A special Holy Year

The Extraordinary Jubilee promulgated by Francis will be the 65th in history. The first was announced by Sixtus V in 1585. The “special” Holy Year does not alter the recurrence of Ordinary Jubilees.

The last Pope to open the (cemented shut) Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica for an universal Extraordinary Jubilee was the future saint, John Paul II, in 1983: he promulgated the Jubilee to celebrate the 1950 years since the Redemption carried out by Christ through his Death and Resurrection in the year 33.

The word “Jubilee” comes from the Hebrew “Yobel” meaning “billy goat”, in reference to the ram’s horn used in religious celebrations. The Jubilee is the year of the remission of sins and of suffering from sin, of reconciliation, of conversion and of sacramental penance.

365 days of solidarity, hope, justice and commitment to serving God in the spirit of joy and peace with everyone.

Above all, however, the Jubilee Year is the year of Christ, the giver of life and of grace to humanity.

It is called “Holy Year” because it is celebrated with sacred rites and also because its mission is the holiness of human life.

The universal Jubilee can be: Ordinary, if it falls after a set period of years (generally 50 or 25 years); extraordinary if it is declared as a celebration of an event of outstanding importance; particular if it is limited to the inhabitants of a particular city, province or area.

Its origins date back to the Old Testament as the official website of the Holy See explains: “The Law of Moses prescribed a special year for the Jewish people: “You shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim the 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 family.

This fiftieth year is to be a jubilee year for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the un-gathered corn, you will not gather the untrimmed vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will eat what comes from the fields.”(The Book of Leviticus 25, 10-14).

The trumpet with which this particular year was announced was a goat’s horn called Yobel in Hebrew, and the origin of the word jubilee. The celebration of this year also included the restitution of land to the original owners, the remission of debts, the liberation of slaves and the land was left fallow.” Continue reading


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