Chaos readying Rome for Jubilee 2025 celebrations

Preparations for next year’s Jubilee in Rome are frantically gearing for a humungous rush to finish in time.

The once-every-quarter-century event is likely to bring about 32 million pilgrims to Rome

Last Thursday at St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis presided over a ceremony where the papal bull, or official edict, for the Jubilee was read.

It lays out his vision for a year of hope and asks for gestures of solidarity for the poor, prisoners, migrants and Mother Nature.

Behind scenes chaos

Despite the pomp-filled event’s majesty and prayerful hope for the upcoming year, there is still much to be done in the seven months until 24 December.

That’s when Francis will open the basilica’s Holy Door and formally inaugurate the Jubilee.

Just now though, completing preparations and public works projects in time are knife-edge priorities.

As occurred in the months before Jubilee 2000, pre-Jubilee public works projects are overwhelming Rome.

Reports speak of flood-lit construction sites operating around the clock, entire swathes of central boulevards rerouted and traffic jamming Rome’s already clogged streets.

Vortexes of work aside, those in charge have faith it will all come together in time. And anyway – Rome’s a fabulous place.

“In a beautiful city, you live better” said the Vatican’s Jubilee point-person, Archbishop Renato Fisichella. Jubilee funding is helping make it more so for visitors.

“Rome will become an even more beautiful city, because it will be ever more at the service of its people, pilgrims and tourists who will come.”

Jubilee years

A Jubilee Year – also known as a Holy Year – has been a tradition since about 1300, originating during Pope Boniface’s papacy.

They happen usually once every quarter century, though they can be called more often.

Sometimes a pope calls an extraordinary one – to call attention to a particular issue or celebrate a momentous event for instance.

Francis called the last extraordinary Holy Year in 2016.

He wanted to emphasise his desire to present the Church as merciful and welcoming rather than moralising and remote.

Next year’s Jubilee will be the first ordinary one since 2000 under Pope John Paul II’s papacy.

The Vatican website says it should also be a time of reconciliation with adversaries and an occasion to promote solidarity, hope and justice in the world.

The Holy Doors, symbolising the doorway of salvation for Catholics, are opened only during Jubilee years.

There are four in Rome – in St Peter’s Basilica, St John Lateran, St Mary Major and St Paul Outside the Walls.

Their openings will be staggered, with St Peter’s door opening on December 24 this year and closing on January 6, 2026.

We need hope

The Jubilee is necessary, says Francis.

“Hope is needed by God’s creation, gravely damaged and disfigured by human selfishness” Francis said in a vigil service after launching the Holy Year.

“Hope is needed by those peoples and nations who look to the future with anxiety and fear.”


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