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Opening of the Year of Mercy (Brs & Srs)

Pope Francis officially opened the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy on Tuesday 8th of December 2015 with the Eucharistic celebration on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary at Piazza San Pietro, and by opening the Holy Door of St. Peter’s basilica afterward. The day also marked the 50th Anniversary of the closing of Vatican Council II (11 October 1962 – 8 December 1965).

It was 9º Celsius and a cloudy day with occasional drizzle in Rome, yet the turnout was very good. Among the participants were the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, and other dignitaries, hundreds of Cardinals and Bishops, priests, members of religious orders including some SSCC brothers and sisters, as well as estimated 50,000 faithful Catholics and people of good will.

Benedict XVI attended the opening of the Holy Door. Seeing how thin and frail he was, Pope Francis asked the pilgrims in the piazza to send their prayers for the “good health” of the 88 year-old Emeritus Pope. The crowd responded with cheers and applause.

Jubilee Years are rooted in the Old Testament tradition of freeing slaves and prisoners once every 50 years, something that died out within Judaism but was taken up by Pope Boniface VIII for the Catholic Church in 1300. Holy Years are generally celebrated every 25-50 years, where pilgrims come to obtain an indulgence, the eradication by the Church of the spiritual debt arising from sin. The last time the holy door was opened was in 2000, by Pope John Paul II.

Announcing the extraordinary jubilee in March 2015, Pope Francis said the Holy Door was a "Door of Mercy, through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope". This is the first time that a Pope instructs churches and cathedrals all over the world to take part in the tradition of the Holy Door, to help Catholics mark the jubilee at home rather than coming to Rome.

There were more than usual number of police, carabinieri and soldiers seen around the piazza, and all over Rome. Visitors to the piazza had to pass through metal detectors and undergo bag and body checks. No-fly zone was also imposed on Rome’s skies. All these to protect the 10 million pilgrims expected to come to Rome on foot, by car, train and plane to participate in the year-long celebration. Italian security forces are on high alert following recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

The celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy will end on the Feast of Christ the King on the 20th of November 2016.

We have created on our website a Focus on the "Year of Mercy"