15 Jan

Jubilee of Mercy Major events Calendar – January 2016

Jubilee – major events calendar 2016 -  Basilica of St Mary Major

It follows the Jubilee of Mercy Major events Calendar for the month of January 2016.

1st January 2016 – Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
World Day for Peace.
Opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major at 5 p.m.

19th January 2016 – The Jubilee for the clergy, religious and lay faithful working in Sanctuaries and Shrines begins. It will end on January 21st.

25th January 2016 – Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and ecumenical celebration at 5 p.m.

30th January 2016 – Jubilee audiences
St Peter’s square.

28 Nov

Extraordinary Jubilee 2015-2016: Pope Francis’ letter about Indulgence

Pope Francis, Photo by Jeffery Bruno (from New York City)

Pope Francis, Photo by Jeffery Bruno (from New York City)

1st September 2015The Jubilee and Pope Francis’ letter. Today Pope Francis published a letter with which he gives indulgence in occasion of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

Here is what indulgence really means.

In his letter, Pope Francis explains how to obtain indulgence. Of course, the first way is to undertake a pilgrimage to Rome, to the Holy Door or to one of the four Papal Basilicas in the Italian capital. But the Holy Door will also be opened “in every Cathedral and in several churches chosen by the diocesan bishop”, in all “Sanctuaries with a Door of Mercy and in all Jubilee churches”.

But there is more to it than that. Pope Francis also thought about elderly and sick people who cannot undertake a pilgrimage. They will be able to obtain indulgence by watching the Holy Mass on television from home.

“Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial”, these are the words written in Pope Francis’ letter, “receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence.”

And of course, the letter would not be complete without a reflection dedicated to convicts: “They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.”

Jubilee: the costs

Since the first time Pope Francis announced the Jubilee, a lot of rumours have spread about its costs. According to Bergoglio’s vision, though, the event should be very different from the sumptuous Jubilee 2000. In effect the Vatican put an end to the unjustified controversy about the costs:

“No major or specific work will be needed, a few renovation and maintenance services will be enough to offer the pilgrims a proper reception in the city, which needed this interventions anyway.”

After all, it will not be necessary to go to Rome to receive the Pope’s indulgence.

Jubilee: the bull

On April 11th, 2015, Pope Francis publishes the bull which officially proclaims the Jubilee. Its title is “Misericordiae vulnus”.

Jubilee: five archaeological itineraries

Mr. Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, will supervise the extraordinary Jubilee.]

Ignazio Marino, sindaco di Roma, gestirà il Giubileo straordinario. [Mr. Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, will supervise the extraordinary Jubilee. Photo from Wikipedia by href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jaqen”>Niccolò Caranti]

29th March 2015: the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, announced that, within the Jubilee framework, at least five archaeological itineraries will be realized by December 8th, 2015.

An example of archaeology in the suburbs of Rome could be the mausoleum of Aquilio Regolo, in the “parco archeologico tiburtino” ,an area which has been awaiting to be restored for 10 years.

Always in the suburbs of Rome, at Casal de’ Pazzi, tomorrow the first Pleistocene museum will be
inaugurated. The excavations in Via Alessandrina and the temple of peace will also be restored. Moreover, the columns of the Forum of Trajan will be rebuilt. “ A rich philanthropist will arrive in Rome in the next few weeks and he will donate almost half a million Euros designated to this operation. There are two levels of columns: we will be able to admire some columns of the Forum of Trajan which were last seen standing circa 1650 years ago.”

Among the other works, which should proceed faster, there should also be the doubling of one of the most congested and famous historical roads in Rome, “Via Tiburtina”, between the 9,300th and the 15,800th Km.

Extraordinary Jubilee: Optimism

The Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is optimistic about the Jubilee.

The Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is optimistic about the Jubilee.

