2021: The Holy Year of Jacobeo
People walk the Camino for many different reasons. Some to enjoy nature, some for exercise, some for religious reasons, some for its cultural significance, and some for a combination of such reasons. At Duperier’s Authentic Journeys, we welcome everyone to walk the Camino with us whatever their motivation. For prospective pilgrims who are Catholic, 2021 is a very special year in the life of the Camino, in that it is a Holy Year, also known as the ‘Jacobeo’ or ‘Xacobeo’. This also makes it interesting to all of us because it is an important part of Camino history and pilgrims get to see some aspects of the Camino different to other years.
What is the Holy Year?
In the years in which the Feast of St James (July 25th) falls on a Sunday, that year is celebrated as a Holy Year. So there is a Holy Year on a fixed pattern every six, five, six and 11 years. This happens 14 times each century. The last Holy Year was in 2010 and the next is in 2021.
The Cathedral Holy Door
During Holy Years there is a considerable increase in the number of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, who can enter the Cathedral by the Puerta Santa or Holy Door, which is only opened during that year. The Holy Door covers the rear entrance to the Cathedral, located on the Plaza de la Quintana. The door is opened during the afternoon of December 31st, on the eve of each Holy Year with a ritual during which the Archbishop of Santiago strikes a wall of slabs that covers the door three times using a silver hammer. The symbolic act refers to the difficulty involved in completing the Camino. Once the wall falls, the Archbishop cleans the perimeters of the door with holy water and olive branches. It is he who first crosses through the Holy Door. The door remains open for 12 months before it is closed again, on the last day of the year until the next Holy Year.
In 1122, Pope Calixtus II gave the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela the privilege of granting a plenary indulgence (or Jublilee indulgence) to those who visited the shrine of the Apostle of St James in the years when the saint’s day fell on a Sunday. Catholics believe a plenary indulgence leaves them completely absolved of all their sins, so the idea is that all your sins are forgiven. Individuals can gain plenary indulgences for themselves and also for those who have passed away.
How to gain the Jubilee indulgence
To get a Jubilee indulgence pilgrims are required to:
- Visit the Cathedral of Santiago to see St James’s tomb.
- Say a prayer: at least the Apostle’s Creed, the Our Father and a prayer for the intentions of the pope. It is also recommended that the individual attend mass.
- Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (go to confession) and Eucharist (go to communion) within the 15 days before or after the visit to the Cathedral.
- Indulgences can be gained at other times in the year through the performance of other acts of devotion. These are outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
So please join us on the Camino on what may well be a once in a lifetime chance to enter the Cathedral via the Holy Door and if you choose to, gain a Jubilee indulgence.
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