Celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy 2016 in Rome

Jubilee of Mercy in Rome

The Vatican is celebrating an extraordinary Holy Year, from December 2015 to November 2016. The historic event will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica on the 8th December 2015, the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and the event will conclude on the 20th November 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

St Peter's Basilica - Jubilee of Mercy in Rome

The initiative for this yearlong celebration of the ‘Jubilee of Mercy’, il Giubileo della Misericordia, was announced on the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, whose aim is to promote the opening of churches around the world for an extended period of time, inviting and inspiring people to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Historically, the Catholic tradition of the Holy Year dates back to Pope Boniface VIII in 1300, who envisioned a Jubilee every century. The proclamation of an extraordinary Holy Year can be dated back to the 16th century, and the most recent one to have been celebrated was in 2000.

The initial rite of the Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s. Only after then, will the other three Holy Doors of the major basilicas be opened, at St John in the Lateran, St Paul Outside the Wall and St Mary Major. As the doors remain closed unless it is a Holy Year, the symbolism is huge, illustrating that during the Jubilee all the faithful are offered an ‘extraordinary’ pathway towards salvation.

Here are some walking itinerary suggestions to experience the Jubilee of Mercy:

Pilgrimage to the Holy Door

To allow the pilgrims to make a true pilgrimage to the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, a pedestrian walkway has been arranged for their use. This walkway goes from Castel Sant’Angelo and reaches the Holy Door. All pilgrims who plan to pass through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s, should register their intention to make a pilgrimage, going to the Jubilee of Mercy website at www.im.va.

There are four walking routes for Jubilee pilgrims, from St. John in the Lateran and St. Mary Major to St. Peter’s and viceversa, allowing those making the pilgrimage to experience it as a “sign of the fact mercy also requires dedication and sacrifice” (MV 14).

The Papal Route

This is the route followed for centuries by the Popes, particularly on the occasion of their election, to take possession of Rome as Bishops of the city. A long procession led the Popes through the

Campo Marzio and the Celium area to St. John’s in the Lateran Basilica, the Cathedral of Rome. The itinerary passes through ancient monasteries, medieval churches, the most important sites of Ancient Rome and the great churches of the Renaissance and Baroque period to reach the Jubilee Church of S. Maria in Vallicella, where St. Philip Neri rests.

The Route Of Mercy This route links St. John’s in the Lateran to St. Peter’s Basilica through the ancient heart of Rome, following in its final part the way of pilgrims arriving in Rome from North, crossing Porta del Popolo. It passes through the Jubilee Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, placed on the main direction to St. Angel Bridge and St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Pilgrim Route

It was one of the traditional routes of the “romei” pilgrims, which from Italy and Europe used to come to Rome. From St. John’s in the Lateran, this itinerary reaches the Tiber. It passes by the Church of SS. Trinità dei Pellegrini, an historical place of assistance created by St. Philip Neri, for several thousand pilgrims, during XVI and XVII centuries Jubilees.

The way proceeds through Via Giulia to reach the Jubilee Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. The S. Angel Bridge will bring the pilgrim on the other bank of the river and to St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Marian Route

This path ideally links the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, for centuries the center of the devotion of the Roman people, to many sacred places dedicated to Mary (as, S. Maria dei Monti and Santa Maria in Campitelli).

Before arriving at St. Peter’s, the route stops at the Jubilee Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella, dedicated to the Nativity of Mary, where a miraculous image of the Virgin is venerated.

The three Jubilee churches

Three churches of Rome, placed in the surroundings of St. Peter’s Basilica, have been appointed as Jubilee Churches: San Salvatore in Lauro, Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) and San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini. In these churches a constant presence of priests, speaking several languages, will grant assistance for liturgies, confessions and meditation about Mercy.

If you are visiting Rome during this period, there will be plenty to see whether you’re making a pilgrimage in celebration of the Holy Year or not. Create your own Rome Itinerary and visit all of the historic sites to appreciate the splendour of the city and take in the ancient culture that is ever present in Rome.