leaders of the church, but hold, on the grounds of claimed apparitions, that the Patriarch-Archbishop of Dos Gardenias is excommunicated and that the See has been transferred to their See of Eadricton, at the Cathedral of St. Luis, the Protector of All Nations.
- The Alexandrian Nazarene Church of the Sun
- The Universalist Alexandrian Nazarene Church