Faith of the Living Saints
Scattered notes on the Faith practiced in the Flag Profound:
- It’s a syncretistic mashup of several pre-ancient faiths, but gets its trappings from Buddhism strands on one side and Catholicism on the other.
- It preaches that there exist Living Saints and First and Many Saints, and that sainthood is attainable in life through abnegation, the regulation of desire, and the finding one’s own predetermined path to it on meditation on the lives of the First and the Many.
- Its symbol is a Roman cross balanced to hang on one side rather than sit upright, in commemoration of the killing of First Saint Yeshua in pre-ancient times and of the toil of attaining sainthood and the anger they say the world will direct at the saints once they have walked their path.
- They preach that paths to sainthood are predetermined; some attain sainthood by eventually being leaders (and becoming First Saints), some attain sainthood by being miners and good capi familia (and take a place among the Many Saints).
- The faith is actively anti-theistic (there is no god, and to be god is an abomination), and worship of the First Saints is strictly forbidden, but ‘remembering and celebrating their example’ makes them figures of worship anyway. Many faithful carry exemplars: depictions of a Living Saint on the other, with a history of the saint and lessons to follow on the other (to do only the former is idolatry).
- Prayer to deities is forbidden; meditation on the lives of the saints is almost required.
- Most of the riches from the strip-mining of the Flag are controlled by, directly or indirectly, the Faith, giving it outsized influence in both cultural and econopolitical matters. The city of Vate Sancta, capital of the Flag, is full of temples, golden, physical exemplaria to the lives of the First Saints and measured nods to the Many.
- It has a strict religious hierarchy, known as the Recognition of the Saints, tasked with teaching the faith and administering its power. The leader of the faith is known as the Cathedrant, and it is very rare that a Cathedrant is not recognized by the Archbishops of the Faith as a Living Saint or a First Saint upon death, though a tense political compromise is that no Cathedrant is ever recognized as a saint during their life.
- It often coopts religious fervor in a single person by declaring that person a Living Saint and ensuring that they fall in line with the Faith, or else.
- The fact that anyone has their own path has cries of ‘straying from your path’ be directed to e.g. miner groups that perhaps would really, really no longer have to risk their lives for hard but meager pay in the Scar Drop and the strip mines. The faith holds sway among many in all social strata in the Flag.
- The ‘Flag’ itself is a shroud kept in Vate Sancta said to belong to Living Saint Paula or Paulo of pre-ancient times. Tradition says that, asked whether they should be worshipped, they rebuked their followers, but on their insistence relented and said that ‘should you worship me, worship instead my shroud once I die and meditate upon the example of my life, and once you have learned it, bury it, bury it ever-deeper the more you learn’. The Faith takes this both symbolically and literally, and keeps digging to push the chamber of the Flag ever deeper into the isola. The main temple of the faith is built above the Flagchamber.
- The Faith abhors war: “Even the saints of war preach for an end to war.” This doesn’t mean they do not defend themselves, but they have a very small standing army (as opposed as a large policing presence in the Guards of the Faith) and depend on their economic allies for safety.