On the birth of the Chantry
The crowds present at the death of Andraste were right to feel despair. It is believed that the prophet's execution angered the Maker, and He turned His back on humanity once more, leaving the people of Thedas to suffer in the dark.
In these dark times, mankind scrambled for a light, any light. Some found comfort in demonic cults that promised power and riches in return for worship. Others prayed to the Old Gods for forgiveness, begging the great dragons to return to the world. Still others fell so low as to worship the darkspawn, forming vile cults dedicated to the exaltation of evil in its purest form. It is said that the world wept as its people begged for a savior who would not come.
Andraste's followers, however, did not abandon her teachings when she died. The Cult of Andraste rescued her sacred ashes from the courtyard in Minrathous after her execution, stealing them away to a secret temple. The location of that temple has long been lost, but the ashes of Andraste served as a symbol of the enduring nature of the faith in the Maker, that humanity could earn the Maker's forgiveness despite its grievous insult to Him.
With time, the Cult of Andraste spread and grew, and the Chant of Light took form. Sing this chant in the four corners of Thedas, it was said, and the world would gain the Maker's attention at last. As the Chant of Light spread, the Cult of Andraste became known as the Andrastian Chantry. Those who converted to the Chantry's beliefs found it their mission to spread Andraste's word.
There were many converts, including powerful people in the Imperium and in the city-states of what is now Orlais. Such was the power of the Maker's word that the young King Drakon undertook a series of Exalted Marches meant to unite the city-states and create an empire solely dedicated to the Maker's will. The Orlesian Empire became the seat of the Chantry's power, the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux the source of the movement that birthed the organized Chantry as we know it today. Drakon, by then Emperor Drakon I, created the Circle of Magi, the Order of Templars and the holy office of the Divine. Many within the Chantry revere him nearly as equal with Andraste herself.
The modern Chantry is a thing of faith and beauty, but it is also a house of necessity, protecting Thedas from powerful forces that would do it harm. Where the Grey Wardens protect the world from the Blights, the Chantry protects mankind from itself. Most of all, the Chantry works to earn the Maker's forgiveness, so that one day He will return and transform the world into the paradise it was always meant to be.
--From Tales of the Destruction of Thedas, by Brother Genitivi, Chantry scholar.