VATICAN CITY — In preparation for the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy on December 8, the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica has been freed of the brick wall that has hidden it since the Holy Year of 2000.
The Recognitio ceremony took place on Tuesday evening and was led by the Basilica’s cardinal archpriest, Angelo Comastri.
Following a procession and short prayer service, workers began carefully removing the wall, extracting a small metal box that conserved mementos from the Great Jubilee of the year 2000.
The zinc box contained several documents certifying the closure of the Holy Door at the end of the last Holy Year. Also included were the keys that will allow Pope Francis to open the Holy Door on December 8 of this year, as well as the parchment deed, some bricks and several commemorative medals.
Also present for the event were the master of ceremonies of St. Peter’s Basilica, Monsignor Guido Marini, who received the documents and objects of the Recognitio ceremony, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy will commence on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate, and will conclude on Sunday, November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe.
Holy Doors will also be at the other major basilicas of Rome: St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
The motto chosen for the Year is Merciful like the Father (cf. Luke 6:36).
In a letter issued on September 1, Pope Francis explained how the faithful around the the world may obtain the Jubilee indulgence:
I wish that the Jubilee indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the diocesan bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the sacrament of reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.
In the same letter, the pope outlined conditions under which the sick, the elderly and the homebound, who are unable to visit a Holy Door, may receive the Jubilee indulgence.
He also underscored the importance of the faithful rediscovering the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as a part of their ordinary Christian lives. And he granted to all Catholic priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion, in sacramental confession, “to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”
Finally, the pope established that “those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”
For more information on the Jubilee Year of Mercy, visit the official site here.