The 2016 Extraordinary Jubilee of Divine Mercy, 15 years after the Great Jubilee of 2000 proclaimed by St. John Paul II, started on December 8th 2015, the day of the Immaculate Conception, with the opening of the Holy Door at Saint Peter's Basilica, and will end on November 20 2016.
While Jubilees normally occur every 25 years, this one came as a surprise to everyone as it was announced only a few months before its beginning. So, from the 8th of December, pilgrims from around the world will make their way to the Eternal City to take part in the many religious festivities planned for the occasion.
The Roman Catholic Church adapted the secular Jewish idea of the Jubilee, which occurred every 50 years, when the Jews were required to free slaves and remit debts. The Catholic tradition of the Holy Year began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300, that gave the Jubilee a religious meaning when it allowed the remission of the temporal punishment of sins for those pilgrims who visited Rome during a specific “Holy Year”. In 1343 Clement VI reduced the interval between holy years to 33 and Paul II (1464-71) brought it down to 25 years. However an extraordinary Jubilee, like this one, may be announced on the occasion of an event of particular importance.
Until present, there have been 24 ordinary Jubilees and four extraordinary, and the last extraordinary Holy Year was in 1983, proclaimed by John Paul II on the occasion of the 1950 years of Redemption.
The initial rite of the Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s by the Pope. The Holy Doors of the three others major Basilicas (St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major) are also opened in Holy Years: this is a symbolic enactment of the opening of the “Gates of Heaven”.
This Jubilee, the 29th Holy Year, is dedicated to Mercy by Pope Francis. Since this is an extraordinary Holy Year, there will also be the opening of a 5th Holy Door of Charity. This one will be opened for the first time in history, in the headquarter of the Caritas near the Termini central station.
The first day of Jubelee ended with a meaningful and unique presentation entitled: “Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home”. Pictures on life and nature projected onto the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, taken from a repertoire of some of the world’s great photographers from Salgado to McCurry and Bertrand, highlighting climate change.
In Rome, and more specifically in Vatican City, are expected big crowds, especially on important dates during the Jubilee Year. If you know you’re going to visit Vatican City and you really want to meet the Pope, you’d better make your plans ASAP!
On our website you can book an audience with Pope Francis, a visit to St. Peter's Basilica or a discovery tour of Catacombs and the main Basilicas. We offer several skip the lines packages for the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and Vatican Gardens. Moreover, we also provide a huge variety of guided tours and excursions, to appreciate and discover the marvels of the Eternal City and the best #UnescoJewelsOfItaly.
Don’t hesitate to make plans! Beyond the Jubilee, Rome is a magical city, one of the world’s oldest capitals, a city known for art, ancient ruins, hundreds of churches, fantastic cuisine and a endless trove of mistery and history!