12 Major Initiatives for the Jubilee Year

Archbishop Rino Fisichella also addresses security concerns.

Archbishop Rino Fischella presenting Pastoral Resources for the Jubilee Year at the Holy See Press Office, Dec. 4, 2015.
Archbishop Rino Fischella presenting Pastoral Resources for the Jubilee Year at the Holy See Press Office, Dec. 4, 2015. (photo: EP/NCRegister.com)

The opening of Holy Doors in all the world’s cathedrals, a daily Rosary in St. Peter’s Square, and a light show projecting images of mercy and climate change on St. Peter’s basilica, are just some of the plans for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that begins on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Below is a list of the most important initiatives, announced this morning by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

Asked during the press conference by the Register about security measures during the year given current concerns, the archbishop reassured there would be adequate measures but also urged vigilance. 

He said that ever since the Jubilee was announced, “there’s always been a bilateral agreement between the Holy See and the Italian authorities” on handling security.

“We have every reason to think a total guarantee can be given to all the faithful who go to Rome, but obviously it’s necessary to be vigilant in a way not unlike any other place in the world,” the archbishop said. “Also in the US, a Holy Door has been opened and also in the US they are sure that there will be the due safeguards which will be also in Rome, in Italy, in other dioceses.

“I don’t see why one would have to dramatize the situation in Rome excessively,” Archbishop Fisichella said. “From what one sees, the pilgrims continue to make reservations. The volunteers continue to register. This is the most evident sign for us of the spirit which has animated those who want to celebrate the jubilee here in Rome.”

The Jubilee will be an enormous security undertaking. 
Italy's top armed forces official, Gen. Claudio Graziano, said Wednesday as many as 6,300 troops will be deployed in Rome and other Italian cities. 
First estimates said some 30 million extra visitors could come to Rome for the Holy Year, but after the Paris attacks last month, Italian security officials lowered the estimate to 10 million, the AP says.

1. The Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica

The opening of the Holy Door will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Square beginning at 9:30 a.m., Dec. 8, and mark the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. Various readings from the four Conciliar Constitutions will be read aloud and a Book of Gospels, specially prepared for the Jubilee, will be carried in the procession for the Eucharistic celebration. The simple open ceremony will be broadcast on television worldwide.

2. Daily Rosary in St. Peter’s Square

Beginning on Dec. 8 and continuing throughout the entire Jubilee, the Rosary will be recited daily in St. Peter’s Square in front of the statue of Saint Peter.

3. LED Light Show

At 7p.m. on Dec. 8, an LED light show will take place entitled “Fiat lux: Illuminating Our Common Home”, during which photographs will be projected onto the façade and cupola of Saint Peter’s, taken from a repertoire of some of the world’s great photographers. “These illuminations will present images inspired of Mercy, of humanity, of the natural world, and of climate changes,” the Vatican said, adding that it’s sponsored by the World Bank Group (Connect4Climate) and a group of businesses. The event, “inspired by the most recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si’,” is intended to coincide with the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference which runs until Dec. 11.

4. Holy Doors to Open in Cathedrals Worldwide

On Sunday, Dec. 13, for the first time in the history of the Jubilee Years, Holy Doors will be opened in all the cathedrals of the world, according to Pope Francis’ wishes that the Jubilee take place in the local churches. Pope Francis will open the Holy Door of his own church as Bishop of Rome, the basilica of St. John Lateran, at 9.30 a.m.

5. Caritas Rome Door of Mercy to Open

On Friday Dec. 18,  the Holy Father will open the Door of Mercy at the Hostel “Don Luigi Di Liegro”, run by Caritas of Rome, located on Via Marsala. For 25 years, the hostel has helped those in grave need. This will be the first of a series of concrete expressions of the works of mercy that the Holy Father will carry out on one Friday of the month, each of them private visits. The Pope intends to highlight the “major forms of need, marginalization, and poverty” that are present in society while being united in “strong solidarity” with those caring for them, the Vatican said.

6. Healthcare Services for Pilgrims

Near to each of the four Papal Basilicas will be First Aid Stations (It. Pronto Soccorso). Multiple means of communication for the deaf and blind will also be provided, and audio files that can be downloaded from the Jubilee website (equipped with navigation aids) that describe the paths, pilgrimages to the Holy Door, and much else – including specially arrayed confessionals in Saint Peter’s Basilica and in other churches.

7. Pilgrimage Information Center

Located at Via della Conciliazione 7 and open daily, 7.30 a.m.-6.30 p.m. including Saturdays and Sundays, the center is a place to find information about Jubilee events; to register for a reserved walkway to the Holy Door at the basilica; to pick up requested free access tickets for the various celebrations which are required for pilgrims; and to pick up the testimonium of participation in the Jubilee. Archbishop Fisichella stressed the Pontifical Council, through the Information Center, is responsible for certifying a pilgrim's presence at the Jubilee, as well as the journey made on foot and that “any other attestation issued by other organizations should not be considered authentic.”

8. Pastoral Resources

Prepared by the Pontifical Council, these publications on the Jubilee of Mercy are both a “concrete sign” of the attention being given to the event, but also of a “sincere willingness” to live it in a most spiritual way. The editions are currently available in 10 languages; the Ukrainian and Korean versions are forthcoming.

9. Internet and Social Media

The official website of the Jubilee is at www.im.va. It will be translated into seven languages and allow viewers to follow events taking place in Rome. The site cab be used to register for the passage through the Holy Door, and become a volunteer. A special Portal “vatimecum” allows pilgrims to obtain services relating to room and board in Rome at controlled prices, along with a great deal of other information about living the Jubilee.

10. Church Initiatives

Many and varied Church events and initiatives are planned. Among these are CENSIS, “Mercy 2016, The Peripheries at the Center”, helping others to understand what it means to be merciful, to bring back to the center that which the contemporary world marginalizes and pushes to the peripheries.

11. Missionaries of Mercy

Registration has closed because the number of priests has already reached more than 800 requests. The Missionaries are priests who come from various parts of the world, and according to Archbishop Fisichella, were proposed by their own bishops to carry out this special service. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, they will receive the mandate from the Holy Father to be preachers of mercy and confessors full of mercy. They will receive from the Holy Father the faculty to forgive sins reserved to the Holy See, and will be the sign of the closeness and pardon of God for all. “It is important for me to underscore that the Missionaries of Mercy are appointed exclusively by the Holy Father, and that the faculty of forgiving reserved sins will be given to each one of them personally,” Archbishop Fisichella said. No one else is to appoint them, and Missionaries can be invited to events “by accessing the list that will be made available to bishops.”

12. Bishops’ Powers to Give Papal Blessing

The Holy Father has granted all the bishops of the world the power to give the Papal Blessing at the Holy Mass for the opening of the Holy Door, and for the closure of the door at the end of the Holy Year.


Archbishop Fisichella concluded his briefing by saying the Jubilee “will be an experience of mercy for each person to feel more intimately the love of God, who like a Father welcomes everyone and excludes no one.

“It will be a significant time for all the Church to remember that mercy is the essence of her proclamation to the world, and to render every believer a tangible instrument of the tenderness of God,” he said. “As Pope Francis wrote: ‘In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy’ (n. 12).”