Overview and Significance of a Jubilee Year



Jubilee in the Bible
In the Bible, a ‘Jubilee Year’ marked the commencement of the 50th year, signifying the conclusion of 49 years, or seven sets of seven years. The “year of the Lord’s favor” described by Isaiah and claimed by Jesus in his public declaration in Luke 4:19, echoes the themes of the jubilee year, also known as the “holy year.” From a biblical perspective, observing a Jubilee encourages reflection, detachment from the past, embracing the present, and directing our gaze towards the future with hope. 

Jubilees in History: Ordinary Jubilee and Extraordinary Jubilee 

Ordinary Jubilee
Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed the inaugural ordinary Jubilee Year, or Holy Year, on February 22, 1300, marking a historic moment as the first officially declared event of its kind in the Christian tradition. The Jubilee of 1300 was considered a unique and extraordinary celebration. Subsequently, Pope Clement VI initiated the practice of observing it every 50 years in 1343, while in 1470, Pope Paul II established the recurrence of the Jubilee every 25 years.

An ordinary jubilee of recent memory was the Great Jubilee 2000, during which a three-year preparation period took place: 1997 focused on God the Son, 1998 on God the Holy Spirit, and 1999 on God the Father.

Extraordinary Jubilee
Extraordinary Jubilee Years, like in 2015, are announced at the discretion of the Pope, as an opportunity for the Church to focus on particular spiritual themes and engage in acts of mercy, pilgrimage, and reflection.

Events Associated with a Jubilee Year
and its Significance for the Lay Faithful
The Jubilee Year is an opportunity for the lay faithful to renew their spiritual lives. It provides a designated time to reflect on one’s relationship with God, seek forgiveness for sins and deepen one’s commitment to living a Christian life. The Opening of the Holy Door is a symbolic gesture marking the start of the Jubilee. The Pope opens a designated Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, followed by the openings of Holy Doors in other major basilicas worldwide. Many Catholics undertake Pilgrimages to Rome or other holy sites, especially through designated Holy Doors designated for local celebrations. The act of pilgrimage is considered a symbol of the journey of faith and a way to draw closer to God. During the year, Indulgences are granted under specific conditions. These indulgences are aimed at remitting temporal punishment for sins, providing an opportunity for spiritual purification.

For more information on the Jubilee Years, its characteristics and significance, you can visit jubilee2025.archdioceseofbombay.org

The theme for the Jubilee of 2025 is ‘Pilgrims of Hope’. Hope, integral to theology, intertwines with faith and love, focusing on salvation through Jesus Christ. We persevere with confidence and hope, trusting in the faithfulness of God and His enduring love for those who follow His commandments across generations. May God bless us all on our pilgrim journey!