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The Holy Flame
|Saint Alydian, the Prophet of Truth|
|Regions with significant populations|
(Fides · Breve · Suerit · Emendo)
Dico · Preces · Annotatio
|Asur, Aquidish, East Crylantian, Midrasian, Newreyan, Veleazan, Volgarian Almannic, Valtyan|
Alydianism is a monotheistic religion, philosophy, tradition and way of life dominant among the nations of central Asura. The faith is based on the teachings of Saint Alydian, the Prophet of Truth and his followers, though with its origins in classical Fiorentine religion. The faith came to prominence during the Third Century BCE throughout the Fiorentine Empire. Although originally persecuted, it came to be adopted as the official faith of the Fiorentine Empire following the conversion of Emperor Minucius. A number of canonical texts make up Alydian beliefs and worship along with supplemental oral traditions; the most important being the Caudex which is the central reference of Alydianism. The Caudex is supported by a number of other written sources, not all of which are regarded as canonical by the Orthodox Church. The Emendo, otherwise known as the book of Amendment or Reform, is particularly disparaged by the Orthodox and Testimonial churches, though remains central to Puritan Alydianism. With around 500 million followers worldwide, Alydianism is one of the largest religions in Aeia.
Alydianism grew out of the original Fiorentine pantheon of gods which dominated much of ancient Asuran history. Many aspects of the Fiorentine pantheon were interwoven into the Caudex, which is believed to have been compiled at some point in the Third Century BCE. Initially a heretical faith, Alydians were persecuted by Fiorentine authorities, though the faith remained tolerated more than other foreign religions due to its rooting in the Fiorentine customs and worship. Despite attempts to stamp out the faith, Alydianism quickly spread throughout the core provinces of the Empire, leading to the official conversion of the Emperor in the First Century CE. Following the collapse of the empire, Alydianism managed to retain its position in central Asura, in spite of significant threats from overseas. During the Sixteenth Century, Alydianism spread across much of the globe through the Asuran discoveries and missionary activities, though it remained in contention with faiths such as Ksaiism in territories outside of Asura.
Today the Alydian faith is split between several branches. The Orthodox faith, centred around the Pontiff of Laterna is the oldest branch still in existence and boasts the largest number of followers. The second largest branch of Alydianism is the Puritan church which established itself in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. The faith boasts no official religious head and holds a number of theological disagreements with the other branches of the faith. The Puritan church is primarily based in Veleaz, Elhazia and Vestrim. The Testimonial church is centred on the Pontiff of Krada in Miersa. The Testimonial church remains theologically similar to the Orthodox branch, though it holds the belief that the Pontificate of Laterna is held by an illegitimate candidate. Many theologians have come to describe the Testimonial Church as Miersan 'National Alydianism'. A number of other smaller branches of the faith exist, though with far lower numbers than the main three branches. Most of those who follow these minority branches reside either in Vestrim or Rennekka.
Saint Alydian is regarded as the official founder of Alydianism. His writings, along with those of his followers, constructed at some point within the Third Century BCE form the basis of the Caudex, the primary canonical text of the Alydian faith, from which the philosophy and creed of Alydianism are derived. The first section of the Caudex to be completed was the Fides, or 'the belief'. The Fide was believed to be directly written by Alydian and his contemporaries and details the core nature of Alydian worship and belief. Included within are the nature of the world, its creation under god and gods interactions with the humanity. Historians also suggest that elements of the section book of the Caudex, the Breve were initially already included within the Fides, though were moved to a separate text by Alydian's successors. Throughout his lifetime, Alydian was alleged to have roamed the provinces of the Fiorentine Empire, spreading his gospel to any who would listen. Within his travels, he gained a core group of seven followers: Aelia, Amatia, Canus, Decius, Faustus, Lar, and Vel. With this group, Alydian set off on a treck across the empire, dictating his visions to his followers who compiled his writings. During his time, Alydian secured a sizeable following within the empire, attracting the attention of the Fiorentine authorities. After a number of warnings from provincial governors, Alydian was eventually captured by Fiorentine authorities in the province of Cebrigasia and was believed to have been badly beaten, resulting in a riot in response. Following this incident, Alydian continued his journey, though soon fell ill and died. He was cremated by his followers who pledged to continue spreading God's word as per his instructions.
