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Grand Duchy: Forested Cathedral Is the Traveler’s Sanctuary (Part 1)

Grand Duchy: Forested Cathedral Is the Traveler’s Sanctuary (Part 1)

Caspar David FriedrichThe Forested Cathedral—often called the Gem of Jerriberg—is the centerpiece of a vibrant abbey that venerates the green gods of Yarila and Porevit. Larger temples buildings exist, notably the Twinned Cathedral in Reywald. Epitomizing the heart of the faith, though, is this sprawling campus, with its vineyards, cultivated fields, meditative fountains, libraries and scriptoriums, open courtyards and causeways, ivy-covered monastic dormitories and a sanctuary nestled within the nearby Arbonesse that seamlessly blends its ancient stone with the surrounding oaks and greenery.

Abbess Corinne vann Fischton

Corinne is abbess, a silver-haired elf priestess who is widely admired. Tall and willowy, she crosses flagstone paths in long, purposeful strides, wearing a straw-colored surcoat as a vestment. Occupied with teaching or administrative duties during the day, she nearly always takes her evening meal in the great hall, freely conversing with monks and guests alike.

She is a skillful debater with an elegant, impeccable theology. Former students who are counselors and confessors to nobility write her for advice. Corinne also has sent more than one missive to her superior, Saintmistress Rowanmantle, criticizing her policies.

Corinne’s family and relations are shrouded by the mysteries of the faith’s fertility rites. It is believed she has given birth to two daughters and three sons; all adults and none of whom share her vocation. Their paternal relationships are unknown; the abbess has never had a domestic partner.

Open Doors and a Generous Bounty

The abbey is actually about ten miles from Jerriberg proper, near a small farming village it helps support. Despite the distance, many travelers consider a detour there worth the effort. The short wall that encircles the abbey is inadequate for defense. Its open gate signals to travelers they are welcome.

Hospitality is most warmly expressed during the evening meal. The board is a generous offering of bread, soups, pastas, and wine; the meal is salted with conversation and peppered with musical entertainment. When all the guest rooms are taken, the tables are cleared from the great hall and blankets are provided. Some visitors, especially ardent adherents of the faith, prefer to sleep under the stars, so the courtyard outside the hall becomes an impromptu campsite.

No visitor is allowed to depart without receiving a bundle containing fruit, bread, and cheese.

A Center of Clerical Training

Priests of aptitude and ambition are assigned here early on to cultivate a greater understanding of the faith’s mysteries. Many church notables, including the current saintmistress, spent time studying beneath its open air classrooms or within its stone cloisters.

Watch for part 2 tomorrow!

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