The Chantry is the dominant religious organization in Thedas. It is based on the Chant of Light, a series of teachings written by Andraste, the prophet of the Maker, and was founded by Kordillus Drakon, the first emperor of Orlais. The Chantry's followers are known as Andrastians. "Chantric" is also an acceptable adjective to refer to something or someone that is of the Chantry religion.
The Chantry's goal is to spread the Chant of Light to all four corners of the world and to all races. The view of the Chantry on non-humans is that they need saving—they have turned even further from the Maker's grace than humanity has—a view that has lead to much of humanity to look down on them. There are no known Andrastian Qunari. The elves worshipped, and in some cases still worship, the Elven pantheon, and dwarves venerate the Stone. Once all peoples have accepted the Chant and practice its teachings, the Maker will return and restore the world to its former glory. As such, Andrastian religion in Thedas can be described as deistic in that the Maker abandoned the world, and he will not heed prayer or perform any other function until his favor is regained.
The Chantry originated as one of the many cults emerging upon the legend of Andraste’s martyrdom. Known as the Cult of the Maker, it was without central leadership and its followers were oppressed. The clerics had to hide their lore from Tevinter magisters by way of ciphers and encoded scrolls. In -130 Ancient, cult practitioners organized Andraste's teachings into hymns, creating the Chant of Light and the cult popularity spread.
The cult remained fragmented until it was formalized into the Chantry by Kordillus Drakon, the first Emperor of the newly formed Orlesian Empire, in -3 Ancient. Drakon established Andrastianism as the national religion and was himself a fervent believer in the Maker. Three years later the first Divine, Justinia I, was declared. Drakon's military successes during the Second Blight significantly expanded the borders of Orlais, and soon after, the conquered lands converted to the faith. While these lands would later liberate themselves from Orlesian rule following Drakon's death, the Chantry's practice remained.
The Nevarran Accord signed in 1:20 Divine brought the Inquisition and the newly created Circles of Magi under the Chantry's authority. The Inquisition divided into two new orders: the Templar Order, charged with looking over the Circle and hunting apostates and maleficars, and the Seekers of Truth, overseers of the templars and special agents of the Divine.
The Antivan Crows started as an arm of the Chantry. In the hills north of Treviso, an order of monks used the herbs grown in the gardens of their abbey to oppose the rule of a despotic duke in the only manner the monks could.
During the Towers Age there was debate in the Chantry over whether Andraste was truly divine. It was largely the Imperial Chantry's belief that she was not divine that led to the schism in the Chantry and the eventual founding of the Imperial Chantry as a separate religion in 3:87 Towers.
With so much influence over the people, the Chantry can exert considerable political pressure on the ruling classes in many areas of concern. In extraordinary times, and in deference to Andraste, the Divine may also be moved to declare an Exalted March. These religious crusades have mobilized armies of thousands to destroy the heretical enemies of the Maker. The first March after Andraste's death was against the elves of the Dales. The next four were against Tevinter, and the most recent were against the Qunari. Tevinter also took part in the latest march.
At a later stage of the Mage-Templar War, Divine Justinia V managed to organize peace talks between representatives of both mages and templars at the Temple of Sacred Ashes. However, Corypheus infiltrated the conclave to use Justinia as a ritualistic sacrifice. The ritual was interrupted and the following massive explosion killed the Divine and most of the Grand Clerics worthy to succeed her, creating the Breach in the sky and ushering in a rash of Veil Tears throughout the area. The Chantry was, until the Breach, "the thing keeping the lid on the pot of Thedas." After the Breach and with no Divine to guide them, Chantry leadership succumbed to chaos with no clear successor for the Divine. What's more, Chancellor Roderick used his influence to convince the remaining clerics to publicly denounce the reformed Inquisition, calling them heretics for harbouring the sole survivor of the conclave attack, the Inquisitor, who had been labeled the Herald of Andraste.
The Inquisitor traveled to Val Royeaux on the advice of Mother Giselle to address the clerics and give them reason to doubt their denouncement, as the opposition's strength was in their unity. The Chantry was further humiliated when Lord Seeker Lucius Corin refused to bring the templars back into their fold.
