This coming year 2021 will be holy year. The Holy Years are very special years for pilgrims, as they are a culminating year for the Way of Saint James. During the Xacobeo, the Way of Saint James is dressed in its best clothes, it is full of events and the Cathedral of Santiago waits with its Holy Door open to receive all the pilgrims.
So you know, if you were thinking of doing the Way of Saint James, 2021 is your year! Below we tell you everything you need to know about the Jacobean year.
Holy Year, Jubilee Year and Xacobeo
Holy Year, Compostelan Holy Year, Jubilee Holy Year, Xacobeo, Jacobeo… you have surely heard some of these names before, haven’t you? Well, they all come to mean the same thing, the year in which the 25th of July (the day of the Apostle James) falls on a Sunday. Their origin dates back to the lower medieval period. It is very important, because it is an event that only occurs once every five, six or eleven years; and when the last year of a century is not a leap year, the Xacobeo is every seven or twelve years.
That is the rule, but there is always an exception that confirms the rule, right? In this case it was not going to be less. Last year 2016 was not a Jacobean year per se, but even so Pope Francis decided to proclaim that year as a Jubilee Year of Mercy, producing with his proclamation that all the Holy Doors of the world were opened. A truly unprecedented situation.
The Jubilee year lasts a full year. It opens with the opening of the Holy Door on 31 December of the previous year (in this case on 31 December 2020) and lasts until the end of the coming year.
The Holy Door
If you are not a person of faith, you are probably thinking about what the Holy Door is and what it means. Well, a note of church culture for everyone: the Holy Doors are doors located in a Christian temple that grant everyone who passes through them absolution from their sins in the eyes of the church. But don’t think that just by going through the door you are already there! Pilgrims who wish to obtain the plenary indulgence next year Xacobeo 2021, must: go through the door, receive communion, pray the Creed and pray for the Pope and his intentions. Once all this is done, absolution will be obtained: straight to heaven without going through purgatory.
The Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago is located at the back of the Cathedral, in the Plaza de la Quintana. It is only opened during the Xacobean years by the archbishop.
To win the jubilee is basically to earn absolution of all sins in the eyes of the church. It is another way of saying plenary indulgence. In fact, when the Pope decreed the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016, it was allegedly because of the changes and dramatic situations that the society was going through in the world. So to speak, it was the church’s way of trying to support and comfort its faithful.
When will it be Xacobeo again after 2021?
2010 was the most recent Holy Year, let us remember that 2016 was exceptional. 2021 will be the next Xacobean Year and we will not have another until 2027 and then 2032.
If you do the math, you will realize that Xacobeo is an event that only occurs 14 times each century. Do you need a better reason to choose 2021 as your year to make the journey? Surely not.
What is it like to go on pilgrimage in the Holy Year?
Now you may be wondering: Will there be a large influx of pilgrims? The answer is yes, there are always more pilgrims in the Jacobean years. Moreover, the Holy Year 2021 is considered an event of exceptional public interest. For this reason, our recommendation is that whether you decide to do it on your own or hire an agency, you should book your accommodation as soon as possible! Especially if you want to plan your route to Santiago on the day of the festival. Moreover, by booking in advance, you will avoid problems of price increases in the accommodation or simply the fact of not having any accommodation available for your dates.
At the beginning of the post we already commented that “the road dresses up in its best clothes” during the retirement years. During this year, there are hundreds of cultural events of all kinds and for all tastes associated with the Camino de Santiago. Especially in Santiago de Compostela there is an incredible amount of festive and cultural activity throughout the year. The older you get, the more multicultural the Way becomes. So you know, you will meet a lot of people from different countries and you will be able to attend a lot of events, and if that is not enough, most of them are free!
Well, dear pilgrims, you know, if you want to live an even more fantastic experience (if that it’s possible) of the Camino de Santiago, 2021 is your year. As for the route of the Way, choose according to your interest: whether you want a more crowded or a more solitary route. You know that the French and Portuguese routes are the most popular, so if you want more peace and quiet you can choose the Northern, English or Primitive routes, among others. Of course, there will always be room for the dogs who want to earn their jubilees.
This 2021, even more Ultreia et suseia for all the pilgrims! See you in Santiago!