Past Extraordinary Jubilee years have marked events such as the anniversary of Jesus' death and resurrection (1933), the end of the Second Vatican Council (1966), and the new millennium ("Grand Jubilee," 2000).
A new exhibit will be on display at the Pastoral Center starting next week. As we are currently observing the Holy Year of Mercy, which commenced last month, it features items related to Jubilee years both past and present.
The first Jubilee Year, or Holy Year, was declared by Pope Boniface VIII in the year 1300. At the time, it was already a widely held belief that the first year of a new century was a time for special indulgences to be granted. In recognition of this, he also stated that there would be subsequent Jubilee Years every 100 years, but this practice would be amended in the coming decades.
Just 42 years later, Pope Clement VI decreed a Jubilee Year would occur every 50 years, with the second taking place in 1350. The frequency was further increased by Pope Urban VI, in 1389, who decided one would occur every 33 years, the length of time Jesus lived on Earth. And, finally, in 1470, Pope Paul II declared that a Jubilee year would take place every 25 years, and it remains so today.
Our present Holy Year of Mercy is considered an extraordinary Jubilee year as it does not occur at a 25-year interval. These are generally called in observance of an event or theme -- such as Mercy. Past Extraordinary Jubilee years have marked events such as the anniversary of Jesus' death and resurrection (1933), the end of the Second Vatican Council (1966), and the new millennium ("Grand Jubilee," 2000).
The Holy Year of Mercy began on Dec. 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and will end on Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. As with each Jubilee Year, it was marked with the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica, and at the year's end, the door will be sealed again.
During the Holy Year of Mercy, we are urged to focus on the Seven Corporal and Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy. The exhibit features photographs exemplifying how ministries of the Archdiocese of Boston perform these works every day -- feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead. In addition, it highlights activities from past Jubilee celebrations, such as pilgrimages to Rome.
For more information about the Holy Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of Boston, please visit the following: www.BostonCatholic.org/yearofmercy.
THOMAS LESTER IS THE ARCHIVIST OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.