As the Inquisition gained great renown, the Chantry started reaching out to the Inquisition for the Hands of the late Divine, Cassandra Pentaghast and Leliana, to stand as potential candidates for the title of Divine.In 9:42 Dragon, Divine Victoria was elected to lead the Chantry and instituted controversial reforms.
The Chantry's faith is rooted in four core principles:
- Magic is a corrupting influence in the world.
- Humankind's sin of pride destroyed the Golden City and created the darkspawn, terrible embodiment of that sin.
- Andraste was the bride of the Maker, a prophet and martyr whose ultimate sacrifice must be remembered and honored.
- Humankind has sinned and must seek penance to earn the Maker's forgiveness. When all people unite to praise the Maker, he will return to the world and make it a paradise.
Until the Maker's return, the faithful believe that the Maker watches, a patient observer rather than an absent god. They do not believe the Maker will perform miracles on their behalf, but he will shed a tear for the suffering of those who do not deserve it. The Chantry's interpretation of Andraste's teachings emphasizes death, guilt, and the difference among races and genders.
The sun represents the fundamental goal of the Chantry: if all lands under the sun raise their voices in the Chant, then the Maker's eye will turn back to his Children.
Fire is a symbol of purity in the Chantry, following the example of Andraste, who was cleansed of her sins as she burned at the stake. Each temple maintains a brazier lit with eternal flame in her memory; the most famous of these is the Holy Brazier at the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux. Chantry members may also ritually burn themselves, passing their hand over flame or burning a paper upon which their sins are written. In extreme cases, the faithful may undergo branding or self-immolation.
- See also: Codex entry: Chantry Hierarchy
The actual priesthood of the Chantry is made up entirely of human women, as official Chantry doctrine stating that elves and dwarves are further from the Maker than humanity, and the Chant holding that men are more vulnerable to anger or passion. At the head of the Chantry is the Divine, who leads from her seat in the Grand Cathedral of Val Royeaux. Below her are the left and right hands of the divine. These are her personal agents and act as her voice if she is not otherwise present. Below them are the Grand Clerics who are the Chantry's highest authority in a country or a region. After a Divine dies, Grand Clerics are required to travel to Val Royeaux for the Grand Consensus, a meeting where Chantry leadership unanimously elect the new leader of the Chantry. Beneath the Grand Clerics are the mothers, who are responsible for administering to the spiritual well-being of their flock. If a mother is in charge of a local Chantry, she is called a Revered Mother. Beneath mothers are the brothers and sisters, consisting of three main groups: affirmed, initiates, and clerics. Brother is the only rank that men are allowed to have. The initiates take vows and receive an academic education. Those who seek to become templars receive a martial education in addition. Clerics are the scholars of the Chantry and the most senior of them receive the title of "elder," which is, however, beneath that of mother.
The role of men in the Chantry
Men are only able to become true priests in the Imperial Chantry of the Tevinter Imperium; in the rest of Thedas they are judged by the betrayal of Maferath and found too passionate to lead in matters of spirit. Nevertheless, male members of the Chantry can and do play a vital role in its workings.
Though men are generally assumed to be merely templars, chanters or scholars, they also comprise an "invisible army" that keeps the Chanty fed and in good repair, and also sees to the physical well-being of Andrastian faithful. Furthermore, the male role of High Chancellor is one that works directly alongside the Divine and is in many ways her administrator and public gatekeeper. In this way, the Chantry's male acolytes allow their female counterparts to guide the souls of Thedas while seeing to it that small but vital services are rendered to their material lives.
If Leliana is Divine Victoria...
Offertory is part of the Chantry service.
The funeral rites of the Chantry involve cremation. As Andraste's body was burned, and her spirit ascended to stand by the Throne of the Maker, so too will the spirits of her followers. The practice of cremation may also be to ward off the possibility of the corpse becoming the subject of demonic possession.
The pyres of peasants are often small and ringed with stones. Such burnings occur within the settlement, despite the fire risk, rather than at a distance. Criminals may be burned in a mass pyre.
The Chantry hosts a Ten Year Gathering, in which pilgrims journey to the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux to pray for peace.
Certain members, called Chanters, speak only in quotations of the Chant of Light. Ostensibly this is to spread the word of the Maker far and wide.
Chantry Sisters take turns singing in the choir tower so that the Chant of Light is heard at all times in all the corners of the world.
The faithful who give their lives to the Exalted Marches earn a special place at the side of the Maker as the "Exalted". A still greater honor for service, the defenders of the faith are sometimes given the title of "Anointed". The Anointed are seen as the hands of the Maker and the title is exceptionally rare. Notable Anointeds include:
- Kordillus Drakon I, first Emperor of Orlais and founder of the Chantry.
- Hector, one of Andraste's loyal followers and Lord of the fortress of Nevarra from which she was captured after Maferath's betrayal.
- Calenhad Theirin, first King of Ferelden.
- Clothilde of Crechy, a warrior renowned for defending the innocent.
- Mhemet, a Rivaini Templar whose love of killing elves pushed him to many victories during the Exalted March against the Dales.
Many of Thedas' most prominent scholars come from within the Chantry's ranks, such as Brother Ferdinand Genitivi and Sister Petrine. The Chantry actively encourages its followers to read books other than the Chant of Light. Chantry-approved writings include Ines Arancia's The Botanical Compendium, Enchanter Mirdromel's Beyond the Veil: Spirits and Demons and Frederic of Serault's A Study of the Southern Draconids.
The Chantry is not above history revisionism and censorship however. After the Exalted March against the Dales, the Canticle of Shartan was removed from the canonical Chant of Light and all Chantry art depicting elves was ordered destroyed (save a single mural depicting Shartan, whose ears were cropped). Many books are banned by the Chantry as well, usually those dealing with magic and other religions. Erotic literature is frequently banned as well.
A partial list of especially banned books:
- The Imperial Chant of Light
- The Qun
- Questioning the Chant, by Magister Vibius Agorian
- Veilfire, a Beginner's Primer with Numerous Teachings, Exercises, and Applications by Magister Pendictus
- An Alchemical Primer of Metallurgy and The Alchemist's Encyclopedia, by Lord Cerastes of Marnas Pell
- The Randy Dowager
- Carmenum di Amatus, an anthology of poetry
The faith of the southern Chantry is the predominant religion in most of Thedas, but it began as one of many Andrastian cults. These alternative interpretations of the Maker and his prophet are considered heretical by the Chantry, though a few survived the centuries of the Chantry's expansion and one split off from the Chantry itself.
Blades of Hessarian
- Main article: Blades of Hessarian
The Blades of Hessarian are a secret society that believes they have been chosen to bring Andraste's judgement down on the weak and corrupt. They trace their origin to a Tevinter slave named Trefir, who purportedly received the very sword that killed the prophet from Andraste herself after her death. Ever since they have considered the bearer of the sword to be her instrument and their leader.
Daughters of Song
- Main article: Codex entry: The Daughters of Song
The Daughters of Song, which despite the name included men though they called themselves "daughters" as well, were a hedonistic cult that venerated the "union" of Andraste and the Maker before every other consideration. The cult was centered on the village of Virelay in the Fields of Ghislain. They refused to arm themselves when Kordillus Drakon's armies razed Virelay and captured or killed most of the cult.
Disciples of Andraste
- Main article: Disciples of Andraste
When Andraste was burned in Minrathous, a group of her disciples gathered her ashes and took them deep into the Frostback Mountains of her native Ferelden, where they founded Haven and built the Temple of Sacred Ashes. The Disciples eventually came to believe that Andraste had been reincarnated in the form of a High dragon and became a dragon cult.
- Main article: Codex entry: The Empty Ones
The Empty Ones were a short-lived apocalyptic cult based in Nevarra. They believed that Andraste's death heralded the end of the world as the Maker's wrath would soon destroy it for her betrayal. They came to believe the Blight was the Maker's chosen instrument in this and sought out darkspawn to aid them in bringing the Blight. The entire cult was predictably killed after marching into the path of the darkspawn horde during the Second Blight.
- Main article: Imperial Chantry
The dominant religion of modern Tevinter, the Imperial Chantry broke away from the Chantry of Orlais in 3:87 Towers over fundamentally differing interpretations of Andraste and her teachings, especially regarding magic. The Imperial Chantry, whose clergy is entirely male, teaches that Andraste was a mage of great power and that "magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him" merely means that mages must use it responsibly.
