By ITV staff

“Watching people from all over the world praying… it’s an experience of the universal Church. For me, it reinforces my faith,” Joan Lewis, author of A Holy Year in Rome: The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy, held in 2016, told Catholic News Agency in a 2023 interview.

The Jubilee Year called by Pope Francis for the year 2025 — ordinarily held in the Catholic Church every 25 years, although a jubilee may be called by the Pope for a special reason — is to have the theme: “Pilgrims of Hope.”

As Francis explains in a 2022 letter to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella:

The Jubilee has always been an event of great spiritual, ecclesial, and social significance in the life of the Church. Ever since 1300, when Boniface VIII instituted the first Holy Year – initially celebrated every hundred years, then, following its biblical precedent, every fifty years, and finally every twenty-five years – God’s holy and faithful people has experienced this celebration as a special gift of grace, characterized by the forgiveness of sins and in particular by the indulgence, which is a full expression of the mercy of God. The faithful, frequently at the conclusion of a lengthy pilgrimage, draw from the spiritual treasury of the Church by passing through the Holy Door and venerating the relics of the Apostles Peter and Paul preserved in Roman basilicas.

More than 30 million pilgrims are expected to arrive in Rome for the 2025 Jubilee Year.

Preparations are already underway in the city, including directly outside Vatican News’ offices, where a new pedestrian area is being constructed. Buildings, monuments, churches, streets and sidewalks are being cleaned and restored.

In the midst of all this, St. Peter’s Basilica has announced some Jubilee preparations of its own: two charity projects for refugees and incarcerated people.

In the first, two refugees are making “sea rosaries” from the wood of boats used by migrants to reach Europe.

The second is a collaboration with the non-profit Second Chance Association, which finds employment opportunities for prisoners and ex-prisoners.

According to the Mosaic law, Jubilees were to be held every fifty years in memory of the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt. In ancient times, Jubilees involved freeing slaves, forgiving debts, and leaving land untilled in order to let it regenerate.

These practices, like the Basilica’s new social projects, promoted a spirit of solidarity and the dream of giving everyone a “second chance.”

The Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica

August 12, 2015. Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. (Photo-Grzegorz Galazka)

The Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica is opened by the Pope only at the beginning of a Jubilee Year. It is usually the first door to be opened to indicate the beginning of the Holy Year. This first evidence of the rite happening in St. Peter’s was in the year 1500 during the papacy of Alexander VI. Nowadays, the wall sealing up the door is dismantled a few days ahead of the ceremony. During this operation, a casket, which had been bricked over since the end of the previous Holy Year, is extracted, and inside is the key which allows the door to be opened. The Pope pushes the door open in a symbolic manner during the opening ceremony. For safety reasons, the use by the Pope of a hammer to dislodge the bricks which had been used to seal up the door at its closure at the end of the previous Holy Year has been abandoned.

From this moment on, the Holy Door remains open throughout the Jubilee Year to allow pilgrims to enter. With this opening of the Holy Door, those who come to Rome can live fully the Jubilee experience and obtain the Jubilee indulgence but are also able to experience a deeper meaning, namely that their path of conversion has arrived at the final stage – the encounter with Christ, the “door” who unites us with the Father. The door is always open to those who convert their lives. (

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