Opening of the Holy Door and Inaugural Mass of the Jubilee

On 4th November 2023, the celebration of the Inaugural Solemn Mass and the Blessing and Opening of the Holy Door of the Jubilee of St. Arethas and Companions were officiated by His Excellency Bishop Aldo Berardi, O.SS.T., Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, and concelebrated by His Grace Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent, Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia. Considered one of the most important celebrations in the Vicariate, it commemorates the presence of the fifth century Christians in the Arabian Peninsula.

During the ceremony of the Opening of the Holy Door, the Decree of the Jubilee issued by Pope Francis through the Apostolic Penitentiary was proclaimed. The Decree grants to the two apostolic vicariates in the Arabian Gulf the authority to hold an Extraordinary Jubilee on the occasion of the solemn celebrations in honor of Saint Arethas and Companions, martyrs, from October 24, 2023, to October 23, 2024. The Pope also benevolently grants a Plenary Indulgence to the “truly repentant Christian faithful who are animated by charity, which can also be applied to the souls of the faithful departed in Purgatory, on condition that they visit the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Arabia and the Parish Church of Saint Arethas in the form of a pilgrimage.”

Delivering the homily, Archbishop Nugent began by conveying the greetings of the Holy Father and his closeness in prayer to the assembly, as he also recalled the joyful visit of the Pope to the cathedral exactly one year ago. He noted that the Extraordinary Jubilee of St. Arethas is a special privilege granted to the vicariate by the Holy Father.

Quoting from the Gospel of St. John, “I am the door, anyone who enters by Me will be saved” (Jn 10:9), he invited the congregation to renew their faith as they pass through the Holy Door opened in the cathedral for the special occasion. He further exhorted them to ask the Lord “to give us the grace to bear witness to Him, even if we meet with persecution as Arethas and his companions did before us.” He went on to wish everyone a time of grace and blessing, a time of spiritual renewal during the Jubilee Year.

At the end of the Solemn Mass, in accordance with the Decree issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary (Prot. N. 02402/2023-795/23/1), Bishop Aldo imparted the Apostolic (Papal) Blessing with attached Plenary Indulgence in the name of Pope Francis to all the faithful present. The Christian faithful who have devoutly received the Apostolic Blessing and who, because of some reasonable circumstances, were not able to be physically present at the sacred rites, provided that they followed the liturgy themselves through the means of social communication while they were being celebrated and with the right intention, also had the opportunity to obtain the Plenary Indulgence.

Open the gates of righteousness; I will enter and thank the LORD. This is the LORD’s own gate, through it the righteous enter. (Ps. 118:19-20)

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Announcement of the Jubilee

The Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, H.E. Bishop Aldo Berardi, O.SS.T. introduces the Jubilee and explains how it will be celebrated in the Vicariate of Northern Arabia.

A time of grace and great blessings await us in our celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of the 1500th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St. Arethas and Companions at Najran. The Jubilee will be inaugurated on the feast day of the martyr-saints, the 24th of October 2023 and will be celebrated until the 23rd of October 2024 in the Northern and Southern Vicariates of Arabia.

We, the faithful of the Arabian Peninsula, are encouraged to use this year of grace to deepen our spiritual lives and grow closer to God.