Special visiting hours for the Holy Door at St. Mary’s Cathedral

FALL RIVER, Mass. — St. Mary’s Cathedral will be open for special visiting hours on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to noon, through the summer, from now through the end of September, so that people observing the extraordinary jubilee Year of Mercy will have the opportunity to enter through the Holy Door. The Holy Door is also accessible at the usual Mass times on weekends (Saturday at 4 p.m. and at 7 p.m. [Brazilian], Sunday at 10 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. [Spanish]). 

Pope Francis directed cathedrals around the world to open their Holy Doors so that symbolic pilgrimage could be experienced by the faithful without needing to go to Rome. When he opened the Holy Door at Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran last December, the pope said, “It begins a time of great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy.” He added, “God does not love rigidity. He is tender.” 

These doors are symbolic of God’s mercy. The jubilee is “extraordinary” in the sense that it does not follow the usual Catholic practice of having jubilee years at 25-year intervals. This jubilee coincides with the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which sought to proclaim God’s love to modern society.

Pope Francis granted bishops the discretion to designate other churches as having Holy Doors, for the sake of those who cannot get to their cathedral. In additional to St. Mary’s Cathedral, which is on Spring Street in Fall River, the other churches in the diocese to have Holy Doors are St. Mary, Taunton; the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, Attleboro; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, New Bedford; Corpus Christi, East Sandwich; and Holy Trinity, West Harwich. 

The pilgrims who enter these churches through the Holy Doors are making a gesture which represents a motion in their lives from sin to grace. In his decree for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the pope said, “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” The Jubilee Indulgence is granted to those passing through a Holy Door or performing one of the Spiritual or Corporal Works of Mercy (subject to the normal conditions for indulgences).

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts