This year 2021 is the Xacobeo Holy Year or, as it is also known in Galicia, Año Xacobeo, Año Santo Compostelano, Año Jubilar, etc. A real joy for the pilgrims, who wish to visit the Tomb of St. James in such a special year. But, for the collective joy of all pilgrims, the year 2022 will also be a Holy Year, so the Xacobeo will last 2 years.
What is a Holy Year?
For a year to be declared a Holy Year, the exclusive competence of the Pope in office, there is an indispensable criterion to be fulfilled, namely, that the 25th of July, the day on which St. James was beheaded in 44 A.D., falls on a Sunday. St. James the Greater in the year 44 A.D., falls on a Sunday.
Pope Callistus II was the first promoter of the Holy Year, who established it as early as 1122. This initiative was ratified in 1179 by Pope Alexander III, who in turn established the rule of Sunday 25 July, which is still today an indispensable criterion for celebrating this special year for pilgrims and the whole of Christendom. On this there are differences in the years between experts, but what is clear is that already in the twelfth century the idea was generated.
This implies a time sequence of six, five, six and eleven years, which means that July 25th always falls on a Sunday.
Why will 2022 also be Xacobean Year?
This rule does not preclude the possibility of declaring exceptional holy years, without July 25 falling on a Sunday, as happened in 2016 with the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. declared by Pope Francis.