28 March 2015
: the Jubilee, as the Expo2015, seduces the optimists. Thus, in a AGI survey, 44% of those interviewed believe that these two events will help Italy recover from the crisis. Nevertheless, most of them gave a negative opinion on this issue ( 31% believe the events will be inconsequential and 24% believe they will even be a risk for our security). Matteo Renzi, on the other hand, is not pessimistic at all. In effect he declared:

“The proclamation of the Jubilee is a good news that the Italian government welcomes with its best wishes. It is an important meeting and its religious connotation, as highlighted by Pope Francis, is a cause for reflection for each one of us. I am confident that, as in 2000, Rome will prove to be ready for the occasion.”

Confcommercio ( the Italian General Business confederation) fosters this optimistic wave, deeming that the Jubilee (as Expo2015) will create new jobs, also if the National Institute of Statistics’ data are all but positive. It is important to clarify that we are talking about temporary works that will last until the end of the events. Anyway, for a chosen few they can be a great help in this difficult time.

Extraordinary Jubilee 2015-2016

Jubilee, Rome - 8th December 2015 - 20th November 2016 - the Holy Door of Saint Peter's

Jubilee – In this photo, taken from Wikipedia, the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica is opened in occasion of the Jubilee and sets the beginning of the celebrations.

Jubilee: on March 13th, 2015, Pope Francis surprised everyone by announcing that there will be an extraordinary Jubilee in Rome, starting on December 8th, 2015 and ending on November 20th, 2016.

It will be the year of Mercy.

The proclamation took place in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican while Pope Francis was presiding over a penance service (which set the beginning of an initiative called “24 hours for the Lord”) on Friday, March 13th. It was also the second anniversary of his papacy and some rumours said he wanted to abdicate as his predecessor. The Pope himself said his papacy would not last long. But these rumours were put to an end when the Pope declared:

“I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)” This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy.”

On December 8th, therefore, the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica will be opened in a historical ritual which will open the celebrations that will last a year, as dictated by the tradition.

As we have already said, Bergoglio’s announcement completely floored all of us, not only the devotees but also Italian politicians, who will have to deal with the situation and who have not been consulted beforehand.

Will Rome be ready to host such a big event? Will it make it on time? The only sure thing is that, in coherence with the simple style chosen since the beginning of his papacy, Bergoglio does not want to reproduce the splendours of Jubilee 2000; he will encourage a more sober event, instead. This may be the reason why he announced it without any notice.

Jubilee 2015-2016: the year of Mercy

Jubilee 2015-2016: the year of Mercy

The Jubilee wanted by Pope Francis will be the year of Mercy. This is an icon of moral virtue in the Christian tradition. Luca Della Robbia, Christ comforting a poor man, 1493 circa, Louvre Museum (from Wikipedia).

Pope Francis’ Jubilee will certainly be coherent with his papacy, as it can be noticed by the denomination “Year of Mercy”.

Pope Francis reaffirmed that with this event
“the Church can draw attention to its mission as a witness of Mercy”.

In Christian morality, mercy is a moral virtue which realizes itself into deeds of Mercy, i.e. acts of kindness and compassion towards those who suffer. According to the encyclopaedia Treccani, in its broader sense, Mercy means

“A feeling of compassion shown towards other people’s unhappiness, which push us to act in order to placate it; also, a feeling of pity which encourage us to help, forgive and desist from punishment.”

The Pope devoted the whole homely to the topic of Mercy. He quoted the evangelical episode in which a sinner washes Jesus’ feet while the homeowner, Simon, judges her as a sinner (Gospel of Luke 7, 36-50). Then he analysed it highlighting two key words: love and judgement.

“There is the love of the sinful woman, who humbles herself before the Lord; but first there is the merciful love of Jesus for her, which pushes her to approach. […]This woman’s every gesture speaks of love and expresses her desire to have an unshakeable certainty in her life: that of being forgiven. And Jesus gives this assurance: welcoming her, He demonstrates God’s love for her, just for her! Love and forgiveness are simultaneous: God forgives her much, everything, because “she loved much” (Luke 7:47); […] This woman has really met the Lord […]For her, there will be no judgment except that which comes from God, and this is the judgment of mercy. The protagonist of this meeting is certainly the love that goes beyond justice.”

This topic is really dear to Bergoglio; for instance, in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, the word Mercy is present no less than 36 times.

