Before going to Rome this past February I do not recall ever hearing of the Holy Doors, but was quite happy to have the privilege of going through three sets of the designated Holy Doors while on that trip. In fact, I went in and out and back in and out another time or two just for good measure although one cannot gain the indulgence more than one time per day for oneself and for a poor soul in purgatory. This year, declared the year of Mercy or Misericordia by Pope Frances the Holy Doors were officially opened around the world.
They normally do not open for twenty-five years, when another Holy Year is declared. This is not something new, it has been going on since the jubilee of 1423 in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. By the end of the 15th century the practice spread to all basilicas of Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. In the ensuing centuries the practice and ritual has spread beyond Rome, making the graces of a holy door more widely available, according to the Internet.
With twelve years of Catholic education in my youth, I wonder how I missed this interesting bit of information. Perhaps in the ensuing fifty-five years, it has simply slipped my mind.
Ramona has been all excited about getting to one of the two designated sites of the Holy Doors in our diocese. One place is our wonderful and beautiful neo-Gothic Cathedral, St. John the Evangelist, downtown. I have loved this church since I was a campfire girl and attended ceremonies there. When I worked downtown I managed to get there for Mass on occasion and the bus stop was close enough that I was able to stop in for visits easily.
However, parking anywhere that close to the center of the city is difficult to find or ends in a long walk through a trail of pan handlers and strung out druggies which I experienced even waiting for the bus in the shelter in broad daylight with many people milling about, so I said I was not driving downtown.
The second location is the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes further east and not far from where my parents lived, so I agreed to meet her there for another opportunity to go through the Holy Doors.