Rosaria


Preface


Rosaria being such a mysterious figure for most is perhaps for the best. The topic is, admittedly, difficult to stomach, even if it isn’t the first time that Dark Souls broached such subject matter. But get past a queasy gut and you are offered one of the series’ most provocative characters. Silent, repulsive, yet somehow still enchanting, the Mother of Rebirth inspires curiosity with ease. Simply scratch the surface, and you can’t help but sympathize. Yet dig a little deeper, and you will find her to be no less malevolent than some of the more obvious villains. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Rosaria has much to be furious about.


And She Must Scream


Despite her air of mystery, the Cathedral of the Deep’s silent Mother of Rebirth is likely just another child of Gwynevere and Flann. Like the Dancer, Rosaria bears a soul which can be transposed into one of Gwynevere’s miracles. Her name likewise derives from the Latin rosarium, meaning “rosary”, in connection with the Virgin Mary — in the original Dark Souls, (DS1) Gwynevere was internally named “Imperial Mother Maria”. (皇母マリア) Aside from this shared association with the holy mother of Christianity, Leonhard takes Rosaria’s soul specifically to Gwynevere’s chamber in the abandoned Anor Londo cathedral, reinforcing a connection between the two women. And even assuming that the madman is unaware of the location’s history, Leonhard undoubtedly believes that his goddess would feel more comfortable in Irithyll at the very least.

Indeed, we can infer that Rosaria previously resided in the Boreal Valley from her gifting him the Crescent Moon Sword upon pledging service to her at the Cathedral. This weapon is imbued with the power of the moon, and the valley is the land where the moon is its most prominent icon. In the same vein, the Obscuring Rings the goddess provides members of her covenant are actually rings of “phantom limbs” (幻肢) with the same kanji for “illusion” consistently used in relation to Irithyll. Perhaps Gwyndolin had gifted such items to the new members of his family when they came to live with him, but Rosaria possessing them whilst residing at the Cathedral implies Irithyll to be her old home, regardless. As to how she ended up where she is now, we can probably thank Pontiff Sulyvahn.

We can find that Rosaria had been confined to her own chamber at the church, with iron bars set up at both the main doorway and just before the bed area where she resides. She hasn’t been receiving proper care given the sheer length of her hair, which indicates that it hasn’t been tended to in many years, and concept art portrays her nails as slightly overgrown compared to other characters. This was her prison. Sulyvahn had likely dispatched the woman there, similar to Aldrich. The Pontiff had already essentially enslaved the Dancer after taking power, so why wouldn’t he have done the same to her sister? And with one sibling already serving the propaganda role there, the other wasn’t needed. But why then imprison Rosaria at the Cathedral? We need only glance around her room for the answer.

The only furniture to be found in this chamber is the bed she rests upon at the back and the numerous cradles between the two barred gates. Rosaria was brought to the Cathedral to serve as no more than a baby factory. This explains Leonhard’s obsession over her purity, believing us a lustful “beast” wanting to “soil” her soul after growing “bored” of her body. His paranoia is rooted in the desire that at least her soul never “again” be “violated” by “beasts in human skin”. The implications couldn’t be more clear: Rosaria had been ravished by a human for the express purpose of producing offspring. This “corruption” of her purity is as much literal as it is metaphorical.

To think you’d really grow bored and even soil the soul…

Is it that you lusted after that festering thing?

Just the soul won’t be violated by anyone again. By beasts in human skin, very much like you!

Rosaria is now worshiped as the Mother of Rebirth due to her peculiar power to reshape the body and alter the properties of the soul. One can essentially be reborn in any physical or spiritual form they choose — removing scars, increasing muscular strength, improving intelligence; this goddess can compensate for any of your failings. However, those who undergo one too many rebirths become malformed “maggot men”, (蛆人) only vaguely resembling their prior human form. These man-grubs unsurprisingly vomit the same maggots produced by the Deep, many of which litter Rosaria’s chamber and the area just outside. The goddess herself spawns the grubs to envelope the subject’s body for physical rebirths — her head is even coated in a similar mucus. Therefore, repeated rebirths have most likely goaded the hungry larva into making the bodies their nest. Unlike the revived corpses, however, the internalized lava merely twist the living flesh, resulting in a grotesque abomination that occasionally expels the parasites infesting it. Put simply, Rosaria’s control over her creations is limited by their own fondness for the subject.