Pope Francis’ Jubilee: the organisation

Jubilee - Rome

The Pope entrusted the Pontifical council for the promotion of the new evangelisation with the organisation of this Jubilee

“that [the dicastery] might animate it as a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy. I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.”

Nevertheless, its organisation will also concern Renzi’s government, the municipality of Rome, its mayor Ignazio Marino and a contingent commissioner. For the moment, it is not clear if the government will decide to appoint an extraordinary commissioner or if this role will be carried out by the mayor of Rome.

The Jubilee: its meaning

What is a Jubilee? A Jubilee is a Holy Year. In its official definition found in the Vatican website, it is

“a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment due to sin, it is a year of reconciliation between adversaries, of conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and consequently of solidarity, hope, justice, commitment to serve God with joy and in peace with our brothers and sisters.”

It is a tradition extensively described in the Bible, more precisely in a book from the Old Testament: the Leviticus (25,10-13):

“and you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field. n this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.”

This means that the Jubilee will be an occasion to obtain plenary indulgence for all those who will follow the celebrations and will undergo all those requirements established by the catholic Church.

Nowadays the catholic Church celebrates the ordinary Jubilee every 25 years. Therefore, the next Jubilee will be in 2025.

The previous Jubilee took place in 2000.

This Jubilee, wanted by Pope Francis, will be extraordinary, like the one proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in 1933 or by John Paul II in 1983.

Jubilee: How often does it happen?

So, how often does the Jubilee take place? That’s a good question. According to the Bible’s precepts every 50 years. The first one took place in 1300 and was proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII. Since 1450, it is celebrated every 25 years aside from the extraordinary Jubilees.

Jubilee 2000

The Jubilee 2000 was beyond a doubt one of the most important event held in Rome in the last 50 years, not only for its scope but also because it paved the way to several personalities who organised the event and then became protagonists of the recent political history of Italy. Thus, the Jubilee 2000 triggered the major events’ management through commissioners.

Unlikely this Jubilee, in 2000, celebrations were awaited. In effect, the preparations of the so-called Great Jubilee in 2000 officially started on November 10th, 1994 when Pope John Paul II published the Apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (i.e. As the third millennium of the new era draws near). The full text can be found in the Vatican website.

Il Giubileo del 2000 fu senza dubbio uno degli eventi più importanti degli ultimi cinquant’anni per Roma. Non solo per la sua portata, ma anche perché aprì la strada a figure che si occuparono della sua organizzazione e che avrebbero poi attraversato la storia politica recente in Italia, aprendo alla logica della gestione dei grandi eventi attraverso commissari.

A differenza di questo, le celebrazioni per l’anno 2000 era chiaramente attese. Di fatto, i preparativi di quello che venne chiamato il Grande Giubileo del 2000 iniziarono ufficialmente il 10 novembre del 1994, quando Giovanni Paolo II ha reso pubblica la lettera apostolica Tertio Millennio Adveniente (ovvero All’approssimarsi del Terzo Millennio), il cui testo integrale si può leggere sul sito del Vaticano.

Jubilee 1300

Jubilee 1300

In the photo Boniface VIII proclaims the Jubilee of 1300. Pope Boniface VIII, fresco (110×110) by Giotto di Bondone in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome

The Jubilee in 1300 was the first one to be officially celebrated by the catholic Church, according to Boniface VIII’s will.

Jubilee: etymology

The etymology of the word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew iōbēl, which means scapegoat (the buck used in sacred ceremonies during the Jewish Jubilee) or from the word Yovel, a type of trumpet ( a ram’s corn) played to celebrate this year of celebrations. The ecclesiastic tradition introduces the term , ănnu(m) iubilāeu(m), from greek iōbēlâios, once again of Hebrew origins.
The vocabulary Garzanti also suggests the influence of the latin word iubilāre, i.e. “rej

All the Jubilee in History

The 2015-16 Jubilee will be the thirtieth. Here is the list of the previous jubilees, together with the name of the Pope who presided them and the name of the Pope who announced them, when different. In one case (1700), the Jubilee was opened by a Pope and closed by another. Francis’ Jubilee is the sixth extraordinay one (the others being announced in 1390, 1423, 1933, 1966 and most recently in 1983).

