It isn’t easy to overstress the importance of religion in Lyubov’s life. Any visit to a city could include an encounter with one of the many religious rituals, festivals, or observances common on Lyubov. Lyubovans, as a rule, take their religion more seriously than many people of Imperium. Lyubov Orthodoxy holds its adherents to very high standards of ethical behavior. The God-Emperor exacts justice upon evil-doers in this life or the next.
The weekly Sabbath is at the center of most people’s lives. No work is done on that day, and a goodly portion of the week is spent preparing the rich loaves of bread, delicious pastries, and spiced meats and fish dishes served on the day. One typically extends invitations to friends and visitors to the community. Activity on the sixth day of the week is frenetic as people rush to complete last-minute preparations. It all comes to a screeching halt 18 minutes before nightfall. The bells of the local kremlin (municipal fortress) ring out to signal the beginning of the Sabbath.
The Lyubov do not follow the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy, believing the God-Emperor made a covenant with their ancestors on Holy Terra before the Great Crusade.
The Lyubov do not pray to saints, demigods, or other deities. They abide by a code of religious laws that govern everything from the disposition of lost articles to diet to married life to the intricacies of worship. The chief religious official of Lyubov is the Patriarch, who is also the head of the supreme religious council and is the most powerful man on Lyubov next to the Tsar himself. One of the most telling aspects of Orthodoxy is its unbending hatred of Chaos in all its forms. While partly a reaction to the occupation, there is good evidence that the Lyubov always held these beliefs.
In the Lyubov Orthodoxy, only one more Prophet will come. His coming will be a sign that the old world system is over. That man, known as the Moshiak, is the Final Prophet. Many revelatory scriptures speak of this Prophet. He heralds the return of the God-Emperor, avenging the faithful martyrs over the ages.
Lilith’s Prophet will oppose this Messiah. A time of Great War heralds Moshiak’s coming, says the Lyubov Faith. The old ways will fall to the new, and Imperium will be divided into great nations. The seals of the God-Emperor will open, revealing countless mysteries. To the Lyubov, Lilith’s Prophet is a figure of fire and devastation, the end of the world, and the return of Lilith and her children. How destructive Lilith’s Prophet will be is a function of how faithful the Lyubovans are to the faith – the greater their faith, the less mighty Lilith’s Prophet will be. Lyubov has no love for those who encourage the Lilith’s Prophet’s coming, and they will sacrifice their lives to prevent anyone from aiding his power.
Indeed, many believe that Abaddon the Destroyer is Lilith’s Prophet and that the salvation of all humanity is near at hand.
In the early years of the settlement of Lyubov through the dark days of the Occupation, Orthodoxy acted as one of the few unifying factors of the people. Hives of the Transcontinental Nexus were universally Orthodox, and Belayalyubov soon followed. Although the Orthodox faith took longer to spread through the provinces of Mirkvuda, Veneshnyalyubov, and Malenkayalyubov, the easy conversion from the old ways to the new faith prompted a wave of religious building across Lyubov. By 600M36, all the primary cities had at least one cathedral, and all the nobility had accepted the faith. Though Lyubov’s political structure wavered, her belief in the True Faith did not.
At the head of Lyubov Orthodoxy stands the Patriarch, who serves many of the same functions as the Ecclesiarch. The first Patriarch was Ilya Belafustus Pascov, who left behind his name when he ascended to become Menachem the First. Since that day, three other Patriarchs in history took the name Menachem to follow in his path of unification and rebirth.
Menachem the First proclaimed that each provincial lord would assist him in appointing two Lectors and an Archlector in each of their respective provinces. Beneath the Lectors stand a variety of lesser priests and scribes, scattered across the country and major cities. The Orthodoxy makes quiet efforts to elevate Lyubov’s spiritual leaders over the Lords of the Duma, increasing the power of the Orthodox Patriarch.
In Lyubov’s current political climate, the Orthodoxy hopes to establish a complete clerical rule. There are those in Lyubov who would gladly transfer power from the Tsar to the Patriarch. Still, the Patriarch has discouraged such talk. He has no desire to provoke the Tsar with whom the clerical establishment enjoys a friendly relationship since the Liberation. The Orthodoxy has funded majestic houses of worship and academies patterned after Imperial ecclesiarchal architectural advances. Academies play a tremendous cultural role. Apart from their purely religious role, they provide elementary education to peasants and noblemen alike. In addition, academies still record and chronicle all the major historical events in the life of the Lyubov people – both muzhik and boyar. Lyubov scribes have translated famous and influential works of literature into Lyubov and spread knowledge of various theological, historical, and literary works. Even today, records in Lyubov’s academies provide the most reliable information on the history of Lyubov, Orthodoxy, and the Imperium.
