Salt + Light Media Home
Salt + Light Media Home

What is a Jubilee?

Deacon Pedro

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Pope Francis opens the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica to inaugurate the 2016 Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Salt + Light Plus subscribers can catch a video version of this article in the February 2024 episode of BEHOLD.
In preparation for the Jubilee Year in 2025, Pope Francis has made 2024 a Year of Prayer, calling us to intensify our prayer life and be strengthened by hope. 
So what exactly is a Jubilee? 
The idea of Jubilee comes from the Old Testament. According to the Book of Leviticus (25:8-13) a Jubilee year was to be celebrated every 50 years, during which slaves were to be freed, debts were to be forgiven, and the land was to rest.
These Jubilee years prevented the concentration of wealth and the perpetual enslavement of individuals due to debt. They also symbolized a time of renewal, freedom, and equality within the community, underscoring principles of justice, compassion, and stewardship of the land. They were like a yearlong Sabbath – a time of God’s favour and a moment of salvation.
In the Catholic Church, a Jubilee or “Holy Year” is a special year of grace. These special years are traditionally intended to help the faithful focus on forgiveness, reconciliation, and pilgrimage. They also offer the opportunity to receive plenary indulgences.
The first Jubilee was declared by Pope Boniface VIII in the year 1300, to mark the beginning of that century. He later declared that a Jubilee would be celebrated every 100 years. In 1470 Pope Paul II increased the frequency of Jubilee Years to 50 years. Five years later, Pope Sixtus IV made them even more frequent, making Jubilee Years a regular occurrence every 25 years. 
Holy Years are called “ordinary” when they occur at regular 25 year intervals, and “extraordinary” when they are proclaimed for a very special reason The last Jubilee, the Year of Mercy, was “extraordinary” since it was proclaimed by Pope Francis in 2015-2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council.
A significant Jubilee in recent memory was the Great Jubilee declared by Saint John Paul II in the year 2000. It marked the beginning of the third millennium. 
To mark the beginning of a Jubilee, the Pope opens the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica as well as the Holy Doors at each of the four papal basilicas in Rome. These remain open as pilgrimage destinations until the end of the Jubilee, offering Catholics the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence and special graces.
The theme for the Jubilee in 2025 is “Pilgrims of Hope,” as it will be a year of walking together in hope and trust amidst a world suffering the impacts of war, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased threats to global climate. 
In order to make the Jubilee 2025 all the more fruitful, Pope Francis invites us to pray in preparation. 2024 is a time to rediscover the value of prayer and the need for daily prayer. It is also a time for fostering prayer at the individual level, from making the sign of the cross, to attending daily Mass, to praying the Rosary, and spontaneous prayer from the heart. A concrete initiative organized by the Dicastery for Evangelization is the “School of Prayer,” which will have Pope Francis participating in moments of encounter with specific groups of people to pray together. The School of Prayer will highlight various forms of prayer: thanksgiving and intercession; contemplation and consolation; and adoration and petition.
In the words of Archbishop Rino Fisichella of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization, the Year of Prayer will help believers strengthen their relationship with God, “offering moments of genuine spiritual rest,” “like an oasis sheltered from daily stress where prayer becomes nourishment for the Christian life of faith, hope, and charity.”
This Jubilee Year of Hope will begin on Christmas Eve 2024 and will end on the feast of the Epiphany over a year later in 2026. 
For more information on the Jubilee Year go to:
Let’s join together in prayer as we journey in hope.

Related Articles:


Receive our newsletters
Stay Connected
Receive our newsletters
Stay Connected
Copyright © 2024 Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
Registered Charity # 88523 6000 RR0001