Several years later, it is believed that the second book of the Caudex, the Breve, or 'the writ' was written. The second book details the philosophy of Alydianism as the way of life a pious Alydian must follow in order to achieve peace on Aeia and in heaven. The Breve itself is derived from the commandments of god outlined within the Fides, acting as an extrapolation of God's word and what exactly it means to live by his creed. These teachings are similar in nature to the Eight Divine tenents of Ksaiism and are believed by many historians to be the inspiration for such later teachings. The Breve was quickly added to the Caudex soon after its completion and remains an integral part of Alydian theology and philosophy in all branches of the faith.
The final section of the Caudex, the Suerit, or 'the guardians', sometimes referred to as the Hagiographa, is a series of writings from many Alydian philosophers, theologians and preachers over many generations. The Suerit has seen multiple revisions and additions over the years, with its first publication believed to date back to the First Century BCE. The Suerit is generally composed of canonical commentaries on the Caudex, detailing the implementation of its teachings and the ordained role of the established church in maintaining the purity of the faith.
Throughout the First Century BCE, the number of those who followed the worship of the Alydian god and the teachings of the Caudex increased dramatically, soon becoming the most dominant religion within the Fiorentine Empire. The growing influence of the church had even infiltrated the Fiorentine court, where a significant section of the imperial household held adherence to Alydian teachings. This influence within the church angered many prominent Fiorentine pagans within the household and the Laterna Senate. The accession of Emperor Marcius, who was believed to be under Alydian influence, though not a self-proclaimed Alydian, was the final straw for the traditionalist faction, who overthrew the emperor, proclaiming Claudius II to be the true ruler. What resulted was a bitter civil war, which was won by Claudius' uncle, Minucius who officially converted to Alydianism on his deathbed. The conversion of the Emperor saw Fiorentina officially transition from its pagan pantheon to accepting Alydian monotheism. Nevertheless, Fiorentine influences remained heavy within the church, especially in the shaping of the Eight Manifestations.
Over time, Alydianism came to dominate much of central Asura, though undergoing a decline in the immediate aftermath of the empire's collapse, Alydianism remained strong within its core territories. The crusades of the High-Middle Ages also allowed the faith to expand significantly, retaking territories in northern Arabekh and pushing into areas such as Vaellenia and Alemmania. Additionally, Asuran discoveries overseas led to the spreading of the faith into continents such as Vestrim, Rennekka and Catai.
Nevertheless, divisions within the church began to show following the conclusion of the crusading era. Criticisms' of the Orthodox churches' temporal actions as well as new interpretations of scripture brought about by the Asuran discoveries led a number of new reformers to officially break with the established church. Figures such as Marco Santángel and Turbert Woodbrygge came to denounce the church, offering new interpretations of scripture which directly contradicted orthodox tenants such as the Eight Manifestations. In an ecclesiastical council at Tolvas in the 1470s, a group of reformers officially compiled the Emendo, an addition to the Caudex which attempted to clarify church doctrine, which was sent to Laterna for review by church officials. Although initially compiled to facilitate debate of church failings and potential mistranslations within the Caudex, the book was immediately cast aside by the Orthodox church and placed on a register of forbidden texts. In response, the Tolvas council adopted the Emendo as ecclesiastical canon, leading to the widespread excommunication of its attendees. In the following years' the number of those following the teachings of the Emendo grew. These people tended to take issue with Pontiff Alexander V and the College of Bishop's leadership. Their decision not to embrace the Emendo, or at least consider surface level church reform was the last straw for many of these disaffected Alydians, who now called themselves Puritans because they believed that their practice was the most pure form of Alydianism. Further Puritan theologians built upon the Emendo introducing reforms to do away with the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church which they saw as corrupt and unable to properly lead the faithful. Puritan groups were significantly persecuted in many of the central and western kingdoms causing them to flee east to places like Veleaz where they were for the most part ignored by the political authorities.
