All Routes lead to the Cathedral


by Rose Maramba



In a move that caught many by surprise, Pope Francis announced on 31 December 2020, during the opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago to signal the beginning of XACOBEO 2021, that that Xacobeo was being extended to 2022 due to Covid-19.

The Xacobeo plenary indulgence saves a soul from a stint in Purgatory

Because Xacobeo 2021 was inaugurated in the extraordinary context of a global pandemic, the Holy Father had decided that the thing to do was to extend the Holy Year. The rationale: to disperse potential big crowds by spreading them out over a longer period, and to give more pilgrims the opportunity to earn the Jubilee. The Holy Door will remain open until 31 December 2022.

The Xacobeo, a.k.a. the Holy Year, Jubilee Year, Xacobean or Jacobean Year, grants pilgrims who visit the tomb of St. James the Greater, one of the original Twelve Apostles and the first to shed his blood for Christ, in the Cathedral of Santiago the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence. That is to say, the forgiveness of all their sins so that if they die after receiving the indulgence they won’t have to go through Purgatory but go straight to Heaven. In Catholic parlance, it is called “earning the Jubilee. Earning the Jubilee can only be done in four Holy Cities of Christianity other than Santiago de Compostela: Rome, Jerusalem, Caravaca de la Cruz and Santo Toribio de Liebana. (Incidentally, the last two are in Spain.)

How to earn the Jubilee

  1. Burial place of St James the Apostle in the crypt of the Cathedral of Santiago

    Visit the tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

  2. Say some prayers: at least the Apostle’s Creed, the Our Father and a prayer for the intentions of the Pope
  3. Receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation (Confession) and Eucharist (Communion)  in the fortnight before or after visiting the Cathedral

It is also recommended that the faithful attend the Holy Mass while in the Cathedral.

Footing the Camino: a marvelous experience, but you don’t have to do it to celebrate the Xacobeo

Note: you don’t have to do the Camino to celebrate the Xacobeo. However, many pilgrims incorporate the Camino into their agenda, thereby shooting two birds with one stone. In and of itself, footing the Way of Saint James is a marvelous experience. What’s more, at the end of it the peregrino is rewarded with the cleansing of his soul.

Plenary indulgence apart, Xacobeo 2021-2022 is full of festivities and activities along the several routes of the Camino: Concerts, exhibitions, conventions, talks, gatherings. . . The main Routes: the French Way, the Northern Way, the Portuguese Way, the Primitive Way, the English Way, the Finisterre and Muxía Way, the Sanabres Way, the Vía de la Plata, the Mozarabic Way, the Winter Way…

Opening of the Holy Door
The celebration of the Xacobeo takes place the year the Feast of St. James (25 July) falls on a Sunday, as established by Pope Calixtus II in 1126, the day the last stone of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was put in.

The Holy Door, lower right

The Xacobeo usually occurs some 14 times in a century. Xacobeo 2021-2022 is the 120th Holy Year in history.

The next three Compostela Holy Years will be in 2027, 2032 and 2038. The last time it was celebrated was 11 years ago.

The Xacobeo officially begins with the opening of the Holy Door of the Cathedral by the Archbishop of Santiago in the afternoon of 31 December of the preceding year. With a silver hammer, he strikes the wall that encloses the Holy Door thrice, an act that symbolizes the harshness of the Camino. (Which Way culminates at the Praza do Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral.)

That done, he asks the Apostle for permission to enter. The wall is then knocked down.

Per tradition, all pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela in a Holy Year must enter the Cathedral through the Holy Door.

Related post
Santiago–Apostle, Saint & Moor-Killer


> Featured image (A Guidepost collage: Camino sign/Fresco Tours, CC BY2.0, Flickr; Santiago Cathedral/Juan Antonio Segal, CC BY2.0 via Flickr, CC BY2.0, cropped)
> Xacobeo 2021-2022 logo/Xunta de Galicia, CC
> Purgatory from the Book of Hours of Queen Bora, created 1527-1528/Stanislaw Samostrzelnik, copyright expired, PD-Art via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped
> Burial place of the Apostle/Duke, CC BY-SA3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> The Camino/Anita amataj, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> Holy Door/Carlos de Paz, CC BY-SA2.0 via Wikimedia Commons