By editor - 09 December, 2015
The ceremony was attended by King Albert II of Belgium with Queen Paola as well as the President and Prime Minister of Italy, Sergio Mattarella and Matteo Renzi.
In his homily, Pope Francis highlighted the primacy of grace.
“Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures,” Pope Francis said.
“But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy…the Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.”
The Pope described the Holy Year as “itself a gift of grace.”
“To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded his homily by saying “as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world.”
He said the anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, but must also remember the “encounter” which happened at the Council.
“The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council,” he said.
“May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan.”
After Mass, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door to St Peter’s, where he was met by Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, whom he embraced.
The Jubilee will continue this Sunday, when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door in his Cathedral, St John Lateran, and bishops around the world open Holy Doors in their own Cathedrals, and other designated Churches, including here in Ireland.
Following the Mass for the Immaculate Conception, and the solemn inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy with opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis led the crowds in the recitation of the midday prayer to the Blessed Virgin in the Angelus.
He told them that two things are necessary to fully celebrate the day’s feast.
First, “to fully welcome God and His merciful grace into our life; second, to become in our own times ‘workers of mercy’ through an evangelical journey.”
In imitation of Mary, he said, “we are called to be ‘bearers of Christ’ and witnesses of His love,” especially towards those who are most in need.