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Explaining the Holy Doors

The opening of the Holy Door at the St. Peter’s Basilica is an important part of Holy Years. The tradition was started by Pope Martin V in 1423, when he opened the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. John Lateran to decree the Jubilee year, and it is a tradition that has continued since.

The Holy Door in Rome will be opened by Pope Francis on Dec. 8, marking the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. When the Holy Door is opened, the Holy Father strikes it three times with a silver hammer, each strike representing a Scriptural “strike” such as Moses striking the rock and the Roman soldier striking Christ in the side with a spear. With these strikes, grace flowed forth, usually in the form of water, and in keeping with the symbology, the striking of the door symbolizes the releases of grace, flowing to the faithful.

Making a pilgrimage to the Holy Door is also a key piece of Jubilee years. It evokes the passage in the Gospel of John when Christ said, “I am the door,” (Jn 10:9). Traditionally, the faithful would make a pilgrimage to Rome to pass through the Holy Door. Passing through the Holy Door is symbolic of leaving this world and entering into God’s presence, and also of the removal of obstacles from clear passage to the Lord. St. John Paul II said that the Holy Door “…evokes the passage from sin to grace which every Christian is called to accomplish,” and during the Extraordinary Jubilee, Catholics are called to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door to do just this.

Rome is a bit far away for Denver-based Catholics to travel to (not to mention really pricey), but luckily, the Holy Father gave bishops around the world the power to designate Holy Doors in their own diocese for the faithful to make pilgrimages to. Archbishop Aquila has designated five Holy Doors to be opened on Dec. 13 in the Archdiocese of Denver, listed on the below map.

As an incentive to visit the Holy Doors, special postcards will be given at each of the five locations to collect uniquely-designed stamps, with a sixth stamp being offered at the Mercy Chose Me conference on Jan. 23 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn. If you collect them all, you can submit your completed postcard for a chance to win a beautiful Jubilee Year of Mercy icon.

DC_11-28-15.indd1. St. Stephen Catholic Church
1885 Blake Ave.
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

2. Mother Cabrini Shrine
20189 Cabrini Blvd.
Golden, CO 80401

3. Our Lady of Guadalupe
1209 W. 36th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211

4. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
1530 Logan St.
Denver, CO 80203

5. St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
326 S. 3rd St.
Sterling, CO 80751

Aaron Lambert
Aaron is the Managing Editor for the Denver Catholic.
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