DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     December 23, 1999     vol. 10, no. 244

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Door Presented to Pope Pius XII by Swiss Catholics in 1949

        VATICAN CITY, DEC 22 (ZENIT).- With only two days left before the Great Jubilee opens, all eyes turn toward the Holy Door that John Paul II will open to inaugurate the Holy Year.

        The Holy Door represents Christ, because "whoever enters through me will be saved" (Jn 10:9). It also represents the heart of the believer, which must be opened to Christ. The tradition of the Holy Door goes back to the Jubilee of 1500, convoked by Pope Alexander VI.

        The current Holy Door was an offering of thanksgiving Swiss Catholics in 1949, thanking God that Switzerland had been spared the atrocities of World War II, and was installed and opened in the Holy Year of 1950. It is decorated with 16 biblical scenes of redemption and forgiveness, with a special focus on the Mercy parables of the Gospels.

        The first two scenes represent Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. This "closing of the door" is overcome, however, in the next two scenes, which depict the Annunciation of the birth of Christ. Next come a series of scenes from Jesus' public life: his Baptism, the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son, the curing of a paralytic, and the pardon of a sinner. The next two scenes are of St. Peter: "How many times must I forgive my brother?" and his denial of Christ and Jesus' pardon of him. The 12th scene represents the Good Thief, symbolizing that salvation is open to all who ask for it. This is followed by St. Thomas, healed of his lack of faith, and an image of the sacrament of Reconciliation. The conversion of St. Paul occupied the second-to-last image, while the final scene is that of Pope Pius XII opening the Holy Door in 1950.

        In "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," John Paul II also addressed the symbolism of the Holy Door. "The Holy Door of the Jubilee of the Year 2000 should be symbolically wider than those of previous Jubilees, because humanity, upon reaching this goal, will leave behind not just a century but a millennium. The Church should make this passage with a clear awareness of what has happened to her during the last ten centuries. She cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without encouraging her children to purify themselves, through repentance of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency, and slowness to act."

        When John Paul II opens the Holy Door on Christmas Eve, the ceremony will be watched by an unprecedented audience: 1.6 billion people from over 100 countries among which, for the first time, is Japan. In Europe alone, 26 countries have requested the signal, with an audience that will come close to 500 million spectators.

        These figures do not overwhelm Ermanno Olmi, director of the Jubilee opening program for the Italian RAI network. He presented the RAI-Jubilee programs during a press conference in his new ad hoc headquarters in the former Castello cinema, not far from the Vatican. "I will do my work with great simplicity," Director Olmi said, recalling his own background. "I am a highlander, used to the uphill climb."

        Roberto Zaccaria, president of RAI, explained that Olmi was his personal choice because of his sober but distinctive style. "The great adventure is about to begin. We needed a method to narrate the Jubilee that would be gentle, delicate and not intent on overdoing the great event." ZE99122222 and ZE99122104

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 23, 1999       volume 10, no. 244


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