1300: Boniface VIII
1350: Clement VI
1390: extraordinary Jubilee. It is announced by Urban VI and presided by Boniface IX
1400: Boniface IX
1423: extraordinary Jubilee. Announced and presided by Martin V
1450: Nicholas V
1475: announced by Paul II, presided by Sixtus IV
1500: Alexander VI
1525: Clement VII
1550: announced by Paul III, presided by Julius III
1575: Gregory XIII
1600: Clement VIII
1625: Urban VIII
1650: Innocent X
1675: Clement X
1700: presided by two Popes. It is opened by Innocent XII and closed by Clement XI
1725: Benedict XIII
1750: Benedict XIV
1775: announced by Clement XIV, presided by Pius VI
1825: Leone XII
1875: Pius IX
1900: Leo XIII
1925: Pius XI
1933: extraordinary Jubilee, announced and presided by Pius XI
1950: Pius XII
1966: extraordinary Jubilee, announced and presided by Paul VI for the closing of the Second Vatican Council
1975: Paul VI
1983: extraordinary Jubilee, announced and presided by John Paul II
2000: John Paul II
2015: extraordinary Jubilee, announced by Pope Francis

02 Sep

The Jubilee and Rome: guidebooks

Rome Jubilee The Jubilee is also an occasion to enjoy Rome, the Italian capital, a city of great charm with its beauties and its contradictions.

Lonely Planet Discover Rome
– It is ideal for those going to Rome for the Jubilee (and more). Itineraries on foot, overnight stays, city and subway maps, time planning and attractions for kids.

Rome – by Duncan Garwood – Lonely Planet
is the Lonely Planet guide, with handy suggestions to plan your trip and information about Rome’s rioni and itineraries: the ancient Rome, Historical centre, the Tridente, Trevi and the Quirinal, the Vatican City, Borgo and Prati, Monti Esquilino and San Lorenzo, Trastevere and Gianicolo. From San Giovanni to Testaccio, Rome South, Villa Borghese and Rome North. Il Giubileo è anche un’occasione per godersi la capitale italiana, una città che ha sempre un fascino enorme, tutta da scoprire, con le sue bellezze e le sue contraddizioni.

11 Apr

Jubilee bull, Misericordiae Vultus – April 11th, 2015 (live video recording)

April 11th, 2015: presentation of the papal bull with which Pope Francis will officially proclaim the Jubilee.
The bull’s title is Misericordiae Vultus.

As announced, it will be possible to receive the indulgence also if not in Rome.

In his bull, Pope Francis declares he chose this symbolic date, December 8th, 2015 since it is the 50th anniversary of the end of the 2nd Vatican Council.

The Misericordiae Vultus bull was published on the official Vatican website at the beginning of the ceremony.

Extraordinary Jubilee bull

Bolla Giubileo 2015-2016

Jubilee bull – The bull which proclaims the Jubilee of Mercy was announced on March 13th and publicly confirmed on April 11th, 2015 in a ceremony which started at 5.30 p.m. in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The ceremony started with the Pope reading the bull right in front of the Holy Door. Then, Pope Francis officiated the first vespers of the Divine Mercy Sunday and highlighted the main topic of the extraordinary Holy year.

Read More

01 Apr

What is Indulgence? The historical explanation

Before explaining the meaning of indulgence according to the catholic religion, it is important to start from the concept of Sin. Every time a worshipper offends God, disregarding his teachings, he commits a Sin. There are two different categories: the original and the actual Sin.

The original Sin was committed by Adam who disobeyed God and it is inherited by each man at his birth and cancelled through the sacrament of Baptism.

The actual Sin, on the other hand, is committed willingly through “thoughts, words, deeds and omissions” and it is divided into two further categories: the mortal and the venial Sin.