These are all signs of Rosaria’s abilities drawing from the same source as the Deep, which would have to originate from her soul. The Black Eye Orb created is a byproduct of Leonhard killing Rosaria. Although it is the same color as the orb acquired from Anastacia in DS1, much of that black hue is obscured by what looks like a grey fog plastered across it — the pupil and sclera are likewise grey instead of yellow. Intermixing this Dark spawn with the uniform color of rock and fog suggests that the Deep’s stagnant nature is to blame. Similarly muted greys can be seen with the gems adorning the Obscuring Ring, save for the missing middle gemstone shrouded in dark shadow. Therefore, these peculiarities are probably manifestations of the Dark in her soul deriving from a stagnant source. However, stagnant Dark isn’t the only power at play.

Leonhard implies that both body and soul were defiled, and we can see that Rosaria does bear an unusual soul. Rather than your typical deep soul, however, hers bears a standard white core and nonstandard red aura, with tinges of something darker along the edges surrounding it. The shape likewise looks unnaturally twisted, with two small wisps revolving perpendicular ways around it — as if the very space it inhabits is warped. A state in flux befits a soul with the power to reshape body and soul, but the fact that we can still derive Bountiful Sunlight from it implies the medial has retained her mother’s sunlight affinity. Indeed, flashes of white light accompany her both producing and shedding the maggots. At the same time, the red aura brings to mind certain expressions of the Dark, including the Deep power employed by Archbishop Royce in the bishops’ boss battle.

All of this suggests that some combination of light and Dark power is involved in Rosaria’s soul, an unlikely union resulting from the Deep physically corrupting her. The daughter of Gwynevere and Flann was born with a strong sunlight affinity, which probably helped prevent her soul from being completely subsumed by this stagnant Dark. As a result, her power’s links to time and healing have merely been twisted by the Dark’s influence over space and spontaneous generation to create something entirely new. Even a Fire Keeper, whose core consists of countless humanity, cannot radically change the existing nature of a soul, yet Rosaria can freely manipulate those properties, same with the body. This less than true Dark affinity is also most likely the reason for the medial’s tongue not being restored after returning her soul to her body, contrasting the case with Anastacia. It is the Dark synergizing with the principles of light that make her unique abilities possible, much like Gwyndolin’s Darkmoon light affinity.

If this odd mix of affinities is a result of physical corruption extending to even her soul, then it makes sense for that corruption to have coincided with her sexual violation — what else could have penetrated her with the Deep so profoundly? This begs the question: who defiled Rosaria? Among the humans with a strong affinity for the Deep and proclivity for repulsive deeds, none stand out more than the source of the Cathedral’s stagnant Dark: Aldrich. Recall that Sulyvahn facilitated the cleric’s acquisition of the Lord of Cinder’s throne, sending all manner of support to the Cathedral. If the Pontiff had sent Rosaria to the same church, then it would have most likely been for the same end; in other words, he had intended for the medial to satiate more than one of the maneater’s appetites. Indeed, the monster most certainly had relations with some woman during his initial stay at the Cathedral.

Horace’s steel armor originally belonged to a depraved executioner, who had been killed. We find this lowlife’s greatsword on a corpse at the far back of the Cathedral cemetery. Whether the man himself or an unlucky looter, the cadaver nonetheless implies that he performed his duties there. This is notable since the Japanese description for the Executioner set mentions one other detail: Horace is one of Aldrich’s children, two of whom have survived. The other survivor is more than likely Horace’s close companion Anri, who shares his deep grudge against the maneater and makes multiple references to “those children” — even the two knights’ mission to slay Aldrich is actually for those kids’ sake. Put simply, they were both born and raised at the Cathedral before Horace killed the executioner, stole his armor, and escaped with Anri. And Aldrich is their father. But this requires a mother, someone also present at the Cathedral and capable of birthing many a child. And that mother is Rosaria.

