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Catholic Dictionary




The main doors at the Roman basilicas of St. Peter, Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major; they are kept sealed except during the periodic jubilee years. The Pope personally opens and closes the doors at St. Peter's, nearest to the Vatican Palace, while cardinal legates do the same at the other churches to mark the official beginning and ending of the year of jubilee. These ceremonies symbolize the right of sanctuary, which goes back to pagan times and was actually them observed on the present site of the Lateran.