One of the most special moments we had during our trip occurred while we were visiting the Vatican. I will admit that I am not the most knowledgeable Catholic, but appreciate my faith. While we were on our tour outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, our guide told us to notice the door on the far right of the Cathedral. Apparently it is only open during a year for which a Jubilee is occurring.
Sadly I did not know what she meant by a Jubilee and the fact that we were currently in one.
In the Catholic Church (and other religions), the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. It originated in Judaism where every fifty years people were shown extra mercy and forgiveness. The Catholic Church adopted this tradition and typically proclaimed a Jubilee every 25 or 50 years.
Why is this Jubilee so special?
The last Catholic Jubilee occurred in the year 2000, and technically we weren’t supposed to have another one until around 2025. Pope Francis decided to proclaim an “Extraordinary” Jubilee to occur from December 8, 2015 until 20 November 2016. With all that is going on in the world today, he decided that having the Jubilee sooner rather than later would be beneficial. To me this is in line with all of the other “non-traditional” mercy statements he has made.
The Holy Doors
One of the key components of the Jubilee of Mercy is that the Holy Doors all over the world will be opened during this time. The doors are symbolic to represent God’s mercy and opening the church to everyone who wants to come in. The Holy Doors in St. Peter’s Basiclia are especially special.
The fact that we were at the Vatican and were able to walk through the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica was very special. It’s a one and a lifetime occurrence. Traditionally the only Holy Door was the one found at St. Peter’s Basilica, but Pope Francis broke with tradition and said that every diocese around the world would have designated “Holy Doors”.
If you have a chance to visit Rome, I highly recommend visiting the Vatican (even if you are not Catholic). It is a very beautiful place that has so much history.
One more thing…If you want to get married in one of the chapels in St. Peter’s Basilica, there is a 7 year waiting list!