Steel helmet of the silent knight Horace. He liked the bulky, cold iron inside.

It is said that it was originally stolen from a certain low-life man who was killed and that the man was a depraved executioner.

Horace is one of Eldritch’s children, and there are only two survivors.

Ah, Horace, why… Are you really going to leave me… Even you, like those children… Ah, Horace, Horace…

Oh, so it’s you. Long time no see. In the end, I didn’t come across Horace since then. But I have the mission. As a fireless ash, a searcher for kings; no, more than just that, for the sake of those children, the mission to go onward even alone… surely you have that too, don’t you?

Some may note that neither Horace nor Anri predominantly bear any medial traits as is the case with other half-medial hybrids. However, this can be attributed to Aldrich’s overwhelming Deep affinity. If his power was strong enough to fundamentally change a daughter of the Princess of Sunlight down to her very essence, then it would surely overshadow any such power inherited by their resulted progeny. At most, Rosaria’s natural affinity would have prevented them from outwardly being anything more than ordinary humans, and they apparently all died or became Hollows before age could test the limits of their lifespans. This leaves little room to doubt that the imprisoned medial is the mother to Aldrich’s children. Just as his Way of White had set up the Road of Sacrifices, the Pontiff set up a baby factory, thinking that Rosaria would be put to better use as a sex slave; based on the number of cradles, she fulfilled her purpose.

Why was Aldrich siring so many children? Considering Anri’s fervent hatred of the cannibal and desire to kill him specifically to avenge the rest of his children, the most likely reason was to devour them. In other words, the cleric used Rosaria to “farm” his food. This comes with the implication that the two barred gates to her bedchamber served dual functions. They definitely helped confine the woman with her progeny, but they also segregate them so that the children could be taken from their mother without her interference. Indeed, it is probably no accident that this bedchamber is located directly above one of Aldrich’s food tubs, making it easy to throw bodies over the railing just outside the entrance and into the corpse piles below. This may also be why Anri never once refers to Aldrich as a father or Horace and the rest as siblings. They were by and large raised in isolation from their parents and treated as produce to nurture with the intent to one day harvest. There are no familial bonds to be had, or at least expressed.

By the time Aldrich departed for the Kiln of the First Flame, he had likely already devoured most of his offspring. This left the local clergy to deal with any of the survivors — potentially just Horace and Anri. The depraved executioner couldn’t have been part of the Cathedral’s permanent staff given that none of the corpses revived in the cemetery or found around the church grounds are headless. It would go against his greatsword’s express design and use for beheadings, which is credited for why the blade has become imbued with the ability to replenish the user’s focus with each kill. This suggests that the man was brought in from outside the Cathedral and only present for a relatively short period. Therefore, his brief tenure was in all likelihood for the sole purpose of disposing of Aldrich’s remaining progeny.

The children’s reason for existing was now obsolete, and they weren’t “guests” of the esteemed Pontiff like their mother. The church had no obligation to still be feeding and clothing them — it had enough to worry about with containing the maneater’s other spawn. But non-religious charity institutions presumably don’t exist in this medieval European-inspired fantasy setting. If the only standalone church in the region won’t take them, the only option is to either throw them out into the wild or save them the misery and kill them outright. But although feared as a monster, Aldrich was also respected as a holy man. Offing his offspring themselves probably didn’t feel appropriate. And so, the decision was made to hire a formal executioner to take care of these lifelong prisoners. Indeed, execution by the sword was considered the most honorable form of capital punishment in medieval society. In this way, the bishops could respectfully, and mercifully, end the children’s unholy existence.

