What you need to know to celebrate the Holy Year
2021 is a special year for the Camino de Santiago. We are celebrating Xacobeo 2021, a year full of festivities and activities along the Jacobean Routes that will attract thousands of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. A year that will be double, since Pope Francis announced during the opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago the extension of the Holy Year to 2022 due to the coronavirus.
Concerts, exhibitions, conventions, talks... and gatherings on the different routes of the Camino de Santiago are some of the activities included in the Xunta de Galicia's Xacobeo 2021 Plan. But that isn't all... We'll tell you everything you need to know to celebrate the coming Holy Year.
What is Xacobeo 2021?
The Xacobeo, also known as the Holy Year, Jubilee Year, Xacobean Year or Jacobean Year, grants pilgrims who visit the tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral of Santiago the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence or forgiveness of all sins. The Catholic Church calls it earning the Jubilee, something that can only be done in five cities in the world: Santiago de Compostela, Rome, Jerusalem, Santo Toribio and Caravaca de la Cruz.
The Xacobeo is celebrated every year in which the Day of the Saint James the Apostle (25 July) falls on a Sunday, as established by Pope Calixtus II in 1126, which coincides with the laying of the last stone of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Xacobeo is usually celebrated about 14 times each century.
This Compostela Holy Year will be more special. For the first time and because of Covid-19, it will be double. Pope Francis announced after the opening of the Holy Door that the Xacobeo 2021 also extends to 2022. Thus begins a Jacobean decade in which we can enjoy several consecutive Compostela Holy Years. The next Compostela Holy Year will be in 2027 and the next in 2032, following an annual cadence well known to all pilgrims: 6-5-6-11.
Why will the Xacobeo 2021 last two years?
December 31st 2020 the opening ritual of the Holy Year, the opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago, took place. This year, however, there was one surprise: Pope Francis declared the extension of the religious benefits of the Jubilee to 2022 as well.
The Xacobeo 2021 was inaugurated in the unprecedented context of a global pandemic due to Covid-19, and the Holy See considered that the safest thing to do would be to extend it to 2022. The goal: avoiding crowds, as well as allowing more pilgrims to earn the Jubilee and walk to Santiago during a Holy Year.
Despite it being an exceptional situation, it is not the first time that a Xacobeo has been double. In 1937, in the midst of the Civil War, Pope Pius XII decided to extend what used to be called the jubilee graces to 1938, too.
The Holy Door will remain open until December 31st, 2022, allowing a margin of twelve more months for pilgrims to go to Santiago during a Holy Year.
Postmark of the Holy Door
Correos commemorates this Holy Year 2021-2022 with a postmark dedicated to the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago.
Those who come by the main Correos Office in Santiago (located in Rúa do Franco, 4) during the Xacobeo 2021-2022 will be able to have their letters or postcards postmarked to anywhere in Spain or worldwide, as well as their Credential.
This special postmark’s illustration, which will be in use until December 31st, 2022, features the outside of the Holy Door, which leads to Plaza de la Quintana.
This commemorative postmark will allow the picture of the Holy Door to travel the world through letters and postcards that will be stamped at the Main Office of Santiago de Compostela, spreading the word about the Holy Year worldwide.
The Holy Door postmark will join other Jacobean postmarks that pilgrims can find throughout the different Jacobean Routes.
Stamp of Xacobeo 2021-2022
Correos has made a very special issue on the occasion of Xacobeo 2021-2022, a commemorative stamp featuring Floreano, one of the most beloved characters of the Galician press. Created by the cartoonist Gogue, Floreano has made the leap from the pages of Faro de Vigo to become a pilgrim, with his cape, staff and pumpkin.
Since May 27th, this stamp is already being distributed, which will allow the image of our particular pilgrim to travel throughout Europe, thus helping to spread the Holy Year.
The stamp can be purchased at the Pilgrim's Post Office Store or at any of the Post Offices.
In addition, until July 27th the special postmark accompanying this stamp will be available at the Main Office of Santiago de Compostela (Rúa do Franco, 4).
When is the next Xacobeo year?
The next Xacobeo year or Compostela Holy Year will be in 2027. And the next one will take place in 2032. As we have already commented, a year is Xacobeo when July 25, Santiago Apostle Day, falls on a Sunday. And this happens every few years.
Specifically, the Holy Years follow a cadence known to all pilgrims, which is the following: 6-5-6-11. That is, the Holy Years take place every 6, 5, 6 and 11 years.
Are you doing the Camino de Santiago during Xacobeo 2021-2022?
Xacobeo 2021-2022 is the 120th Holy Year in history and will be a very special date, since it has not been celebrated for eleven years. Doing the Camino de Santiago is not a requirement to celebrate the Xacobeo but many pilgrims use this celebration as an opportunity to do so. It is worth it because, in addition to the experience offered by the Jacobean Route, at the end of the journey you will be rewarded with the 'cleansing' of your soul.
If you are also thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago in the Xacobeo 2021-2022, you can discover the different Routes such as the French Way, the Primitive Way, the Winter Way, the English Way, the Northern Way or the Portuguese Coastal Way, among others.
By visiting the pilgrimage route section of our website, you can plan the stages, check the level of difficulty and take note of the best tips to turn the Camino de Santiago into an unforgettable experience.
We also invite you to discover the services that Correos offers pilgrims to make their day-to-day life easier: rucksack transfer from stage to stage, bicycle transportation to the starting point of the Way or back once you finish it, luggage transfer to Santiago or any other point on the Way, or a luggage storage service on arrival in Santiago.
And if you can't do the Camino de Santiago during Xacobeo 2021-2022, don't worry because we have several Holy Years ahead of us: we'll celebrate it again in 2027, 2032 and 2038.
How do I earn the Jubilee? Requirements for celebrating the Xacobeo
To earn the Jubilee, or obtain forgiveness of sins during Jacobean years, pilgrims and the faithful must meet three requirements:
- Visiting the tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
- Saying a prayer and pray for the Pope's intentions.
- Receiving the sacraments of confession and communion in the fortnight before or after the visit to the Cathedral.
It is also recommended to attend the Holy Mass during your visit to the Cathedral of Santiago.
Holy Year Rites: Opening of the Holy Door
The Compostela Holy Year has its own rites. The best known is the opening of the Holy Door, the moment when the Jubilee Year officially begins.
This event takes place on the afternoon of 31 December, when the Archbishop of Santiago proceeds to open this door located at the back of the Cathedral of Santiago, with an exit to the Plaza de la Quintana. The Archbishop uses a silver hammer to strike three times on the wall that encloses the Holy Door as a symbol of the harshness of the Way that leads to that point.
After this ritual, he asks the Apostle for permission to enter, and then the wall is knocked down. The Holy Door remains open for the next 12 months and, according to tradition, all pilgrims arriving in Santiago that year must use that door to enter the Cathedral.
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Correos' postal workers can help you plan your pilgrimage to Santiago and answer all the frequently asked questions about the Way.
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How do I get the Pilgrim's Credential?
The Credential is the document that certifies you as a pilgrim, a kind of passport of the Camino de Santiago. We will tell you its origin, its function and how you must complete it to obtain the Compostela, as well as the places where you can buy the Credential.