The mortal and the venial Sin

The mortal Sin consists of a severe disobedience to the law of God, committed with resolute will. Cursing against God, not taking part in the Sunday church service and adopting a lifestyle against the Christian precepts are some examples of mortal Sins. The only way to re-earn God’s mercy after committing a mortal Sin is to rue through sacramental confession.

The venial Sin also consists of a disobedience to the law of God but with no awareness nor consent when committing the Sin. In this case, regret and good deeds are sufficient to prove repentance with no need to draw upon the sacramental confession.

What is the temporal punishment?

A Sin always implies a detachment from God and therefore the eternal punishment which can be cancelled through the sacramental confession. To obtain true forgiveness it is necessary to purify the soul by an atonement consisting in the temporal punishment. A sinner who proves sincere repentance can have the consequences of his sin cancelled thanks to the doctrine of indulgence.

What is indulgence? Historical overview

What is indulgence? Historical overview

The history of indulgence in catholic religion

Indulgence is a total or partial absolution of the temporal punishment. Its implementation has changed throughout time and can be divided into four main phases. Initially, from the apostolic age to the 8th century, indulgence could be obtained through martyrs’ supplication at the point of death.

They asked the bishops to cancel the temporal sin of one or more penitents in their writings (supplices belli Martyrum). The martyrs’ sacrifice relieved the sinners from the burdensome path of public penance to obtain the redemption of sins. Also those who had refused faith and were condemned to severe punishments could ask the bishops indulgence sending them a sort of recommendation letter (libellum pacis) by means of their confessors. Since the 8th century, punishments became less strict and, above all, the path of penance became private, allowing also those who took part in Crusades or in a pilgrimage such as the first Jubilee to obtain Indulgence. In that occasion Pope Boniface VIII gave indulgence to pilgrims visiting Saint Peter’s and Saint Paul’s Basilicas. The third phase goes from the 14th to the 16th century when the Church overindulged in giving indulgences that were often bought with money that was supposed to represent the sinners’ repentance. Exactly those indulgences obtained through money payment led Martin Luther to start his Protestant Reformation (1517). The catholic Church put an end to “the market for indulgences” at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which was convened in the attempt to reconcile the catholic and the protestant Churches forbidding the collecting of aims and repealing the figure of professional pardoners (quaestores in Latin).

The forth and last phase is the contemporary age which started with the Council of Trent and was reaffirmed by Pope Paul VI’s Reform (1967) which definitively ruled the concession of indulgences by means of the “Indulgentiarum doctrina et usus”.

Plenary and partial indulgence

Plenary indulgence (from Latin plenus) frees the sinner from the whole burden of the temporal punishment hailed from his sins. It is an extraordinary concession given in special occasions such as the Jubilee, or during a papal election as it happened for Pope Francis. Before 2000, to receive Indulgence, believers had to be physically present in Saint Peter’s square at the moment of the new Pope’s benediction or go to Rome during a Jubilee and visit Saint Peter and Paul’s Basilicas. John Paul II put an end to this custom, granting plenary indulgence also to those connected via Radio or Television

Partial indulgence is given by the ecclesiastical authority to those sinners who proved to have distanced themselves from the evil by asking for God’s forgiveness, by making themselves at the service of the others or by willingly deprive themselves of a pleasure, proving their spirit of sacrifice in the name of God.

Plenary Indulgence: how it works

In order to receive the plenary indulgence you must be catholic and baptised, of course, and therefore freed from Adam’s original Sin. You must also confess and take part in the Holy communion within 7 days before or after the benediction. Obviously, praying according to the Pope’s intentions is also essential.

29 Mar

Jubilee 1300: the first Holy year

Boniface VIII was the first Pope of the catholic Church to proclaim a Jubilee.

Boniface VIII was the first Pope of the catholic Church to proclaim a Jubilee.

The first Jubilee in the history of the catholic Church dates back to 1300. It was proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII and it is remembered as the first Holy year. It is perhaps not generally known that originally the Jubilee was meant to be every 100 years. Of course, men have always liked round numbers. Yet, the interval was reduced to 50 years, then to 33 years and eventually to 25, also allowing the possibility to proclaim minor or extraordinary Jubilees.

