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Enter the Holy Doors – Strathmore Celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Jubilee Year History

Jubilee year of the Church happens every 25 years, modeled after the Jewish one that takes place every 50 years. In effect, in Judaism and Christianity, the concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fiftieth year, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest (cf. Leviticus 25:8-13).


Traditionally, the Jubilee Years in the Church would be celebrated every 25 years but the Popes can invoke “extraordinary” ones. In the 20th century, for example, Jubilees were held in 1925, 1933 (in commemoration of Jesus’ death), 1950, 1966 (post-Council jubilee), 1975, 1983 (Holy Year of the Redemption) and 2000 (the Great Jubilee).


Significantly calling on the entire global Roman Catholic Church to take up his papacy’s central message of compassion and pardon, on 13 March 2015, Pope Francis announced a special jubilee on the theme of mercy to be held from 8th December 2015 to 20th November 2016, and formally convoked the Holy Year through the papal bull of indiction, Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), on 11 April 2015. Saying that he has “thought often about how the Church can make more evident its mission of being a witness of mercy,” the pope announced the new jubilee year during a Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica.  “Let us not forget that God pardons and God pardons always,” the pope continued. “Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness.”  And he adds in the bull, “I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.”

Jubilee Indulgences

The most distinctive feature in the ceremonial of the Jubilee is the unwalling and the final walling up of the “holy door” in each of the four great basilicas (St. Peter’s Basilica, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul outside the Walls), which the pilgrims are required to visit. The doors are opened by the Pope at the beginning of the Jubilee year.  A visit to any one of the four patriarchal basilicas in Rome (entering through the holy door) attracts a Jubilee Indulgence.


An indulgence is the extra-sacramental remission of the temporal punishment due, in God’s justice, to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints, and for some just and reasonable motive.

Conditions for Indulgence

The mere fact that the Church proclaims an indulgence does not imply that it can be gained without effort on the part of the faithful.  The recipient must be free from the guilt of mortal sin.  Furthermore, for plenary indulgences, confession (within the week) and Communion (on the actual day) are usually required. It is also necessary to have the intention, at least habitual, of gaining the indulgence. Finally, from the nature of the case, it is obvious that one must perform the good works — in this case going through the Jubilee Door and praying for the Pope at the Church — which are prescribed in the granting of an indulgence.


Catholic dioceses all over the world share a similar rite dedicating certain doors for the purposes of the Jubilee Year in order to accommodate its faithful who do not intend to visit Rome for the occasion. Local parishes’ doors include the same indulgence given to the Basilica doors. In the Archdiocese of Nairobi four special doors have been opened in four Churches: at Resurrection Garden – Karen, Divine Mercy Church – Kayole, Holy Family Basilica and St. Patrick’s Church – Thika.

Strathmore activities lined up for the Year of the Mercy

  • Penitential Rites: these are sessions of public celebrations of the Sacrament of Reconciliation with individual confessions. They will typically take place after Mass for an hour.
  • “12 Hours for the Lord”: this is in imitation of Pope Francis’ 24 Hours for the Lord, an overnight celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation that includes Eucharistic adoration.  In our case it will be an all-day activity from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. Priests will be available for confessions during the 12 hours.
  • Special masses organized and guided by heads of each school or faculty or department.
  • Creating Christian awareness of activities done out of mercy, especially by Community Service Centre (CSC) and Community Based Attachment (CBA) at the University.

To participate…

All Catholics are encouraged to participate. Members of other denominations can also participate in some of the activities and even go through the Jubilee doors.


The Jubilee year of Mercy recommended books to read are;

1)      The Gentle Judge our Lord Jesus

2)      The Face of Mercy

Faithfuls are also encouraged to read;

3)      Messages of Pope Francis during his Apostolic Journey to Africa.

All books are available at the chapel Library.