Holy Doors open in the cathedral, three places of pilgrimage and a number of churches where the Taiyuan martyrs were born. Killed in 1900, they were canonized by John Paul II in 2000. At least 10,000 faithful attended the opening of the Holy Door at the Portiuncula shrine in Banshishan, 1,700 meters above see level with temperatures 16 degrees below zero. The works of mercy include care for parents and neighbors, and helping those in need. The mission feeds hope.
Taiyuan (AsiaNews) – “Catholics in the Diocese of Taiyuan hope to undergo conversion during the Jubilee of Mercy, starting with caring for their parents and grandparents, then their neighbors and the needy, guided by the light of holy martyrs of our diocese,” Bishop Meng Ningyou of Taiyuan (Shanxi) said referring to the scores of martyrs killed in the Taiyuan area in 1900 that John Paul II canonized in 2000.
The diocese decided to open the holy doors in nine churches – the cathedral, three pilgrimage sites and a number of churches located in the martyrs’ birthplaces. They will stay open from Dec. 13 until Feb. 2, feast day of the Presentation of the Lord, which marks the end of the Year of Consecrated Life (Nov. 30, 2014 - Feb. 2, 2016) around the world.
As of Jan. 20, 53-year-old Bishop Meng has opened six of them. Two more will be opened on the 23rd and 30th with the last the Church of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Dong’ergou on Feb. 2.
Bishop Meng said that he was moved at every opening of the Holy Doors, as he witnessed the participation and enthusiasm of thousands of the faithful.
“I was touched when opening the door at the Pontiuncula Church on Bansishan (Bansi Hill) on Jan. 13. (pictures 1-4) More than 10,000 Catholics, coming on foot or in queues of vehicles, braved the freezing weather of minus 16 degree Celsius at the pilgrimage site,” he said. The Bansishan is 1,760 meters above-sea-level, and situated at 100 kilometers from Taiyuan city.
For the prelate, mercy requires a person to convert and transform his or her actions. “Today, people’s lives are under pressure, indifferent to others’ needs, giving less attention to their parents and neighbors,” he said. For this reason, he urged the faithful to live mercy with their own family, to forgive and take care of the needy and the sick. “This adds more warmth to society as well as our small Church community,” he noted.
What is more, the bishop plans to encourage the faithful to donate blood, whose supply drops in winter months.
Bishop Meng hopes that the Jubilee of Mercy will motive Catholics to spread love and compassion for others. This way, their actions will attract more non-Catholics to learn catechism and get baptized.
The opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral on Dec. 13 drew about 6,000 Catholics, while other churches attracted 2,000 to 3,000 Catholics each time.
As the churches commemorate the love and sacrifices of the Catholic martyrs, “I hope our faithful will be inspired by the martyrs’ faith and love in God when they enter the churches through the Holy Doors,” the bishop said.
One of the nine churches, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary in Xinzhou, was granted the authority to offer plenary indulgences by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
The Diocese of Taiyuan has a population of 100,000 Catholics, served by 61 active priests and 30 sisters.
Below is a list of the churches in the diocese with Holy Doors for the Jubilee of Mercy:
1. Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Taiyuan city, opened on Dec. 13, 2015;
2. Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Xinzhou Church region, Dec. 16, 2015;
3. Church of Immaculate Conception in Yangjiabao, Jan. 2, 2016;
4. Church of Christ the King in Guchengying, Jan. 9, 2016;
5. Church of Our Lady of Grace (Portiuncula) in Bansishan, Jan. 13, 2016;
6. Church of Almighty God in Nanshe, Jan. 16, 2016;
7. Church of St. Anthony in Xiliulin, Jan. 23, 2016;
8. Church of Christ the King in Xijianhe, Jan. 30, 2016; and
9. Church of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Dong’ergou, Feb. 2, 2016.
[Photos: Courtesy of Taiyuan Diocese Website]