How to Enjoy Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy

The last jubilee year attracted 25 million visitors to the Vatican City. Many think that this year could see tens of millions of pilgrims. Photo by Alfredo Borba

Since his move to the Vatican, Pope Francis has been a font of change and renewed enthusiasm for the Catholic Church. He has worked to reform the church bureaucracy, to bring the message back to the poor and create a more inclusive church. Now, there’s something else to celebrate: The Jubilee Year of Mercy, an entire year of jubilee for the Roman Catholic Church to focus on compassion and pardon.

Wait, what is the jubilee year??

A year of Jubilee is a special period of celebration, thanksgiving or redemption held by the Catholic Church. The idea is for followers to turn their focuses to receiving pardon from God and a remission of their sins. Another common question is: how often is the year of Jubilee? A Year of Jubilee usually occurs every 25 years or so, though there are “extraordinary” jubilee years called sooner than the normal 25-year period.

The jubilee year that Pope Francis convoked – the Holy Year of Mercy – began on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, and will end November 20, 2016.

Why is this Year of Jubilee so special?

For ont thing, it just started!

Also because the last jubilee was 15 years ago in 2000 under Pope John Paul II. It was known as the “Great Jubilee.”

St. peter's basilica square rome vatican

Pope Francis announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy during a Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica. Fitting, since it is titled the Holy Year of Mercy. Mercy is a central message of Pope Francis’ papacy and it’s one he is trying to spread through this year of jubilee.

Last Christmas, Francis very publicly suggested that members of the Curia examine their consciences for sins and called on them to never forget the need to seek forgiveness from God. He continues to reiterate the need for mercy – both to give it and receive it – even after the Vatican financial leaks and the terrorist attacks in Paris. 

During his homily after the announcement, Pope Francis said, “The call of Jesus pushes each of us to never stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person…We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see of how much generosity everyone is capable.”

In short, the Holy Year of Mercy is a public call from Pope Francis to the entire world reminding all Catholics (and any who hear his message) to seek mercy, to show mercy and to always ask for forgiveness when you have done wrong.

How can I celebrate?


For the Jubilee Year of Mercy St. Peter’s will open its holy doors.

The jubilee year of Mercy officially began on December 8th with the unsealing of the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Three more of our favorite churches in Rome will open their doors as well: St. John Lateran, St Paul’s Outside the Walls, and Santa Maria Maggiore, along with churches and basilicas around the world.

Pilgrims to the Vatican City who wish to participate in Jubilee events or pass through the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s must register. You can register yourself or a small group (such as a family) for free at the official Jubilee registration page. To ensure that all pilgrims will get a chance to pray in peace, you’ll have to choose a day and a time preference for visiting the Holy Doors, either morning from 7 am – 1 pm or afternoon from 1:30 pm – 5 p.m. You can find detailed information at the Jubilee of Mercy website.

Of course, you can also celebrate right where you are! The jubilee year of Mercy is an entire year dedicated to spreading a message of redemption. This year, the message is mercy. Whether you are a Catholic or a Muslim, a believer or a non-believer, you can take part in this enormous event simply by being a more forgiving person – both with yourself and others.

Pope Francis' Jubilee Year of Mercy promises to be an amazing event. Find out how to take part in it in our blog! Photo via wikimedia commons: "Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19 (cropped)" by / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons -


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