Holy Year of Mercy

Holy Year of Mercy

Bishop Philip opened the Holy Door of Mercy at St John's Cathedral

In the bull of indiction Misericordiae Vultus (MV), Pope Francis decreed that the Holy Year would begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8, 2015, with the opening of the Holy Door in the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican. On the following Sunday, December 13, the Third Sunday of Advent, the opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, took place. After that, the Holy Doors of the other Papal Basilicas opened. Moreover, the Holy Father decreed that on the same Sunday, “in every local church, at the cathedral — the mother church of the faithful in any particular area —, a Door of Mercy would opened for the duration of the Holy Year.

At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments as people discover a path to conversion” (MV, 3).

Accordingly, Bishop Philip opened a Door of Mercy at St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth on Sunday 13 December 2015 at Noon. He then celebrated Mass. On the same day a similar Door of Mercy opened at Our Lady & St Edmund of Abingdon Church, Abingdon. Throughout the year, the faithful are encouraged to go on pilgrimage to either or both churches.

To arrange group visits please contact the respective parish in good time.

St John’s Cathedral – 02392 826170 – cathedral@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

Our Lady and St Edmund of Abingdon – 01235 520375 – abingdon@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk



Year of Mercy


In this Year of Mercy, we are offered a chance to leave old ways behind; we are invited to be reconciled with God; he calls us to renew our profession of faith encouraging us to rediscover our baptismal call to live a holy life.  All of this is symbolised through our passing through the Holy Door. 


‘The custom of crossing the threshold of a Holy Door is rich in meaning as a renewal of baptism. Jesus Himself is the Door, the Way to heaven, the means to communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. To pass through the Holy Door is to profess our faith in Him, to cross from this world to the next and to leave behind the old way of life, restored to the holiness of our baptism.’ (Bishop Philip’s Pastoral Letter)



What is an Indulgence? (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1471)

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfaction of Christ and the saints.”


In other words, when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our sins are forgiven, and the eternal punishment due to our sins is remitted. However, temporal punishment for our sins remain – this is not inflicted by God, but rather flows from the very nature of sin itself. We can be purified of this temporal punishment through conversion and fervent charity on earth, or through the sufferings of Purgatory. An indulgence is a wonderful grace. When we receive an indulgence, the Church lavishes on us the graces of her treasury – of all the merits of Christ and the saints. Receiving an indulgence remits before God all temporal punishment. We can receive it for ourselves, or we can apply the graces to the holy souls in Purgatory.


Pope Francis writes, “To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every cathedral or in churches designated by the diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. It is important that this moment be linked,first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.”


To obtain the Indulgence:


  1. Make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door
  2. Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconcilation
  3. Receive Holy Communion during Mass
  4. Pass through the Holy Door
  5. Pray the Creed and/or renew your baptismal promises
  6. Pray for the Holy Father’s intentions



How to make a good Confession



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