Though eventually considerable reform was implemented within the Orthodox church, the two branches of the faith remained distant, unable to rectify their differences both in temporal and spiritual matters.
Alydian theology revolves around the human pursuit of peace, both on Aeia and in Elysium (otherwise known as heaven), a position which is regarded by Alydian theologians as spiritual enlightenment. Only through the achievement of enlightenment on earth may one be able to access the heavens. Those who are unable to achieve peace and enlightenment on Aeia are doomed to wander the skies eternally in search of Elysium. Humans may achieve enlightenment through following the teachings of God and Saint Alydian as outlined within the Caudex.
The nature of achieving peace and enlightenment involves spiritual prayer, contemplation of ones place within the universe, the upholding of God's word and his commandments, as well as abiding by the theological and philosophical conditions outlined within the Caudex and Adjutus'. The primary teaching of Alydian philosophy is for one to accept the moment as it presents itself, preventing one from becoming overwhelmed by their desire for pleasure, or their fear of pain. Additionally, pious Alydians are expected to utilise their own rationality and mind to understand the material and spiritual world, allowing them to do their part in God's plan and contribute to society as a whole by working with others and treating them justly.
Alydianism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions and thus achieving salvation. Alydian philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason and God's plan for humanity. A primary aspect of Alydianism involves improving the individual's ethical and moral well-being in accordance with the Breve: "Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature." This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal relationships; "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy," and to accept even slaves as "equals of other men, because all men alike are products of God"
God and the Eight Manifestations
Alydian belief is centred around the one omniscient and omnipotent God, described in the Caudex as the 'Mother of Creation and the Father of the Universe'. This contradiction in the gender of the Alydian god has led scholars to interpret that Gods divine nature transcends human gender. Nevertheless, most references to the Alydian god utilise the male pronoun. As a result, depictions of the Alydian god are rare and usually outright forbidden within the official church. Usually, the symbol of the holy flame is used to depict the Alydian god. This figure is said to govern the laws and balances of the universe, however, plays no direct interfering role in the lives of those within the universe. As a result, all human contact with humanity is conducted through the Eight Manifestations of God who are directly responsible for the spreading of his word and the interactions of Elysium with Aeia
Interpretations as to what exactly is meant by the Eight Manifestations differ across the Alydian church. Little reference is given to their nature within the Caudex, with most descriptions of their nature being limited to the ecclesiastical canon within the Adjutus. The Orthodox and Testimonial churches take the Eight Manifestations to refer to a series of eight consubstantial deities, or Hypostases which are each part of the one God. These beings each represent an aspect of the Alydian God and are responsible for spreading his word, thus allowing humans to better connect with God's word.
These deities are:
- Arator - who represents: harvest, labour & fortitude, and is symbolised by wheat.
- Astraeus - representing: wisdom, knowledge & logic, and is symbolised by the book.
- Eudocia - representing: law, order & justice, and is symbolised by the scales of justice.
- Horus - representing: life, death, space & time, and is symbolised by the sand timer.
- Muse - representing: art, music, oratory & writing, and is symbolised by the harp.
- Praeses - representing: war, peace & governance, and is symbolised by the sword and shield.
- Soteria - representing: beauty, fertility, motherhood, love & mercy, and is symbolised by a dove.
- Tellus - representing: climate, nature & the elements, and is symbolised by a tree.
Many of these deities bare resemblance to those within the classical Fiorentine pantheon, from which their influence was drawn. The Annotatio explains that this is due to the religious quagmire of the ancient era in which God's servants and his words existed within the world, though were fragmented and surrounded by imposters and false icons who were incorrectly worshipped. The Eight Manifestations themselves are usually prayed to individually to give pious Alydian's strength in their endeavours. For example, farmers would regularly keep shrines to Arator in hope for a good harvest, whilst mothers would keep necklaces of Soteria to aid in the raising of a child. Additionally, Orthodox Alydians would associate themselves with a specific diety based upon their date of birth. These dates correspond with the star signs of the zodiac and within Asuran astrology are believed to give those under a specific diety certain protections.
