Credit to Kathricore
- Theodore; 03:13:01
Virtulima, is the religion of the Biggonian Empire, and one part of the Abrahamic group, and therefore descended from New Tussia. It is the monotheistic veneration and worship of one God, which goes by many names. Most call him the Lord, and is supposed to be an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God who will guide the worthy into the afterlife.
While many will think this is the same as Pontifical, there are several major differences. Biggonians believe they were originally a group of Osraelians, who, after receiving a vision from the Lord himself, needed to leave to seek out a promised land. They supposedly found this in the form of Biggonia, where they settled down to avoid the anger of the Osraelian majority. Here they intend to spread the word of God to all, and hopefully also bring them salvation.
The journey to Biggonia, also called the 5 trials, was the tests sent to them to see if they were worthy. While they occasionally wavered, in the end they reached Biggonia and all was fine and dandy. This was, until, their civilization came into contact with the Domlandians, a violent and paganist people. And so they engaged in brutal war, for several years, until, at the bloody culmination of the conflict, the avatar of God himself, also referred to as the lone hero, came down and saved the Biggonians. This was a miracle and after impregnating the King's daughter, he left.
This legend has carried through for many generations, and since then the worship of Virtulima has rarely wavered. In the 2020 census, 89% of people said they follow the Virtuliman religion in some form. Their head, the Archlegate, still holds significant power despite the official separation of the church and state in 1911. He is currently known as Theodore XXI, and was elected 7 years ago.
The Virtuliman church is a hierarchal organization, with the Archlegate residing in the capital of Ivasburg, and the rest living around portions of Biggonia. As stated earlier, the leader of the Biggonian church is the Archlegate, who is elected by the Archbishops, who are less commonly known as Legates, upon the previous Archlegate's death. Archbishops will each lead one of the 23 Metropoli, which Biggonia is seperated out into. These Archbishops will then delegate cathedrals and churches to the bishops. In this sense the Virtuliman church is similar to a feudal system.
Sadly, the hierarchical organization of the Virtuliman church leads to huge amounts of corruption. The previous Archlegate, Theodore XXI, is rumoured to have assassinated the Archlegate before him, as well as taking multiple mistresses during his time as Archlegate. One of his final displays of power was the excommunication of King Charles I of Kathricore. It is very common for members of the church to request or carry out excommunications in their own interest, and several times proposals have come up, proposing that excommunications be voted on by the Archbishops. However, none of these have passed. Thankfully, after his death on 11th August 2021, the current Archlegate Piety VII has promised to stay out of politics, only affirming the mandates to rule.
The Biggonian church is assisted by the Order of St Mezhmet, a holy order of knights who can claim their organization's descent from the warrior St Mezhmet himself, who led crusades against Godless foes thousands of years ago. They currently number ~50,000 men and are fanatical and loyal fighters. In order to join the Order, one of the requirements is to be able to prove yourself as at least 50% Ancient Biggonian. Some think this dates back to St Mezhmet's hatred of "barbarians", though we are of course unsure if these barbarians were Domlandians, modern Biggonians or some other forgotten tribe. They are essentially a paramilitary organization for the church, providing their muscle. They guard key holy sites, churches and of course the bishops themselves; their symbol is a lidless eye, to symbolize their vigil over the Lord's servants never ceases.
"The Lord's Messengers come to St John", painted 1753
The Lord, The Son, The Bride and The Biggonians
The Lord is the God of Biggonia and deity of Virtulima. God is mostly portrayed as a He, though that is not fully accepted by all. God is also seen as personal rather than impersonal, for his selection of the Biggonians for their divine task. While in the scripture, God is described as having created the world, a major belief of the modern church is the cosmological argument for God, and that he personally chose to give special care and attention to humanity. While God loves and forgives, it can sometimes take time for Him to come round, so that is also why often whenever Biggonians are suffering people go out in the streets showing their respect for the Lord so that they might be saved.
The Son, also known as the lone hero, is a recent addition to the Virtuliman pantheon, as is The Bride, with the legend being born around AD 200, and then being popularized around AD 600. During the final battle of the Biggonian-Domlandian war, he came down and saved the battle for the Biggonians, killing the leader of the Domlandian army. Through bastard sons, strategic marriages and outright lies, the line of The Son has been continued through the Tallandos family for millennia.
Saints and Devotions
St Naruz was the Biggonian hero who led the Biggonians out of Osraelia and into Biggonia. He was the one selected by God in the dream to lead them on the ships. His faith never wavered through all their years of trial and torment, however when he caught sight of Biggonia, the land he had been working towards for his entire life, St Naruz breathed his last as he had accomplished the holy mission. St Naruz is seen as an ideal saint for all Biggonians to look up to.
St Mezhmet is the patron saint of warriors. Interestingly, there is no definitive proof for who St Mezhmet actually was. Some believe it was the original name for The Son before the idea was popularised, while others say it was a brave warrior who alone defended the Temple of the Lord in the 376 sack of Qalea. Either wag, he is meant to be a pious soldier who evokes military virtues.
The Order of St Mezhmet was named after him, and founded at an unknown date around AD 1000. Many of their records have sadly been lost over the years, so we have no accurate way of telling who St Mezhmet was.
St John is the patron saint of scholars and scripture. St John was the one who held a council in AD 800 to decide what would be the official canon of Virtulima, as the modern Biggonian immigrants had severely changed many of the stories. He was already a scholar beforehand and had written many academic papers. At the end of the council, when he had at last finished through new book titled "Word of the Lord" he was carried away by angels to heaven.
Ayatollahs are similar to Saints, except they are those who have performed exemplary service to the Biggonian Empire. The title was created in 1903, as a way to encourage Biggonians to do more for the Confederation and the subsequent Empire, and are anointed by the church, at the recommendation of the state. This is because the Virtulima faith and the concept of Biggonia are intrinsically linked. Unlike Saints, however, they can be created in life. There are currently 9 Ayatollahs.
Ayatollah Tobias Qaedi became an Ayatollah in 1932, after being widely credited with pushing Hansan forces from Biggonia entirely. He launched operations Victory, Victory through God, and Victory at any Cost, slowly whittling down enemy forces until crushing them decisively in operation Final Victory. He would receive the award for "Saving the Divine-Sent nation of Biggonia from foreign aggression."
Ayatollah (and Emperor) Josef II is the greatest Emperor in the history of the Second Empire. More can be read about him on his factbook. He became an Ayatollah in 1994 for "Helping to bring Biggonia into a new golden age of faith and prosperity, following the chaos of the previous decades."