Jubilees in history

Jubilees in History

The first Jubilee ever took place in the year 1300 with the Pope Boniface VIII, who established that it would be held every 100 years. Afterwards, Pope Clement VI decided that the Jubilee would take place every 50 years, so that the time interval between one Jubilee and the following one would be the same as the Hebraic Jubilee. Finally, Pope Paul II opted for the Jubilee to take place every 25 years. Apart from the scheduled Jubilees, extraordinary Jubilees can be declared, on the occasion of events of particular importance.

Significant Jubilees in History:

1300 – Pope Boniface VIII
On February 22nd, 1300, the Pope Boniface VIII announced the first Jubilee, stating that, in order to be entitled to the plenary indulgence, Roman people had to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Paul Outside the Walls’ Basilica for 30 times before the end of that year and pilgrims from outside had to do so for fifteen times.
1350 – Pope Clement VI
This second Jubilee was declared in year 1343 by Pope Clement VI. Its preparation was very difficult, due to great plague (1348) and the devasting earthquake (1349) that affected central Italy. Despite these tragic/dramatic events, millions of pilgrims came to Rome.
1350 – 1425: Regular celebration of the Jubilees
1425 – Pope Martin V

In this year, the Holy Gate of St. John Lateran’s Basilica was opened.

1425 – 1475: Regular celebration of the Jubilees
1475 - Pope Paul II / Pope Sisto IV
Pope Paul II declared that, from this year onwards, Jubilees will take place every 25 years, so that every generation could experience at least one Jubilee Year. This Jubilee was actually chaired by Pope Sisto IV because in the meantime, Pope Paul II had died.
1475 – 1500: Regular celebration of the Jubilees
1500 – Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI established the official ceremony that opens and closes every Jubilee: it was decided that the inauguration of the Jubilee year would be signed by the opening of the Holy Gate of St. Peter’s Basilica by the current Pope. Then, the Holy Gates of the other three Basilicas in Rome were opened, and it was stated that doors had to remain opened during the whole year.
Apart from the ones in the years 1800 and 1850 (due to the Napoleonic Wars), from the year 1500 until 1875, the Jubilees were regularly celebrated.
1875 – Pope Pio IX
This was the first Jubilee to be celebrate after the Italian Unification. However, it could not be possible to open and close the Holy Gate of St. Peter’s Basilica, due to the military occupation of the troops of Vittorio Emanuele II.
1875 – 1925: Regular celebration of the Jubilees
1933 – Pope Pio XI (the first extraordinary Jubilee)
1900 years after Jesus’ death, Pope Pio XI declared an extraordinary Jubilee. He gave 620 speeches, and more than 2 million pilgrims came to Rome to celebrate this anniversary.
1950 – 1975: Regular celebration of the Jubilees
1983 – Pope John Paul II (the second extraordinary Jubilee)
Pope John Paul II declared the second extraordinary Jubilee to celebrate the 1950° anniversary of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
2000 – Pope John Paul II (the Great Jubilee)
During the whole year 2000, Pope John Paul II made several pilgrimages and symbolic gestures, which were not usual during the celebrations, such as the request of forgiveness for sins committed during the history. One among the main events of the Jubilee Year was the celebration of the World Youth Day (WYD) in Rome during that year.
2015 – Pope Francis (the third extraordinary Jubilee)
Pope Francis declared the third and last extraordinary Jubilee, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vatican Council II. ON December 8th, the Holy Gate of St. Peter’s Basilica was opened, in presence of two popes: the emeritus Pope (Benedetto XVI) and the reigning Pope (Francis).