Jacobean year

Posted on March 4, 2019

What is the Xacobeo year? You may ask…

It is the Holy year of the Compostela, the year in which the 25th of July – the day of the celebration of the martyrdom of St. James – falls on a Sunday.

What is most special about the Xacobeo year is that believers are granted the plenary indulgence, leaving them completely absolved of all their sins, once they visit the tomb of the Apostle in the Saint James Cathedral.

These Holy saint years happen to occur every 6, 5, 6 and 11 years. That is, starting from 1982, the holy years have been 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010.

The next Xacobeo years will be in 2021, 2027, 2032, and so on. These years occur only 14 times every century, so it’s important to make them count while you can.

The history behind Jacobean year

The concept of the Holy year and plenary indulgence are linked historically. It is derived from the Old Testament book, Leviticus 25:10 which says ‘Consecrate the 5th year & proclaim liberty all over the land and its settlers. It shall be a jubilee for you and each of you shall return to its own family and clan property’. Christian Theology also defines the Xacobeo year as the year for the forgiveness of sins

Indulgences or remission of sins, whether full or partial, are believed to be spent in purgatory. However, by the eleventh century, the Holy Mother Church started giving generous indulgences to those making arduous pilgrim visits to the shrine of the saints or those participating in the re-conquering of Spain.

History has also claimed that Pope Calixtus II gave the Compostela in 1022, the privilege of giving plenary indulgences to those who visited the shrine, made a confession, did sincere charitable works and gave financial support for the upkeep of the shrine in the years that the Saint’s day fell on a Sunday. Plenary indulgences were first offered to those who had died on the pilgrim journey to the Holy Land in 1095, either by unhealthy status or conditions or through Muslim invasions.

The year 1982 was a special Holy year as the Pope’s visit to Santiago not only restored life to the pilgrimage after the numerous challenges, but it also put it on the world map, as Santiago has now been nominated a City of Culture in Europe.

He also participated in the Jubilee Year of the Universal Church in 2000 and granted plenary indulgences to those who took full participation in its activities. A record of 272,135 pilgrims attended and the year 2000 was marked as an exceptional Holy year.

Cathedral of Santiago

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. (Photo by: Norman Macasaet)

Do the Camino in a Holy year

The plenary indulgences received are one of the greatest motivators for pilgrims to do the Saint James Camino in a Holy year, as each jubilee year thousands of faithful walkers from all over the world look to cleanse their souls once they arrive at the Cathedral.

    To gain the full blessings of the Jacobean year, we recommend to:

  • Make a pilgrimage: This is one of the most important spiritual exercises that mark the Jubilee year. Pilgrimage of not less than a 100km must be made to the Camino Santiago, and straight up to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the place where St. James was buried. The Holy Door (otherwise known as the Puerta Santa) which gives people easy access from the Plaza de la Quintana to the Cathedral, is opened on the eve of the Jubilee year.
  • Pray: It is not just any kind of prayer. It is encouraged that you say at least the Credo, our Father and a prayer for the Pope’s special intentions. The church also recommends that you attend Mass on that day. What higher form of prayer could there be?
  • Receive Sacramental Penance: This is highly important especially for those going on the pilgrimage as a form of spiritual retreat. It is encouraged that you do a sincere examination of conscience and make sacramental confession between 15 days before or 15 days after, and take communion.

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