Pope Francis declared the 2016 church year a Jubilee year of Mercy. His Holiness asked the Holy Door be opened in every diocese around the world. The Holy Door is a designated door of a cathedral which remains closed until a year of Jubilee.
In Edmonton, Archbishop Richard Smith blessed the doors on Gaudete Sunday (December 13, 2015) and opened the doors in communion with churches around the world.
While the Holy Doors in Rome open every jubilee (set every 49 years, unless specially declared), Holy Doors at churches like here at St Joseph’s Basilica are seldom ever opened. Although a priest had mentioned that the doors have never been opened at the Basilica, it has not been confirmed if they’ve opened for a previous year of jubilee.
Catholic pilgrims entering through Holy Doors this year meeting spiritual requirements will receive an indulgence, or a remission of punishment due to sin. Holy Doors will remain open at every church with a Holy Door for the entire church year.
The Archbishop also blessed the congregation with holy water as it was Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent celebrating joy. The first Sunday of Advent, which Grey Cup Sunday often occurs on, is the beginning of the church year. During Advent, the candles of hope, love, joy, and peace and are lit in order to each Sunday of Advent. The candle in the middle representing Jesus is lit on Christmas Eve which ends the season of Advent and begins Christmastide. Midnight Mass at the Basilica on Christmas Eve is a popular tradition for Christians around the city.