Opening of the Holy Door

By Krisha Socito

The Catholic Holy Door of Mercy is reopened after being sealed for 50 years in line with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy started off as Pope Francis opened the first Holy Door of Mercy in Rome during the celebration of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8.

Locally, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma opened the Holy Door of Mercy in the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on December 13.

The sacred ceremony began at the cathedral’s grotto followed by a procession to the cathedral’s holy door, located at the front right of the cathedral which gained the participation of a number of devotees for its opening.

The Holy door will be opened until the end of the jubilee year, on the feast of Christ the King next year, November 20, 2016.

Displayed in the Cathedral was the history behind this practice: In the third century, Christian offenders flee to the door of the Lateran Basilica in Rome where they sought sanctuary. Pope St. Sylvester promulgated a papal decree that granted sanctuary and immunity from punishment to all sinners who enter through the door. It is called holy because through the door, a sinner meets mercy and forgiveness of God through the Church.

In later centuries, other churches in Rome and most Cathedrals in the Catholic world are assigned a holy door that could be opened only during the Jubilee years proclaimed by the Church. At the end of the jubilee year, the holy door is closed and sealed to be reopened on the next jubilee year.

Palma said in his homily, “We know, we believe, deep in our hearts, that God’s love is greater than our human frailty.”

He encouraged the people to pass through the Holy Door of Mercy as it is also symbolizes God’s love opened for us.

He also emphasized the importance of confession and that the statue of St. Peter situated near the Holy door, signifies the importance of our prayers for the intentions of the pope and for our Church.

Passing through the Holy Door also may gain plenary indulgence. Plenary Indulgence is the complete remission of the stain of sin in the soul. This will be obtained when the person has undergone confession, receives the Holy Communion and prays for the intercession of the Pope (One Our Father and One Hail Mary) and passes through the Holy Door.

In Pope Francis’ message for the Jubilee of Mercy, the Jubilee Year of Mercy is in the light of the word of the Lord: “Be merciful, as your father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36)

Aside from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the Holy Doors of the parishes in Carcar, Bogo, Bantayan and Camotes were also opened for the Christians in the northern and southern part of Cebu.

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