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Pope Francis opens Holy Door in Basilica of St Mary Major

Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of the St Mary Major's Basilica in Rome (AP)

On Friday Pope Francis opened the Holy Door at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major.

The Pope celebrated Mass at the basilica in Rome, which is also known as Our Lady of the Snows, on the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

During his homily, Pope Francis said those who cross the Door of Mercy’s threshold are “called to enter into the merciful love of the Father with complete trust and freedom from fear”.

“They can leave this basilica knowing that Mary is ever at their side. She is the Mother of mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of divine mercy, Jesus, Emmanuel, the Expectation of the nations, the ‘Prince of Peace’,” he continued.

“The Son of God, made incarnate for our salvation, has given us his Mother, who joins us on our pilgrimage through this life, so that we may never be left alone, especially at times of trouble and uncertainty.”

The Pope described Mary as “an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it”.

“The Mother of forgiveness teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits. Neither the law with its quibbles, nor the wisdom of this world with its distinctions, can hold it back,” he said.

“Let us, then, pass through the Holy Door of Mercy knowing that at our side is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who intercedes for us. Let us allow her to lead us to the rediscovery of the beauty of an encounter with her Son Jesus.”

He added: “Let us open wide the doors of our heart to the joy of forgiveness, conscious that we have been given new confidence and hope, and thus make our daily lives a humble instrument of God’s love.”

Pope Francis began the Year of Mercy last month by opening the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Speaking at the time, Francis emphasised the “simple, yet highly symbolic” act of opening the Holy Door, which “highlights the primacy of grace;” the same grace that made Mary “worthy of becoming the mother of Christ.”