Sunday marks holy door opening, rare papal blessing at Cathedral

| December 9, 2015 | 0 Comments
Archbishop Bernard Hebda will open the Holy Doors at the Cathedral of St. Paul Dec. 13 before 10 a.m. Mass. The doors were sealed last month ahead of the Year of Mercy. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Archbishop Bernard Hebda will open the Holy Doors at the Cathedral of St. Paul Dec. 13 before 10 a.m. Mass. The doors were sealed last month ahead of the Year of Mercy. “Porta Sancta” is “Holy Door” in Latin. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

For the first time in Church history, cathedrals around the world will open, on the same day, holy doors to usher in a holy year, and the Cathedral of St. Paul is no exception.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda invites all Catholics of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to participate in the opening of the Cathedral’s Holy Doors at 10 a.m. Mass Dec. 13 to mark the beginning of the Year of Mercy.

Before Mass, he will unseal the Cathedral’s central doors facing John Ireland Boulevard and invite those present to follow him inside the church to begin the liturgy. The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, the archdiocese’s co-cathedral, will hold a similar procession before a 9:30 a.m. Mass that day.

Prior to the Year of Mercy, which began Dec. 8, the practice of the Holy See had been to designate holy doors at only a few churches, most often at the Vatican or in Rome. By requiring the opening of holy doors at cathedrals worldwide, Pope Francis hopes to expand the opportunities for Catholics to make pilgrimages and receive special Holy Year graces.

Pope Francis has also granted all the bishops of the world the power to give his papal blessing Dec. 13. That blessing gives the faithful the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence if they meet the usual conditions, including complete detachment from sin, the reception of sacramental confession and Holy Communion, and the offering of prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions.

The Vatican office responsible for these matters has suggested that it is sufficient that the conditions be met “within several days (about 20) before or after” the reception of the blessing. While the format of the individual’s prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the individual, that same office has indicated that “an Our Father and a Hail Mary are suggested.”

This will be the first time in his six years as a bishop that Archbishop Hebda will offer the solemn apostolic blessing. He said he is “humbled by the opportunity” and sees it as one more way that Pope Francis has communicated his closeness to the faithful of this Archdiocese.

Pope Francis opened Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 8 and will open the Holy Doors of St. John Lateran, Rome’s cathedral, Dec. 13.

During the Year of Mercy, Catholics are encouraged to practice works of mercy, frequent the sacrament of reconciliation and make pilgrimages to churches with holy doors, where it is possible for pilgrims to receive plenary indulgences. The Year of Mercy ends Nov. 20, 2016.

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