This January, St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville added another door to its main entrance, although no one will pass through it.
The 7 1/2 by-11-foot replica of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome serves as a reminder of the Catholic Church’s celebration of a special year in 2016.
“Both the intricacy and beauty of the door certainly has captured the attention of parishioners, and it allows them to see a life-size replica of the holy door in Rome from St. Peter’s Basilica,” said Donna Smith, St. Mark director of faith formation.
The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis has declared will run from Dec. 8to Nov. 20, calls Catholics around the world to practice forgiveness, mercy and compassion, to be forgiven of their sins and to renew their passion for Christ.
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Pope Francis pushed open the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica in early December to launch the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Walking through the door, which is only opened during a Year of Jubilee, symbolizes forgiveness of sins and renewing the conversion of one’s life. Passing through the door also indicates passing into the presence of God and confirms one’s belief in Jesus Christ, Smith said.
Smith came up with the idea of to replicate the Holy Door at St. Mark and enlisted the help of St. Mark Public Relations Coordinator Amy Burger to help. A company in Georgia printed a high-resolution image of the door, which has 16 bronze panels depicting scenes of man’s sin and redemption through God’s mercy, onto outdoor canvas. The replica cost about $400.
Staff and volunteers at St. Mark built a large frame for the canvas and mounted it to the exterior of the church. Smith said that the replica door, which hangs to the right of St. Mark’s main door, is almost as large as the original in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“People who have been (to Rome) to see it are just in awe of it,” Smith said. “The fact that we were able to replicate it in such detail was such a gift.”
The replica door will stay up until the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Smith said. On the feast of Christ the King on Nov. 20, Pope Francis will mark the end of the Jubilee Year by closing the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Now that the weather has provided a break from rain and snow, Smith said the church would add a natural stone path in front of the door, a lectern with detailed information about it and a bench where people can pause and reflect.
“People do walk up to it, and people look at it and ask questions about it,” Smith said.
Burger said the detailed panels would provide many opportunities to learn, such as a rooster in one scene that is a reminder of Jesus telling his follower Peter that in coming days Peter would deny knowing him three times before the rooster crowed.
Along with the door, St. Mark will offer opportunities throughout the year for people to learn what the church teaches about issues such as divorce and annulment, pornography and homosexuality that can cloud people’s perception of the church.
National speakers will visit the church to address the topics.
“The programming is focused not only on mercy, but on renewal and conversion,” Smith said. “The goal of the Catholic Church is to bring people closer to Christ, but we have a lot of people in our local community, and nationally and internationally, who for whatever reason are wounded and do not feel like the church is merciful to them.”
St. Mark leaders want people to see the church as a place where they can seek forgiveness and be healed, and find comfort, compassion and understanding by realizing Christ’s love and mercy in their lives, she said.
“We’re really trying to reach out to people where they are.”
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
Want to go?
For information about the replica door and upcoming programs at St. Mark, visit www.stmarknc.org. The church is at 14740 Stumptown Road in Huntersville.