The Apostle's Clerics are the high priests of the Amarr's greatest cathedrals. They are caretakers of the cathedral's artifacts, provide Mass, and never leave the church grounds. They have no real political power, though their respected position gives them some limited influence.
The Apostle's Clerics have existed since shortly after the founding of the Amarr Empire. While monks and other caretakers have always been a part of the Amarr religion, it was only after the consolidation of the Amarr under one banner that they were formalized and institutionalized. The early Apostle's Clerics were selected from the priests who had assisted Amash-Akura in his rise to power and were loyal to the newly formed Council of Apostles, from which they drew their name.
These early clerics were tasked with organizing and recording holy artifacts and providing sermons that would bolster the power of the new Emperor. In these early days, the Apostle's Clerics were not restricted to their church grounds, but had free reign to travel much as any other priest. They were, instead, simply the upper echelon of the priesthood, those who had dedicated their lives and proven their piety.
Their position as supporters of the Council of Apostles gave them great sway. Many gradually became members of the Council of Apostles itself, replacing the deceased or disgraced. However, this also put them in a precarious position when opposition to the Council began to form.
The first threat came from Zaragram II, the Mad Emperor, who ordered many high-ranking Apostle's Clerics imprisoned or executed. Only those who swore their loyalty to him and espoused his divinity were spared punishment. Though Zaragram II was eventually slain by St. Tetrimon, and those who had been imprisoned were freed, the Mad Emperor's reign had shaken the foundation on which the Apostle's Clerics stood.
When the Moral Reforms came several centuries later, the Apostle's Clerics had only partly regained their standing. The Emperor realized that the Apostle's Clerics were loyal to the Council of Apostles above all else, but that they could also be used to his advantage. Not wishing to repeat the mistakes of Zaragram II, the Emperor instead worked to marginalize their influence rather than eliminate it completely.
He did so by restricting their ability to travel, forcing any Apostle's Cleric to remain within the church to which he was duty-bound. This prevented the Apostle's Clerics from coordinating dissent and kept them from seriously resisting the changes of the Moral Reforms.
Today, the Apostle's Clerics serve two very important functions. They provide the Mass and act as caretaker's of their church's artifacts.
Providing Mass typically involves assisting the official directing the sermon. Because a typical cathedral to which the Apostle's Clerics are assigned is massive and serves hundreds of thousands of worshipers, this is an extensive task. The clerics prepare any pieces of Scripture the official might need to consult, provide parishioners with hymnals and other directions, direct supplicants into a blessing queue, and provide other rote duties. In this way, they interact with commoners much more directly than other members of the clergy.
Upkeep of the cathedral's artifacts is a much more difficult job, as many of the Empire's artifacts date back tens of thousands of years. These artifacts can be everything from rather sturdy metal objects to old bones to ancient scrolls and pieces of parchment. The artifacts require polishing, cleaning, and age treatment to keep them available for viewing by the public and usage in sermons.
The Clerics also provide some other menial functions at the cathedrals, such as custodial and administrative duties.
Being named an Apostle's Cleric is a high honor, but also one that not many pursue. Because being made a cleric requires the monk to remain sequestered in the cathedral grounds for the rest of his life, it is not an appointment that many wish to undertake. For those reasons, it is only the most pious and dedicated of the priesthood who aspire to the position.
An applicant to the Apostle's Clerics must be nominated by either another Apostle's Cleric or a high-ranking member of the clergy. This nomination must be seconded by at least one other, though an applicant can receive multiple affirmations, which is taken favorably into account on his review. The application is then reviewed by the Theology Council, which usually involves an interview with the applicant and sometimes with those who recommended him.
If the applicant is accepted, he is then assigned to a cathedral. The applicant can express a preference for his assignment, but this is usually ignored in favor of assigning him to the cathedral that most requires his services. If an applicant is rejected, he is allowed to reapply once; rejection a second time is permanent.