Jubilee, Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Holy door. Words you certainly must have heard all over the news!
Yesterday, 8 December 2015, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in Rome and the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began. This is an extremely important occasion for the religious community of Rome, Italy and the world. Living in Rome, I thought I would share the news, the feel and the perspective of a local living here during this particular period of time.
Note: I am a Roman Catholic but I would like to break this event down from an unbiased, not ‘religiously’ perspective.
It was announced to the world on 13 March, 2015. The start of the Jubilee was on 8 December, 2015 and it will conclude on 20 November, 2016.
The most important date of all and one that will be marked in history, was the opening of the first Holy Door outside of Rome on 29 November, 2015.
In fact, for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, the Holy Door was first opened in Bangui, Central African Republic.
What is a Jubilee exactly? A Jubilee, in very basic terms, is a special year of remission of sins, universal pardon, a time to be closer to God and a time to reunite with the church.
In 1300, Pope Boniface VII, began the tradition of the ‘Holy Year’, a celebration he envisioned that would occur every century. By 1475, this was changed to every 25 years, to allow every generation to be a part of at least one Holy Year. An extraordinary Jubilee, however, can be announced any time, marked by an important event.
The opening of the Holy Doors is an important event of the Jubilee, if not the most important one. By walking through the Holy Door, you are provided with another road towards salvation and you rid yourself of sin.
A brief note on Pope Francis and the Extraordinary Jubilee:
Pope Francis proves that he is a different Pope from his predecessors. Many of you will know that historically, the Pope is not only a religious figure but also a political one, after all they are head of state of the Vatican City – a country in its own right.
While many of the predecessors of Pope Francis (especially in the last 20 years) were more political than religious, Pope Francis has brought back a sense of religion and more importantly, he has become the Pope of the people.
Many still question his work, even within the Vatican. Why? Well it’s because he is bending the rules and changing traditions the Vatican feels so strongly about (type ‘pope francis invites homeless to dine at vatican’ into Google, as an example).
This extraordinary Jubilee is no different:
- The first Holy Door he opened was in Bangui, Central African Republic, being the first time this has occurred in the history of the Catholic Church!
- Every Catholic cathedral and local historical church in the world, may designate a holy door to allow all those that cannot travel to Rome, the possibility of eternal salvation.
- Probably the most incredible announcement from Pope Francis, was that all priests can grant absolution for abortion, during the Jubilee year. That is pretty incredible and a large step forward for the Catholic church.
NB: traditionally only 4 doors are considered to be the ‘Holy Doors’ and all of them in Rome (St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls).
This extraordinary Jubilee – only the 5th in the history of the Catholic church – will revolve around Mercy. The motto of this event is: Merciful Like the Father (taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure.
You can read in more detail, what the Jubilee of Mercy represents via the Vatican Website.
Accommodation & Tours
If you are looking for accommodation make sure to read my recent blog post: Hotel? How about a Monastery! and a tour guide that is having some great reviews and has quite a personal approach is The Roman Guy.
The Major Events
There are a lot of sites out there – so make sure that you are always looking for those from the Vatican (ending in .va) as they will be the official pages. Be particularly careful of those asking for money to take part in events, as all of them are free of charge.
I would recommend you visit the The Vatican Website for a comprehensive list of events.
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Video source: Catholic News Service – Illuminating the Vatican