Bangui, Central African Republic
Pope Francis on Sunday made a highly symbolic gesture by opening a "Holy Door" at Bangui Cathedral in the Central African Republic ahead of the start of a Catholic Jubilee Year, marking forgiveness and reconciliation.
"Open for us the gate of your mercy," the 78-year-old pope prayed before opening the door. "We ask for peace for Central African Republic and for all people who suffer from war."
According to Catholic tradition, passing through such a "holy door" during a Jubilee Year allows worshippers to be forgiven their sins.
Although the Jubilee Year will formally be inaugurated on December 8, opening the door marks its symbolic start.
Until now, such a gesture has only ever taken place in the Church's headquarters in the Vatican or in Rome.
"If he opens the Holy Door in Bangui, a Jubilee Year will begin for the first time ever in the periphery" rather than the Vatican, Radio Vatican's Giulio Albanese told AFP ahead of the visit.