December 11th – The Festival of the Martyrdom of Saint Paricul

There were many martyrdoms in the time of Saint Paricul, most of them not religiously motivated; this was the Revolution after all. Indeed, amongst the death and chaos of the conflict, Paricul’s sacrifice seems insignificant, yet it is remembered today with much pageantry and fanfare on the part of the Chastise Church. This is partly as a way of recasting the role of the Church, which was complicit in many of the Traitor King’s crimes, and had to be significantly reformed in that period’s aftermath. Paricul, who fought on the side of the Revolution, is symbolic of this reformation, and as such is given due prominence in the Church’s calendar.

This reformation is most apparent nowadays as the restricted property rights of the Church’s Hierarchs: at one point they would have controlled large amounts of land and wealth, and would often engage in a good deal of self-enrichment with these resources. Church property is now collectively owned by all churchgoers, who make decisions regarding it on Wednesdays at the end of the services. Hierarchs are now only responsible for theological decisions, and general moral leadership, a role far more in-keeping with the image projected by Saint Paricul, who saw it as her religious duty to fight against the monarchy, which she saw as holding back human progress.

A special service will be held in the Church of the Holy Host today, at the large altar dedicated to Paricul. As it is one of the Church’s most popular ceremonies, the church will be packed to the rafters, and the service will be televised especially. The priest will focus upon the teachings of Paricul, whose beliefs were recorded in her diaries, which were then edited into religious texts by her follower and husband, Derilis Grandeur. Most likely the service will stress the need for churchgoers to help those less fortunate than themselves so that the fullness of human potential can be recognised, ‘for is this not what our ancestors meant when they forsook the Waylayer? To not be controlled by false gods or masters, but to make our own way in the world, to make heaven here on earth?’

Whilst there is certainly some embellishment in these sermons from Grandeur, Saint Paricul (born Tacit Grandeur), was certainly an arresting figure who many found easy to follow, especially during the Revolutionary war, when she headed up her own defence brigade. Apparently she used her powers of Attunement to speak directly to the souls of her followers, suddenly knowing precisely what best to say to influence them most, and she achieved this Attuned state by staring directly into the depths of their eyes. It probably helped that she was very physically attractive, her bright red hair lending her a wild, passionate appeal, kept under a black hood until she wanted to reveal it for maximum effect. ‘She always wore black,’ said her husband in 1945, ‘to symbolise her solidarity with the poor and downtrodden.’

After the service today, a procession will be led by a ginger-haired woman chosen to play the saint, her hair tied away with a tight headscarf. Behind her are the descendants of her brigade, dressed, as she is, in rugged black military-style trousers and shirts. They fly the flag of broken manacles, the traditional flag of the Chastise Church, yet modified so that a broken crown also accompanies the manacles. Behind them, the general population of churchgoers follows solemnly on the journey down the steps of Ranaclois hill to Coalhammer street, a backstreet a short distance away. There, she mounts a wooden stage which has been set up so that the revellers can see the re-enactment of Saint Paricul in the narrow space, along with her brigade.

Unlike on that fateful day in 1905, when Paricul’s brigade were dispatched to handle an insurgent monarchist group which had been committing atrocities in the area, the windows and roofs overlooking the narrow street will today be filled with Buentoillitants, religious and non-religious alike, leaning over to get a better view of the spectacle. The actors take their positions, and then from seemingly nowhere a group dressed as monarchist paramilitaries appear and start firing blank rounds at them. It is at this point, the brigade ambushed and helpless, that Paricul steps forwards and takes off her headscarf, her hair a bright beacon, drawing fire toward her. She opens out her arms to protect her soldiers, and is shot multiple times, but just as she is a strong wind blows in from behind her (in this case created artifically). The witnesses on the day spoke of great gouts of blood pouring forth from Paricul’s body, blinding the monarchists and allowing the brigade to win the battle.

Thankfully, in the re-enactment, things aren’t quite so gruesome; in fact they are quite beautiful. As each shot rings out, a bright red silk scarf is released from a point on the woman playing Paricul’s body, slipping forth in the strong wind, straight into the faces of the gunners. Each of the scarves are long, long enough that they take a few seconds to fully pull out from their concealed spots, whipping around in the wind like her hair. Eventually, she falls to the floor, the monarchists are vanquished, and everybody goes home, where most likely they eat ‘The Blood of Saint Paricul’, a hot, bright red soup full of chilis and paprika.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Western End Festival
  • The Festival of Dear Joseph