A Vatican Tradition

A Vatican Tradition
St. Peters

Certainly, I was born in a catholic country and in a catholic family. So I had this kind of education from an early age. Although, these days a wider perspective influences my life and beliefs, in relation to God. This doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to the antagonism that produces this controversial topic.

However, I cannot help thinking of all the miseries and scandals going on in the Catholic Church. The horrible news would sicken anyone. And more to those who still believe that the genuine reason the church was established is to support the needy. I believe and hope that the Pope’s call of the Holy Year will help the church focus again on this plight.

On the other hand, it would be unjust not to recognize the work that the Catholic Church does for a part of society. And for the needy throughout the world. I can say that in my school, in Santiago de Chile, the priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross instilled in us, since childhood, important ideals, such as solidarity, justice and compassion. These priests were men of great faith and cutting-edge ideas.They embraced the challenge to resume the goal of the founder : “educating minds and hearts.” We were educated according to self discipline. As well as tolerance and contact with nature. Which drove us to develop excellence not only in academics, but in the arts, literature, science, sports and human relations.

The first three priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross arrived in Chile from the United States on March 1, 1943. Because of an invitation of the Archbishop of Santiago, with the aim to take over administration of Saint George’s College. Within three years of arriving, the Holy Cross had expanded its work in Chile to include a parish ministry in the poor neighborhood of Peñalolén. As well as outreach to abandoned children in Santiago and in the small city of Talagante. The Congregation’s focused their efforts, those early decades, on increasing opportunities, especially educational access, for the poor.

A Vatican Tradition
Saint George’s College


In solidarity with the people of Chile, the Congregation continued ministering in the country during the military government of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). Several members of the Congregation were arrested, tortured, and deported. I was very young in those days but I still remember that our school was in the news and classes were suspended.

The government took over St.George’s College in September 1973. And when we came back to school the next year, we had a military Captain as director instead of a priest.  Each Monday we would have to stand in line to chant a new patriot hymn and raise the Chilean flag. Like a group of tiny little soldiers. The school was only returned to Holy Cross in 1986. During these years, the Congregation took responsibility for Colegio Nuestra Señora de Andacollo. This school was located in the older and poorest sector of Central Santiago.

Today, the Congregation continues to administer St. George’s and Andacollo. Both colleges are boast their academic excellence and their strong faith formation. Specially in terms of social justice. St. George’s, in particular, is recognized as one of the best schools in the country. Therefore, not everything was tainted black.

So in these days, my interest in this topic is rather historic. I love history. For example the great event of the Jubilee is a celebration that has its origins in Judaism. In the times before Christ. And in Christianity, the word finds its first expression at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. With the announcement of the Compliance Year of the Lord. During such times the Holy Year occurred every 49 years and was worshipped as a sabbatical. The fields were not cultivated, nobody worked and slaves became free.

A Vatican Tradition
Vatican Holy Door

Another interesting thing, in my opinion, are the series of rituals with which the Pope begins the Holy Year. For example, the Holy Door in the Basilica of St.Peter in the Vatican leads to a sealed sacred room. This door only opens every 25 years for regular Jubilees, or for an extraordinary Holy Year Such as the upcoming event in 2016.

Since the Middle Ages the Pontiff, in an act of sanctity, takes a hammer (now, the same as used by Pius XI in 1933) and strikes the sealed door three times. Chanting the words: Aperite mihi justitiae slides, ingressus in eas Confitebor Domino (“Open to me the gates of righteousness; entering them confess to the Lord”). The symbolism of the effort to break the door down means the difficulty of the Christian way. But at the same time, emphasizes that once you have crossed and entered to that sacred space you find the extraordinary greatness of the love and mercy of God. And this is how Jubilee begins.

Later, this same ceremony is performed with another three holy doors that exist in three different historical basilicas of Rome. The church of St. John Lateran, St. Paul ‘s Church and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.  All of them are located in the center of the city, allowing for a wonderful pilgrimage, without leaving Rome.

So, we will have the oportunity to witness these four Catholics rites, steeped in solemn history. And we’ll even have the opportunity to go beyond the holy doors. Allowing you, according to the Catholic rite, to obtain plenary indulgence, forgiveness of sins, and God’s mercy. No small feat. And the Jubilee in modern times allows us to get this great opportunity of crossing the doors by purchasing a ticket online, unthinkable in the Middle Ages.

If you’re thinking about experiencing the Jubilee and the wonderful city of Rome and don’t know where to start, Contact Us, and we’ll create a custom travel and event itinerary to meet your pilgrimage expectations.

Contact us and let´s start planning your trip to Rome.

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