Franciscan Footprints

Sisters Walking Through Holy DoorOn July 16, 2016, the anniversary of the founding of our community, the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis made a pilgrimage to one of the two jubilee doors here in Peoria. In four vehicles, we car pooled our way to Saint Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Peoria. Welcomed by Monsignor Stanley Deptula, we made our way to the back of the church so we could each enter through the Holy Door. Sister Judith Ann then led us in a short prayer service that included the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

As many of you know, this year is an extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. What’s the big deal? Even though you can find this information elsewhere, I'll share some of the "big deal" with you now.

Each of the four papal basilicas in Rome has a holy door, which are normally sealed shut from the inside so that they cannot be opened. The doors are only opened during Jubilee years so that pilgrims can enter through them in order to gain the plenary indulgence that is connected with the Jubilee.

The rite of the opening of the Holy Door is intended to symbolically demonstrate the idea that the Church's faithful are offered an "extraordinary path" toward salvation during the time of Jubilee.

The Catholic tradition of practicing the Holy Year began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300, and since 1475 an Ordinary Jubilee has been celebrated every 25 years in order to allow each generation to experience at least one during their lifetime.

However, as is the case with Pope Francis' 2016 Holy Year of Mercy, an extraordinary Jubilee can be called for a special occasion or for an event that has a particular importance. For this Holy Year, Pope Francis is seeking to make the indulgence as widely available as possible. In the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a Holy Door is to be opened in every cathedral around the world, as well as in particular shrines.

The Holy Year is traditionally a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment merited by one's sins. It is also a year for reconciliation between enemies, conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The first extraordinary Jubilee was called in 16th century, and the most recent have been in 1933, when Pope Pius XI called one to celebrate 1900 years of Redemption, and in 1983 when St. John Paul II proclaimed one to honor 1950 years of Redemption.

To receive the Jubilee Year indulgence, you must fulfill the usual conditions, and perform the indulgenced act: passing through a designated Holy Door during the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (between Dec. 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King) or performing one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy. You may receive the plenary indulgence yourself, or offer it for a person in purgatory.

I have been very blessed to pass through four different Holy Doors thus far:

Holy Door at Miraculous Medal Shrine


The National Shrine of Miraculous Medal, in Perryville, Mo. I visited here while on my vacation in June. --->










Holy Door at Our Lady of Snows



In January, I visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows in Belleville, IL. --->

Holy Door at Sacred Heart in Peoria














Three times I have passed through the Holy Door at Sacred Heart Catholic Church here in Peoria. --->

I've also walked four times through the Holy Door at Saint Mary’s Cathedral , where our community made our pilgrimage (see photo at top of article.)




If you haven’t made a pilgrimage to a Holy Door yet this year, now is the time! You can find a partial list here. I say partial because I am aware of many Holy Doors that are not listed here! For additional information about the Jubilee year, check out the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website with Frequently Asked Questions about the Jubilee of Mercy. They suggest using a diocese's individual website to find their Holy Door(s.)

Sources for this article:
"About the Jubilee of Mercy." About the Jubilee of Mercy. Official Vatican Network, 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 July 2016. <>.
"Plenary Indulgences Aplenty." The Divine Mercy. Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M., 2015. Web. 25 July 2016. <>.
"Pope Francis Declares Holy Year for Mercy." The Divine Mercy. Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M., 2015. Web. 25 July 2016. <>.

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