Your guide to the Year of Mercy: A time to reflect on God's merciful love and to be a witness of mercy

December 8 begins the Jubilee Year of Mercy in the universal Church. It will be our opportunity to deeply reflect on God's mercy and how we can be a merciful witness to others.

The special Holy Year, declared by Pope Francis, begins with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, and will conclude Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The Jubilee Year is "dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us," Pope Francis wrote in the papal bull of indiction announcing the Year of Mercy. "In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of casting open the doors of His heart and of repeating that He loves us and wants to share His love with us."

Among the traditions of a Jubilee Year is the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door at the four major basilicas in Rome. Locally, the doors of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis were sealed Sept. 8 and will be opened at a 10 a.m. Mass Sunday, Dec. 13. The sealing of the door is a symbolic reminder for Catholics as they prepare for the Year of Mercy.

While most Catholics won't make a pilgrimage to Rome in the Year of Mercy, they can visit local pilgrimage sites, including the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. (Visit for pilgrimage sites and other resources.) Catholics who visit the pilgrimage sites may obtain the plenary indulgence of the Jubilee Year.

"The Church is called above all to be a credible witness to mercy, professing it and living it as the core of the revelation of Jesus Christ," Pope Francis wrote. "From the heart of the Trinity, from the depths of the mystery of God, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people draw from it."

Online resources

Archdiocese of St. Louis:

Vatican Jubilee Year of Mercy:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:


Upcoming major events for the Jubilee Year of Mercy in Archdiocese of St. Louis

• Year of Mercy Brown Bag Luncheon, 12:15 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, at the Cardinal Rigali Center, 20 Archbishop May Drive in Shrewsbury

• Mass and Opening of the Holy Door, 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

• 24 Hours for the Lord, which includes prayer services, confessions, adoration and other prayerful liturgies, at parishes the weekend of March 4-5

• Divine Mercy Sunday events in parishes April 2-3

• Mass and Corpus Christi procession, 5 p.m., Sunday, May 29, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

• Anointing of the Sick Mass, 12:05 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

• Mass for the closing of the Jubilee Year, 10 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Visit for more events throughout the Year of Mercy.


Pope Francis' prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: "If you knew the gift of God!"

You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. 



Pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of St. Louis

Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral) 209 Walnut Street St. Louis, Mo., 63102

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 4431 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo., 63108

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal 1805 West Saint Joseph Street, Perryville, Mo., 63775

The Carmel of St. Joseph 9150 Clayton Road, St. Louis Mo., 63124

Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd 7654 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis Mo., 63121

Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, Mount Grace Convent 1438 East Warne Avenue, St. Louis Mo., 63107

Passionist Nuns Monastery 15700 Clayton Road, Ellisville Mo., 63011

Monastery of St. Clare 200 Marycrest Drive, St. Louis Mo., 63129

Redemptoristine Nuns 200 Liguori Drive, Liguori Mo., 63057


When you visit a pilgrimage site:

• Participate in Mass or another liturgical service such as morning or evening prayer, or acts of piety including the Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary, eucharistic adoration.

• Spend time in prayerful meditation.

• Conclude your visit with prayer for the Holy Father: the Our Father, the Apostles' Creed or the Profession of Faith from Mass; and a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary

A plenary indulgence may be gained daily by visiting designated pilgrimage sites. To learn more about indulgences, visit; for a full list of conditions needed to receive the plenary indulgence, visit

Works of Mercy

In the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis asks that we reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. "It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty," the Holy Father wrote in the papal bull of indiction for the Year of Mercy. "And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God's mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in His preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as His disciples."

Corporal Works of Mercy

• Feed the hungry • Give drink to the thirsty • Clothe the naked  • Welcome the stranger • Heal the sick • Visit the imprisoned  • Bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

• Counsel the doubtful • Instruct the ignorant • Admonish sinners  • Comfort the afflicted • Forgive offenses  • Bear patiently those who do us ill • Pray for the living and the dead 

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