Order of Fiery Promise
- Main article: The Order of Fiery Promise
Originating in the chaotic time of the first Inquisition, the Order of Fiery Promise believes the world must be ended in order to be reborn as a paradise. The first Inquisition crushed the "Promisers" in open battle, but they have persisted through the ages and occasionally reemerged to challenge the Seekers of Truth, whom they see as usurpers.
Cult of Masked Andraste
The Cult of Masked Andraste is a splinter denomination which worships a hunter aspect of Andraste which is prominent in western Orlais.
Chantries in Thedas
Members of the Chantry often worship in buildings called chantries. These chantries are present in almost every village, town and city and some will also maintain a Chanter's Board. At most chantries a religious character can receive a blessing or agree with the faithful. A non-religious character can disagree with the faithful, refuse a blessing or refuse to donate coin.
Chantries deliver practical services to the community, caring for the sick and collecting alms for the poor. The Chantry provides hospitality to travelers and a public network of communications. Should an illiterate commoner need to send word to another town, the Chantry's educated priests write and send the letter for him.
Since the Chantry controls the lyrium trade on the surface in all Southern Andrastian nations, the Chantry is the only legal way to obtain lyrium. Chantry mothers are the dispensers of lyrium to the Templar Order.
- Lothering chantry, Lothering (destroyed by the Darkspawn in Dragon 9:30)
- Denerim Cathedral, Denerim Market District (can be destroyed in The Darkspawn Chronicles)
- Chantry of our Lady Redeemer, City of Amaranthine (this chantry can be destroyed, depending on player choices)
- Village Chantry, Redcliffe Village (this chantry can become abandoned, depending on player choices)
- An additional chantry is built subsequently in the new eastern district of the village around 9:40 Dragon.
- Haven Chantry, Village of Haven (this chantry is not part of the Andastrian Chantry as it is operated by the Disciples of Andraste. In 9:35 on Divine Justinia V's Orders it was restored as part of the Andastrian Chantry, Destroyed in 9:41 by The Elder One's Army)
- Orzammar chantry, Orzammar Commons (this chantry can be prevented from ever forming, depending on player choices)
- Abandoned Chantry, Forlorn Cove (this abandoned site can be the scene of bloodshed, depending on player choices)
- Kirkwall Chantry, Hightown-Kirkwall (destroyed in 9:37 Dragon)
- Grand Cathedral, Val Royeaux
- University of Orlais, this chantry's courtyard is decorated with a mosaic of Andraste. 
- Chateau Serault Chantry, this chantry was sealed after the former Marquis of Serault was revealed to be an Apostate Mage and became an Abomination 
- Abbey of the Bans, an unorthodox Chantry in Serault. 
- Valence Cloister - Formerly the Chantry of Revered Mother Dorothea, later Divine Justinia V.
- Andraste's Ear, a small Chantry in "the Dregs," a working-class Denerim neighborhood
- Chantry of the Stilled Tongue, a "maniac splinter cult" of the Andrastian Chantry, with a preemptive perspective on sin
Chapels are located in larger self-contained buildings for the convenience of their inhabitants. These mostly include castles, forts and the Circle of Magi. At all chapels a religious character may receive a blessing or participate in a prayer to the Maker. A non-religious character can disagree with the faithful or refuse a blessing.
- Fort Drakon, Denerim (blessing is only available if using the disguise method of escape during Captured!)
- Castle Cousland, Highever (blessing and prayer is only available to the Human Noble Origin)
- Redcliffe Castle, Redcliffe (blessing only available after the castle's problems are solved)
- Kinloch Hold, Lake Calenhad (prayer only available in Magi Origin)
- Weisshaupt Fortress, Anderfels 
- A chantry can serve as a neutral ground for two parties at war to meet, where violence is forbidden.
- Chantry personel from Brother/Sister to Divine are not allowed to engage in romantic relationships as they take vows of chastity and believe their love is reserved for the Maker as Andraste had done.
If Leliana is Divine Victoria and in a romance with the Warden...
Related codex entriesCodex entry: The Founding of the Chantry Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 1 Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 2 Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 3 Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 4 Codex entry: The Imperial Chantry Codex entry: Andraste: Bride of the Maker Codex entry: Chantry Hierarchy