Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
Pope Francis called the Universal Church to begin an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Year of Mercy began on December 8, 2015, which was the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the feast of Christ the King. Usually the Catholic Church celebrates a Jubilee year once every twenty five years. The last such Jubilee year was celebrated by St. John Paul II in the year 2000. The next such Jubilee is expected to be celebrated in 2025. However, a Pope can call an Extraordinary Jubilee year at anytime he chooses.
So what is a Jubilee year or Holy Year?
The celebration of a Jubilee as a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon has its origins in the Biblical book of Leviticus, in chapter 25, verses 8-55. A Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest. The year of Jubilee in both the Jewish and Christian traditions is a time of joy - a year of remission or universal pardon. In Mosaic law, each fiftieth year was to be celebrated as a jubilee year, and that at this season every household should recover its absent members, the land return to its former owners, the Hebrew slaves be set free, and debts be remitted. The same conception, spiritualized, forms the basis of the Jubilee. Jubilee years generally involve pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome, however during this Year of Mercy. Pope Francis has permitted Bishops from around the world to designate pilgrim sites within their own individual dioceses. At various times in Church history, they have been celebrated every 50 or 25 years.