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

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.

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