Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
Official logo
Native name Iubilaeum Extraordinarium Misericordiae
Date8 December 2015 (2015-12-08) – 20 November 2016 (2016-11-20)
Duration349 days
Organised byVarious dioceses

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (Latin: Iubilaeum Extraordinarium Misericordiae) was a Catholic period of prayer held from 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to 20 November 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.[1] Like previous jubilees, it was seen by the Church as a period for remission of sins and universal pardon focusing particularly on God's forgiveness and mercy. It was an extraordinary Jubilee because it had not been predetermined long before; ordinary jubilees are usually celebrated every 25 years.

The 2016 Jubilee was first announced by Pope Francis on 13 March 2015.[1] It was declared in the pope's April 2015 papal bull of indiction (formal announcement or proclamation),[2] Misericordiae Vultus (Latin for "The Face of Mercy").[3] It is the 27th holy year in history, following the ordinary 2000 Jubilee during John Paul II's papacy.[1] The opening day was also the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.[3]

Francis wished for the Jubilee to be celebrated not only in Rome but all around the world; for the first time holy doors were opened in single dioceses, either in the cathedral or in historical churches.[4] The first holy door was opened by Pope Francis in Bangui on 29 November 2015, during a tour of East Africa.[5]

The Jubilee officially ended on 20 November 2016 with the closing of the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica which had been open since the Holy Year began the previous December.[6]

Papal bull

The Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica, opened in 2016

The Jubilee of Mercy was formally declared through the papal bull Misericordiae vultus, issued on 11 April 2015, which emphasizes the importance of mercy and the need to "gaze" on it; the bull also recalls the need for the Church to be more open, keeping alive the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.[3]

The holy doors of the major basilicas of Rome (including the Great Door of St. Peter's) were opened, and special "Doors of Mercy" were opened at cathedrals and other major churches around the world. The opening of the holy door at St. Peter's was the first time two popes were present, as Pontiff Emeritus Benedict attended at Pope Francis' invitation.[7]

The church held that by passing through these doors, the faithful can earn indulgences after fulfilling the usual conditions of prayer for the pope's intentions, Confession, and detachment from sin, and Communion.[7] During Lent of that year, special 24-hour penance services were to be celebrated, and during the year, special qualified and experienced priests called "Missionaries of Mercy" were to be available in every diocese to forgive even sins normally reserved to the Holy See's Apostolic Penitentiary.[3][8]

In the bull, Pope Francis stated about the opening of the holy door, "the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope".[3]


It was announced that all priests (during the Jubilee year – ending 20 November 2016) would be allowed in the Sacrament of Penance to remove censures for abortion, which outside North America is reserved to bishops and certain priests who are given such mandate by their bishop.

By the same letter, Pope Francis also granted permission for priests of the Society of Saint Pius X to validly confer absolution, while under normal circumstances they do not possess the jurisdiction needed to confer this sacrament.[9]

Logo and hymn

The official logo, designed by Father Marko Rupnik, shows Jesus, personification of Mercy, carrying on his shoulders a "lost man", emphasizing how deep the Savior touches humanity; his eyes are merged with those of the carried man. The background is filled by three concentric ovals, with lighter colors outwards, meaning that Jesus is carrying the man out of the darkness of sin. On one side the image is also joined by the official motto: Misericordes Sicut Pater (Merciful Like the Father), derived from Luke 6:36, which stands as an invitation to follow the example of the Father by loving and forgiving without limits.[10]

The official hymn, with most verses derived from the Gospels, First Corinthians and Psalms, was written by Eugenio Costa, S.J., with original music composed by Paul Inwood.[11][12]

Main events

The following main events and days of celebration for specific categories of the faithful were scheduled:[13]

The Holy Door of the Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, for the Holy Year of Mercy, 2015–16

Misericordia et misera

Misericordia et misera is an apostolic letter authored by Pope Francis and scheduled for release on 21 November 2016 following the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.[16] He signed it in a public ceremony on 20 November and presented copies to representatives chosen to represent the universal audience for his message: Philippine cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Scottish archbishop Leo Cushley, two missionary priests from Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Roman deacon and his family, two women religious from South Korea and Mexico, three generations of a U.S. family, an engaged couple, religious instructors, and two people representing the disabled and the sick.[17]

The title of the document references Saint Augustine's commentary on Jesus and the woman taken in adultery in the Gospel of John. After Jesus challenges her accusers and they withdraw, Augustine says that only misera et misericordia (misery and mercy)[a] remain. Pope Francis reverses the two terms Augustine used.[19]

The document was released at a press conference hosted by Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.[citation needed]

Media responses

Art historian Ralf van Bühren said that the Jubilee was an excellent opportunity for cultural and arts journalism, because mercy has been an important subject of Christian iconography. Since the Middle Ages, many representations in art encouraged people to practice the works of mercy and helped "the audience to explore mercy in their own lives",[20] as Bühren explains using the example of Caravaggio's painting in Naples. He felt that in this way the Jubilee Year of Mercy "issued a call to journalists, multimedia experts and social media communicators to report on facts, people, ideas and evangelization by using Christian art to explore benevolence, pardon, and mercy".[21]

See also


  1. ^ The American prelate Robert Barron, also reversing the terms, glosses this phrase as "Jesus and the woman ... giver and receiver of compassion".[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Pope Francis Predicts Short Papacy, Announces Jubilee Year Of Mercy". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  2. ^ Lewis, Joan (14 April 2015). "What is a Bull of Indiction?". Joan's Rome. WordPress. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Misericordiae Vultus – Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy". The Holy See. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy". iubilaeummisericordiae.va. Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Pope opens Holy Door at Mass in Bangui cathedral". Vatican Radio. 29 November 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Pope Francis: A poor and welcoming church spreads the gospel". religionnews.com. 20 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b San Martín, Inés (8 December 2015). "Opening the Holy Year, Francis says mercy always trumps judgment". Crux. Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Pope Francis: Now is the time for mercy". Catholic News Agency. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  9. ^ Akin, Jimmy (1 September 2015). "Holy Year Gestures on Abortion and the SSPX: 12 Things to Know and Share". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Description of the logo". iubilaeummisericordiae.va. Vatican State: Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Hymn of the Jubilee of Mercy". iubilaeummisericordiae.va. Vatican State: Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  12. ^ Dodd, Liz (6 August 2015). "English composer Paul Inwood picked for Mercy Jubilee hymn". The Tablet. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Major events". im.va. Vatican State: Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  14. ^ McKenna, Josephine (11 November 2016). "Pope Francis meets ex-priests in gesture of mercy". Religion News Service. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  15. ^ Harris, Elise (3 November 2016). "Prisoners to be Pope's VIP guests for jubilee celebration". CRUX. Catholic News Agency. Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Pope to issue Apostolic Letter "Misericordia et Misera" on 21 November". La Stampa. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  17. ^ "At close of Jubilee, Pope Francis says it's a reminder of what's essential". Catholic News Agency. 20 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  18. ^ Barron, Robert (2007). The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press. p. 103. ISBN 9781587431982. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  19. ^ Bourdin, Anita (18 November 2016). ""Misericordia et Misera": Lettre apostolique du pape au terme du Jubilé". Zenit (in French). Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  20. ^ Bühren, Ralf van. Caravaggio’s ‘Seven Works of Mercy’ in Naples. The relevance of art history to cultural journalism. Church, Communication and Culture 2 (2017), pp. 63-87, quotation from pp. 79-80.
  21. ^ Bühren 2017, p. 80.