Stiletti of Vendici
Religion in Vendici
Vendici is the site of the Holy See, the Papal Palace, the Reliquary of St. Peter – the home of the one true Catholic faith. Unfortunately the Cathedra Romana, the throne of the Holy Father, stands empty, the doors to St. Peter’s Basilica are locked, the great church empty and dusty.
Nearly a century ago, during the Wars of Succession, Pope Joannes VII and his household were forced to flee Vendici, taking refuge in the nearby city of Padulan. As the years dragged on, and the Pope became ever more entrenched in his eastern palace, the Cardinals remaining in Vendici became increasingly angry with the pontiff’s easy lifestyle and lack of sympathy for their suffering in the troubled city. When Joannes died of food poisoning, two successors were appointed – Bonifacius II in Terrentizio, and Ursicinus I in Vendici. Neither side was truly committed to reconciliation, throwing themselves into the politics of the Wars of Succession in an attempt to eradicate their competitor. Before long there were two competing church organisations, and cardinals, bishops, and even priests were forced to declare for one side or the other.
Just when it seemed that the Vendician Church was finally gaining the upper hand in the schism, disaster struck. Father Pietro, an elven priest who declared his allegiance to the Padulanian church – now called the Red Church for the colours of its Papal Guard – was mobbed and stoned to death by black-robed adherents of the Vendician Pope on the steps of his small church in Redrun. The reaction of the many elven clergy in both churches, long denied advancement to Bishop, was swift. Dressing in white to symbolise the ‘purity’ of the departed martyr, the supporters of greater racial integration rejected authority of the Vendician ‘Black’ Pope and declared themselves the true inheritors of the Holy Saint Peter, and raised the (human) Callixtus III as the White Pope.
In the eighty years or so since then, the three churches have only continued to pull further apart from one another. Geographically, none can claim dominance of Vendici, let alone the Lowlands as a whole, and the Black and White churches both abandoned the city following a series of assassinations in the Holy See itself. As time passed, differences in both liturgy and theology emerged, and all three churches declared their competitors antipapa and excommunicated their followers.
Today, the three Churches play the danza palazzo as adroitly as any guild or noble house, seeking both favour from and advantage over other players. Most Vendicians give little thought to which Church they – or anyone else – belong to unless it directly impinges on their lives. (Although stranger religious practices and beliefs definitely draw attention – sometimes good, sometimes bad.) Many people attend mass once or twice a week mostly to meet their neighbours, and the politics of Church membership are of little interest to someone just trying to earn a living.