There are two things you need to understand about Benedict in order to really grasp how he does what he does. The first is that Flitwick was correct; he is a nephil (plural nephilim), which is defined for the purposes of this story in the Lexicon. The second is that he's a Catholic priest. Now, the exact nature of what it means to be a nephil will be explored throughout his story and another character appearing soon in the Narrator blog, and who Benedict's biological parents are will be revealed in story. So let's focus on the second for now.
Within the Roman Catholic Church, there is a belief that people undergo a number of specific ontological changes throughout their lives of faith; that is, the very essence of who they are is altered in some way through specific sacraments, such as baptism. These changes are more or less considered permanent, as they cannot be lost but the benefits of them may be sacrificed through mortal sin. There seems to be quite a lot wrapped up in this doctrine, and since I'm not Catholic I only have so much exposure to it anyway, so the focus here is on how this affects Benedict in terms of the story. If you are interested in the actual doctrine, this website seems to be helpful.
The belief relevant here is that the ordination into priesthood makes the priest a functionary of Christ. On a spiritual level, they are united with Christ in such a way that there can be times when it is Him acting or speaking or listening. Now, whether or not this is accurate within the world of Tall Tales is somewhat irrelevant. What matters is that, whatever it is that happened to the priest, it works. They administer sacraments, they preach powerful homilies, they cast out demons, they receive confession and are able to deliver a real sense of absolution, and so on. This state of priesthood cannot be lost, but the office of priest can, in fairly extreme cases. This means that Benedict, as a priest, will always be a priest as far as the spiritual nature goes, though if the Catholic church were to reject him for some reason he would no longer be allowed to act as a priest or administer sacraments or be paid by the church or any of that.
Now, in actual Catholic doctrine, this is about as far as this goes. There is no physical change to the priest, and there was no physical change to Benedict when he became a priest. What this means for Benedict, however, is that whatever benefits he has naturally by being a nephil, he gets to keep. Those are part of his biological reality and do not change through ordination. However, spiritually, he is not a nephil, but a priest. This means that, even if a being can detect his nephil biology, if they had enough information on his spiritual nature they would encounter something very different.
Within the rules of Tall Tales, this gives priests power that they are not believed to have in the real world, at least as far as I know. Mainly, this means that when dealing with spiritual entities, they are treated as holy beings. Their blood and spit and sweat function as holy water. This is because they are already consecrated, and their bodies are being used for divine purposes, which is basically all that needs to happen to create holy water. Their spirits are resistant to demonic attack (something that I think Catholics in general would agree on). They aren't immune to magic, at least in any way comparable to Matteson, but they are protected.
So, what you see from Benedict in the story is a combination of his biological nature and his ontological nature, based on taking what the Catholic church believes about priests and just applying that to a world that operates on slightly different rules. Maybe they work because this description is accurate, or maybe they work because enough people believe they work, but for the story all that matters is that they do, in fact, work.
Father Benedict Michael de Monte was not originally one character, but two. And he wasn't in the world of Tall Tales. And he wasn't named Benedict.
The original comic idea that became this project was the joint work of me and Alex, who has been mentioned before. Alex was working on another comic at the time, about a demon hunter who had managed to enslave one demon who was very desperate to not be cast into the Abyss and had agreed to turn on his own kind to save his own hide. The hunter was named Orion, and I know surprisingly little about the plans Alex had for him. I asked, a bit, but it seemed like it was still pretty rough in his mind at the time and he didn't feel the need to ask for my help with it, so it was left at that.
But there was one story arc I had decided to do that would take place at the Devil's Church. This setting will be explained in a one-shot lore story on the narrator blog here after "Land of Goshen" ends, because I plan to still use the setting for something. Anyway, I had decided that demons would be an issue in that arc, but Matteson was reluctant to deal with demons. He wasn't afraid of them, per se, at least not more so than anything else. But he was written at the time with the view that they were far more hassle than they were worth and tended to be vengeful. So Alex suggested a crossover, in which Matteson would call a guy he knew named Orion and Orion would 'lend' him his demon to help with the case. There was hope that both comics would be known by that point in the story and this would be an exciting thing for readers of both comics. To my knowledge, neither comic has ever actually existed in a public form.
It isn't necessary to go into the whole thing here, but Mephitz Omega was basically a prequel to the apocalypse in which the big reveal at the end was that the boy they were protecting was destined to become the Antichrist. Alex did concept art for this story, but we never got far enough with it for him to do much else. It relied on some of the same theology as stories like Left Behind, though I no longer held those views myself. Unlike those stories, it also included werewolves, vampires, and pretty active angels and demons. Father Raphael Centuri was a secondary character in that story, a priest who was actively hunting a specific powerful vampire and would occasionally cross paths with the main cast. He was also a half-demon, the son of a nun and the demon Balthazar as part of a bet that Balthazar won. Raphael had a subplot running in which he was attempting to find the means to kill his demon father in order to help this friend of his, but that's getting pretty well off track. Balthazar had been designed by another friend, Josh Flynn, but I gather he stole a lot of the design from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or one of the other similar shows he was watching at the time. To be fair, Raphael himself showed a fair bit of influence from Nicholas D. Wolfwood, the priest(ish) character in Trigun.
I, uh...I abandoned this story for a number of reasons, guys.
I decided to drop Balthazar, and some of the more anime aspects of the priest (like a literal set of ephemeral armor styled after the armor analogy in Ephesians 6:10-18), and his kind of ridiculous name, and a number of other things. I took what was left, and rebuilt it as Benedict. As you can probably tell from the story, there's still something inhuman about Benedict, but that will be explained in time. He also has a similar job, as an inquisitor, though he tends to deal much less with vampires.
I actually really like Benedict a lot more than I liked Raphael, in the end. I think he works better, he's in a world that I enjoy more, and the stuff I liked about him gets to be explored more. When I set out to make him a recurring character, I found myself developing a whole story he was doing alongside Matteson, and ended up deciding that he needed his own space to really get into that. So he went from one character who would make a cameo appearance and another who would pop in rarely, to one of the core storytellers of this project. And I'm excited to see if you all end up loving him as much as I do.
Bonus: Below the cut are Alex's designs for other characters in Mephitz Omega. I can't imagine another post where these people would come up, as none of this specific lot are being brought over to Tall Tales. If you like Alex's over-decade-old work, you should really check out his current stuff. I'm pretty sure he takes commissions. I got that link from him after we reconnected about a year ago. Note that I did all the coloring here, on my computer (which was a limited affair back then), and that I'm colorblind.
What is this?
Worldbuilding Wednesdays is a real-world blog, written by Tim McLaughlin, that gives a little peek behind the curtain of Tall Tales. That includes the process of creating the story and world, influences, world rules, and even the occasional story.