Jubilee 1300: Pope Boniface VIII

Benedetto Caetani (Anagni circa 1235 – Rome 1393), before becoming Pope Boniface VIII, was a member of an important roman noble family. This allowed him to become part of the Roman Curia at a very young age where he carried out diplomatic missions in France and England. In 1281 he became a cardinal under Pope Martin IV; he advised Pope Celstine V in his decision to abdicate in 1294 and in the same year, on Christmas eve, he was elected Pope provoking discontentment in some rival noble families such as the Colonna family (in particular Giacomo and Pietro Colonna refused to obey him).

Boniface VIII’s policy was dictated by compromise, as far as temporal power is concerned. The agreement he signed with the commune of Spoleto is an example of his strategy; in effect he granted the commune full jurisdiction for all types of trial.

«Spoleto had to consign a list of three candidates for the post of chief magistrate and three candidates for the post of judge of appeal to the Pope or to the regional chancellor twice a year; if the designation didn’t take place within a month Spoleto could choose in autonomy».

From “Comuni e signorie nell’Italia nordorientale e centrale: Lazio, Umbria, Marche, Lucca. Vol VII** in Stroria d’Italia UTET, G.Galasso”

In the word of the historian Johannes Haller, Bonifacio

… «he had more power in the provinces of his state than any other Pope before Pope Innocent III».

Jubilee 1300 – why did Boniface VIII proclaim it?

It is believed that, when Boniface VIII proclaimed the first Jubilee, the indulgence of the century was already a renown custom in Rome

It is believed that, when Boniface VIII proclaimed the first Jubilee, the indulgence of the century was already a renown custom in Rom.

Why did Boniface VIII proclaim the first Jubilee in 1300? This question is subject of historiography studies, of course, and does not have a univocal answer since it is strictly connected to the several interpretations that have been given to Boniface VIII’s life.

Nevertheless, historiographers .agree in ruling out the worldly and socio-economic interpretation behind the decision of the Pope. The most interesting secular studies can be found in “Medioevo Cristiano” ( by Raffaello Morghen) and in “Storia di Roma – Roma dal Comune di Popolo alla Signoria Pontificia (1252-1377)” (by Eugenio Dupré Theseider). However, other interpretations (more journalistic and less historical), which can be found in “L’Italia dei secoli d’oro” by Montanelli and Gervaso, claim that Boniface VIII decided to proclaim the first Jubilee because he wanted to enrich the Vatican funds.

But it is well known that history is always much more complicated compared to the way we tend to represent it. According to the book “Comuni e signorie nell’Italia nordorientale e centrale: Lazio, Umbria, Marche, Lucca. Vol VII** in Stroria d’Italia UTET, by G.Galasso, the Papal States (which had been found one century before) were already very rich between 1288 and 1303. Therefore, this data rule out the hypothesis introduced by Montanelli and Gervaso.

On October 15th, 1298, Boniface VIII accepted the Colonna family’s surrender (that, as it was mentioned before, contested the legitimacy of his election). Moreover, he obtained a temporary propitiation with Philip IV the Fair, king of France. It could have been, therefore, the perfect powerful situation to organise a Jubilee, but he did not, or at least he did not do it on purpose. By the end of December 1299, the phrase “plenary indulgence” was spreading everywhere in Rome with urgency and necessity – those round numbers, those millenary theories that come back at the end of each century. The word was spread that on January 1st,1300, the Pope would have given the plenary indulgence to all those present at Saint Peter’s Basilica. So, a myriad of Romans turned out at the cathedral. It is possible that this pilgrimage towards the cathedral was not so “voluntary” but inspired instead by a canon’s sermon who said that on that day an “extraordinary major indulgence” would have been given.
There were no written documents proving the event, nor evidence of former Jubilee celebration in previous “round years”. However, Pope Boniface VIII eventually decided to satisfy the request of the people.

It is possible that the desire to confirm his temporal power, to reaffirm his spiritual authority and to please the Roman people all together backed his decision.

