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Post-pandemic hope is the theme for 2025 Vatican Jubilee


Italy, more specifically The Vatican and Rome, is preparing for its Jubilee in the year 2025. The motto for this Jubilee is “Pilgrims of Hope.” Pope Francis has put an emphasis on the need for hope following the COVID 19 pandemic. The pontiff expresses this in a letter about the Jubilee 2025 to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The Holy Father has said that this was a period of time when everyone globally felt the fear and the tragedy of dying alone, as well as the fragility of human life itself. 

While the concept of a Jubilee may be new for many, it is a religious Jubilee or Holy Year that first began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. Even the Bible makes mention of Jubilee, in Leviticus 25:8-13, which calls it a time to work on one’s relationship with God. In Judaism, the Jubilee year was a time to forgive debts, free prisoners and slaves. The Bible also makes mention of the Jubilee taking place every 50 years, but that was changed to every 25 years by Pope Paul II in 1470. 

Many people embark on pilgrimages to Rome, while others simply visit their local or national churches and receive the sacrament of reconciliation. While the Holy Year is planned well in advance, a Papal Bull or “Bolla Papale” is published and posted on the Holy Door a year before the Jubilee is intended to begin. The Roman Curia issues this document with the seal of the Pope. The Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee for 2025, is anticipated to be published on the feast of the Ascension, May 9.

The Holy Door is located at St. Peter’s Basilica and is only opened to start a Jubilee Year. Once pilgrims pass through the Holy Door, they receive the Holy Year’s plenary indulgence or forgiveness of sins. Passing through the Holy Doors also represents pilgrims at the final stage of their conversion. It is where Christ is symbolically the “door” who reunites us with the Father and which is always open to those who want to change their lives. There are 16 scenes or panels on the Holy Door which feature different sculptural representations of Biblical text, including the last tile showing Christ as the “Door of Salvation.” 

There are many preparations done in advance of the Pilgrims of Hope Holy Year. In addition to a Jubilee pilgrimage website and app (www.iubilaeum2025.va), in the fall of 2023, the Vatican will open up registration which will help pilgrims gain access to the Holy Doors. To augment that, once you are registered, you will receive a free digital pilgrims card. There also will be a special “service card” available for a small fee, it will offer discounts for things like lodging, transportation, museums, and food. There are three journeys that people will be able to choose from: Women doctors of the church pilgrimage, St. Philip Neri with the seven churches traditional pilgrimage, and the 28 churches in 27 different European countries or “Iter Europaeum.” Additionally, Pope Francis has put together a commission to identify both Catholic and Christian martyrs of the 21st Century. The Italian Ministry of Tourism is working with Rome to increase knowledge of the works of art within churches on the pilgrimage routes because many of these places aren’t widely known among tourists. 

Pope Francis asks that we prepare ourselves for the Jubilee. In his Letter to Archbishop Fisichella, His Holiness asks that the year 2024 be dedicated to prayer. The Vatican will be publishing a series called, “Notes on Prayer,” to help prepare for the Holy Year. In 2023, we are asked to study the documents of the Second Vatican Council, focusing on its four constitutions. In December 2023, “Council Notebooks” will be published in English by the Vatican to help young people and local churches regain knowledge of the Second Vatican Council but in smaller volumes.

You can learn more about the 2025 Jubilee, keep track of events, or plan your pilgrimage at www.iubilaeum2025.va.

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