"Despair, and you give yourself to the shadows. Believe, truly believe in the Emperor of Mankind, and you shall walk in His light no matter how dark the path you tread."
- – Saint Celestine
A mysterious Living Saint with incredible power, Saint Celestine is strongly implied to be the Emperor's
equivalent of a daemon prince. She is an angelic figure wreathed in light, best known for her ability to raise the faithful dead (including herself) back to life. She seems to be significantly older than she appears, as even Inquisitor Greyfax recognized her after being locked up in Trazyn's museum for a few centuries. However, the complete and utter lack of knowledge of her days as a Battle Sister make it nearly impossible to estimate how long she's been around. She's described as being incredibly inspirational, her personality having the perfect blend of strength, charisma, and charity. Even Belisarius Cawl, a near-emotionless arch-magos and by near emotionless we mean OLDER THAN TEN THOUSAND YEARS WITH A GOOD CHUNK OF HIS PERSONALITY UPLOADED TO AN AI NAMED AFTER HIMSELF, felt galvanized in her presence (and given how the Adeptus Mechanicus views the Ecclesiarchy, that's saying something).
Very little is known of her pre-Saint life, other than she was a Repentia of the Order of Our Martyred Lady and participated in the Palatine Crusade. After being apparently killed in battle, her body was recovered by her sisters, who found her wounds miraculously healed. Believing this to be a sign of the Emperor's blessing, they placed her in charge of the Imperial forces for the next days attack. After the battle was an unequivocal success, she rapidly rose through the ranks, leading the Imperium to victory time and time again against the heretics, becoming a beacon of inspiration in the process. While the Imperial forces were massing to attack the sector capital, Celestine left the main force, making a pilgrimage to a crypt on the world of Sanctus Lys, which legend said had once been visited by Saint Katherine.
On the dawn of the next day, she emerged from the crypt, wearing the Armor of Saint Katherine and wielding the fiery Ardent Blade. After this, she was officially declared a Living Saint and went on a heretic-roasting-rampage, first leading the Imperial forces to victory in the Palatine Crusade, and then onto several crusades and wars of faith after. While she had become an icon to Imperial forces everywhere, the Sisters of Battle held her in particularly high regard. This lasted until she got nuked on Forrax by a traitorous warmaster. After presumably burning him to a crisp, the Sisters of Battle were comforted by the fact that she was undoubtedly with the Emperor.
And that's when shit got weird. Sightings of Celestine began steadily increasing, typically arriving in battles when the forces of the Imperium were at their most desperate, and disappearing before the dust had settled. In particular, she seemed to have a thing for killing Daemon Princes.
When the 13th Black Crusade hit full swing, Celestine swooped in with a small fleet of Sororitas ships that she'd rescued from the warp to wreck shit and pray to the Emperor (and she'd already said her prayers). After saving Kasr Kraf by killing the daemon prince leading the chaos assault and throwing his body off the ramparts, Celestine started doing what she did best, inspiring the hell out of the beleaguered Imperial forces along with her new Geminae Superia bodyguards (twin Canonesses she'd resurrected during the previous battle). All the while she was receiving prophetic dreams, which she believed were from the Emperor warning her of a future danger. During the Battle of the Elysion Fields, she went toe-to-toe with Abaddon himself, and although Cawl's pylon shenanigans robbed her of the Emperor's blessings, she still managed to hold her own long enough for Cawl and Greyfax to join in and force Abaddon to retreat into orbit. Oh yeah, she also used a power sword to give Failbaddon a wound he had not been given since the heresy.
Following the demise of Cadia, Celestine was the one who convinced Cawl and the Black Templars to head down to Klaisus, using her previously mentioned dreams as a guide. She then led the survivors to the webway portal and on to Ultramar to resurrect Roboute Guilliman. Following his resurrection, she played an important role in ensuring his safe arrival to Terra alongside her two new pals, even making amends with Greyfax before the Battle of Luna. After Guilliman's arrival on Terra, she went to minister to the people of Terra before departing once again to continue the fight against Chaos.
She later showed up on Tsadrekha to help against the World Eaters, but unfortunately Khârn sensed her and showed up too. He managed to get the charge on her (with predictable results) and apparently Celestine rolled a 1 on her resurrection roll (or the writer just needed a convenient excuse for her to exit the story) because she didn't come back to life for round 2. Considering the fact that Celestine went toe-to-toe with Abaddon in Fall of Cadia without saintly powers and survived, it's safe to say that this was more of a failure on the part of the author than the character. Another thing to consider is that although the two should be fairly evenly matched in a fight, Khârn is a more popular character, and as one fan put it, "Plot Armor is powerful and good writing is rare." Comics fans will recognize this as the "wolverine factor" similar to the Worf Factor, wherein any charcter who can heal or revive will lose a disproportionate number of fights just because losing isn't the end of their story the way it would be for other characters.
