What is the Jacobean Holy Year?

A Jacobean Year is a Holy Year or Jubilee Year that occurs when July 25 falls on a Sunday. This date celebrates the martyrdom of St. James, the patron saint of Spain. For the first time, the Jacobean Holy Year will be celebrated in Santiago de Compostela over two years, 2021-2022 because of the pandemic. Pilgrims will visit the tomb of the Apostle in St. James Cathedral not just on St. James Day, but throughout the Jubilee period.

The Holy Year usually happens every 5 or 6 years, sometimes as long as 11 years, and occurs only 14 times every century. NAWAS features Santiago de Compostela and a visit to St. James Cathedral on our 11 Days Fatima, Lourdes & Santiago Pilgrimage. Since the next Jacobean years won’t be until 2027 and 2032, now is the best time to plan your pilgrimage for 2021/2022.

Also known as Xacobeao in Galician, the Jacobean Year holds two special meanings for Catholics:

  • First, believers are granted full plenary indulgence which completely forgives all their sins.
  • Second, the Holy Door, known as the Puerta Santa, will be open for pilgrims to walk through. Located in Plaza da Quintana, the Holy Door opens on December 31, the last day of the year before the Jubilee Year.

History of the Holy Year

Interestingly, the Jacobean Year and plenary indulgence are connected to the Old Testament, Leviticus 25:10. “Consecrate the 5th year & proclaim liberty all over the land and its settlers. It shall be a jubilee for you and each of you shall return to its own family and clan property.”

Pope Callixtus established the Jacobean Year in 1126. Then he endowed the Santiago Diocese of Compostela the right to grant plenary indulgences to pilgrims making visits to the Apostle’s tomb. This became known as “earning the Jubilee.” In 1982 Saint John Paul II visited Santiago and also participated in the Jubilee Year in 2000. He granted plenary indulgences to those who participated in its activities.

Receiving the Plenary Indulgence in the Jacobean Year

To receive forgiveness of all sins, pilgrims must complete three key steps:

  • Make a pilgrimage during the Holy Year to the beautiful, 12th century Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims will experience the privilege of walking through the Holy Door.
  • Pray. Typically pilgrims say a special pray plus a prayer for the Pope’s special intentions. The Church also highly recommends that pilgrims attend Mass. NAWAS schedules daily Mass on all our pilgrimages including in Santiago de Compostela.
  • Confession and Communion. The Catholic Church encourages pilgrims to make a confession and take communion either during their visit to the cathedral or between 15 days before or after their visit.

Thousands of faithful walk long distances on the famed pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James). However, walking is not required to receive the plenary indulgence.

Visit Santiago de Compostela in the Holy Year

NAWAS features Santiago de Compostela on our 11 Days Fatima, Lourdes and Santiago pilgrimage. You’ll enjoy two nights in Santiago with a guided visit to the Romanesque Cathedral of St. James. In addition to Santiago and the Marian Shrines, you’ll also visit Lisbon, Avila and Madrid. We schedule Mass daily with an opportunity for private devotions. Contact us to learn more.

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