The Red Cathedral is a building in Mechanicsburg which is used to perform a ritual when ✣ - similar to a coronation, although there is also a more practical aspect to the whole event, as discussed below. The ritual may also be used to formally and publicly announce or sanctify a newborn heir (see also: Doom Bell).
Prince Vadim lost the bet once the cathedral was completed and was obliged to eat his hat in public (though he may have considered this a small price to pay, as discussed further..) Ordinarily, cathedrals would take several generations to construct, but this one appears to have been started and completed well inside a single generation. In a case of not keeping all your eggs in one basket, the Cathedral secretly includes some systems and defenses separate from Castle Heterodyne, allowing the Heterodynes a useful backup source of power and protection.
Yglyn's of this can be taken as implying that this makes the Cathedral a refuge from the Castle itself.
Whether this is the same structure as the cathedral from which one accesses the Heterodyne family crypt is unclear, but likely. Except for very large cities where multiple faiths coexist, there are rarely multiple cathedrals in any given municipality.
A view of the cathedral from a distance shows it is structured in much the same way as our world's Gothic-style Roman and Orthodox cathedrals (appropriately for the general area, one tower is capped by an Oriental-style onion dome) but exactly what faith is officially practiced within its ruddy walls has not yet been established, though there have been some .
Agatha and the Cathedral
At the time of the Siege of Mechanicsburg and Agatha's officially being proclaimed the Heterodyne, the cathedral is being run by an as-yet-unnamed Abbess. to the resident curate, Doctor Yglyn, there should be a bishop of some sort on hand to welcome Agatha, but there hasn't been one around for years. Since this is the case, and the Abbess is also at the time, Yglyn is the one who preforms the needed rituals that confirm Agatha as the Heterodyne for the Cathedral's systems; this in part involves collecting a bit of Agatha, presumably allowing for biological identification; Yglyn tries to take some blood (as did Castle Heterodyne when testing Agatha), but cheerfully settles for a bit of hair instead. He claims that these rituals also hold back extra-dimensional horrors who would otherwise ravage the world; no proof for or against this statement has yet been produced.
The Back Door
Almost immediately after Agatha and Yglyn finish the ceremony, she is kidnapped by Martellus von Blitzengaard and dragged into the depths of the Cathedral, where they meet up with the Abbess, that the latter woman is in fact a member of The Storm King Conspiracy plotting to install Tweedle as the Storm King and put a (fake) Heterodyne in Castle Heterodyne for him to marry. It is further that their destination is a Monolith gate (AKA a Queen's Mirror) inside the Cathedral, allowing for instantaneous transport to similar gates in remote locations.
Thanks to Baron Wulfenbach activating his Take-Five Bomb at the exact instant that Agatha, Tweedle and Co. tumble through the Monolith, it is possible that the gate has been damaged or destroyed; the atypical-looking Monolith at the other end, in the Refuge of Storms, definitely has been.
It has been established the Mirrors are extremely old. Thus, it is currently unknown if the Cathedral was built where it was because of or in spite of the Mirror's presence. It is interesting to note that a Sturmvoraus/von Blitzengaard ally is the one who knows how to operate the Mirror, connecting it to one constructed in a family stronghold..
Along with the Mirror, there is a deep warren of crypts under the Cathedral; at least part of this assemblage is known as the Snarling Labyrinth. In the Mechanicsburg Solstice Story flash-forward, Agatha stand-in Professora Foglio is taken down into this region to perform the needed seasonal ceremonies, one of which involves interacting with a monstrous bowl-equipped statue.
Possibly Relevant Outside Information
From Wikipedia: Cathedral:
- A cathedral (Lat. cathedra, "seat") is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop. It is a religious building for worship, specifically of a denomination with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and some Lutheran churches, which serves as a bishop's seat, and thus as the central church of a diocese.
- In the Greek Orthodox Church, the terms "kathedrikos naos" (literally: "cathedral shrine") is sometimes used for the church at which an archbishop or "metropolitan" presides. The term "metropolis" (literally "mother city") is used more commonly than "diocese" to signify an area of governance within the church.
- There are certain variations on the use of the term "cathedral"; for example, some pre-Reformation cathedrals in Scotland now within the Church of Scotland still retain the term cathedral, despite the Church's Presbyterian polity which does not have bishops. The same occurs in Germany, where Protestant churches (mostly non-episocopal)... [are] using the term as a merely honorary title and function, void of any hierarchical supremacy. As cathedrals are often particularly impressive edifices, the term is often used incorrectly as a designation for any large, important church.
The technical (Latin) term for a cathedral being without a bishop it should have, as in the case here, is sede vacante.