Arcanum 1780: A New World
When Sebastian I of New Spain ordered the re-establishment of the Papacy in his capital of Mexico City, he appointed someone who he could be assured would look to the interests of the secular kingdom as well as to the religious requirements of the Church. Benedict XIV had been Viceroy of New Spain at the time of the Event as well as Archbishop of Mexico, and well understood the need to speak as one through the turbulent times in which the new nation stood on its own feet for the first time, orphaned from its former rulers in Europe. Benedict XIV was also a great builder: as Viceroy he had opened new silver mines and new hospitals, as archbishop he built the archbishop’s palace and the College of San Fernando. He buckled down to the task of the Restoration with a will, greatly accelerating work on the Cathedral of the Assumption, which had been built on the most sacred soil of the Aztecs using stone from the pyramid temple of their war god. Under his leadership of the Restored Catholic Church, the cathedral became the core of the new Vatican, which incorporated a precinct including the archbishop’s palace (also built over a former pyramid temple), a prison for heretics, the Jesuit school at the San Ildefonso College, and the Palace of the Inquisition. The latter two buildings were to come to represent one of the great socio-religious tensions in New Spain. Beneath the whole complex lie catacombs, many of which delve through the ancient temple ruins of the past civilization. The whole complex fronted the Main Square of the city, as did the former palace of the viceroys, now the main Royal Palace and seat of government. Thus is symbolized in stone the other great tension in New Spain’s political and social life.
Benedict XIV’s successor is, in some ways, much like him. Benedict XV was born Francisco Palóu in Majorca, Spain and had only just set out for the New World as a Franciscan monk when the Event destroyed the world he had left behind. The Event changed his life. He threw himself into establishing the new Church’s missions in California, first of all, then left his order to become a Bishop in Monterrey at Benedict XIV’s request. A able administrator with a zeal for missions and missionaries, he has helped spread the Restored Church’s message and influence in his 20 years as Pontiff. He’s been greatly aided by something his predecessor never had. Benedict XIV in the final years of his papacy ordered a holy crusade back to Europe, and 25 ships of the Armada de Barlovento were detached from the defense of the Spanish holdings in the Caribbean along with 5,000 soldiers. They journeyed to Rome itself, where they retrieved certain of the relics and treasures of Mother Church – including the papal robe, tiara and a badly damaged coronation throne – but only 18 of the ships and less than half of the men made it home again. Unlike Benedict XIV, Benedict XV was crowned Pontiff with the tiara and robe of his office, on the holy throne of the Papacy, in the new Vatican itself.
The archbishop’s palace has become the Papal Residence, refurnished and partly re-designed in even more opulent fashion than before. It contain’s the Pope’s apartments, as well as apartments for senior Vatican officials and offices for staff, the Vatican Library, archives and a vault. The Vatican Bank is also based in the palace, while a new adjoining structure serves as garrison for the Papal Guard.
The Jesuit College of Magic of San Ildefonso now comprises the only publicly acknowledged seat of magic in New Spain. All the Jesuit priests who showed magical talent, and many from other orders, were brought here by Papal Edict in 1770 and given a special dispensation to study magic – albeit under the watchful eye of the Inquisition. Children who are identified as having any unusual ability with magic are also sent from all over the kingdom to the College, brought under the protection of the Church before they can fall into sin. Priests from San Ildefonso are sent out to wherever the Vatican or the Crown needs them. Some of the Jesuit “Soldiers of God” mages see service in the army or navy, others in artificing or as assistants to judges and regional administrators.
The Holy Inquisition gained power in the aftermath of the Gomorrah Event, and is now only just leashed by the combined power of Pope and King. Beyond its role in religious affairs, the Inquisition is also an institution at the service of the monarchy. The Inquisitor General, in charge of the Holy Office, is designated by the crown. The Inquisition is mostly comprised of Dominican priests, and the “Hounds of God” have a long-standing rivalry with the Jesuits. The Palace of the Inquisition is the base and meeting place of the Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition while subordinate Tribunals meet in every province of New Spain, The palace is also the headquarters garrison for the Red Guard, troops who serve as enforcers, bodyguards and jailers. Inside the Palace there are offices, apartments, a library, courtrooms, and a museum of confiscated items – the most dangerous being locked in a gold-lined vault. It is rumored that there is a second, secret Papal Edict that allows the Inquisition to practise and study magic – the better to understand the sin they must extirpate. It us further rumored that, lacking oversight from anyone, some of the magus Inquisitors have fallen into corruption and deadly heresy.