The Canoness is a series of officer ranks within the Adepta Sororitas
They range from the Canoness-Superiors in command of entire Orders; the Canoness-Preceptors (analagous to Chapter Master) in command of the various Preceptories of roughly 1000 sisters, down to Canoness-Commander (analogous to Captain) in command of roughly 200 sisters.
All Canoness grades are above the rank of Palatine (the commander of a Mission of various squads) but are subordinate to their Prioress (one of two leaders in charge of either the Convent Prioris or the Convent Sanctorum) while the highest rank of all Sisters belongs to the Abbess of the Adepta Sororitas. However for all practical applications the Canoness is the highest ranked Sister who has an active role in the day to day operations of the sisterhood in any of the Militant or Non-Militant orders.
Like the Space Marine Legions that were broken up into chapters by our spiritual liege, the main militant Orders from the Sisters of Battle have been split into smaller Orders. But whereas the Space Marine's chapters are seen as equals with their parent chapters, the Orders of the Adepta Sororitas that were established by the "Ecclesiarchy Writ" are ranked higher in the order of precedence than those that were formed by a group splitting off from a pre-existing order. This is especially true of the six Orders Militant, each of which has spawned dozens of far smaller Lesser Orders Militant, the Canonesses of which rank lower in the Order of precedence than those of their parent Order.
A Canoness is a veteran of many battles who has risen to her position through a combination of strong leadership, shrewd tactical genius, obedience and compliance with the Ecclesiarchy and above all, her sheer overarching faith in the God-Emperor. The Canoness often fight at the front line along with her sisters but can also act as a commander at the back, to order strategic strikes against well entrenched enemies. Non-military duties includes leading the Order in its prayer services, performing rites of initiation and overseeing the running of the Order. As a result, a Canoness inspires intense devotion in her Battle Sisters, leading them from the fore whilst reciting the great hymns of the Adeptus Ministorum.
While the Canoness have very similar attributes and duties as a Chapter Master, one of the very unique differences is that members of the Adepta Sororitas can and do transfer from one Order to another, depending on their own unique skills and experience. In particular, a sister of an Order Militant may eventually transfer to a non-militant order so that she can carry on the Emperor's work should age or injury render her a less effective warrior. Furthermore, it is not unheard of for a senior member of the Sisterhood to transfer to another Imperial organisation entirely; several Canonesses are known to have become Inquisitors, one became a Cardinal Palatine and one even became a Rogue Trader (Possibly trying to spread the Emperor's light in a more efficient way).
Canoness Rank Variations
While the Lesser Orders may only have a single Canoness to lead the entire order, the Greater Orders, which often number in the thousands of Battle Sisters, require many Canonesses to operate with any level of efficiency. It is also worth noting that the Non-militant Orders also follow the same ranking system, although due to the dispersal of their numbers they may only functionally operate at the lowest tiers of deployment.
- Canoness Superior: also known as Mater Canonesses or Superionnes. These women of faith command one of the entire Orders of the Adepta Sororitas making them rare and remarkable individuals. It falls to them to direct the actions of their subordinate Canonesses.
- Canoness Preceptor: Some Orders, notably the Greater Orders, maintain subsidiary sanctuaries, the largest of which are referred to as Preceptories. The term is also used to define the largest organizational unit an Order is ever likely to field, numbering up to 1,000 Battle-Sisters, cloistered together at one location. The Canoness who commands a Preceptory has the title Canoness Preceptor.
- Canoness Commander: The term Canoness Commander is used to describe the officer who leads a smaller sanctuary known as a Commandery, perhaps little more than a shrine and a garrison of Battle-Sisters cloistered together to defend it. A Commandery will be junior to a Preceptory, and the term is also used as a company level subdivision of a Preceptory, consisting of up to 200 Battle Sisters.
- Palatine: A Mission is the smallest organisational unit of the Adepta Sororitas, and normally consists of a number of squads of Battle-Sisters assembled to achieve a specified objective. A Mission may be led by a Palatine, chosen from amongst the veteran sisters available, or by a more senior Canoness depending upon the importance of the objective.
- Canoness Errant: Less of an official rank and more of an organisational loophole. Sometimes, through one thing or another an order is destroyed, purged, or otherwise goes missing. Any remaining sisters will typically be reassigned to another order but the Canoness can elect not to, either in remembrance or atonement, depending on the circumstances. They effectively become a mix of Lone Wolf and Inquisitor, wandering the galaxy and purging things her own way, effectively becoming an order of one individual. They technically don't wield any actual power, but much like the Astartes, most Imperial authorities tend to go along with what they say.
Being the head honcho of a Sisters convent, the Canoness is allowed plenty of snazzy wargear and equipment. This includes but is not limited to: Sororitas Power Armour (Adapted for normal human female anatomy), Godwyn-De'az Boltgun (Adapted for normal human anatomy), Bolt Pistol (Adapted for normal human anatomy), Frag Grenades and Krak Grenades.
The Bolter and/or Bolt Pistol can be replaced with a Brazier of holy fury, Chainsword, a Godwyn-De'az Pattern Storm Bolter, Power Sword, Blessed Blade, Combi-Flamer, Combi-Melta, Combi-Plasma gun, Condemnor Pattern Bolter, Plasma Pistol, Inferno Pistol, Eviscerator or a Null Rod (specialized power weapon used to nullify psychic powers) while some veteran Canonesses will also carry a Rosarius and Melta Bombs.