Although most Lyubov revere the Orthodox Faith, Lyubov faith is often complex and challenging to understand. The same muzhiks that go to services each week and know their prayers by heart can be found whispering of ancient gods – calling them, perhaps, by the names of the Angels. In the form of Matushka, the pure worship of nature and the land still exists in Lyubov, particularly in the mountains of Mirkvuda, Malenkayalyubov, and the northern marches of Veneshnyalyubov, and flourishes beside the Orthodoxy in those provinces.
Matushka has become a political symbol – Mother Lyubov – masking her past as a goddess of the indigenous people of Lyubov who Terran forces conquered during the Great Crusade. The term “Mother Lyubov” has been woven into prayers, battle cries, and laments for centuries and stirs emotion even today. The grim motherland is protector and provider to Lyubov of every era, from the time of the earliest human settlement to the current day, and Lyubovs revered it.
Matushka herself is a revered figure within the Orthodoxy as the personification of Lyubov and of the Divine Grace that rests upon this blessed world. She is at once the Sabbath Queen, the manifestation of Divine Grace and the Avenging Angel who protects Lyubov. However, some confound her with other figures worshiped in secret, often beneath the cover of Orthodox religion, by those who do not follow Orthodoxy. Travelers through Lyubov may find remnants of the pagan faith still lingering, particularly in uneducated or uncivilized muzhik towns far from the civilization of the Pavtlow in Lyubovhive. Some of these pagan religions are harmless delusions. Others are half-remembered versions of the Imperial cult. Still, a few are insidious Chaos cults hunted down and extirpated with fire and sword by the Maccabees wherever they can find them.
The mystic nature of Lyubov has no face. Yet, those who break Mother Lyubov’s rules find themselves devastated as certainly as any who cross an Imperial Inquisitor. On Lyubov, all woodlands are the same – Matushka’s Forest. If you enter one and grow lost, you may emerge anywhere on the planet, dozens or hundreds of miles away from where you began. The trees whisper in the night wind, and if you do not walk straight through the forest, you will lose the path. Not mere peasant superstition – it is a fact. The forests grow fast, quickly obscuring trails. Her people are the trees and the animals of the woods and the mountains, awaiting the next naive visitor.
The Dibbuks still roam the countryside; the lost souls of those who entered the forest grew lost and never returned. Gehenna, the land of the unlamented dead, waits in the Mountains of Smoke, hidden from prying mortal eyes. Sometimes spirits escape the underworld and search the mountains for a wanderer that they can condemn to take their place in the rolls of Gehenna. If they succeed, the spirit gains its freedom, and the poor mortal never returns to the land of the living.
Be careful what you believe. Mother Lyubov is listening.
In 334M41, Sergius of Radonezh left his Academy at Siev to follow his quest to bring the Chazak people into the fold of the Lyubov Orthodoxy. It took over 40 years, but in 381M41, the leader of the northern Veneshnyalyubovn Chazaks rode with his family and tribe to Siev to formally convert to Orthodoxy. Though most Chazaks give only lip service to the Patriarch, they can be as fervent as the most fanatic Lyubov regarding matters of faith and religion.
Open displays of psychic power are exceedingly rare on Lyubov. Witchcraft is strictly illegal, and those laws are vigorously enforced. The people of this world suffered greatly under the 2000 years of Chaos occupation. Many of the people of Lyubov can trace their families back to the rebels that went into the badlands to resist the vile invaders. The authorities take Exodus 22:18 (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live) very seriously.
As a result, any public display by a psyker would be the source of conflict. Heretic practices are strictly illegal, and those laws are also vigorously enforced (Deuteronomy 18:10-11: Let no one be found among you who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who speaks with the dead.)
At the very least, the local priest and his students would arrive to denounce the pagan, and a duel for the burghers’ attentions would result, with invectives flying. The winner of these conflicts was invariably the priest who would soon have the backing of local soldiery. The pagan is either tortured to death or executed on the spot, depending on the political climate.
Lyubov boasts a full calendar of local holidays and traditions. Observance of ceremonies connected to the seasons and agricultural events continues as they have for thousands of years.
New Year celebrations (Matushalia) last through 12 festival days to honor Mother Lyubov and the Emperor.
The most significant seasonal holiday is Shrovetide – a wild, raging welcoming of spring, with all that that implies, amid preparations for a new farming season.
Another major celebration is the night of the Summer Equinox – a grand celebration coupled with prayers for a long harvest season.
During the Winter Equinox, people sleep through the longest night of the year. Instead, they stay awake, lighting large fires and carrying torches through the village while playing musical instruments. According to folklore, if people fall asleep during that night, they will be swallowed up by Vrost Dvoya, the spirit of nightfall. The evil spirit will carry them away, and they will never awaken to see the returning sun.
The last important holiday of the Thundermas,
the day dedicated to the coming of the Emperor. Unlike other Lyubovn holidays, Thundermas is a somber holiday, reserved for fervent prayer and sacrifices of harvest fruits and toys. Thundermas is also known as St. Ilya’s Day, commemorating the first prophet of the Emperor to address the people pf Lyubov