Maragana Girl P.S. 03


Historical and doctrinal developments of the Danubian Church

The Danubians were Pagan until about 850 AD. The native religion envisioned a Creator and ancestral spirits, so the conversion to Roman Catholicism with a Deity and Saints was relatively easy. However, that easy conversion, along with the country's isolation, allowed the Danubians to develop their own interpretation of Christianity, one heavily influenced by ancestor worship. Danubia's conversion to Christianity was not as complete as in other countries, which allowed the Priests to develop their own interpretation of the Afterlife and definition of sin and morality.

In spite of the heretical nature of Danubian Christianity, the only major threat to the Danubian Church came in 1504 and 1516, when the Holy Roman Empire attempted to invade the country and impose the Inquisition. The two Holy Roman attacks were among six invasions successfully repelled by King Vladik the Defender during the early 1500s. As a result the Counter-Reformation never was imposed in Upper Danubia and the country's church continued to develop separately from churches in surrounding countries.

When Danubians officially converted to Christianity, the Pagan concept of the Realm of the Creator merged with the Christian concept of Heaven. The idea of passing through Purgatory to enter Heaven also became accepted among Danubians and remained part of the faith until the early 20th Century.

However, there was no equivalent in Pagan Danubian philosophy for Hell. While it was easy enough to recast the Destroyer as Satan, the Danubians could not accept the idea that Satan had any presence in the Spiritual World or any control over souls once they were separated from their physical bodies. The concept of being "separated from God" makes no sense to a Danubian. Upon physical death all souls return to face the Creator and dwell in the Realm of Absolute Truth, so how could there be any partitioning of souls into a separate Heaven and Hell?

The mixed reception to core Christian beliefs also applied to the Danubian acceptance of Saints, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. The Danubians accepted the Saints with no problem, because the role of Saints closely matched that of the Spirits of the Dead. The role of Jesus presented more of a problem. The Danubian Pagan religion did not have any concept of Original Sin, and thus the ideas of "Salvation from Sin" and a "Savior" did not fit. Also Danubian theology rejected the idea of "the Son of God", because...why would the Creator have a son? How was it possible that the Creator could be reduced to a mortal human body and be seen and executed by other humans?

In spite of 500 years of frustrated efforts by visiting bishops to make them understand the difference between Jesus Christ and the Saints, the Danubians stubbornly insisted on treating Jesus as little more than any other Saint. The only exception to the limited role of Jesus was Easter, where the commemoration of death and suffering appealed to the Danubian mindset. The Danubian Clergy incorporated the Day of the Dead practices into Good Friday, so during the Middle Ages there was a second annual Day of the Dead ceremony during the spring that corresponded with Easter.

Yet another source of frustration for visiting bishops was the fact the Temple of the Ancients remained intact and continued to be actively used by Danubian Priests, although it had been renamed "The Dwelling of the Saints." In 1250 AD the Danubians reluctantly agreed to build a large Cathedral in Danube City to replace the Temple. The Cathedral was completed in 1337, but the planned demolition of the Temple never took place. Instead the two buildings took on separate roles in the Danubian religion. The Cathedral was used for formal religious services, while the Temple continued to be used by ordinary worshippers praying to individual Saints.

There was a brief period in history during which Danubian Christianity began evolving to more closely resemble mainstream Christianity that existed throughout the rest of Europe at the time. During the 15th Century the religious transformation was particularly evident in the southern provinces of Lower Danubia, which had greater contact with the outside world than Danube City and the Rika Chorna Valley. The Pagan influence of Danube City was waning in the south, especially after the Bishop of Danubia moved from Danubikt Mostk to Sumy Ris in 1460. The main Seminary moved to Sumy Ris in 1471. Ultimately the southern bishops and the nobles hoped to make Sumy Ris the new religious and political capitol of the Danubian Kingdom, replace the Royal Family residing in Danubikt Mostk, and take over the entire country.

In 1496 the Bishop of Sumy Ris ordered the arrest of four Priests that had traveled from Danube City, tried them for heresy, and ordered them burned at the stake. Although the four Priests were the only people ever executed in the Danubian Kingdom for heresy, Danubian historians believe that was likely that the Bishop was planning more such trials and executions to consolidate his power. Letters written by several Priests from Sumy Ris and preserved in the National Archives indicated that the Bishop intended to completely replace the priesthood of Danube City, once enough new priests were trained in the recently founded Sumy Ris Seminary.

