Jannits Velure, priest of the Hope’s End Consolidated Church, can’t visit Saint Welgather’s Circle without bursting out in floods of tears. She’s fine if she walks around the outside of the space, circumnavigating the tall central statue of her most beloved saint, but if she looks up, even for a moment, she’ll be almost incapacitated by the heart-wrenching sobs that appear as if from nowhere. Most of the time she just avoids the place altogether.
In fairness to Velure, the statue very acutely conveys the feeling of grief to the viewer. Saint Welgather is kneeling, or rather sitting on his legs which are tucked beneath him in a formation similar to kneeling. His back is slumped, shoulders limp with despair. His right hand weakly gestures towards the heavens, the other touches his face, which seems to hang from its bones, lips slightly parted, the most woeful expression possible cast upon it. At some point someone rigged up a pump inside the marble, so that the saint’s likeness would actually cry, as the holy personage himself frequently did, and now there are stains where the water runs, cascading over his naked torso and scanty loincloth.
Saint Welgather, born Estus Caregiver, was a loveable rogue, a thief and a swindler, when he was young. He roamed the streets as a child, making his way in the world through guile and a grey moral code, in the absence of any parental control. Estus’ mother died when he was born and his father left him on someone’s doorstep the next day. As a beggar, Estus did well, being able to summon tears at the drop of a hat, a skill which, along with his other dramatic capabilities, secured Caregiver a life off the streets in the theatre.
Caregiver was a famous actor in his time, playing the lead role in many Heinbrow plays. As an adult his attractive physique earned him many admirers, and the man was known for his licentious behaviour and wild party manner. It was whilst performing Einar and Glicelli that Caregiver converted to the Chastise Church, in a moment of spontaneous Attunement. Caregiver’s character, Einar, has a rare moment of self-reflection, and begins to cry when he considers what his actions have wrought. ‘Whatte ys thys warter thatte dus obskure myn eyes?’ he asks, ‘whatte mystcheevyous ymp holdes the nyfe thatte cuts intwo myn harte so softlye?’ Going somewhat off script, caregiver began crying for a good fifteen minutes. According to the Church, the audience were strangely enraptured.
It is this moment that is represented in the large statue in the circle that hangs on Saint Welgather’s road, like a pearl on a string. It was at this moment that Caregiver made his first steps to becoming a saint. The tears were, for the first time since he was a baby, genuine, not feigned for money and prestige, and suddenly everything seemed very clear for the saint, who had that morning passed a street preacher. Everything clicked into place, and he kept crying.
Today, the birthday of Saint Welgather, is the only day in the year when Velure doesn’t look quite so silly, bursting into tears at the mere sight of a statue. This is because there is strength in numbers, and for reasons divine (as the Church would have it) or sociological (as many scientists have attempted to explain the reaction that most people have to the statue today), there will be hundreds of people, of faith or otherwise, unable to control themselves in the presence of this representation of the saint. As soon as they enter the circle, most people will begin crying, apparently feeling a keening sense of loss, yet of what they do not know. They slump over each other in despair, they cover their faces to hide the torrents of tears. A few reactions like this happen before midday, but as the clocks all strike the group arrives, fresh from the service at Velure’s church, and from that point on the circle will be filled with wailing until the sun sets.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Stony Resistance
- The Passing of the Carrier Dove Festival