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.

St. James the Greater, Apostle

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.

Pope Francis for Xacobeo 2022

And indeed, the coming year 2022 will also be a Holy Year, decreed once again by Pope Francis due to the circumstances arising from COVID-19 and as a broad temporal space to help avoid crowds. This is the intention of the good Francis, to help all pilgrims who wish to make the pilgrimage, “trying to avoid crowds, forbidden or undesirable, seeking the glory of God and of the Apostle James, heavenly patron of the Kingdom of Spain, and seeking the spiritual consolation of the faithful”.

What is Xacobeo?

We must not confuse Xacobeo Holy Year, Compostela Holy Year, Jubilee Year, etc… with the Xacobeo. Although they are closely linked, the Xacobeo is nothing more than the cultural and events programme that the Galician government, the Xunta de Galicia, proposes as a great complement to the religious celebration, and which only takes place during the Holy Years of Santiago de Compostela.

Good news for pilgrims and Tourism

For the tourism and economic sector of Galicia, in particular, as well as other Autonomous Communities and countries where the roads to Santiago de Compostela run, it is news that gives a beautiful balloon of oxygen to all those who are professionally engaged in the field of pilgrimages. Indeed, I’m sure you’re thinking about it, every time it is a Compostelan Holy Year, the number of pilgrims soars, as can be seen in the statistics of the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim’s Office. In fact, there are those who may wonder about the real reasons for this decision.