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Entering the Cathedral of Santiago for the first time after travelling a long way is always something special for pilgrims. But there is something that can make it an even more special experience: being able to cross through the Holy Door, a door that only opens under exceptional circumstances and that will do so on 2021. 

A Holy Door is basically the door to a Catholic church that grants to those who pass through it plenary indulgence, i.e., the absolution of all of their sins. It is sealed from the inside so that it can not be opened from the outside. This only occurs during Jubilee years, when pilgrims pass through its doors and get rid of all evil. But receiving this indulgence is not just a matter of physically passing through a door; it is also necessary to confess, receive Holy Communion, recite the Creed and pray for the Pope and for your intentionsOnce this is done, the person is forgiven for all of his or her sins, and will be able to enter Heaven without having to go to Purgatory first.

The Holy Door of Santiago only opens during the Compostelan Holy Years, which are those years in which the feast of the Apostle Santiago (25 July) falls on a Sunday. This occurs every five, six or eleven years, except in exceptional cases (when the last year of a century is not a leap year, which can occur every seven to twelve years). This year, July 25th falls on a Sunday, so we celebrate the Xacobeo 2021, a new Holy Year and, therefore, a new opportunity to pass through the Holy Door.

Opening a Holy Door is not an everyday occurrence. To do so, the Archbishop of Compostela performs an ancient ritual that is witnessed by hundreds of faithful, pilgrims and church members. The ritual consists of striking a wall of slabs covering the Door, placed there the day before, three times with a silver hammer. Once the wall falls, the Archbishop cleans the perimeters of the Door with holy water and olive branches. It is he who first crosses through the Holy Door. This ritual takes place every 31 December of the year preceding the Holy Year, so it will take place the last day of 2020.

The Holy Door closes on the 31 December of the Jubilee Year. If everything goes as planned, the next closing will take place the last day of 2021. However, the Xunta de Galicia has already asked to extend the Holy Year due to the extraordinary worldwide sanitary crisis caused  by Covid-19. The Pope will have the final say as to whether he accepts or denies this unprecedented extension.  The Holy Door with a ritual similar to that of opening it. It is again the Archbishop of Compostela who is in charge of doing so: using incense and blessing the new stones, then placing one of them on the liminal space, thus ending the Jubilee.

Located in the plaza of A Quintana, this symbol par excellence of the Holy Years immediately spoke to the pilgrim crossing it to the main altar, where one can find the tomb of the Apostle Santiago and, on this crypt, the medieval figure that is typically embraced. The fact that the Door was built almost 400 years after the Church granted Santiago the privilege of having a Holy Year, indicates that it is not necessary to cross the Door  to achieve plenary indulgence. However, doing so has become a rite that symbolises the physical, emotional and spiritual culmination of the Camino that the pilgrims have travelled.

An article by El CaminoconCorreos.
And remember, be responsible while enjoying the Camino. That is why  you can always rely on  HOSTAL GAU TXORI: comfortable accommodation, nice and traditional food and a wonderful natural landscapes plastic free as you pass by Zubiri. And, of course,  we take all the security and hygiene measures to face the covid 19. 

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