Of course, things didn’t go as planned. Horace and Anri somehow managed to defeat their executioner and escape. Even assuming that they were working in tandem, it is hard to imagine the pair overpowering an armed and armored man as small children, especially if they stole the armor. Perhaps they had the help of some corpses rising from their graves right then and there, but they still needed to be old enough to feasibly compete with him physically, which would take up to twenty odd years at minimum — more than long enough for Aldrich to have become Lord of Cinder. Why he didn’t devour those two beforehand is anyone’s guess; maybe good fortune if Anri’s later luck-based weaponry is any indication. Still, it gave the youths a chance at freedom, and they took it. But before that, they probably cut out their mother’s tongue. Whether out of spite or some pitying sense of mercy, Rosaria’s first child stole her ability to speak. There are only two candidates alive at this point, and this is the most opportune time for any child of hers to take it. Thus completes the tragedy of Rosaria, suffering indignities even at the hands of her own flesh and blood. And she couldn’t even curse their names.


To Clench Her Grip


After witnessing everything that occurred at the Cathedral over the years, Archbishop Klimt renounced his faith, casting aside his characteristic holy bident to symbolize this decision. How could he in good conscience consider himself a holy man of the church? The daughter of one of the most important goddesses in the Anor Londo pantheon was treated worse than an animal, the Japanese description to his skirt even implying her to be considered more a thing in her repulsive state. With a Latin-derived name meaning “clemency”, one can imagine his desire to relieve the prisoner’s burden. And having loyally served the Way of White long enough to reach its highest ranks, everything involving Aldrich must have come as a harsh betrayal — doubly so with his colleagues’ silent acquiescence to such atrocities. Nothing better could have better disillusioned Klimt of their holy mission’s integrity. The leadership and its gods were vile or impotent. Only one was worth calling his goddess. And so, instead of putting his faith in a corrupt church, he dedicated it to the Mother of Rebirth. He wasn’t alone.

Two-pronged silver spear made in the shape of a holy symbol that the holy man Klimt is said to have once utilized.

Its attack power should change with faith. It is said to have been abandoned along with faith.

Skirt of an Archbishop of the Church of the Deep. A mark of the Way of White’s highest rank.

There are three Archbishops of the Deep, and one served Rosaria, Mother of Rebirth. It is said that he called that a goddess.

There are dozens of maggot men lurking around Rosaria’s bedchamber. Based on the Undead Hunter and Lloyd’s Duel Charms in their possession, they were all originally warriors of the church, each likely following a similar conversion story as Klimt. To embody that solidarity, Klimt created a holy symbol for their cult, even fashioning rosaries and sorcery staves bearing the emblem. Given its resemblance to the papal cross but with the horizontal bar lengths inverted, it may signify opposition to Irithyll’s Pontiff for his direct culpability in their goddess’ current state. Regardless, this base is ornamented with two human figures, one facing only slightly above the other; their legs and arms wrapped around each other. This probably symbolizes the rebirthing process, changing from one person to another — the figures’ side profile even makes the silhouettes resemble the maggot men at the end of such rebirthing. Indeed, they aren’t just united under one banner, but one physical state as well.

Staff of the maggot men who protect Rosaria’s bedroom. The tip was made in the shape of their holy symbol.

Causes the luck stat to reflect in its sorcery might.

What in the world did they who were at the rebirthing limit become?

Some have inferred that the large grub Rosaria pets on her lap is in fact Klimt, since he is presently serving her and yet is otherwise nowhere to be seen. There is no doubt that his status and contributions make him the most worthy of her constant affection, but this would imply that he overextended his rebirths like the others now squirming around as grubs. But did they really all fail to notice how wantonly transforming themselves led to their grotesque form? Surely they would have known the risks after the first such rebirth gone wrong. And if it was unexpected, why do they still serve her? Put another way, it may not be that Klimt and his associates became maggot men unwillingly — they let their goddess’ maggots consume their bodies. In that case, becoming man-grubs might actually be proof of one’s dedication to serving Rosaria, choosing to fully embrace her power and its spawn; some undeniably do in other ways.