In the audio drama Our Martyred Lady Celestine is caught in the middle of a political dispute between Inquisitor Greyfax and the Ecclesiarch Decius who in the wake of the Great Rift wants to rescind the Decree Passive and allow men to fight with the Sisters of Battle by reforming the Frateris Templar to increase to power of the Ecclesiarchy. Throughout the drama, Celestine is conflicted about being used as a political figure when a Lord of Change blows up the largest cathedral in the Imperial Palace on Terra and the headquarters of the Ecclesiarchy. Celestine saves Decius by flying out the window with him seconds before he is incinerated by an out of control psyker. The rest of the drama has Greyfax, Celestine, and a Custodian named Longinus uncovering the plot to kill Decius and finds the lost Abbess of the Sisters of Battle fighting daemons on the planet of San Leor where she has been for over a hundred years when it was lost in a warp storm when the Great Rift was formed. As they journey back to Terra they are assaulted by the Alpha Legion and a Lord of Change attempts to sacrifice Celestine's body and soul to pass over into the material world. Greyfax tells Longinus to kill Celestine knowing she will come back. Her resurrection is enough to awe even a Custodian. The experience convinces Celestine that her faith and powers are more important than to be used as mere propaganda tool by the power-hungry Ecclesiarch and summarily executes him for his crimes against the God-Emperor.
In Andy Clark's Celestine book, the actual process of her resurrections were described in detail. Every time she dies, she wakes up half naked in the warp. In order to come back, she has to find herself again by piecing together her armour, which is scattered on a mountain made up of her own skeletons. Every time she dies, another skeleton is added to the pile. Guided by the faint sensation of the Emperor's light, she travels through the nightmarish realm, finding parts of personality, confronting her doubts and fears, and purging any daemons she runs into along the way. Finally, she strikes a deal with the Emperor, offering her service yet again in exchange for the safety of a small girl in the warp, a representation of her hope. Hope that she could rest in that final, peaceful realm she visited in her trials. At the end of the whole ordeal, she is inevitably sent to a battlefield of Big E's choice to make a grand entrance there.
On the Subject of Wings
A problem that plagued Celestine and sisterfags for years was the disparity between her model and her official artwork. Normally, when Games Workshop produces a new unit for a codex, they make the model first and then give it to an artist so that the picture matches the source material. This was not the case with Celestine, and the artist and modellers were working completely independently of each other. As a result, she had this awesome artwork portraying her as a magnificent angelic figure, and a miniature that had her floating with some cherubim holding her cape up. It even included an idiotic-looking mini-jump pack under the cloak. Thankfully, her new model does not have this issue.
On The Tabletop
Keywords: Character, Infantry, Jump Pack, Fly
Before Chapter Approved 2018, Celestine was one of the best Distraction Carnifex units in the game, a nigh-unkillable juggernaut whose badass sword, free act of faith, and resurrection abilities made her a killing machine. In the grim darkness of Chapter Approved 2018 however, she's... okay. Her statline is mostly the same (minus a wound), and like before, she can resurrect with full health on a 2+. Offensively, Celestine is still a beast. Her sword is +4 Strength, -3 AP and 2 damage while also being a Heavy Flamer. With 6 attacks, she is sure to deal some damage. Instead of giving a free Act of Faith... she gets no replacement rule and GW just took away one of the best reasons to take her, especially now that Acts of Faith work differently. Saintly Blessings still increases nearby Shield of Faith saves by +1, which means Seraphim get a 4++ save, and still gives nearby Ministorum and Astra Militarum units a 6+ invulnerable save. On the downside, they inexplicably removed the Geminae Superia, making them their own unit. This might make some sense if they also did something to make the Geminae stand out on their own (they are Canonesses after all), but they're functionally the same as they were when with Celestine; the only difference is that they can Look Out, Sir! for her on a 2+.
This is a bit of a kick in the teeth for our favorite
daemon prince *BLAM* living saint. Separating Celestine from the Geminae drastically reduces her survivability. Not only does it effectively drop her wound count, but it can easily lead to situations where Celestine makes a charge, but the Geminae don't, or vice versa. In the former case, this makes Celestine much easier to kill, especially if she's fighting a unit that can actually cause her trouble. In the latter case, you get stuck with the Gemniae's dinky S3 power swords while the real melee heavyweight gets sidelined. All of this, combined with the fact that Celestine can't deep strike in this edition, encourages you to play much more cautiously with her. Whereas before she could reliably run around on her own, now it's a good idea to have some Seraphim rolling around with her to keep enemies from shooting her, and you have to be much more careful about charges now.
Pray to the Emperor that GW realizes the error in their ways and repents before it is too late!
Celestine is arguably the best Distraction Carnifex in the entire game. Seriously, it's nigh-impossible to put her down. For starters, She's an Eternal Warrior with 5 wounds, a 2+ armor save, and a 4+ invulnerable save. In addition to that, she's got two 2-wound canoness bodyguards who have 3+ armor and share her invulnerable save. Should one or more of them die, one will automatically respawn at the beginning of each of Celestine's turns. On top of all that, assuming you actually manage to chew through 9 total wounds, she can resurrect with all wounds and res one of her bodyguards once per game with a successful leadership test.
Alright, so she's functionally unkillable, her offensive capabilities can't be great, right? Nope, with a S5 AP3 Armorbane sword/heavy flamer and the ability to call orbital bombardment, she can be a murder-machine as well. Add her ability to buff nearby Imperial units and you have one of the best HQs in the game. And the best part? She's 200 points. For less than any of The Big
Three Four, you get a unit that is nearly unkillable, and packs a decent punch to boot. Bring her to battles and send her straight at the biggest, scariest enemy unit. Even if she doesn't beat it, she's all but guaranteed to keep it tied down for the entire game. Her main weaknesses are deep strike mishaps, heavy assault troops, and "remove with no saves allowed" weapons, so be even more wary of those than usual.
- Celestine in The Regimental Standard
- Celestine in cosplay (and actually done right)
- Her very own book!
- Our Martyred Lady, which she co-stars in alongside Catherine Tate