On this day in 1967 a group of construction workers under the direction of religious scholar Esteine Suquine made one of the most controversial discoveries in the field of religious history; a cache of satirical, pseudo-religious texts hidden away in the wall of a former Chastise Church seminary, known as The Vault. The texts, denounced as a hoax by the Church itself, are comprised of thousands of pages that are still being carefully studied to this day by a wide range of scholars. Today, as with every anniversary of the discovery that has passed since, Suquine will host a large party in the ex-seminary where popular bawdy extracts from the works, which are mostly poetical in nature, will be read out as the night’s entertainment.
Whilst the exact identities of the author or authors is not yet known, the authorial voices of many poems identify themselves as ‘Torollers,’ an obscure sect of the Chastise Church who are only once mentioned outside of the cache (or Toroller Trove, as it is often called), in a Church court document from 1213 which briefly describes the group as ‘heretical’ and sentences all known members to expulsion from the church. The names mentioned in this document, Wither Rieg, Mayser Yelt and Termain Vernais are likely to have authored at least one of the Trove texts, though there is no actual proof of this assertion.
It would seem that either the Church authorities were either unaware of the true extent of the Toroller’s alleged ‘heresy’, or that the Torollers were exceptionally quick in hiding the evidence of their alleged misdeeds in the walls of their seminary. It seems likely that the Torollers were students at that seminary, who had been distributing the literature between themselves either in concord with or unknown to their teachers. This is suggested by much of the content of the poems, which appear to be written from the point of view of students.
It is easy to see why the poems themselves might be considered heretical; the content of the poems is exceedingly bawdy, depicting priests and other members of the clergy engaging in licentious behaviour, but getting away with it because of their position within the Church. If one were to treat the poems as a truthful historical document, the Chastise Church would go down as one of the most sexually promiscuous, drunken, irreverent religious organisations to have existed in Buentoille (with perhaps the exception of the Faucaust Sect). It is perhaps for this reason that the audience at the ex-seminary today listens to the poems with such glee and exclamation.
The depictions of clergy in this unflattering manner does not necessarily constitute a prudish denunciation of their behaviour from the authors; in many poems students boast of their sexual or bibulous exploits, but merely complain of the corresponding punishment they receive when their superiors were undoubtedly engaging in the same sinful indulgences. In one famous example of such a poem is the Dictatum Lustoria, a satirical piece that describes in great detail the rituals and rites of a fictional clerical order that saw carnal desire and pleasure as holy and spiritual matters as sinful, the precise reverse of the Chastise Church’s dogma.
Suquine was tipped off to the existence of the texts by an obscure religious poem, Thy Wayte of Nowledgge, written by another anonymous religious dissenter, which featured a seminary (the description of which matched the Vault) where the roof was ‘helde uppe bye truthe and nowledgge.’ After years of neglect, the seminary was being handed over to the City’s control, and the Church had no legal right to seize hold of the Trove when Suquine tracked it down.
After many years of study, last year Suquine finally released a paper on the Trove which summarises their preliminary observations, such is the quantity of writings. In this paper she states that the real reason that the Torollers seem to have been so efficiently suppressed is not because of their willingness to write (and presumably talk) openly of the hypocritically sinful behaviour throughout the Church’s hierarchy, but because they dared to question the hierarchy itself. She identifies several poems which espouse more egalitarian forms of religious organisation, eschewing the didactic structure of the Church and prizing a more personal form of religious discovery and study.
Other commentators have suggested that this too may be at the heart of the Church’s official line that the Trove is a hoax; the Church has, since the Revolution, been frequently criticised for its hierarchical structure, and has had it power over believers severely curtailed. The Chastise Church has never truly recovered from the suspicion laid upon it for its collaboration with the Traitor King during the dark days of that tyrant’s absolute monarchy, and presumably wishes to avoid any further scrutiny in that regard.
The sheer amount of writings within the Trove has meant that new poems are recited each year, although some old favourites are inevitably brought out towards the end of the night when the audience is warmed up and drunk enough to join in. One of these favoured poems is called Thy Priest and thy Miller’s Wyfe, a tale which includes a great deal of scatological humour, but primarily focuses on the cuckolding of a miller by a priest who, in collaboration with the titular wife, convinces him that it is his religious duty to allow the clergyman to sleep in their bed. In the last section of the poem the miller’s wife goes to great pains to explain away the saucy noises her husband hears as he lies beside them as evidence of ecstatic religious Attunement, rather than their more obvious and base origin. Each verse of the poem is greeted with rapturous laughter from the audience, who are like to join in with some more memorable excuses.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Sommelier’s Descent – A Festival of Dire Warnings
- The Festival of Fantastic Moisturisation
- The Festival of Reed Playing