Illustrated Guide to the world of Spira (FFX and FFX-2)/Culture/Religion
The Church of YevonEdit
Hierarchy of the churchEdit
At the top of the Yevon church’s hierarchy, there is the position of the Grand Maester, an office similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church's Pope. In the game, Grand Maester Yo Mika has held the position for 50 years. Below the grand maester are three positions simply referred to by the title "Maester," a station similar to that of a Cardinal in Catholicism. The maesters have many duties within the church including making and upholding laws, presiding over Yevon’s High Court, and overseeing the church's civil, military, and spiritual affairs. The next step down are the Priests of Yevon. Their job is to attend to the temples throughout the land. Each temple has a high priest who presides over the temple and its staff, Maester Seymour himself being the High Priest of Macalania Temple. Many priests are summoners or former summoners. Priests tend to wear multicoloured vestments of white, green and orange.
Below the priests are the Summoners, a position similar to a cross between a priest and a miko. Summoners are charged with the greatest responsibility of all: to journey to Zanarkand, obtain the Final Aeon and destroy Sin. Summoners also perform the sending, a ritual that guides the souls of the dead to peace on the Farplane. The title of "High Summoner," which was always given posthumously until High Summoner Yuna brought the Eternal Calm, refers to Summoners who have defeated Sin.
Lastly, the church has a number of acolytes, similar to deacons or nuns. They work throughout Spira performing various duties for the church.
- Warrior Monks — Warrior monks serve as protectors to the maesters and the temples, stationed primarily in the city of Bevelle.
- The Crusaders — Formerly known as the Crimson Blades, the Crusaders were a loosely-knit army that existed to protect towns and temples from Sin. Unlike the guardians, Crusaders are directly related to the church. No non-Yevonite is permitted to serve as a Crusader, although there are unofficial chapters comprised entirely of people who have been excommunicated. All of the Crusaders were excommunicated, however, when they set up Operation Mi'ihen, a joint Crusader-Al Bhed attempt to destroy Sin.
- The Crimson Squad — Around the time of Operation Mi'ihen, the Yevon church conducted a final selection process for a group called "the Crimson Squad," an elite unit to replace the Crusaders. However, there were only three surviving candidates from the exercise, all of whom were targeted for execution thereafter due to what they had learned of Vegnagun, a giant machina of immense power; a relic of Bevelle's hidden past with power enough to destroy the whole of Spira if used improperly. With all of its candidates dead or in hiding, the group was never put into action. Unlike the Crusaders, non-Yevonites — such as Gippal — were allowed to train with the Crimson Squad.
- Guardians — The protectors of summoners, though not directly related to the church. A summoner chooses their guardians and can choose non-Yevonites if they wish, though doing so is not only rare, but also looked down upon. The unofficial title of "legendary guardian" was used in reference to Auron, guardian to both High Summoner Braska and his daughter, High Summoner Yuna.
The gesture of prayer to Yevon is a gesticulation that begins with one holding their hands out to either side, then bringing them in front of their chest, as though holding a sphere, and bowing. This is the traditional greeting of Yevonites one to another, especially among the clergy. The gesture evolved from the blitzball sign for victory.
Additionally, summoners are obligated to perform a sending for the deceased, preventing the pyreflies of the dead from manifesting as fiends.
Aside from these two practices, the most well known practice is that of singing the "Hymn of the Fayth," also known as the "Song of Prayer." During the entire millennium before the Eternal Calm, the fayth residing in the inner sanctum of each temple could be heard singing a song. This song is the Hymn of the Fayth. It is initially described as a gift from Yevon, given to soothe the hearts of the faithful and the souls of the dead. However, it is later revealed that it was in fact a song sung by the people of Zanarkand in defiance of Bevelle. After the creation of Sin, those groups of people who still stood in open defiance of Bevelle and the newly formed Church of Yevon continued to sing the song in protest. After initially placing a ban on the hymn, the church decided — in an attempt to bury the fact that Yevon had been an enemy of Bevelle — to claim the song as their own, and it eventually became a part of the church's official dogma.
Though the Hymn's words apparently have no discernable meaning within the context of Final Fantasy X's world, their composer, Nobuo Uematsu, comprised a small puzzle with the lyrics, using Japanese syllables. When properly deciphered, they form sentences that translate thus:
Pray to Yu Yevon. Dream, Fayth. Forever and ever, grant us prosperity.
The fall of the church and a new beginningEdit
At the end of Final Fantasy X, Yuna and her guardians entered Sin and – destroying each of his aeon hosts – forced Yu Yevon to manifest his spiritual energy as corporeal matter, making him vulnerable for the first time in 1000 years. They then unleashed their strength upon him directly, destroying him and ending his control over Spira. This was not only the end of Yevon himself, but also the end of the people's faith in the church. Along their journey, Yuna and her friends exposed the church's corruption, hypocrisy and horrific internal workings.
Two years later, in Final Fantasy X-2, the moral teachings of Yevon were revitalized in the form of the New Yevon party under Praetor Baralai. Although technically a splinter group of Yevon, the New Yevon party was not a religion, but a way of life, their motto and position on Spira's advancement being "One thing at a time".