Jubilee 1300 – the papal bull of the first Holy year

Jubilee 1330 – The original version of Boniface VIII’s papal bull that proclaims the first Jubilee indulgence

Jubilee 1330 – The original version of Boniface VIII’s papal bull that proclaims the first Jubilee indulgence

The papal bull of the first Holy year and the first Jubilee indulgence. On February 22th, 1330, Boniface VIII proclaims the first Holy year with the bull “Antiquorum habet fida relatio” (A document full of faith). He also proclaims the first Jubilee indulgence, beginning on Christmas day 1299, therefore retroactively.

It follows the Latin version of the Jubilee bull:

«Antiquorum habet fida relatio, quod accedentibus ad honorabilem Basilicam Principis Apostolorum de Urbe concessae sunt magnae remissiones, et Indulgentiae peccatorum. Nos igitur qui iuxta officij nostri debitum salutem appetemus, et procuramus libentius singolorum, huiusmodi remissionem, et Indulgentias omnes, et singulas, ratas, et gratas habentes, ipsas auctoritate Apostolica Confirmamus, et approbanus. Ut autem Beatissimi Petrus, et Paulus Apostoli eo amplius honorentur, quo eorum Basilicae de Urbe devotius fuerint a fidelibus frequentatae, et fideles ipsi spiritualium largitione munerum ex huiusmodi frequentatione magis senserint se refertos; Nos de Omnipotentis Dei misericordia, et eorundem Apostolorum eius meritis, et auctoritate consisi, de Fratrum nostrorum consilio, et Apostolicae plenitudine potestatis, omnibus in praesenti anno millesimo trecentesimo a Festo Nativitatis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi praeterito proxime inchorato, et in quolibet anno centesimo secuturo, ad Basilicas ipsas accedentibus reverenter, vere poenitentibus, et Confessis, vel qui vere poenitebunt, et consistebuntur, in huiusmodi praesenti, et quolibet centesimo secuturo annis, non solum plenam, et largiorem immo plenissimam omnium suorum concedemus, et concedimus veniam peccatorum. Statuentes, ut qui voluerint huiusmodi Indulgentiae a nobis concessae fieri participes, si fuerint Romani, ad minus triginta diebus continuis, seu interpolatis, et saltem semel in die, si vero Peregrini fuerint, aut Forenses, simili modo diebus quindecim, ad Basilicas easdem accedant. Unusquisque tamen plus merebitur, et Indulgentiam efficatius consequetur, qui Basilicas ipsas amplius, et devotius frequentabit. Nulli ergo, etc. Datum Romae apud S. Petrum 8 Kal Martij Pontificatus nostri anno sexto».

The English translation is shown below:

«According to the story of some old men full of faith, there is a tradition, that great remissions and indulgences for sins are granted to those who visit the venerable Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles in the city (of Rome). Wherefore, we, who according to the dignity of our office desire and ought to procure the salvation of each, holding all and each of these remissions to be authentic, do by our Apostolic authority confirm and approve the same, and even renew and sanction them by this our present seal. In order that the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul may be the more honoured as their Basilicas in this city shall be the more devoutly frequented by the faithful, and that the faithful themselves may feel that they have been replenished by an abundance of spiritual favours in approaching their tombs, we, confiding in the mercy of Almighty God, in the merits and power of these His Apostles, in the counsel of our brethren, and in the plenitude of the Apostolic authority, grant to all those who being truly penitent and confessing their sins, shall reverently visit these Basilicas in the present year 1300, commencing from the festival of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which has just been celebrated, and to all who being truly penitent, and shall confess their sins, and shall approach these Basilicas each succeeding hundredth year, not only a full and copious, but the most full pardon of all their sins.

We determine that whosoever wishes to gain these indulgences granted by us, must, if they be inhabitants of Rome, visit these same Basilicas for thirty days in succession or at intervals, and at least once a day; if they be foreigners or strangers they must in like manner visit the Basilicas for fifteen days. Nevertheless, each one will merit more, and will the more efficaciously gain the indulgence as he visits the Basilicas more frequently and more devoutly. Let no man, therefore, dare to infringe or impugn this our rescript of confirmation, approval, renewal, grant and decree. And if any one presumes to assail it, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

Given at Saint Peter’s, Rome, February 22nd, 1300, and the sixth year of our Pontificate».

