During the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which continues until Nov. 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis encourages everyone to make a pilgrimage – either to Rome or to one's local cathedral or other holy site designated by the Church.
A pilgrimage is a journey to a designated holy place for the purpose of veneration or, in some cases, penance.
As part of the jubilee year, each pilgrimage destination features a "Holy Door" to which pilgrims can journey. This door represents the compassion, love, mercy and consolation of God working in our lives.
The jubilee year traditionally begins with the opening of the Holy Door to represent a renewed opportunity to encounter or grow closer to Jesus, who calls everyone to redemption. That is why passing through a Holy Door is part of a longer process of sacrifice and conversion.
There are four Holy Doors in Rome: St. Peter's Basilica, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
Realizing that not everyone can travel to Rome for the jubilee year, Pope Francis has asked every diocese throughout the world to open their own "Doors of Mercy." These Doors of Mercy will enable the faithful in every part of the world to experience the mercy of the Father in its fullness. In the Bull of Indiction "Misericordiae Vultus" ("The Face of Mercy"), Pope Francis writes: "On the same Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent), I decree that in every local church, at the cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular area – or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion."
The Diocese of Charlotte will have three Doors of Mercy: St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte, St. Lawrence Basilica in Asheville, and St. Pius X Church in Greensboro.
Those who make a pilgrimage to any of the Holy Doors, whether in the Charlotte diocese, other dioceses or in Rome, may obtain a plenary indulgence – the remission of temporal punishment due to sin.
The plenary indulgence is granted to those who complete the pilgrimage and fulfill the usual conditions: receiving the sacraments of penance and Communion, and praying for the intentions of the pope.
To complete the pilgrimage, one must cross through a Holy Door or Door of Mercy, and stop in for prayer to make a Profession of Faith and do a reflection on mercy, such as reflecting on the Jubilee Prayer of Pope Francis.
It is suggested, but not required, to recite the Jubilee Prayer of Pope Francis, or one of the psalms of mercy or one of Jesus' parables of mercy, etc.
The faithful are also encouraged by the Holy Father to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, "to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father..."
What if you cannot make a pilgrimage? For those who are sick, elderly, homebound or otherwise unable to make a pilgrimage during this jubilee year, Pope Francis encourages them to embrace the cross of their infirmity. He writes, "For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of His Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving Communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the jubilee indulgence."
Nearby Doors of Mercy
Diocese of Raleigh:
Sacred Heart Cathedral, 200 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, N.C. 27603
Basilica Shrine of St. Mary, 412 Ann St., Wilmington, N.C. 28401
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 211 Irwin Dr., Newton Grove, N.C. 28366
Mother of Mercy Church, 112 W. 9th St., Washington, N.C. 27889
Archdiocese of Atlanta:
Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30305
Our Lady of the Americas Church, 4603 Lawrenceville Hwy., Lilburn, Ga. 30047
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 48 M.L.K. Jr. Dr. S.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30303 (to be opened Jan. 1)
St. Philip Benizi Church, 591 Flint River Road, Jonesboro, Ga. 30238 (to be opened Jan. 25)
Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 GA-212, Conyers, Ga. 30094 (A monastery of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance located east of Atlanta) (to be opened Feb. 2)
Sacred Heart of Jesus Basilica, 353 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30308 (to be opened Feb. 2)
Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Church, 4545 Shackleford Road, Norcross, Ga. 30093 (to be opened Feb. 22)
Diocese of Charleston:
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 120 Broad St., Charleston, S.C. 29401
St. Michael Church, 542 Cypress Ave., Murrells Inlet, S.C. 29576
St. Anthony Church, 2536 Hoffmeyer Road, Florence, S.C. 29501
St. Gregory the Great Church, 333 Fording Island Road, Okatie, S.C. 29909
St. Peter Church, 1529 Assembly St., Columbia, S.C. 29201
St. Mary's Church, 111 Hampton Ave., Greenville, S.C. 29601
St. Mary Help of Christians Church, 203 Park Ave. S.E., Aiken, S.C. 29801
The Oratory Chapel, 434 Charlotte Ave., Rock Hill, S.C. 29734
Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina/Our Lady of Joyful Hope, 330 E. Main St., Kingstree, S.C. 29556
Diocese of Knoxville:
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 711 S. Northshore Dr., Knoxville, Tenn. 37919
Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, 214 E. 8th St., Chattanooga, Tenn. 37402
Church of Divine Mercy, 10919 Carmichael Road, Knoxville, Tenn. 37932
St. Mary Church, 2211 E. Lakeview Dr., Johnson City, Tenn. 37601
Diocese of Richmond:
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 800 S. Cathedral Pl., Richmond, Va. 23220 (to be opened Dec. 20)