DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 241

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Thought-Provoking Gesture in Preparation for Jubilee

        VATICAN CITY, DEC 17 (ZENIT).- At 4:45 p.m. this past Wednesday dry hammering broke the silence in St. Peter's Basilica. At that time, a Vatican worker began to knock down the wall sealing the inside of the Holy Door. This action is connected to the "recognitio" rite, which was presided by Cardinal Virgilio Noe, Archpriest of the Basilica, and Bishop Piero Marini, master of papal liturgical celebrations.

        The opening of the Holy Door is always preceded by actions intended to facilitate the Pope's task on Christmas Eve. First a metal box was removed, which was placed in this spot during the 1983-1984 Jubilee. Then the bricks were removed that sealed the wall. The Holy Father will now be able to open the door by pushing both sides with his hands.

        The wall the Vatican workers knocked down yesterday had 3,800 very special bricks. Each one had the name of its owner -- the person who bought it by making a donation at the closing of the last Jubilee. These bricks have now gone to their respective owners, whose names had been inscribed in a register with their corresponding address.

        The "recognitio" ceremony began with a procession led by Cardinal Noe. After reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah and reciting a Psalm and the Our Father, an additional 15 minutes of energetic hammering were necessary to extract the metal box which had been sealed in the wall 16 years ago. While the procession moved away after the final ceremony, some one hundred pilgrims in the Basilica came forward to pick up pieces of the wall as mementos.

        In the Basilica's sacristy, Cardinal Noe examined the box's contents. It took ten minutes to open by using a blowtorch. Inside was a picture of the Virgin, a series of gold and silver coins minted during the 5th year of John Paul II's pontificate, the register of the names of brick proprietors, the Bull closing the extraordinary Jubilee of 1983-1984, and four gold bricks, exactly like the terracotta ones of the wall.

        Similar "recognitio" ceremonies of the Holy Door are being held in the major Roman basilicas between today and December 21.

        The crossing of the Holy Door, a symbol of the Jubilee, evokes the step that every Christian must take from sin to grace: John Paul II reminds the faithful of this in the Bull of convocation of the Holy Year 2000. He also states that to cross the threshold of the Holy Door means to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. ZE99121614

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 20, 1999       volume 10, no. 241


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