Thursday Doors: Quebec City’s Holy Door

I had never participated in Norm 2.0’s ongoing Thursday Doors linked posts before, but when we saw—then walked through—the Holy Door of the Basilica Norte-Dame de Quebec, I knew it would be a perfect way to share the experience.

I am not Catholic, nor am I particularly religious, but it’s hard not to be awed by the splendor of the world’s great churches. The practical side of me thinks the construction costs could have been better put to use feeding the poor and housing the homeless, but I also admire the magnificence of the architecture and opulent adornments.


Notre-Dame-de-Quebec has a large physical and a spiritual presence in Quebec City. It was the first Catholic parish in North America, north of Mexico, and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec.

To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Basilica, the Vatican awarded Notre-Dame-de-Quebec the exceptional privilege of installing the first Holy Door outside of Europe. There are seven Holy Doors in the world: four in Rome, one in France, one in Spain, and now this one in Quebec City.

What is a Holy Door? According to Catholic teachings, a Holy Door is a visible symbol of oneness with the Universal Church and of internal renewal, which begins with the desire to make peace with God. Holy Doors are typically only opened during Jubilee years, which are “years of remission, of indulgence, and also of reconciliation, conversion and sacramental penance.”

Quebec City’s Holy Door was installed in the wall of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart on the north side of the Basilica and first opened December 8, 2013. Following Church tradition, it remained open for one year and then was to be sealed by mortar and cement for about 25 years (until the next Jubilee in 2039).

So, why, in 2016, were we able to pass through the Holy Door even though it had been sealed shut? Fortunately for us, Holy Doors can be re-opened if the Pope deems it appropriate and, in 2015, Pope Francis declared that current international events called for an extraordinary year of mercy. He announced that the Jubilee of Mercy would take place from December 2015 to November 2016 and all Holy Doors would be open during that time.

Also fortunately for my husband and me, walking through a Holy Door is not restricted to practicing Catholics, but it is available to “all persons of good will.” We were told that by passing through the Door one can “reconcile with your neighbors, restore in yourself everything that has been damaged in the past, and reshape your heart.”

Catholic or not, who wouldn’t want to experience that!

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

35 thoughts on “Thursday Doors: Quebec City’s Holy Door”

  1. That is one very cool and enlightening door! Such luck you both managed to experience it. Now, head back over there, so your hip can heal more quickly… 🙂

  2. Welcome to Thursday Doors, so glad you decided to join us 🙂
    I pretty much share your thoughts on religion but it is hard not to marvel at the beauty and dedication of much of the artwork produced in its name.
    We missed these doors the last time we were there, but I’m hoping to go back there in the fall.

  3. Holy Religious Experience!!

    I was raised Catholic but no one who knows me would ever accuse me of being even remotely religious ….but this is impressive. I had never heard of a Holy Door until we visited Rome a few years ago and I had no idea the first NA one was in QC.

    I have a wee bit of problem with organized religion and the money that could be spent on helping the needy … But OMG, they sure know how to finance an impressive piece of architecture!

    1. My husband was also raised Catholic but left the Church long ago. I probably wouldn’t have known about QC’s Holy Door (or about Holy Doors at all) if we hadn’t taken a walking tour. We find that taking these tours really helps us get to know the city we are visiting. Did you get to walk through the Holy Door in Rome?

  4. So interesting, and insightful. As a ‘recovering Catholic’ I am moved by the spirit of inclusion that the Pope put forward. Your good will has opened many doors for you. Glad you shared.

  5. I’m not Catholic but am religious and I, too, love the the awesome (in the true sense of the word) churches throughout the world. It would be great if walking through a door could do all that! 🙂 There are some people I’d like to force through the door if that worked.


  6. I had the same thought both times I visited Notre Dame… it’s absolutely amazing and yet it seems somehow out of place in a world where millions suffer in extreme poverty. The Holy Door wasn’t there yet when we visited; in fact, I’d never heard of such a thing before. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I am Catholic and I learned more about the concept of Jubilee Year and Holy Doors from your post than I ever did from my Catholic upbringing! I love walking tours of places; you learn so much. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Haha! It was interesting to do some research into both. I always feel like such a tourist when on a walking tour (which, of course, I am), but I always get a lot out of them. I especially liked the tour guide we had in Quebec.

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