Rome is braced for a peaceful and joyous invasion of pilgrims from the 8th of December 2015 to November 20, 2016.
Yesterday, marking the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, Bergoglio told the faithful at St Peter’s Basilica that the Catholic Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy with an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. A Holy Year of Mercy, one of the most important themes of his papacy with which all Catholics are called to give consolation to every man and every woman.Francis entrusted the Holy Year to Mary, Mother of Mercy.
December 8 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, while November 20 is the Feast of Christ the King.
MEANING & HISTORY
The Holy Year, or Jubilee, is one of the Catholic Church’s most important events, in which faithful make pilgrimages to Rome.
The last one, declared by John Paul II, was in 2000 and about 25 millions of pilgrims came to Rome to take part in religious festivities throughout the year. It was especially important because it celebrated the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ and because it was the first Holy Year marking the turn of a millennium: the earliest Jubilee was proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300.
This will be the 29th Holy Year in the Church since the tradition started more than 700 years ago.
Holy Years normally take place every 25 years unless a pope decrees an extraordinary one to bring attention to a particular topic or need. The next one had been scheduled for 2025.
Faithful who make pilgrimages to religious sites during a Holy Year can receive indulgences, the highest form of forgiveness and the remission of punishment for sins.
The Vatican said the official proclamation of the Holy Year, a document called papal bull, is to be published in April.
The last extraordinary Holy Year was called in 1983 by Pope John Paul II to mark the 1,950 years after the death of Jesus. The “special” Holy Year does not alter the recurrence of Ordinary Jubilees.
A JEWISH TRADITION
Jewish tradition inspired the Catholic Church to start celebrating the jubilee. The word “Jubilee” comes from the Hebrew “Yobel” meaning “billy goat”, in reference to the ram’s horn used in religious celebrations. Jewish people celebrate a holy year every half century.
Pope Boniface VIII, the inventor of the Holy Year, had intended for a Jubilee to be held each century. As of 1475 – in order to give every generation the chance to experience at least one Holy Year – the Ordinary Jubilee was celebrated every 25 years.
There are ordinary jubilees and extraordinary jubilees for Catholics. The Pope convenes extraordinary ones on special occasions. Until now, there have been 24 ordinary jubilees and four extraordinary. The Jubilee of Mercy, convened by Pope Francis, will be the fifth. John Paul II imposed the last ordinary and extraordinary ones, in the years 1983 and 2000.
RITES AND SYMBOLS
The first rite of each Jubilee is the opening of one of the entrances to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Door. Which is only opened during a jubilee year and remains cemented shut the rest of the time. It is opened so pilgrims can pass through it. The Holy Doors of the other Basilicas, St. John the Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major will be opened after the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The door opening symbolizes the extraordinary way that Catholics can open themselves up to their faith and that the faithful are offered an “extraordinary pathway” towards salvation.
This Jubilee should see a more evenly distributed flow of Pilgrims since there will not be any big events for special categories, professional, religious or national as it was the case in the year 2000. It will mostly be a private, intimate experience that each faithful will live individually or on a spontaneously-organized basis.
Last but not least the last two Jubilees, 1983 and 2000, also marked the last Serie A soccer titles for AS Roma. Totti and his teammates are getting excited for the next championship!