Holy Door Q. As the New Year approaches, I started thinking of the Holy Door at the Vatican and the special years that it is opened. When would be the next time it is opened?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:  

As one faces St. Peter’s Basilica, the “Holy Door” is the last door on the right. The door cannot ordinarily be entered because it is bricked shut from the inside. The exception is during a Holy Year, which occurs every 25 years; the last one greeted the new millennium, in 2000.

To mark the beginning of a Holy Year, the Pope strikes the brick wall with a specially constructed, ornamental hammer. The wall is then removed so the Holy Door may be opened to allow pilgrims to enter the basilica and avail themselves of the special Holy Year indulgence. The Pope then closes the door at the end of the Holy Year. In the last century the Church celebrated two extraordinary Holy Years of Redemption, in 1933 and 1983, to commemorate the anniversary of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Doors protect the persons and things behind them, and they prevent thieves and other evildoers from entering the spaces they guard. Thus the symbolism that underlies the Holy Door is immense. It represents our Savior, who describes himself as the door, or gate, depending on the Bible translation, and assures us, “Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9).