The Ottoman invasion of 1502 abruptly halted the transformation of the Danubian Church and the growing importance of Sumy Ris. The section of the Danubian Kingdom that was most influenced by the outside world also was the part that was overrun by Ottoman troops and had to be evacuated by the Crown. Because the invasion threatened to destroy his power, the Bishop of Sumy Ris vehemently objected to the King's plan to abandon the southern provinces. Ignoring the Bishop and the southern region's most important nobles, King Vladik proceeded with the evacuation, skirmishing with Turkish scouts and escorting long columns of panic-stricken peasants towards escape routes through the densely forested mountains. When the King disregarded the Bishop's demand to halt the evacuation and confront the main Ottoman army, the Bishop excommunicated him and everyone else fleeing northward.

By the time King Vladik was excommunicated, Ottoman troops already had captured most of Lower Danubia and were rapidly closing in on Sumy Ris, which was the only southern city still under Danubian control. The King ordered the city to evacuate, but the Bishop and his supporters refused. King Vladik did not push the issue. If the Bishop and his followers wanted to commit suicide by trying to resist the Turks in an indefensible location, so be it. King Vladik pulled his own troops out of the city, departing with several hundred local women, children, and collared criminals. Those departing knew that everyone remaining in Sumy Ris would be dead within a few days. When the Ottomans took the city, they burned the Seminary, massacred everyone inside, and hung the Bishop and several nobles over the city gate. By pure good fortune the city's historical church survived intact.

The excommunication of the King and the death of the Bishop of Sumy Ris abruptly cut the ties between the Danubian Church and the outside world. The priests that had been training to take over the Cathedral in Danube City died along with everyone else remaining in the southern capitol, and with them died the prospect that mainstream Christianity would be imposed in the northern part of the Danubian Kingdom. Not one member of Lower Danubia's new religious hierarchy survived to challenge the more traditional Priests still working in Danube City. After the invasions of the early 1500's ended, the Danubians, safely hidden behind their protective curtain of forests and mountains, would develop a religion in isolation that better suited their circumstances.

Over the next five centuries the nation slowly reverted to its pre-Christian faith. Along with the slow abandonment of Christian theology and practices, the Clergy also abandoned items of worship used during the Middle Ages. The process was gradual and took place over several centuries. As the collection of statues of Saints in the Temple deteriorated they were not replaced, over time crucifixes became little more than objects of curiosity, and in 1638 the Clergy sold off the Cathedral's gold to buy a printing press and two looms. Between 1780 and 1942 the doctrine of the Danubian Church changed very little, but during that time the Clergy opened numerous schools to raise the literacy rate and religious composers produced most of the nation's best-known classical and hymnal music.

By 1970, young Priests wanted the Danubian Church to return to its ancient roots and lead a national revival of Danubian society. The Church needed to draw upon the rich past of the Danubian Kingdom to understand what the Creator wanted for the country's future. In 1974 the Danubian Church's new Supreme Council issued a major revision of the religion's official doctrine, which included, among many other things, restoring the Temple of the Ancients as the country's most important religious center and reviving the Pagan Festival of the Summer Solstice as an important religious holiday. The changes excited many young Danubians because the Church became much more nationalistic and more rooted in Danubian, as opposed to Christian traditions.

By end of the 20th Century Upper Danubia was less Christian than at any time since 850 AD, but remained quite religious. When Kimberly Lee traveled to Danube City the country's priests were openly embracing the nation's Pagan past and re-incorporating pre-Christian beliefs and customs into the national religion. However, in embracing older religious values Danubians became completely intolerant of any foreign religions being introduced in their territory. Shortly before Kim traveled to Upper Danubia with Tiffany and Susan, the Danubian Parliament passed legislation formally outlawing the practice of any religion not present in Upper Danubia before 1940. Essentially the law banned every religion other then the Danubian Church.

Prime Minister Vladim Dukov, as a Danubian nationalist, left the law in place during his government to "protect national institutions and values." As a result five US missionaries who ignored the law were put on trial, collared, and received 10-year sentences during the Dukov Administration. Two of the missionaries were included among Spokeswoman Lee-Dolkivna's clients, while the other three were assigned to her colleague Tatiana and restricted to the Rika Chorna collar-zone.

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