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Following the conquest of Bajor by the Terran Empire in 2255, it was suppressed and driven underground. The Terrans killed all of its priests and destroyed its icons such as the Orbs of the Prophets. Centuries prior to the Terran conquest, Kai Dava Nikende foresaw the destruction of the Orbs and preserved fragments known as paghvarams from each of them. Enclaves of worshipers still existed on Bajor in 2377. (DS9 novels: Fearful Symmetry, The Soul Key)
After Iliana Ghemor became the Emissary of the Prophets in January of that year, the Bajoran people converted to their long neglected religion en masse and the senior members of the underground religious movement came out of seclusion to reconstitute the Vedek Assembly for the first time in centuries. Several weeks later, Opaka Sulan was elected as the Kai of Bajor. With the destruction of the Bajoran Parliament in Ashalla and the consequent death of First Minister Li Nalas, the Vedek Assembly became the de facto government of Bajor with Kai Opaka as its leader. (ST - Mirror Universe novel: Rise Like Lions)