Something interesting is going on here. There are two different meanings of the word Pavlikeni which pivot on the date TRP gives in the text, 1650. Originally the Pavlikeni were synonomous with the Bogomils. Churches all over Europe and Russia , Orthodox and Roman, persecuted the sect and this ended in the Balkans only when the Turks conquered the area. So from 950 to about 1389 (430 years!!) they were oppressed. From 1389 to 1650 (300 years more) the Bogomils lived peacefully under the Turks as Pavlikeni (still heretics). Then in 1650 the Roman Church gathered them into its fold. No less than 14 villages in the area embraced Catholicism. Questions: 1) Why did the Pavlikeni all of a sudden "convert" after 700 years (!!) of persecution by The Church? For protection from Turkish oppression? 2) How was this allowed under Turkish rule? 3) Why was the Roman church in a largely Orthodox corner of Europe?
The monastery Cyprian joins is pure Bogomil. It did not convert (sell out?) to Rome in 1650, but continues its heresy.
One more point. It is interesting that in the beginning of AtD (p. 10), TRP writes that stockyard workers were "overwhelmingly of the Roman faith." But here, Cyprian finds redemption from slaughter "there will be no more wars" in the arms of a Bogomil monastery. It appears that TRP is making the very subtle claim that the Church of Rome is not only a party to the great power institutions in history, but like them based on the blood of Christ, cows and the bovine mentality of soulless citizen/laborers. Only those who resist Rome and worldly power structures in general are truly free and they are the ensouled, the heretical, the Anarchist.
Seconded. TRP was raised a Catholic and was said to go to Mass regularly at Cornell. From V. to AtD, his perspective on historic Catholicism is ...richer(?).... than a "simple" Catholic believer's, at least.
In the final section of V., "epilogue 1919," Father Fairing, S.J., after stating that anything that tugs in the direction of anarchism is anti-Christian in protestation to Stencil's views on Paracletian Politics (which seem highly relevant to themes and scenes in AtD) goes on to say: "The Church has matured, after all. Like a young person she has passed from promiscuity to authority. You are nearly two millenia out-of-date." (p. 533)
This passage, written about 45 years ago seems relevant to Cyprian's monastery. The Bogomils were a continuation of the church's "promiscuous" period "maturing", apparently in this case, only after centuries of persecution. Cyprian remains religiously promiscuous.