After opening the Holy Door on December 31, 2020, the Holy See declared the extension of the Holy Year Xacobeo until 2022. This decision was made as a result of the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic for pilgrims who had planned their pilgrimage during the Holy Year. Let’s look in detail at the news about the Holy Year extended until the end of this 2022.
The Holy Year extended until 2022
This decision was joyfully acclaimed by pilgrims and professionals at the end of the liturgy in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela during the Opening Ceremony of the Holy Door. The Archbishop of Santiago, the Xunta and the Town Hall made this exceptional request to Pope Francis due to the difficult situation caused by Covid-19. This measure was intended to avoid the large crowds of pilgrims that normally occur during a Holy Year. In addition, it helped to reduce the danger of an increase in cases in this first phase of vaccination during 2021 and offered greater security when undertaking the Way since new control measures were implemented.
For the first time, the Holy Year, and the benefits of the Jubilee for the faithful, will last two years instead of one. The Pope himself has declared his intention to visit Galicia as soon as health circumstances permit. This also means that the Holy Door, which represents the rear entrance to the Cathedral, located in the Plaza de la Quintana, will remain open until the end of 2022. To learn more about plenary indulgence, and how you can obtain it during the Holy Year, click here
The Xacobean Way during Covid
Although the first months of 2021 were characterized by the impossibility of walking the Camino due to the State of Alarm established in Spain and other restrictions, little by little things got better and pilgrims once again filled the Xacobean routes with their enthusiasm to cover many kilometers on foot and by bicycle.
The vast majority were Spanish pilgrims. According to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela, 68% of the Compostelas were given to Spanish pilgrims. This was because the restrictions on traveling to Spain from abroad remained in force for many more months. However, we could see a new wave of national pilgrims who for the first time decided to undertake the Camino, possibly driven by a new need to spend more time outdoors, to immerse themselves in nature and to have a chance to reflect on all that had happened (and was still happening).
Far from the pre-Covid numbers, things improved during the second part of 2021. In fact, the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela delivered a total of 44,000 Compostelas in the month of August alone! In total, throughout 2021, a total of 178,912 certificates were delivered.
In addition, a very important factor when analyzing last year’s data is that 96% of foreign pilgrims said they felt safe walking the Camino (according to a survey conducted by the Association of Municipalities of the Camino de Santiago). Undoubtedly the very nature of the Camino helped to create this feeling of tranquility, but the public sector and the Xunta de Galicia worked hard to achieve this result.
Among the measures put in place to improve safety along the route, a platform was launched to book beds in hostels. As well as the ‘Covid insurance’, an initiative to provide tourists and pilgrims with free assistance for staying in a regulated establishment in the Galician community.
Thanks to these and other measures including health protocols, doing the Camino has not ceased to be a popular experience and 2022 started strong in that sense. Many pilgrims have already booked their itinerary for this Holy Year Xacobeo 2022 that looks set to be full of novelties and events. Let’s see more below.
The program for the Xacobean Holy Year 2022
After a first year defined by a situation still unstable due to the evolution of the pandemic, with an increase in cases and new variants appearing suddenly at different times of the year, this second year of the double Xacobeo, aims to compensate the pilgrims who could not live the spirit of the Xacobean Holy Year as usual.
As can be seen on the website consejojacobeox21.es the agenda of this second Holy Year is full of important events including music festivals (the most important are the festival “Son do Camiño” which will take place between June 16 and 18 and the “Resurrection Fest”, from June 29 to July 2). The program of activities also includes exhibitions, theatrical performances, contests, talks, and youth pilgrimages.
Culture, art, leisure and sport will be the key points of the Xacobeo program. One of the objectives is to allow pilgrims to come together again and share the spirit of the Camino that we were unable to enjoy in full because of the coronavirus.
Extension of the Xacobean Holy Year 2021-2022
As explained at the beginning of this post, the Holy Year has been extended until the end of 2022 as an exceptional measure because of the Covid-19 pandemic but it was not the first time in history that this happened. In fact, between 1936 and 1939 the Spanish Civil War took place in Spain and given the fragile political situation at that time, the Church decided to extend the Xacobean Holy Year 1937 until the end of 1938.
Once we say : Xacobean Holy Year (also known as Jacobean, or Jubilee Year among others) we refer to that special year when the 25th of July falls on a Sunday.
If you wonder what is so special about July 25, remember that it is the day of the Apostle St. James, patron saint of Spain and that on that date is also celebrated the day of the Autonomous Community of Galicia. It is undoubtedly a very special year, since it only happens about 14 times every century. To find out more about the Xacobean Holy Year, you can find more information by clicking here.
Opening of the Holy Door
The Solemn Ceremony of the Opening of the Holy Door, was celebrated as per tradition, on December 31, 2020, according to the ritual and was broadcast live on Galician television and on its youtube channel. The Pope’s message, read by the Nuncio during the ceremony, referred to the pilgrimage to the Tomb of the Apostle as an existential experience of conversion in which one never stops longing for an encounter with the Lord. The entire event was very moving, especially after such a special year, defined by covid-19. The ritual, characterized by the strict measures of preventive health care, touched the hearts of the many pilgrims and faithful who look forward to returning to the Camino as soon as possible.
Strictly following the religious function, which lasted 4 hours, the Holy Door was opened at 5 p.m., with the rite of the 3 blows with the silver and oak wood hammer, donated by a German couple. After entering the Cathedral through the Holy Door, the assistants continued the celebration of the Eucharist in the recently restored interior of the Basilica. For the second time, the Botafumeiro was launched.
As of that date, many pilgrims were already able to return to the magic of the Camino during 2021 and start planning more routes for this 2022.
The restoration works of the Cathedral of Santiago
The Archbishop himself was surprised by the great achievement of the restoration work on the interior of the Cathedral. From the High Altar, to the pieces of the organ, restored piece by piece, the result was an excellent work of heritage recovery. Galicians are extremely proud of this masterpiece, as well as all those pilgrims, who will be able to enjoy such beauty after their pilgrimage! The restoration work, which cost a total of 20 million euros, was the result of the collaboration of the Xunta de Galicia, the Spanish government, the Concello de Santiago and private entities such as the Barrié Foundation or Iberdrola.
After two years of work on its interior, the largest restoration project in the history of the Cathedral, scheduled for the beginning of the Jacobean Holy Year 2021, was completed. The two spaces that stand out most in this restoration work are: the Main Chapel, where the remains of the Apostle are kept, and the Transept, where the naves are located and where the Botafumeiro hangs.
Santiago Cathedral has undergone numerous modifications and various restorations in the past. However, in its 11 centuries of history, it had never seen a rehabilitation work of this kind, involving all the architectural styles present within it. This explosion of beauty represents the great commitment that the city, and the Galician community have, for decades now, with the pilgrims who visit the Cathedral. Below you can see the moment of the Opening of the Holy Door and the entrance to the interior of the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Santiago and the various participants in the ceremony. In the final images you can admire the majesty of the interior.
If you too would like to take advantage of this unique opportunity to walk the Camino de Santiago and visit the recently restored Cathedral, contact us to request your custom itinerary in the Holy Year of St. James. At Galiwonders, we’ll take care of all the details so you can experience the best of the Camino.