The current Pontifatrix and Emperor of Solar Illegon, is Lea II. Born Basia Trojca, the daughter of a prominent wine merchant in Lendia, the girl joined a convent and became a Solar Virgin after her father died.
Then-Pontifatrix Genodora had been a progressive reformer of church policy, and even before rising in the church Basia was a fierce opponent of the changes in church doctrine. Her outrage at some of the attempts made by the previous Pontifatrix put her at odds with the progressive faction in the church, but had earned her the support of the more conservative members of the church, most particularly the Paladins Gaius Lucullus Sulla and Clovis Martell, who were instrumental in her ascendancy.
Her work in crushing the apostate factions in her homeland and cooperation with the Kasonic Order eventually won her the title of Mother Archbishop of Styrow, where she put up such a resistance to the changes that Genodora had been trying to implement that she was nearly excommunicated twice — avoiding it only through skillful politicking and the support of a growing portion of the church that was chafing under the new reforms that relinquished much of the church's temporal power.
Genodora was assassinated four years ago by a gunshot from a rooftop while overseeing a mass. Her death was found to be a result of Kasel scheming, and the conservative faction rode the outrage successfully, installing Basia as Pontifatrix Lea II after only a few hours of deliberation.
Lea's reign has been characterized by a total reversal of church policy and a confrontational, even reckless willingness to butt heads with the other great powers over temporal matters. New institutions, such as the Hematite Order and the revitalized Pontifatrix Guard, all act very directly as extensions of Lea II's will, but how much they serve religious interests as opposed to Imperial ones is a legitimate question.
These days, Lea (who prefers to go by Empress rather than Pontifatrix, further separating herself from her predecessor) mostly concerns herself with her homeland of Lendia, from which she recruits most of her Imperial Guard, and for which she clearly has a soft spot that transcends her station. This has created tension between Ruvia and Kasel, since the Kasonic Order's crusades have recently hit roadblocks trying to pursue their pagan foes into Lendia.
Lea has thusfar skillfully prevented a war from beginning between the Kasonic Order and her old homeland, but only by applying great pressure on the Lendian nobility to clean their own house before someone else has to be sent in to do it. Meanwhile, border conflicts with the Reich over several important city states on the Illegon-Kasel border have intensified as a result. Worse still, several formerly loyal cities, resenting the increased attentions of the Empress, have begun trying to exert their autonomy and justify secession from the Empire.
Despite the internal conflicts, the Empire is stronger and more focused now than it has been in centuries, and new Legions have been formed to deal with any emergent threats. Lea II, often called "Lea the Joyful," has turned Illegon back into an Empire.
Genodora was relinquishing the Empire/Church's hold on its subject states, who were demanding more autonomy, and generally giving away Ruvian Genosism's temporal power. People had been chaffing under the authority that the church held over them, and this plan was to soothe that unrest and make sure the people stayed loyal.
However, from Basia/Lea's perspective, this would only result in the Empire weakening and more of its constituent elements breaking off. And in truth, she was probably right. Illegon had been fragmenting because its leaders were more interested in their spiritual role as Pontifatrix than in their Imperial obligations. She has successfully reunited much of the Empire, and is pushing hard against attempts to break bits of it off.
The downside to this is that now the reverse of what happened to Genodora is happening. People are growing suspicious of the Pontifatrix's perceived tyranny, and thus of Genosism in general. Apostate and other heretic sentiments are rising. There's definite trouble on the horizon.