What: Ceremonial opening of the center narthex doors of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Where: Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (4431 Lindell Blvd.)
When: Sunday, December 13, before 10 a.m. Mass.
Who: Most Reverend Edward Rice, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis
Why: To begin the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis in April
ST. LOUIS – Most Reverend Edward Rice, auxiliary bishop of St. Louis, will open the center narthex doors of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in a special ceremony Sunday, December 13, prior to the regularly scheduled 10 a.m. Mass. The ceremony will mark the local beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The doors were sealed on September 8, to remind the faithful to prepare their hearts for the Jubilee.
In April, Pope Francis declared the Catholic Church would celebrate a “Holy Year,” known as an “Extraordinary Jubilee Year,” dedicated to the virtue of Mercy. The “Year of Mercy,” as it has been deemed, will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, when the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican will be opened. However, on November 29, during his recent trip to Africa, Pope Francis also symbolically opened the Holy Door in a special ceremony at the cathedral of Bangui, Central African Republic. The Year of Mercy will conclude on Sunday, November 20, 2016, which is the end of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
The idea of a “Jubilee Year” traces its origins to the Israelites who celebrated a Jubilee every fifty years according to scriptural custom. Pope Boniface VIII called for the first recorded “ordinary Jubilee” in 1300. Twenty-five ordinary Jubilees have been called since, roughly every 25 years, though an “extraordinary” Jubilee can be called by a pontiff at any time. Pope John Paul II declared the most recent extraordinary Jubilee in 1983, while the most recent ordinary Jubilee Year took place in 2000.
One of the traditions for a Jubilee Year is the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door in each of the four major basilicas in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica. The opening, passing through, and sealing of the Holy Door at the end of the Jubilee Year have become significant elements in the Church’s Jubilee Year celebrations with special graces and what is called a “Jubilee Indulgence” offered to pilgrims who make the journey.
Because most Catholics will be unable to make a pilgrimage during this Jubilee Year to visit the four major basilicas in Rome, for the first time in history Pope Francis has asked for a Holy Door in every diocese around the world, especially in the minor basilicas. Diocesan bishops also have the authority to establish other sacred places or special churches that can be pilgrimage locations.
Pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of St. Louis include our two minor basilicas - the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France - and seven other local pilgrimage sites.
More information about the Jubilee Year of Mercy, including a calendar of events and a complete list of local pilgrimage sites, can be found at archstl.org/mercy.