Pope Francis has officially opened the Catholic Holy Year with a day of ceremonies and a special mass at the Vatican.
Tens of thousands of faithful have turned out, amid tight security in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.
The theme of the Holy Year is mercy, seen as part of the Pope’s call for a church that is more inclusive.
At St. Peter’s Basilica a special door, the “Holy Door”, which has been bricked up for years, was opened by the Pope.
“Going through the holy door obliges us to be merciful like the Good Samaritan,” he said.
The police have mounted a massive security operation with security screening of pilgrims but also religious officials including priests and nuns.
This is the 29th Holy Year, or Jubilee, since the tradition began more than 700 years ago.
NBC News Pictures (@NBCNewsPictures) December 8, 2015