There are quite a number of named Canonesses, but here are the most notable ones.
- Agnes: The Canoness most notable in her involvement in Sister's Snuff Film#1 Sanctuary 101. A Canoness of the Order of Our Martyred Lady.
- Aspira: A Canoness and Saint coming from the Order of the Bloody Rose who led her Battle Sisters in a War of Faith that liberated nearly one hundred worlds from the grip of the blasphemous tyrant Denescura.
- Chrisima: A Canoness Preceptor of the Order of the Argent Shroud who led her Order at the behest of the notorious Confessor Petasus, who led his pogrom against the mutants of Charak. She is a complete bitch so make of that what you will.
- Galatea: Canoness of the Order of Our Martyred Lady in Neva.
- Junith Eruita: A renowned leader of the Order of Our Martyred Lady, notable for traveling into battle on a flying pulpit with built-in heavy flamers.
- Lunaria: Canoness of the Order of the Vermillion Hand. In 941.M41, she gave her life fighting alongside the Grey Knights Chapter during the valiant defense of the world of Decimalus, to halt the Plague of Madness caused by the Lord of Change, Ix'thar'ganix, a foe that had long eluded the Grey Knights. No she is not related to that particular incident.
- Magda Grace: Canoness of the Order of the Sacred Rose, she has quite the obsession and a staunched advocate of the sacred trinity of bolter, flamer and melta weaponry. She is the stereotypical Nuns with Guns.
- Praxedes: Saint Praxedes of Ophelia VII was a Canoness of the Order of Our Martyred Lady and renowned hero of the Imperium of Man's Ultima Segmentum during the Second Tyrannic War. She was martyred upon the Cardinal World of Okassis after leading a valiant defense against the encroaching Tyranid menace.
- Sariah: A Canoness of the Order of the Sacred Rose. In 835.M41, she led a force of Battle Sisters to the former Shrine World of Piety, which rematerialized after being swallowed by a Warp Storm two centuries earlier. She got her prize (Which consists of the left thigh bone of Saint Dolan and three pages of the ominous Lexicon of Falsehoods from a stasis vault) shortly after the Grey Knights blew up the planet with Cyclonic Torpedoes.
- Selena Agna: A Canoness of the Order of the Sacred Rose most notable in her introduction in Dawn of War Soulstorm who personally led her Order in the purge of the Kaurava System. Like almost every single character save for Stubbs, Selena has the personality of a wet sock but was at least notable for having a somewhat manly death (It involved martyrdom by fire, how Sisterly like) along with Indrick Boreale of all people, while the other faction leaders either ran away like pussies or have a hilarious mental breakdown. She was
defeated by Gorgutz*BLAM* sadly put down by Vance Stubbs. Her prefered tactic is to launch a "Crusade" after their faith power is full. The faith power is able to grant invincibility and other buffs to her sisters, allow them to tank even the Baneblade's Eleven Barrels of Hell. Sadly, the faith power does not last long enough for Gorgutz's power klaw to penetrate Selena's cunt*BLAM**BLAM* Vance Stubbs to defeat her and permit her to immolate herself rather than stain her Order's honor by admitting that she was wrong to stand against him. Her base is also protected by an invincible living saint who has the power to teleport to the 4 living saint statue near Selena's base. Again, this meant little to GorgutzSTUBBS for he could just separate his boyzstalwart guardsmen and destroy each statue.
- Sepherina: A Canoness of the Order of Our Martyred Lady who led the Sororitas effort to reconsecrate Sanctuary 101 after its destruction by the Necrontyr. A powerful military leader who felt solely responsible for Sanctuary's demise, as she was originally supposed to command the Convent there until circumstances meant that duty fell to another.
- Setheno: A Canoness-Errant and one scary lady. Previously the Cannoness of the Order of the Piercing Thorn, a minor order that became corrupted and was purged by Setheno herself. Rather than be reassigned to another order, she became the Sororitas equivalent of a Inquisitor. Despite the fact that she has zero temporal power, she was able to take authority over a Space Marine chapter and an Inquisitor (both of whom outrank and wield more independent power themselves) by sheer force of personality and her reputation as an utterly uncompromising spiritual authority and judge. She also knew Yarrick throughout his career and was present during the 2nd War for Armageddon.
- Veridyan: Best known for being the cover girl of the Second Edition codex. Also one of the central protagonists for Marvel's Sisters of Battle comic.
|Forces of the Sisters of Battle|
|Command:||Triumph of Saint Katherine - Canoness |
Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclave - Imagifier
Ministorum Priest - Palatine - Dogmata
Sororitas Command Squad
|Troops:||Avenging Angel - Arco-flagellant - Battle Sister Squad |
Celestians - Crusaders - Death Cult Assassin
Dominion Squad - Retributor Squad - Seraphim Squad
Sisters Repentia - Zephyrim Squad
|Vehicles:||Castigator Tank - Exorcist - Immolator |
Paragon Warsuit - Penitent Engine
Repressor - Rhino - Mortifier
|Special Vehicles:||Pulpit of Saint Holline's Basilica|
|Flyers:||Avenger Strike Fighter|
|Spacecraft:||Aquila Lander - Drop Pod|
|Saints:||Living Saint - Geminae Superia|
|Non Militant:||Orders Dialogous - Orders Famulous - Orders Hospitaler |
Orders Pronatus - Hagiolater