|Location:||Brick City, New Jersey|
In 2077, the Great War devastated the world. After the initial carnage, as people began to attempt to reestablish their lives, the largest question among most survivors' minds was simply: why? Most survivors- including many members of the Catholic Church- abandoned their religion in the wake of the nuclear apocalypse. Those that clung to their religion did so with fanatical fervor, believing themselves to be living through the end of days.
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, in the ruins of Newark, was one such place. Led by Bishop Thomas McMillan, the men and women taking refuge there held it together during the crazy days after the nuclear apocalypse. Tapping into the considerable Pre-War wealth of the church, the bishop was able to provide security and food to fifty or so survivors that came to the church. In the first few years after the Great War, the refugees of the basilica simply survived. After a few years, as their position in the Post-War world became more grounded, they transitioned from survival mode to rebuilding mode. While Bishop McMillan and the two other priests that survived the destruction were concerned with ensuring that their flock lived on, they were also concerned about the status of the organization they were a part of. Over the next few years, until the end of the century, groups were sent to churches in nearby cities- Elizabeth, Bayonne, Jersey City and New York City across the Hudson- to assess how much of the Catholic Church had survived. These groups recovered some holy relics and a handful of priests, monks, deacons, and nuns.
In 2099, the surviving priests, monks, deacons, and nuns convened to discuss the future of their church. Based on first-hand evidence, along with the stories of other survivors, they came to the conclusion that the entire world had been destroyed. It was up to this group to not only rebuild the world, but rebuild the Catholic Church. In what has since become known as the Pan NY/NJ Conclave, these holy men and women voted to continue the legacy of the Roman Catholic Church on their own, without any kind of directive from the Vatican in Italy, believing the Vatican to have been destroyed. Bishop McMillan was elected the new pope, and The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart would be his Vatican.
Over the next few decades, the East Coast Catholic Church, as it became known as, grew. The area around the basilica, known simply as ‘Basilica’, grew as well. The ruins of a nearby high school became an East Coast Catholic Church seminary. Local businesses and residences became dormitories, warehouses, and other buildings for the growing priesthood. The biggest expansion and renovation of the small theocratic state came during the reign of Pope Thomas II, who reigned from 2170-2192. During his two-decade reign, he spearheaded the renovation of the Sacred Heart Basilica, and the establishment of the Passaic Guard, a small bodyguard force to protect the pope and the state from outside threats.
In the late 2210s, Pope Thomas III began surveying the layout of the Tri-State Area, and came to the conclusion that the Post-War world was becoming a busy place. Nations were coalescing and groups other than Basilica were concentrating power. When powers across the Hudson, such as the Federal Republic of Libeteria and Penn Sanctuary, refused to swear fealty to the East Coast Catholic Church, the pope realized that only by coming together with local settlements could they resist the growing powers around them. Pope Thomas III sent emissaries to various settlements in the area, and the “New Ark Covenant” was signed, joining together Basilica, Junkport, Southside, and Terminal City into Brick City.
The relative peace that Basilica enjoyed was shattered in 2263, in the form of The Machinists. The crazed tech enthusiasts went to war with virtually every power in New York City, and not content with the massive hornet’s nest they were stirring up, they targeted Basilica as well. In early spring, as Pope Henry was taking a stroll through the gardens of the basilica, a buzzer- a Machinist flying robot- loaded with explosives crossed the Hudson and launched itself at the cleric, detonating itself when it was within range. Pope Henry was not killed instantly, but died of the wounds he sustained within the hour.
The Machinists were dealt with without much support from Basilica, as the East Coast Catholic Church was reeling from the assassination of their leader The attack on Pope Henry opened the eyes of the organization to the fact that the wasteland had really grown up, and that the East Coast Catholic Church, while powerful, was only one of numerous major players in a sea of many major powers. Pope David, Henry’s replacement, spent the majority of his papacy strengthening the church, an endeavor his successor, Pope Angelo II has continued since.
Basilica does not have much of an economy, because it is a religious enclave full of priests and nuns, rather than a living, breathing city. It survives on donations made to the church by its members, and because the church has convinced the faithful that donations will help them in the afterlife, those donations have certainly accrued over the years. The coffers of Basilica are quite full, and those funds go to maintaining the image of the settlement and the church, as well as outreach programs to various communities in areas where the East Coast Catholic Church operates.
Basilica is an enclave completely controlled by the East Coast Catholic Church. The pope, currently Angelo II, is the head administrator of the settlement, in addition to all of his religious duties. As such, most day-to-day operations have been delegated to one of his subordinates, Cardinal Samuel Huntington.
Basilica is centered around the rebuilt Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The men and women of the enclave have rebuilt and renovated a handful of buildings nearby, but the basilica is the heart of the enclave. Its southern boundary is the Interstate 280, while its northern boundary is Bloomfield Avenue. Its eastern boundary is Clifton Avenue, while its western boundary is Branch Brook Park. The enclave is walled across its entire perimeter, separating the holy men of the East Coast Catholic Church from the riff-raff of the outside world. Over the years, a tent city has developed up around the walls of the city, filled with wastelanders of all stripes. Cheap hostels have developed to host wandering pilgrims come to catch a glimpse of the pope. Poverty-stricken locals linger for alms from priests and nuns, and cheap, roadside stands have sprung up to serve them.
Basilica maintains the guise of political neutrality, wanting to stick to spiritual matters instead, but the theocratic city-state wields a great deal of political power and is constantly meddling in local politics. The East Coast Catholic Church has a presence in numerous regions and settlements on the east coast- though in many cases, this presence is simply a lone monk tending a shrine- and uses that long reach to influence people and groups in its favor. One powerful example of this happened during the reign of Pope Henry the Martyred, from 2229 to 2263. In the early 2230s, Basilica supposedly hosted secret meetings with high-ranking officials from the Federal Republic of Libeteria. In 2235, the federal republic bombed the Pleasure Palace and effectively ended the National Pleasure League, a group of raiders that earned the ire of the church because of their practices and beliefs. While there is no direct paper trail, many have put two and two together, especially when the federal republic established their Union City colony a few years later to no objections of the rest of Brick City.