| THE SYMBOL OF THE HOLY 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."