Within the Puritan church, however, the Eight Manifestations directly refer to the original eight preachers of the world of God: Saint Alydian, Aelia, Amatia, Canus, Decius, Faustus, Lar, and Vel. As a result, Puritan Alydianism viewes the original preachers as divine agents, rather than human agents of God. Through this theology, the Orthodox consubstantial deities are believed to be idolatry, detracting from the word of the one true God. As a result, the Puritan church can be seen to believe in a Deus otiosus, wherein the Alydian God created the universe, though withdrew following his interactions with Saint Alydian, thus demanding that humanity find salvation without his direct intervention.
The biggest symbol of Alydianism is the Holy Flame. Fire plays a major role in various rites and activities of the church. Fire represents the balance of the universe in that it can cause great harm to civilization, while at the same time is necessary for the very idea of civilization. Fire also represents the burning bush that St. Alydian saw his visions for humanity in.
The Orthodox Church is head by the Pontiff of Laterna in the Pontifical Domain. The Pontiff is assisted by the College of Bishops which is made up of the various archbishops and bishops that are leading dioceses around Aeia. The Pontiff appoints Archbishops and Bishops for the various dioceses when a vacancy comes up and the College of Bishops gathers to elect a new Pontiff when the former one has passed on.
The Orthodox Church is very hierarchical with many levels in the priesthood. In each country there is a Primate that acts as the first among equals of the archbishops of the Orthodox Church in that nation, usually the primate is the archbishop of the largest city that isn't the capital of the nation, for example in Aquidneck the Archbishop of Pale is the primate. Under the primate are the other archbishops in the nation, archbishops are the leaders of the archdioceses in the country. Under the archbishops are the bishops that oversee smaller parts of the archdioceses, called dioceses. Under the bishops are the individual churches lead by ordained priests that preach to the community that the church is in.
The Orthodox Church is most prominent in Asura and in northern Arabekh in places like Torroso and Aramas.
The smallest branch, the Puritan branch has no official head of the church and developed after schisms in the 15th century. This denomination is mostly practised among religious communities within Veleaz and Elhazia. Human rights organizations say that the Puritan branch of the faith is slowly dwindling in number due to the harsh rule of the communist regime in Veleaz which actively attempts to stamp out religious practice by its people however, since Veleaz is isolationist it is hard to know for sure.
The Puritans do not have a hierarchy like that of the Renvelic or Orthodox churches. Most Puritan churches have a Reverend who preaches to their congregation and may be loosely affiliated with other nearby reverends and congregations. Puritans do not believe that the third holy book used by the Renvelic and Orthodox churchs, the Liberalia, is a legitimate book of the faith. Puritan congregations vary when it comes to their worship, it largely comes down to individual reverends to decide how to administer to their congregation.
The Renvelic Church is the result of Alydianism missionaries mixing the faith with some of the traditions and customs of the native Rennekka faiths. Mostly found in northern Rennekka in the nations of Volgaria and Tyronova, the faith is led by the High Archbishop of Constantia. Unlike in the other parts of Rennekka, the people in the northern part of the continent, in what is now Volgaria and Tyronova, were receptive to the missionaries and adapted the faith to their already existing customs. One of the biggest customs folded in to the Renvelic denomination was the idea that only men could be priests a notable difference from the Asuran based Orthodox Church.
The Renvelic Church is the most conservative denominations of Alydianism due to the mixing of traditional Rennekka values into the faith. The Kovaknia Empire and the Renvelic Church had an antagonistic relationship with each other and despite the best efforts of the Empire the church was too large and too firmly rooted into the culture that it could not be fully repressed. After several attempts by different empires to suppress the church, the Emperor and the High Archbishop came to an tacit agreement to stay out of each others way.
Upon the fall of the Empire, the church rose and continued to grow in both Tyronova and Volgaria. Today the Kingdom of Volgaria is the only nation in Aeia that has a majority of its population claiming to be Renvelic Alydians at 51% or around 51 million Volgarians.
The culture of those who practice Alydianism varies widely based on the denomination and location but, there are some notable teachings of the faith that influences the Alydians throughout the world. Charity plays a big part in the faith and many community churches and dioceses have charitable organizations and events that members can volunteer at and donate too.