DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     December 16, 1999     vol. 10, no. 239

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Surprises During Opening of Holy Door

        VATICAN CITY, DEC 14 (ZENIT).- Today, Bishop Piero Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, announced the sequence of events for the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica. The opening of this door will mark the beginning of the Great Jubilee.

        On Christmas Eve, 1999, John Paul II will slowly climb up the steps leading to the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica. He will bang the door-knocker with his hand (without using the hammer as on other occasions) and then open both sides of the door. At this moment, the Vatican Basilica will be ablaze with light, and the Holy Father will kneel in silent prayer on the Door's threshold for a few moments.

        This gesture is symbolic, the Bishop explained, "of the step that every Christian must take from sin to grace... The Pope will be the first to cross the Holy Door with this spirit on Christmas Eve. After crossing the threshold, he will show the Holy Gospel to the Church and the world, as the source of life and hope for the third millennium."

        Bishop Marini reflected on the importance this gesture has for the Pope. John Paul II who "began his pontificate with the cry 'open the doors wide to Christ' and who has written 'Crossing the Threshold of Hope' will cross the threshold of the Great Jubilee that celebrates with joy the two thousand years since Jesus Christ's birth."

        The Master of Pontifical Liturgical celebrations gave examples of some of the most expressive moments of the rite, such as the procession of Cardinals, Bishops, heads of State, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and ordinary people from around the world, which will leave the historic Constantine Passage at 11 p.m. to go to the Holy Door. The whole ceremony will be laced with expressions and languages from all countries and cultures. After the procession for example, African horns will be heard as a sign of rejoicing. Once the Holy Father opens the Door, it will be adorned with perfumes and flowers from Asia and Oceania.

        Bishop Marini said that some 55,000 people have requested participation in the opening ceremony of the Holy Door, but St. Peter's Basilica can only accommodate 7,000 adequately. Therefore, giant screens and chairs will be placed in St. Peter's Square, so that all pilgrims can follow the event. Faithful throughout the world will be able to follow the ceremony live thanks to the request for transmission by an unprecedented number of television channels. ZE99121408

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 16, 1999       volume 10, no. 239


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