Cathedral of the First Pontiff
The Cathedral of the First Pontiff, also known as the First Pontiff Cathedral or Grandis' Rest, is a Second Era cathedral on the Blessed Hill to the east of Ehreal, Grandia. The cathedral is the oldest known man-made structure in Grandia and among the oldest buildings on the continent of Varia. It is one of the best known examples of Grandian architecture that helped define the style of many First Era civilizations.
At the end of the War of the Scourge, Varia's denizens looked toward reconstructing their lost civilizations. Grandis, a guardian of Avalon, formed the Order of Avalon with the remaining militant remnants of the Varian Coalition and became its leaders, taking on the title of the First Pontiff. He focused their efforts to eliminate the remaining Scourge on the southern area of the continent, in the process establishing the Order of Avalon's first headquarters complex on a site known as the Blessed Hill. The presence of the Order of Avalon further developed the local and surrounding areas which eventually led to its unison as the nation of Grandia, named after the First Pontiff.
With the establishment of the capital city of Ehreal, the Order of Avalon's headquarters relocated from the Blessed Hill where the remaining structures became an Order of Avalon outpost. When the First Pontiff Grandis passed away, his body was interred under the main building of the Blessed Hill outpost. Around 78 2E, the Order of Avalon began their efforts to renovate the original headquarters complex. Most buildings were removed aside from the central structure, which was then transformed into the cathedral. Finished in early 100 2E, the Third Pontiff formally sanctified the Cathedral of the First Pontiff where the First Pontiff's body had at last been put to rest within a tomb on the main floor. The Cathedral opened its doors to public reverence and worship within the same year.
In the following millennia, the Cathedral of the First Pontiff became one of Varia's most prominent holy sites and a popular subject for pilgrimages. The main structure maintained its purpose as a place of worship and, to a limited extent, civil and religious action. The immediate area surrounding the Cathedral saw multiple transitions over the years. In times of peace, settlements raised around the Cathedral with their denizens paying tribute and aid to the caretakers of the holy site. During periods of conflict, the settlements either relocated or changed as the Order of Avalon wrested greater hold of the areas surrounding Ehreal. As of 5400 3E, the Cathedral of the First Pontiff has kept its doors open as a place of charity and sanctuary to all those who require it, though the Order of Avalon has increasingly micromanaged the locality.
TraditionsThe Cathedral of the First Pontiff is a site of religious pilgrimage for any devout follower of Avalon, from travelers to locals. As a result, members of the Order of Avalon, even beyond the requirements of formal duties, may constantly be seen within the church, if not the local area. Furthermore, it is considered as much a site of study for historians, scholars, and individuals interested in the Varian plight against the Scourge due to the murals immortalized in the Cathedral walls.
The First Pontiff's body is interred within the Cathedral, demarcated by a golden sarcophagus raised on a dais on the main floor. While visitors are barred from direct contact with the sarcophagus by a perimeter, it is custom for pilgrims to leave offerings in respect. Flowers, plants, food, and perishable goods are often left lining the outside steps of the Cathedral where the destitute are free to take them in charity. Extraneous material offerings, such as gold and jewels, are typically provided upon the steps of the central dais.
Clergymen of Avalon also host masses and prayer circles in and around the Cathedral as well as provide services for the sick and injured. Aside from the Golden Citadel in Ehreal, the Pontiff of the Order of Avalon may traditionally only address the public in the Cathedral of the First Pontiff.