When one hears the word "pilgrimage," the first image to come to mind is that of a long journey to a sacred place to offer prayers to God. In Catholic tradition, those prayers are often offered as penance for sins, as petition for special blessings and favors, or simply out of devotion to honor God.
"Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer" (Catholic Catechism 2691). This earthly pilgrimage is a time of grace and mercy, which God offers, so as to work out this earthly life in accordance with the Divine plan and its ultimate destiny (Catholic Catechism 1013).
While the first proclaimed Jubilee Year was in 536, since 1450 with few exceptions, the Catholic Church has called for a Jubilee Year every 25 years in which Catholics could be granted remission of the penalties of sin by means of full confession and purpose of amendment. On rare occasions, the Holy Father may call for an extraordinary Holy Year, as has happened this liturgical year with Pope Francis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
"I wish that the jubilee indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God's mercy, which comes to meet each person in the face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the holy door, open in every cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop ... as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open (excerpt from Pope Francis' letter announcing the Jubilee Year)."
The National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, conducted by the Barnabite Fathers (Clerics Regular of St. Paul) was granted the privilege of being a site for a Holy Door of Mercy by Bishop Richard J. Malone.
The Jubilee of Mercy Indulgence is obtained by making a pilgrimage to a Holy Door. The pilgrimage is to be celebrated with a reflection on mercy, the profession of faith, prayers for the Holy Father and his intentions, and linked to the celebration of the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist.
Our Lady of Fatima Shrine is honored to be part of this Jubilee Year. Founded in 1956, the Barnabite Fathers have ministered for 60 years to pilgrims traveling from all parts of the world. An oasis of peace, the shrine offers its visitors peaceful gardens and grounds to walk about, chapels for prayer and contemplation, and the offering of the Sacred Liturgy and the sacrament of confession every day.
Facilities are also available to those groups wishing to conduct daylong retreats at the shrine.
The Barnabite Fathers look forward to celebrating this Jubilee Year with all who journey to the shrine, and ask for prayers as they prepare for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal, in 2017.