(White Dwarf  108)



Each fortress-monastery of the Legiones Astartes, or space barge (for the space-dwelling Chapters of Marines), has a chamber known as the Reclusiam. It is here that the cult ceremonies and rituals are performed in the presence of the entire Chapter. These are carried out under the guidance of the Reclusiarch and his superior, the Master of Sanctity, who is the spiritual head of the Chapter.

While each Chapter follows the tenets of the Imperial Cult, individual Chapters have extended the Cult to include ceremonies which have relevance only to their own members. For example, reverence for Primarchs is widespread amongst the Legiones Astartes. These are the heroes of each Chapter, who fell in battle and upheld the honour and traditions of the Legiones Astartes in a particularly notable fashion. The Chapter's collection of Primarch relics and war-gear is entombed in the Chapter catacombs, placed upon sepulchres or hung in the Reclusiam.

The importance of faith to Marines is further reinforced in the Company Chapels. All ten companies within each Chapter have their own Chapel where Marines can observe the rites of the Chapter and those special to their own company. Here the worship is supervised by one of the Reclusiarch's subordinate Chaplains. It is the Chaplains, living and fighting alongside their battle-brothers, who are responsible for the spiritual health of the companies.


Chaplains are well-versed in all matters of the Chapter's cult, having spent many years studying the battle liturgies and scriptures stored in the Chapter library. This study includes memorising all the rites of their Chapter and company. This knowledge is also put to practical use. Chaplains are responsible for the spiritual care, discipline and faith of the brothers in their companies. Young recruits must also be monitored and indoctrinated as they progress towards becoming full battle-brothers.

In battle Chaplains are frequently found where the fighting is fiercest. They can be found chanting the Chapter's battle creeds, ministering to the fallen and granting absolution to the dead. They are also Space Marines, which means that they fight with as much savagery as any of their brothers.

Chaplains are drawn from the ranks, although only Marines who have earned both Merit and Devout badges are considered for a Chaplaincy. These awards may be displayed as actual badges, or for example as diagonal stripes painted across the right shoulder pad.

As a first step, a Marine is singled out to aid the Chaplain of his company as a Novice (or Initiate - the terms are almost interchangeable). Duties often involve little more than helping during company rituals, but deep study of the liturgies under a Chaplain's personal tuition is also necessary.

Should a Chaplaincy fall vacant, the most advanced and promising of the Initiates is sent to the Solitarium. This small cell is situated in a secluded part of the monastery and here the Initiate meditates and fasts for a time. He may be left there for up to a week, while his investiture by the Reclusiarch and the Master of Sanctity is prepared. Then, in front of the whole Chapter, he is formally given his symbols of office and presented to the company who are now under his spiritual guidance. At this point the new Chaplain takes the name of his predecessor.

When a Chaplain is killed in battle a formal ceremony often has to wait. The senior Initiate immediately takes the helmet and shoulder pads of the Chaplain and dons them. From the moment he puts on the old Chaplain's war-gear he has full authority as one of the Chapter's spiritual leaders. He is formally invested as a new Chaplain only when the battle is won and the dead are absolved.


Chaplains are a puritanical and sometimes eccentric group. Their religious zeal has a strong practical slant, as befits a warrior. They fight alongside their battle-brothers, reciting extracts from the Chapter's Creed and Liturgies. Indeed, their dedication adds considerably to the fearsome reputation of the Marines. Their inspirational sayings and constant exhortations harden the determination of every Marine to serve the Emperor and relive the former glories of the Chapter Primarchs.

The bond between Marines and their Chaplains is a strong one. Chaplains preside over their indoctrination as recruits; they teach loyalty to the Chapter, reinforce its precepts through rituals and ceremonies and perform inspiring acts of valour upon the field of battle.

"As our bodies are armoured with Adamantium, our souls are protected with our loyalty. As our halters are charged with death for the Emperor's enemies, our thoughts are charged with his wisdom. As our ranks advance, so does our devotion, for are we not Marines? Are we not the chosen of the Emperor, his loyal servants unto death?"

- Chaplain Fergus NiIs

An address to the defenders of Portrein


Black is the official colour for Chaplains' armour. However, over millennia, chapters often incorporate their colours and insignia onto the uniform, resulting in wide variations from the basic colour scheme. Many of these changes come about as a result of a Chaplain repairing his armour from available resources while on a campaign. Some modifications are adopted permanently. Hybrid uniforms can also appear if the Chaplain dons archaic power armour kept as a primarchal relic. Of course, apart from the organisations they belong to, Chaplains themselves have a long lifespan, so there is plenty of time for them to stamp their own personality on their armour. The examples below provide guidelines that you can experiment with when painting up your Chaplains.


Chapter Helmet Torso Legs Arms
Ultramarines Black Black Black houlder pads in Chapter Colours & Insignia pads
Crimson Fists Black skull Black Black Shoulder pads in Chapter colours
Space Wolves Black skull Black Chapter colours Skull shoulder & insignia pads
Howling Griffons Black skull Black Chapter colours Skull shoulder & insignia pads
Novamarines  Black skull Black Chapter colours Skull shoulder & insignia & elbow pads
Dark Angels Skull Black Black Skull shoulder pads
White Scars Grey Grey Grey Skull shoulder & elbow pads
Silver Skulls Silver Black Black Silver shoulder pads
Iron Hands Black Black Black Skull & dagger motif on right shoulder pad


Armour and Appearance

Marine Chaplains wear a variant type of standard issue Marine armour. A Chaplain can appear stylised and archaic when compared to his fellow Marines, which makes him stand out and act as a focus for his brethren.

Some or all of a Chaplain's armour is painted black. A skull insignia usually adorns the right shoulder and this is often displayed on both pads. Skulls can also be repeated throughout a Chaplain's uniform. Skull-shaped helmets are common, and the upper chest armour or even the whole of the body armour may be cast in the shape of a skull. Skull-shaped groin-guards are also not unknown.

Chaplains are also marked by one or more Primarchal battle relics which are worn or carried into battle. A single gauntlet from the armour of a Chapter hero passes on a little of the Primarch's fortitude and faith to the Chaplain.

Formal regalia includes a staff of office called the crozius, which is used during Chapter ceremonies. Many Chaplains carry them into battle, a visible sign that battle is the highest ritual in the Chapter's devotional calendar. The crozius normally bears the Imperial eagle or a skull motif at its tip. The most ancient of these staffs is the rare crozius arcanum; a staff made from an alien relic which contains a neuro-disruptor in the haft. Chaplains are also marked by a Rosarius, a gorget or amulet worn about the neck. This bears the image of the Imperial Eagle and is the 'soul's armour' of the Chaplain.

Initiates usually wear standard Marine armour. However, the helmets, right shoulder pads and right arms of their armour are painted black rather than in the Chapter's formal colours. The black shoulder pad replaces the previous Devout markings which were shown there - once declared as an Initiate, the Marine's devotion needs no further advertisement.

Armament and Equipment

The Imperial Marine Codex lists the standard equipment of a Marine Chaplain as:

Powered armour with communicator, respirator and auto-senses
Knife or combat accessory
Bolt Pistol
Frag Grenades
Bolt Gun
Plasma Pistol
Power Sword
Conversion Field

Chaplains may also be equipped with Chainswords. Some Chapters allow their Chaplains to carry a variety of close combat and heavy weaponry as well as grenades.

A Chaplain.will often be needed at many points on the battlefield. He must serve as a inspiration for squads, check on the purity of action of those in his care and carry out a hundred other duties.

Units frequently assign Rhinos or Land Raiders to their Chaplains to allow them swift and safe passage. Where possible these vehicles are painted in the Chaplaincy colours of black and marked by skull insignia, although line vehicles in the Chapter or unit colours are also issued.