What exactly is a Holy Year?

Holy Year

Pope Francis has declared a Global Jubilee Holy Year for Mercy, beginning in December. Okay, good... but what does a Holy Year actually signify, and what is its purpose. CathNews turned to the Vatican website for answers.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, a Holy Year, or Jubilee, is a great religious event. It is a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment due to sin, it is a year of reconciliation between adversaries, of conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and consequently of solidarity, hope, justice, commitment to serve God with joy and in peace with our brothers and sisters.

A Jubilee year is above all the year of Christ, who brings life and grace to humanity.

The origin of the Christian Jubilee goes back to Bible times. The Law of Moses prescribed a special year for the Jewish people: "You shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim the liberty throughout the land, to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family. This fiftieth year is to be a jubilee year for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the un-gathered corn, you will not gather the untrimmed vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will eat what comes from the fields." (The Book of Leviticus 25, 10-14)

More on Holy Years,click here for the Vatican website landing page.

Image of St Pope John Paul II pushing open the Holy Door of St Peter's on Christmas Eve, 1999, from NCR, crediting CNS, Vatica, Arturo Mari.

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