The Matropater Faithful

By Maya Cogman


They've recorded that Uriel was Christian.

They never said that he was Catholic.

And they never said that all his followers were Catholic, either.

Laurence doesn't talk about this, and Dominic can't afford to take a direct interest -- it'd attract too much attention to the problem, and technically speaking it's not really a heresy. But he's not happy, not happy at all.

Gnosticism really appealed to a lot of angels -- all right, so the humans attached a lot of ideas to the basic concept, but a number of points recommended it to many angels of Purity in particular. Supreme being who was both male and female, no problem there. Equality of the sexes, sure. Emphasis on inner spiritual life, no problem there. Meditation, vegetarianism, non-violence -- perhaps this wasn't quite to the taste of a lot of Malakim, but humans who could hold to those principles and preserve their self-chosen honor were a credit to humanity.

Some of the angels of Purity even started wearing the Matropater cross, with a crucified man on one side, and a crucified woman on the other. Discreetly. Quite discreetly.

Then Laurence took over.

"In 1209 the Pope sent an army of 30,000 into the Languedoc."

Laurence's personal devotion to Catholicism, and Dominic's viewpoint that it was Good For Humans, gave the Matropater Faithful (as they had taken to calling themselves) little room to maneuver. They weren't being promoted, unless they could demonstrate astonishing prowess and faith. They were Officially Viewed As Near Heretics, in some quarters. Their dissonance conditions of total obedience to Laurence's orders (for those of them who weren't already out in the Marches with the Tsayadim) forbade any option of disobedience.

So they went underground. The Matropater Cross was no longer worn openly (though some of them have private tattoos . . .) But the word is spreading. Angels talk to each other, and it's not as if it's against any law of Heaven . . . or even wrong . . . Laurence doesn't know how many of his angels are gnostic, and they're not going to tell him. Dominic can't make a cause celebre out of it -- it's not as if they're really committing crimes. That he knows of.

"'The companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth.' (Gospel of Philip)

Recently, a woman has been seen walking in the Marches, wearing oddly antique clothes, with flame-red hair and a prostitute's body, but with the eyes of someone who has seen the living God. She says that she has a message: the men of the propagation of falsehood must be cut down, and the righteous shall be exalted. She preaches this to all who will hear her. She does not name herself, but her truth and her personal honor shine like sunlight to all who resonate her.

She has spoken to the Tsayadim, and they have listened to her. Laurence has betrayed his heritage, they have decided. He is no longer the righteous successor to Uriel. He must be cut down, root and branch. Their long isolation has become a brooding madness, and now that they have found a Cause, they will not be denied. They have taken up the vestments of Heaven again, and sharpened their swords, and they will walk in the streets of Heaven until they come to the Cathedral of the Sword, and there they will cleanse the place of corruption, and strike down the Archangel of the Sword.

However, some of the Matropater Faithful in Heaven have got word of this. So how do they stop a truly horrendous possibility like this without (a) starting a Dominican inquisition into gnosticism in Heaven, and (b) causing a bloodbath?

Do any of your PCs have that little tattoo of a Matropater cross?

The identity of the woman with red hair is deliberately left uncertain. Is she the ghost of Mary Magdalene? Or an Ethereal, formed by belief? Is she a cunning plot of Hell's, a brainwashed angel, a demon raised in innocence for this purpose? Is she Mary the mother of Christ, who is (in some stories) also supposed to have risen after three days, and who is still believed to walk the roads and wander until her Son returns?


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