Launch of Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy in Rome

Rome under tight security for opening of Holy Jubilee.

Rome is under tight security as Pope Francis opens Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy on Tuesday 8 December, the Catholic feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The holy day is also a national holiday and many have added Monday to the weekend, to make a short holiday or ponte, as it is known in Italian.

The official launch of the Jubilee, which concludes on 20 November next year, begins when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door at St Peter's Basilica at 09.30 on 8 December. The ceremony will be attended by pope-emeritus Benedict XVI who will make a rare public appearance at the invitation of his successor. The Holy Door has not been opened since the Great Jubilee in 2000 called by St John Paul II.

In the afternoon Pope Francis pays homage to the Virgin Mary in Piazza Mignanelli near the Spanish Steps at 16.00. In an annual tradition dating back to 1953 the pope prays at the foot of the 19th-century column in the square, dedicated in 1857 to mark the promulgation of the 1854 dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and then hands a floral wreath to firemen to place on the statue of the Madonna at the top.

Immacolatacolonnaroma

There will be traffic detours and parking bans in the areas around St Peter's and Piazza di Spagna from the evening of 7 December.

Rome has increased its security in the wake of the Paris attacks in mid-November, and the capital has banned traders from operating in the area in front of St Peter's Square during the jubilee.

On 8 December all flights over the city have been banned, as has the transport throughout Rome of dangerous substances such as petroleum, gas, chemicals, fire arms and explosives.

Tickets for major Jubilee events are free and can be obtained by registering via the official Jubilee website, which contains details of all ceremonies.

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Photo of Holy Door. Osservatore Romano