December 8th will be a special day at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Not only is it the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the kick-off of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy, but Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville will inaugurate a Holy Door at the Cathedral.

A Porta Sancta (Holy Door) is a special door in a cathedral or basilica that is only opened during Jubilee Years. Traditionally, the Holy Door is the one in St. Peter’s Basilica.

At 11:45am, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the faithful will gather at the Chapel in the Chancery located at 805 S. Northshore Drive in Knoxville, TN. From there, Bishop Stika will lead the Rite of Introduction and a procession to the doors of Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“Every local church,” Pope Francis declares, “at the cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular area – or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion. Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal. Thus the Jubilee will be celebrated both in Rome and in the Particular Churches as a visible sign of the Church’s universal communion.”

At the instruction of Pope Francis and following his example at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Bishop Stika will inaugurate the Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Knoxville by opening a holy door, called the Door of Mercy at Sacred Heart Cathedral on December 8th at the Noon Mass. Jesus himself said “I am the door. Whoever enters by me will be saved.” The Door of Mercy in Cathedrals and Churches throughout the world signify the mercy of the Father given to us in His Son, Jesus. Entering through the holy door is a sign of our seeking the mercy of the Father and recommitting ourselves to our baptismal promises, knowing that the Good Shepherd who carries us back is also the Door through whom we have access to the Father.

When the door is opened, pilgrims will receive a plenary indulgence for passing through the door and going to confession. Confessions will be heard after the Noon Mass until 2:00pm.

All are welcome to attend. Parking is available at the Chancery/Diocese of Knoxville offices located at 805 S. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919


When is a Door Not Just a Door? When It's a "Holy Door"
When is a Door Not Just a Door? When It’s a “Holy Door”
~ by Thomas L. McDonald,
Learn more about the Jubilee Year of Mercy: