A Holy Gated has been opened for the first time at the Roman Catholic St. Joseph Cathedral in Bucharest. The event took place on Sunday, December 13, the third Sunday of Advent, and marked the inauguration of the Jubilee Year in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bucharest.
The St. Joseph Cathedral’s Holy Gate is a wooden gate emplaced within the metal framework of the entrance, to its left side. The simplicity and narrowness of the Gate is an invitation to show ourselves before God with naturalness and humility, fully confident in God’s merciful love.
Pope Francis has convened an extraordinary Jubilee, a Holy Year of God’s Mercy. The Jubilee started on December 8, when the Holy Father opened the Holy Gate of the St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, and will end on November 20, 2016. The jubilee is occasioned by the passing of 50 years since the end of the Vatican II Council and was convened by Pope Francis on April 11, 2015, through the Misericordiae vultus (The Face of Mercy) Bull. This Holy Year – placed under the protection of the Mother of Mercy – is for each person an opportunity to experience daily life with the mercy that God the Father always bestows on all.
The rites started on Sunday morning outside the St. Joseph Cathedral. After a moment of prayer, His Holiness Ioan Robu, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bucharest, opened the Holy Gate and was the first to pass through it, being followed by priests, ministers and the faithful. The Holy Mass followed, being led by Monsignor Ioan Robu.
Following the advice of Pope Francis, His Holiness Ioan Robu decided that apart from the St. Jospeh Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bucharest two other churches should be pilgrimage sites during this Holy Year: the St. Anton Basilica in Constanta and the All Saints Church in Craiova. Their Holy Gates were opened on Sunday too. In Craiova, the Holy Gate was opened by His Holiness Cornel Damian, Assistant Bishop of the Bucharest Archdiocese, and in Craiova by Monsignor Ieronim Iacob, Episcopal Vicar of Dobrogea.
The custom of celebrating a Holy Year was introduced in the Catholic Church during the pontificate of Pope Boniface VIII (1300). The Jubilee (Holy Year) can be ordinary, if it is connected to certain fixed dates, and extraordinary if it is convened on the occasion of a special event. The Holy Year of Mercy convened by Pope Francis is an extraordinary Jubilee. The previous extraordinary Jubilee was convened by Pope John Paul II in 1987, being consecrated to the Virgin Mary.
The first Holy Gate was opened in 1423 by Pope Martin V, at the St. John’s Basilica at the Lateran in Rome (Pope’s Cathedral). At the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Gate was opened for the first time on Christmas in 1499. The Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis is the first time when Holy Gates have been opened outside of Rome, in all cathedrals of the world as well as in churches and sanctuaries designated by local bishops.