Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown opened the Holy Door of Mercy at St Patrick’s Basilica to inaugurate the Jubilee of Mercy pilgrimage season.
The season began on Sunday 1st May and one day retreats will continue on certain days until May 30.
The Three Day Pilgrimage Season commences on Wednesday June 1 until 15 August.
Pilgrims can begin their pilgrimage on any day up to and including August 13, with one day retreats recommencing after this on Sunday August 21.
During the three day pilgrimage, pilgrims make `stations’ – they walk barefoot, kneel on the hallowed beds, fast, pray and keep vigil.
On one day retreats, pilgrims enter into a day of prayer and reflection and keep footwear on.
Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, said Lough Derg was very special as it was for all pilgrims.
“It is really wonderful that during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, pilgrims have the opportunity to pass through a specially dedicated holy door on this holy island,” he said.
“By doing so we, the pilgrims to Lough Derg – in the words of Pope Francis himself – ask, `the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful indulgence’.”
Bishop of Clogher Liam MacDaid said: “Having a Door of Mercy, in this extraordinary Jubilee Year, puts Lough Derg on a par with the major shrines and holy places of pilgrimage and retreat throughout the world. We are deeply grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis for his thoughtfulness and we warmly welcome again to Lough Derg his representative, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Brown.”
Lough Derg Prior, Fr Owen McEneaney, said the island shrine was a sacred space of mercy and everyone was invited to “come and let God’s mercy find you on Lough Derg”.
“It is a special sanctuary of peace and personal challenge. There are no outsiders here: everyone is equal,” he said.
“During 2016, I invite pilgrims into a new a commitment: if you are seeking time out from the daily grind of the everyday to come and walk in the footsteps of our forebears. Lough Derg reaches out to those in need: whatever your creed, background, personal circumstances or religious practice, everyone is most welcome.”