The Jubilee Year

The Jubilee Year, according to Christianity, is a time of joy, the year of remission or universal pardon. The celebration of the Jubilee Year is quoted in several verses of the bible like in Leviticus 25:10 which says: “and shalt proclaim remission to all the inhabitants of thy land: for it is the year of jubilee.” The Jubilee Year was celebrated every fifty years and during this year, families were expected to find their absent family members, the Hebrew slaves were to be set free, debts were to be settled and illegally owned land had to be returned to its owners.

The Jubilee YearThe Jubilee Year

According to Roman Catholic Church's history, the first Jubilee Year in the Roman Catholic Church was instituted by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. During the celebration of the first Jubilee Year, Pope Boniface VIII passed his message of the need for people to confess their sins by fulfilling certain conditions. The first condition was to be repentant and confess their sins, and the second condition was to visit either St. Peter or St. Paul in Rome and pass through the “Holy Doors”, within the specified time of the celebration.

According to Pope Boniface VIII, the Jubilee Year was to be celebrated every hundred years. However, this was amended in the fourteenth century by Pope Clement VI. The argument behind the amendment was that the average lifespan of human beings was too short and that some people could not live to see any Jubilee Year. This debate was initiated by St. Bridget of Sweden and the poet Petrarch, among others.

After the first Jubilee Year in 1300, other subsequent Jubilee Years were as follows: The Jubilee Year of 1350 under the pontificate of Pope Clement VI; the Jubilee Year of 1390 and 1423. After the 1390 Jubilee Year, Pope Urban VI proposed that the Jubilee Year be celebrated after every thirty-three years (to represent the period of the sojourn of Christ). This then led to the 1423 Jubilee Year under the pontificate of Pope Martin V. however, in 1450, Pope Paul II amended the Jubilee Year to be celebrated after every twenty-five years. subsequent Jubilees were celebrated in 1475 (Pope Paul II), 1500 (Pope Alexander VI), 1525 (Pope Clement VII), 1550 (Pope Paul III), 1575 (Pope Gregory XIII), 1600 (Pope Clement VIII), 1625 (Pope Urban VIII), 1650 (Pope Innocent X), 1675 Pope Clement X), 1700 (Pope Innocent XII), 1725 (Pope Benedict XIII), 1750 (Pope Benedict XIV), 1775 (Pope Clement XIV), 1800, 1825 (Pope Leo XII), 1850, 1875 (Pope Pius IX), 1900 (Pope Leo XIII), 1925 (Pope Pius XI), 1933 (commemoration of the death of Jesus) Pope Pius XI, 1950 (Pope Pius XII used the Jubilee Year celebration to declare a new national anthem for the Vatican City), 1975 (Pope Paul VI), 1983 (the Holy Year of the Redemption) Pope John Paul II, and the Great Jubilee of 2000 (Pope John Paul II). The next Jubilee will take place in 2025.