As noted earlier, Klimt created sorcery staves which some of the former church warriors now utilize. He presumably applied the sorcery that the Cathedral learned from Archbishop McDonnel in inventing these magic catalysts. And in the process, he apparently taught the converts a new kind of sorcery. The magic cast by the maggot men functions akin to soul arrow but with the shape of the holy bident Klimt abandoned, implying that he is at the heart of their construction. That isn’t the only oddity with this sorcery either. The bident arrow is pure white with no trace of the blue aura seen in most sorceries, suggesting that it is closer to holy magic. And yet, this sorcery produces white feathers upon impact, a generation of physical matter more akin to Dark magic. In the same vein, the staff’s power is dependent upon luck, a quality unique to mankind due to the Dark of humanity. Taken together, Klimt invented sorcery which derives light from Dark, a perverse combination of opposing elements — not unlike the nature of their goddess. In short, the cultists adopts this magic to emulate Rosaria, and their actual forms are no different.

Naturally, these maggot men have been treated the same as the Cathedral’s other grubs. Many of them have been killed, their bodies pinned to the floors and walls with bronze stakes similar to the other Deep corruption spreading throughout the church. Likewise, the iron bars blocking Rosaria’s bedchamber have clearly been pulled open by something large, likely one of the giant slaves. There was an obvious attempt to stamp out Klimt’s little cult and recapture if not simply kill their Mother of Rebirth. But like the rest of the Cathedral’s efforts, this purge evidently failed. Rosaria and her servants remain in their corner of the building, the goddess calmly caressing her “pet” from the safety of her bed without a care in the world. Regardless, do people motivated only by a selfish desire to reshape themselves and accidentally transformed protect her with their lives? Unlikely. Therefore, at least the vast majority of the maggot men must be true believers. The goddess certainly doesn’t make reaching that state easy. Maggots may represent transformation and rebirth, but they are also symbols of death.

Rosaria only provides her services in exchange for tongues, requiring her followers to kill if they ever hope to be reborn. These are to apparently make up for the tongue she lost to her firstborn. The description for the aforementioned Obscuring Ring confirms that she has been waiting on them ever since that event, and the “phantom limbs” giving the item its name refers to a sensation of still having a missing limb, hence why we only receive it after offering the goddess ten tongues. This also explains why the ring makes the wearer invisible from afar: we are her proverbial phantom limbs, making up for the reach she now otherwise lacks. Although cut music suggests that Rosaria was planned to be a boss at some point during development, the woman in-game seems incapable of combat. But despite her inability to communicate verbally, the goddess has clearly conveyed her will to her followers, forming a covenant with humans willing to hunt for tongues on her behalf — as “fingers”.

Ring given to Rosaria’s Fingers, invaders who offer tongues.

Hides the equipper’s form at a far distance.

It is said that Rosaria, the Mother of Rebirth, had her tongue stolen by her first child. “She has awaited those ever since.”

Such individuals include “Ringfinger” Leonhard, “Yellowfinger” Heysel, and “Longfinger” Kirk, the latter likely introducing the idea of using Red Eye Orbs for their hunts. But even if they are all united in method, they each differ in motive. For example, we can encounter Sirris hunting one finger on the bridge leading into Irithyll. And this dark spirit is Creighton, the notorious deserter among the Mirrah Knights from Dark Souls II as descriptions for his armor in Dark Souls III finally confirm outright. Given Creighton’s personal history, he most likely sympathized with Rosaria’s own tragic life. And considering the warrior’s sense of righteousness and proclivity for vigilante justice, him becoming a finger and approaching the country occupied by her abusers is no surprise. However, while some may only wish to comfort their goddess, the description for Klimt’s seal confirms that others simply seek access to her powers. In the end, though, their intentions are irrelevant. If they are willing to be one of Rosaria’s Fingers, she will reciprocate.

