Vatican City: The Holy Doors at three Basilicas in Rome, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major, were closed during special Masses held on 13 November 2016. The Holy Doors at Cathedral Churches and Basilicas around the world are also closing the same day. The year will officially end on 20 November 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King, when Pope Francis will close the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica. It was opened on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
According to Msgr. Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, it is estimated that 20.4 million people attended Year of Mercy events at the Vatican over the course of this year. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization was in charge of putting Pope Francis’ vision for the Year of Mercy into practice both in the Vatican and abroad. The opening of the door is meant to symbolically illustrate the idea that the Church’s faithful are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of Jubilee. Pilgrims who walked through the Holy Door were able to receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.
The oldest wooden crucifix of St. Peter’s Basilica, dating from the 14th century, was returned to the church for the devotion of the faithful. “After a laborious restoration,” the cross “has been restored to its former splendor and will be placed in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to commemorate the Jubilee of Mercy,” he said.
The Vatican marked the Jubilee Year with the addition of many events. There were also many larger events which took place, including a 24-hour long period of Eucharistic adoration and a prayer vigil. Additionally, “jubilees” were held which centered on, among others, the sick and disabled, catechists, teenagers, deacons, priests, religious, volunteers of mercy, and most recently, the poor and homeless. Pope Francis also spent one Friday a month during the year making private visits to groups he found in special need of being shown God’s mercy. These “Mercy Fridays,” as they were called, included visits with refugees, victims of sex trafficking, those in hospitals and retirement homes, and children in difficult situations.
Courtesy: Catholic News Agency