By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Pope Francis has approved “Pilgrims of Hope” as the motto for the Holy Year 2025.
The motto aims to give a concise sense of the full meaning of the jubilee journey, Archbishop Rino Fisichella told Vatican News last month.
The words “pilgrims” and “hope” also represent key themes of Pope Francis’ pontificate, said the Archbishop, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, which is in charge of the Holy Year planning efforts.
Archbishop Fisichella explained that Pope Francis approved the motto on the 3 January, with further instructions to be delivered shortly.
In the meantime, the council is already working with Vatican and Italian authorities on the best way to welcome a large number of visitors during that year.
Celebrations for holy years traditionally begin with the Pope opening the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve and end with the sealing of the door one year later.
The holy doors of St John Lateran, St Paul Outside the Walls and St Mary Major are opened for the year, too.
A holy year or jubilee is a time of pilgrimage, prayer, repentance and acts of mercy, based on the Old Testament tradition of a jubilee year of rest, forgiveness and renewal.
Holy years also are a time when Catholics visit designated churches and shrines, recite special prayers, go to confession and receive Communion to receive a plenary indulgence, which is a remission of the temporal punishment due for one’s sins.
Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed the first Holy Year in 1300 and decreed that they would be celebrated every 100 years.
But just 50 years later, a more biblical cadence, Pope Clement VI proclaimed another holy year. Pope Urban VI thought holy years should be celebrated every 33 years as a reminder of the time Jesus lived.
Finally, in 1470, Pope Paul II established the celebrations every 25 years, which has been the practice ever since. However, special anniversaries have called for special holy years, for instance, in 1933 to mark the 1,900th anniversary of Jesus’ death and resurrection and in 1983 to mark the 1,950th anniversary.
Pope Francis, seeing a need to emphasise God’s mercy and to encourage Catholics to return to the sacrament of reconciliation, declared an extraordinary Year of Mercy, which ran in 2015-16.