Jubilees throughout History - In 1389, in remembrance of the number of years in the life of Christ, Urban VI chose to set the Jubilee cycle to every 33 years and called for a Jubilee in 1390

Jubilees throughout History

Origin of the Jubilee

The term “Giubileo” meant “indulgence” for mediaeval people. Before 1300, when Pope Boniface VIII announced the Great Pardon, there had never been a Jubilee as we understand it today. Claims that the year 1208 was celebrated as a Jubilee probably refer to the indulgence granted by Pope Innocent III to those participating in a procession.

Papal Initiative: It was Pope Boniface VIII who originated the Christian Jubilee. However, the idea did not come from him or his collaborators. An important source, Jacopo Stefaneschi’s book “De centesimo seu Jubileo anno liber,” allows us to understand the precedents of the decision that led Pope Caetani to grant the world complete forgiveness of sins.

The Year 1300: Stefaneschi tells of a rumor about the holy year, 1300, promising complete forgiveness of sins to anyone who went to Rome to the Basilica of St. Peter. This belief had significant effects, although Stefaneschi did not know the immediate cause. Expectation for the Jubilee was already strong before the century began.

The First Celebration: On January 1st, the secret of the new pardon remained hidden until sunset. Then, the Romans learned of the pardon and rushed en masse to the Basilica of St. Peter. It is unclear whether they were moved by a sermon, spontaneous will, or perhaps a divine sign, but the event marked the beginning of the Jubilee celebrations as we know them today.

The Spread of the Rumor: The rumor did not come from above but from below. Once it started, nothing and no one could stop it. Boniface VIII did not give up. He had already criticised the decision of Celestine V, who had granted plenary indulgence to those who went to L’Aquila, to the Basilica of S. Maria di Collemaggio. Boniface VIII ordered a search in ancient books, but they found nothing.

The Jubilee Announcement: On February 22, 1300, the jubilee induction was announced with the letter Antiquorum habet fida relatio. The pontiff granted full pardon, not only for sins but also for temporal penalties. The voice continued to spread. Some believed that on the first day of the secular year, every guilt was erased, while others thought they earned the indulgence of a hundred years. Many flocked, especially on the day when the Veronica was displayed. The Sunday after Epiphany, January 17, saw a particularly large crowd for the exposition of Veronica. A 107-year-old witness declared he remembered the previous secular year when his father had gone to Rome to obtain forgiveness.

Frequently asked questions – Jubilees throughout History

What is the history and origin of the word ‘Jubilee’?

The term “Jubilee” has ancient roots, dating back to Jewish tradition, where it marked a year of grace and rest for the land and for people

When does the 2025 Jubilee begin and what is the significance of the opening of the Holy Door?

The 2025 Jubilee begins on December 24, 2024 with the opening of the Holy Door, a symbol of entry into a period of grace and spiritual renewal.

What are the four Roman basilicas involved in the 2025 Jubilee?

The basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and Santa Maria Maggiore are the key places for the Jubilee pilgrimage.

What is the theme of Jubilee 2025 and what does it represent?

“Pilgrims of Hope” is the theme that guides the 2025 Jubilee, emphasising the importance of hope as a fundamental virtue in the Christian life.

Is the official prayer for the Jubilee 2025 already available?

Yes, the official prayer of the Jubilee 2025, written by Pope Francis, is available online in several languages ​​on the official Jubilee website.