7 Dec 2015

CNA - All of your burning questions on Holy Years (and Doors) answered!

December 8 marks the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy, an Extraordinary Jubilee Year called for by Pope Francis.

But what exactly does that mean?

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

What is a Holy Year? 
The Catholic tradition of practicing a Holy Year (Jubilee Year) began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300, and since 1475 an Ordinary Jubilee has been celebrated every 25 years in order to allow each generation to experience at least one during their lifetime.

The Holy Year is traditionally a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment merited by one’s sins. It is also a year for reconciliation between enemies, conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Until now there have only been 26 ordinary Jubilee celebrations, the last of which was the Jubilee of 2000.

What is an Extraordinary Jubilee Year? 

Pope John Paul II opens the Holy Doors in St. Peter's Basilica on March 25, 1983. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano
Pope John Paul II opens the Holy Doors in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 25, 1983. 
Credit: L’Osservatore Romano

An Extraordinary Jubilee can be called for a special occasion or for an event that has a particular importance, as is the case with Pope Francis’ 2016 Holy Year of Mercy.


The first extraordinary Jubilee was called in the 16th century, and the most recent were in 1933, when Pope Pius XI called one to celebrate 1,900 years of Redemption, and in 1983 when St. John Paul II proclaimed one to honor 1,950 years of redemption after Christ’s death and resurrection.

Continue reading HERE.

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