"The Holy Door (Porta Santa)" Vatican City Things to Do Tip by Damir

Vatican City Things to Do: 800 reviews and 1,514 photos

  The Holy Door
by Damir

The Holy Door is an actual door entering into the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, that is ceremoniously opened by the Pope at the beginning of each Holy Year, and remains open throughout the year as pilgrims enter St. Peter's Basilica. At the year's end, it is sealed from the inside of the Basilica with bricks and mortar, until the next Jubilee year. The Holy Door symbolically represents Christ the Savior who said: "Whoever enters through me will be saved" (John 10:9). It also represents the heart of the believer who allows God to enter and dwell within. The Holy Door tradition was begun in 1500 under Pope Alexander VI. The present door, a gift of the Swiss Catholics in 1949, is decorated with biblical scenes of redemption and forgiveness, with a special focus on the Mercy parables of the Gospels.

The sixteen panels are as follows:

1,2 Adam and Eve
the "closing of the door" of paradise because of sin
Genesis 3

3,4 Annunciation
Mary's consent to participate in the plan of Redemption
"opened the door" of salvation once again
Luke 1: 26-38

5 Jesus' Baptism
emphasizing Baptism as gift
Mark 1: 9-11

6 The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Jesus seeks out sinners
Luke 15: 1-7

7 The Parable of the Lost Son
the patient mercy and unconditional forgiveness of the Father
Luke 15: 11-32

8 The Cure of the Paralytic
Jesus heals the body and forgives sins, thus also healing the soul
Luke 5: 17-26

9 Jesus Forgives a Sinner
those who are forgiven much, love much
Luke 7: 36-50

10 St. Peter
"How many times must I forgive, Lord? Seven times?"
"No, Peter -- 70 times seven times!"
Matthew 18: 21-22

11 The Denial of Peter
and the response of forgiveness by Jesus
Mark 14: 66-72

12 The Good Thief
salvation for all who ask
Luke 23: 39-43

13 St. Thomas
Jesus heals the lack of faith
John 20: 24-29

14 Sacrament of Penance
a source of forgiveness and grace
John 20: 19-23

15 Conversion of St. Paul
conversion of heart
Acts 9: 1-19

16 St. Pius XII opens the Holy Door of 1950
at the beginning of that Jubilee year

Address: St. Peter's Basilica
Directions: Right entrance in St. Peter's Basilica.
Website: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/documents/ns_lit_doc_14121999_porta-santa_en.html

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  • Written Nov 27, 2004
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