Holy Door sealed at nation’s largest Catholic church

Dec 04, 2023 2 Min Read
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In preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year, two of the massive entry doors at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., have been sealed.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, blessed and sealed the two doors, which are scheduled to be reopened on Christmas Eve next year as a Holy Door for pilgrims. The ceremony took place on the first Sunday of Advent — a little more than one year before the start of the 2025 Jubilee Year, which will center on the theological virtue of hope.

“May this long-range planning for the holy year inspire our efforts so that 2025 will truly be a year of hope,” the archbishop said in his homily during Mass at the basilica. “We symbolically close a door this afternoon to anticipate its opening and the graces that will be offered to us.”

Broglio said the jubilee theme “Pilgrims of Hope” indicates that “we are on a journey and not pessimistic travelers,” highlighting the need for a message of hope amid ongoing crises around the world.

“We journey to the fullness of life,” the archbishop said. “You and I are charged to bring a message of hope to a world that desperately needs that gift. Think about the horrible fighting in the Holy Land where Israel wants security and the Palestinians a place to call home. War rages in Ukraine, where an innocent people longs to see the end of aggression. We remember Syria as well, where the common folk live in despair and constant need. We also want to bring hope to our neighbors in Haiti, where the hunger for stability and a plan for the future searches for resolution.”

Broglio tied the upcoming jubilee theme to the start of Advent, noting that “the notion that we must be ever prepared to meet the Lord when he summons us into his presence is not absent in these days [and] that thought is not meant to be frightening, but it is a call to open-eyed preparation in every day of the journey that is ours.” He also cited Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus from Nov. 27, 2005: “Advent is the season in which Christians must rekindle in their hearts, the hope that they will be able with God's help to renew the world.”

Holy Doors, which are traditionally sealed prior to jubilee years, provide special graces for pilgrims who walk through them. A pilgrimage through a Holy Door also permits one to receive a plenary indulgence when the other normal conditions for such an indulgence are met. The 2025 Jubilee Year begins on Dec. 24, 2024 (Christmas Eve), and concludes on Jan. 6, 2026 — slightly more than one calendar year.

Pope Francis designated the basilica for the use of a Holy Door for the upcoming Jubilee. The basilica also received this designation during previous jubilee years in 2000 and 2016.

In a statement, Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, the rector of the basilica, said that hosting a holy year door in another jubilee year is a great privilege.

“To host the national holy year door has been a great privilege for this National Shrine, first granted to us by St. John Paul II and again by Pope Francis,” Rossi said. “While it may seem unremarkable on the surface, to walk through a Holy Door is a moment of grace, and the opportunity to do so while entering Mary’s house is a special spiritual experience.”

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