The Holy Door

The opening of the Holy Door is the best known and most exciting rite and it is the one that marks the beginning of the Jubilee.

The first certain news of the rite of opening the Holy Door of St. Peter's basilica for the Jubilee dates back to 1500 with Pope Alexander VI.

The Holy Doors are open only during the jubilee year. The four papal basilicas of Rome have a Holy Door: the St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, Archbasilica of St John Lateran, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and Basilica of St Mary Major.

The beginning of the Jubilee is sanctioned by the opening of the Holy Door of San Pietro; in the following days the others are opened.

How does the rite of opening the Holy Door take place?

In the past the Pope gave a blow with a gavel to a partially smashed door before the celebration and the workers completed the demolition. For safety reasons, Pope John Paul II decided to streamline the rite so as to make the door clear in advance and leave the Pope only the task of pushing the doors.

The opening of the Holy Door during the Jubilee symbolizes the passage that every Christian must make from sin to grace.

The Holy Doors in the World

In the world there are other Holy Doors granted by the Pope through which it is possible to receive the plenary indulgence. Among these we mention the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L'Aquila, the basilica-cathedral of Notre-Dame de Québec, the cathedral of Atri and the holy door in New Delhi.

During the Extraordinary Jubilee of 2015, Pope Francis granted the opening of the Holy Door also in cathedral churches and allowed dioceses to establish Holy Doors.