In Jubilee Years, declared by Popes, Holy Doors (doors of major Roman Basilicas normally sealed with mortar) become Doors of Mercy. The doors are opened, allowing pilgrims seeking the mercy of God to enter through these sacred doors. This year, by the direction of the Holy Father, other church doors throughout the world, have been designated as Holy Doors to accommodate the faithful who cannot travel to Rome with a means of receiving the mercy of God through this Jubilee tradition.
Doors can be seen as having dual purposes; they can be a means to control or restrict entrance, or a portal of hospitality.
In an ecstatic vision, Saint Catherine of Siena heard God speak of such a restriction when he revealed to her that in the garden, the sin of man “had closed Heaven and bolted the doors of mercy, [which caused] the soul of man [to] produce thorns and brambles…”
Fortunately they would not remain closed. Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection they were opened again. Indeed, all the synoptic gospels note that at the Baptism of our Lord, heaven was once again opened.
In the Jubilee, the Church responds to Psalm 118 by opening the “gate [or door] of the Lord; [so that] the righteous may enter”. The Holy Doors, now Doors of Mercy, are symbols of Christ, who in John 10:7, proclaims, “I am the door”.
Jesus, the real Holy Door, promises us (Matthew 7:7), “…knock and it will be opened to you.”