2021 is Xacobeo Year in Spain: an important pilgrimage destination in Santiago
2021 is a Holy Year in Spain: How You Can Obtain Forgiveness for Your Sins Next Year
El Camino de Santiago has left its mark on the millions of people who travel there each year for different reasons: religious devotion, personal growth, or to connect with the cultural and natural environment. The Jacobean (Holy / Xacobeo) Years have the highest turnout, as Holy Years provide a chance to obtain plenary forgiveness for your sins (also known as the Jubilee).
Xacobeo Year Pilgrimage in Santiago
Compostela Holy Year (Xacobeo) happens when July 25th, the feast day of the Apostle’s martyrdom, falls on a Sunday. Due to leap years, the Holy Years follow a pattern of falling every 6-5-6-11 years. 2010 was the most recent Holy Year, and 2021 will be the next, followed by 2027 and 2032.
Xacobeo begins with the ceremony of the opening of the Puerta Santa (Holy Door). The event takes place in the Plaza de la Quintana in the afternoon on December 31st, on the eve of each holy year. It is a ritual in which the Archbishop of Santiago strikes the exterior entry of the Cathedral three times. The procession is headed by the religious authorities, and involves asking the apostle James permission to enter before the entry is demolished and opened.
This access, traditionally used by Pilgrims to enter the temple, remains open for the next 12 months before it is closed again, on the last day of the year until the next holy year. Closed off by a fence, the Holy Door dedicated to St. Paio, was one of the seven smaller entrances to the cathedral of Santiago. Above the door a figure of the Apostle James with his disciples Theodore and Athanasius can be seen. On both sides of the door there are 24 seated statues of apostles, patriarchs and prophets, arranged in four rows with three bodies on each side, all originally from the Romanesque choir constructed by Master Mateo, creator of the Portico de la Gloria. This is also known as the Gateway of Forgiveness.
However, the door used by pilgrims today is not the original one accessed by saints, which, situated to the east, symbolizes the end of the pilgrimage and the entry to a new life of redemption. When the Capilla del Salvador (Chapel of the Saviour) was built, the Holy Door lost its iconic role as it was relocated slightly out of position, several degrees to the right. Through the current one, dating back to 2004 and made of bronze by the Compostela-born sculptor Suso Leon, there is access to a small patio. In here the original construction leading to the ambulatory of the apse of the cathedral can be found, very close to the tomb of the Apostle.
A Holy Year only happens 14 times per century, so during these years there is a considerable increase in the number of pilgrimages. To achieve the Jubilee means to be granted plenary indulgence or the complete forgiveness for all your sins. All pilgrims who visit the Apostle’s tomb at the Cathedral of Santiago during the Holy Year can obtain this plenary indulgence.
To this end, pilgrims must fulfill some requirements: visit Santiago’s cathedral, attend the Holy Mass and pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, and finally, confess and take Holy Communion the fortnight before or after your visit to the Cathedral.