|“||It is a religion of safety... a religion made by a god who understood what life is.||„|
Chelonia is a fictitious religion and religious cult featured in Red Dead Redemption 2.
The religion was founded in the late 1700s and came to be led by Anders Helgerson at some point prior to 1899. While headquartered in Boston, they soon became established in the northern New Hanover region, where they actively recruited young and able men, something which made them extremely unpopular amongst the local populace.
Events of Red Dead Redemption 2
Mary Linton writes to Arthur and asks him to meet her at a farm near Valentine where she is staying. After arriving, she tells Arthur that her brother Jamie has joined the cult, and begs Arthur to convince him to leave, saying Arthur is the only one Jamie would listen to. Arthur can decide to help her, and if he does, he will ride to their camp near the Cumberland Forest area. He finds the camp atop a mountain, where five Chelonians including Jamie live. The cult members quickly surround Jamie, and tell Arthur to leave and that Jamie has made his choice. Arthur can talk to the cult leader peacefully or aggressively. If spoken to peacefully, the Chelonian Master allows Arthur to speak with Jamie. If spoken to aggressively, he refuses to let Arthur speak with Jamie. After growing frustrated with Jamie for not leaving with him, he knocks the leader unconscious. Jamie flees, and Arthur leaps on his horse and chases after Jamie. After stopping on the other side of a train track to Arthur, Jamie's horse abandons him, and he chooses to attempt to kill himself rather than go with Arthur. Arthur shoots his gun out of his hand, after which Jamie realizes how foolish he has been. Arthur then takes Jamie back to his sister.
Furthermore, the player is able to encounter Anders Helgerson, the leader of the cult, in Saint Denis, where he can be seen handing out pamphlets and sharing information about Chelonianism to passers-by. Upon returning to the cult leader during the Epilogue, the player will be informed that a new Chelonian master will initiate a rite within the near future, on the very same hilltop where Arthur confronted Jamie. The Chelonians who have gathered on the hilltop will start to chant when the player approaches them and the Chelonian Master will eventually request the inducted members to follow him on his journey to Chelonia, before jumping off the cliff.
The Chelonians believe in a utopian society which they call Chelonia, and believe that the only way to be truly safe from the evils of current-day America is to dedicate everything to the cult. They also hold the turtle in very high regard and consider it to be sacred, believing it to be an ancient holy animal that should never be harmed. Members wear robes embroidered with turtles, carry satchels sewn to resemble turtles, and when confronted with potential danger, members of the cult tend to band together to form a "shell of safety", likely inspired by the turtle's shell and its ability to protect the turtle.
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- The Chelonians' act of binding together to form a "shell of safety" is likely inspired by the Testudo formation used by the Roman Army. In addition to them having the same structure and general purpose, "Testudo" in Latin translates to "Tortoise", which is itself a type of turtle – the animal considered sacred by the cult.
- The word "Chelonia" is the name of the genus of the green sea turtle, likely where the cult's name is derived from.
- A camp of dead Chelonians can be found in Cholla Springs.
- In "Polite Society, Valentine Style", the player can encounter a man affiliated with the cult and is seen praying in the Saints Hotel.