Pope Francis opens St Peter’s Holy Door to launch jubilee
Pope Francis opens St Peter’s Holy Door to launch jubilee.
What’s what, and what you need to know:
Pope Francis pushed opened the huge bronze Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica on the 8th of December, in Rome to launch the Catholic Church’s “Year of Mercy”.
Tens of thousands attended a Mass in St Peter’s Square for the start of the Pope’s “revolution of tenderness”.
During the jubilee celebrations, one of the most important events in the Roman Catholic Church, pilgrims travel to Rome and religious sites around the world.
At the end of the Mass, Francis opened the basilica’s Holy Door. He said that by passing through it, Catholics should take on the role of the Good Samaritan.
It is the first time the Holy Door has been opened since the Great Jubilee in the 2000 called for by St John Paul II. It has been bricked up since then.
Jubilee years are rooted in the Old Testament tradition of freeing slaves and prisoners once every 50 years, a concept that died out within Judaism but was taken up by Pope Boniface VIII for the Catholic Church in 1300. Pilgrimages to Rome were at the heart of the original jubilee years, and attracted hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to the city.
The last Jubilee was called by St John Paul II to mark the millennium, and this Holy Year of Mercy starts on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 2015 and will end on the Feast of Christ the King on 20 November 2016.
Announcing the extraordinary jubilee in March, the Pope said the Holy Door was a “Door of Mercy, through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope”.
For the first time, he has instructed churches and cathedrals to take part in the tradition of the Holy Door, to help Catholics mark the jubilee at home rather than coming to Rome.
Pope Francis has long signalled his wish to change the Church’s approach from condemnation of wrongdoing to a Church that is more forgiving and understanding. This extraordinary jubilee year is seen as a practical way of giving expression to that wish.
Appropriately for the weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas, carpenters and other tradespeople have been kept busy in the run-up to the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy, installing or ensuring that the Holy Doors, due to be opened at Roman Catholic cathedrals and churches across the world, are safe and functioning.
Announcing the extraordinary jubilee this March, the Pope said: “The greater the sin, the greater the love the Church must express,” writing that the Holy Door is a “Door of Mercy, through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.”
He has, in effect, already begun the jubilee by opening the Holy Door of the Cathedral in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, during his recent trip to Africa.
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