It is worth to be noticed that, even though there was no real documentation, Boniface VIII chose to mention “ the story of some old men full of faith” to somehow uphold the proclamation of the Jubilee.
Boniface took advantage of the Jubilee bull to exclude some of his enemies from the number of those who could receive the indulgence.

First: Christians who traded with Saracens

Second: King Frederick of Sicily and the Sicilian people since he occupied the reign against the Church’s will.

Third: the Colonna convict and their supporters ( both public and secret) unless they decided to abide by the Holy See.

For all this reasons, it is clear that the Jubilee was also a great occasion to reaffirm the papacy’s power.

Indulgence: how to obtain it

Jubilee 1300 – The plenary indulgence as described in “Historia de’giubilei pontificii” by Andrea Vittorelli

Jubilee 1300 – The plenary indulgence as described in “Historia de’giubilei pontificii” by Andrea Vittorelli

1300 is also the first Holy year in which, as it has been mentioned before, it was possible to obtain the plenary indulgence.
In order to do so, you had to follow some rules written in the Jubilee bull. Romans had to visit Saint Peter and Paul’s Cathedrals at least once a day for 30 days (not necessarily in a row), while pilgrims coming from elsewhere had to visit them for 15 days.
Naturally, the indulgence was “more effective” for those who visited the cathedrals wuth more “regularity and devotion”.

The Jubilee of 1300 in the Divine Comedy

The Jubilee of 1300 is also mentioned in the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

The Jubilee of 1300 is also mentioned in the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

According to the predominant literary theory, the 7 days long imaginary journey accomplished by Dante among Hell, Purgatory and Heaven took place exactly during the first Jubilee, in 1300. More precisely, it probably started on April 8th, 1300, the Good Friday. ( A secondary theory claims that it started on March 25th in the same year). The identification of this date is possible thanks to several temporal clues present in the Divine Comedy. For instance, Dante got lost in the “selva oscura” (the dark forest) “nel mezzo del cammin” (in the middle of the path) of his life. In the Connubio, Dante wrote «lo punto sommo di questo arco [della vita terrena] ne li più io credo [sia] tra il trentesimo e il quarantesimo anno, e io credo che ne li perfettamente naturati esso ne sia nel trentacinquesimo anno», therefore we can say that in the middle of his life he was 35. Since we know that he was born in 1265, we can definitely say that he accomplished his journey in 1300.

Moreover, there is also a coincidence between the Jubilee and the redemption journey imagined by Dante.

Eventually, we know that in 1300 Dante was a Prior and he had to sign the exile for his friend Guido Cavalcanti.

In the canto XXI of Hell, vv. 112-114, the demon Malacoda says that the bridges which linked the ditches of the 8th circle of Hell all crumbled when Jesus died, that is “mille dugento con sessanta sei anni” (1266 years) and five hours before the conversation between the demon and Dante.

Eventually, it follows the reference Dante makes of the Jubilee in Rome (Hell XVIII, 28-33),

Infine, ecco il riferimento circa l’afflusso dei pellegrini a Roma (Inf. XVIII, 28-33)

«Come i Roman, per l’esercito molto,
L’anno del Giubbileo, su per lo ponte
Hanno a passar la gente modo tolto:

Che dall’un lato tutti hanno la fronte
Verso ’l castello, e vanno a santo Pietro;
Dall’altra sponda vanno verso ’l monte».

Jubilee 1300: Bibliography

Here you can find an essential bibliography about the Jubilee 1300. Unfortunately, not all books can be consulted entirely online.

Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, Volume 30, «Il Giubileo del 1300» by Mario Fois
Il papato nel secolo XIII: cent’anni di bibliografia (1875-2009), by Agostino Paravicini Bagliani
Ecclesia in hoc mundo posita: studi di storia e di storiografia medioevale, by Pietro Zerbi
Historia de’giubilei pontificii, by Andrea Vittorelli