Holy sign of Archbishop Klimt who serves Rosaria, the Mother of Rebirth.

Equip to become a covenantor of “Rosaria’s Fingers”.

Rosaria’s Fingers are those who offer tongues to her. Some for the purpose of rebirth, and some just to comfort the voiceless goddess.

Why is the goddess so obsessed with reaping tongues for no practical gain? Why do they give her comfort? Because of spite. After everything else Rosaria had suffered, having her tongue cut out by her first bastard with a true monster was the last straw. She is returning the favor to a world which has entirely wronged her; worse, rejected her. Servants of the gods who hunt the gods’ enemies as blue spirits commonly possess forked tongues, growing the second presumably because they claim to act in the gods’ name when it is almost always their own — another case of strong emotions leading to radical physiological developments. Such hypocrisy is especially rich when they commonly harvest dark spirits’ layered ears, the second presumably resulting from the sinner only pretending to listen to the gods’ will. In short, Gwyndolin’s Darkmoon Blades and Blue Sentinels are no better, yet act all high and might as they try to stop Rosaria’s covenant of invaders. And the goddess values their two-layered tongues twice as much. The motive is clear.

Sulyvahn, Aldrich, even her own child — what human hasn’t wounded the medial in some fashion? And yet she is in the wrong for wanting to lash out? Where was that reverence for the divine when she was imprisoned like an animal? Where was the gods’ plan in a corrupt pope covering for the evils of his cleric? Where was that crusade against the injustices she sustained? Let her servants plunder from the safety of spirit forms. Now she is the god judging who deserves death. Now she is the monster employing the unholy for her whims. Now she is the abuser victimizing the helpless and proud. If the world wishes to sully her, then she will immerse herself in deep. And so, she is appropriately dubbed “Sinful Rosaria” (罪深きロザリア) internally. Indeed, the Black Eye Orb generated in the wake of her death at Leonhard’s hands proves her desire for vengeance against liars and traitors, no matter their reasons.

In his mad obsession with safeguarding her, the knight whisks her disembodied soul away to the Anor Londo cathedral. Aside from referencing DS1’s Knight of the Goddess Lautrec, why bring her there and not somewhere more intimately connected with Gwynevere like the neighboring royal manor or more recent cityside home? Perhaps Leonhard wanted to confront Aldrich, whose ravishing of Rosaria consumes his addled mind. But regardless, it did succeed in consoling her. Her orb’s vengeful eye nonetheless looks “very calm” as it fixates on her longtime home, likely filled with many fond memories. Irithyll’s meaning to the goddess was clearly widely known among her followers. A maggot man can be found dead just outside the city limits, probably a victim of the local wildlife. The Great Heal text on the body indicates that the grub was once a ranking cleric with the dedication to memorize such a long tale, as well as infiltrate the Boreal Valley’s capital. Surely they all knew her places of interest.

Mysterious orb left at the corpse of Rosaria.

Invade the world of the one who killed her. If you defeat that person, you can return her soul.

It is said that the black eye is a mark of vengeance. But, the eye fixed on Irithyll looks very calm.

But such peace of mind is ultimately transient. Rosaria can never return to the past; she must carry on her endless quest of vengeance in that defiled body. This is why she carries on as if nothing happened should her soul be returned to that body. Her life there in that prison is where she ironically feels free, safe, loved — a world all to her own, waited on by countless servants. The gods and their lapdogs might think it twisted, but what does she care? If they dare to speak up, they will be the ones losing their tongues. Even if it isn’t truly happy, this is her life now. Leonhard’s attempt to shield her from further harm is merely a nuisance, one which we have the opportunity to rectify.

Soul of Mother of Rebirth Rosaria that Leonhard the Ring Finger stole.

If you return this to her body which was left behind, the mother will regain life and start moving.

No change from before at all.