What is the Xacobean Year and when is it celebrated?

The Xacobean Year is a special time that makes Santiago de Compostela shine in a unique way. In this post we tell you all about this festival and why it is so significant for the city and the pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago.

What is the Xacobean Year?

Also known as Año Santo Compostelano or Holy Year, the Año Xacobeo is a special period in the Christian calendar that is celebrated when 25 July, the Apostle’s Day, falls on a Sunday. This event is very special for the city of Santiago de Compostela and for the pilgrims and faithful.

Xacobean Year Santiago de Compostela

Origin of the Xacobean Year

The Xacobean Year has its origins in the 12th century, when Pope Callistus II, then Archbishop of Vienne (France), made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. This pilgrimage had a profound impact on the Galician capital, which became a place of worship and a centre of reference for Christianity.

In 1122, the completion of the construction of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela marked the official establishment of the Xacobean Year by Pope Callistus II as of 1126. Since then, it has been celebrated every Sunday 25 July, keeping this tradition alive to this day.

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    Pilgrimage in the Holy Year

    In the Holy Year of Compostela, the number of pilgrimages increases significantly, boosting the development of infrastructure such as churches and accommodation along the Camino and helping to make the experience more rewarding and comfortable for pilgrims.

    When is the next Xacobean Year celebrated?

    The Xacobean Year occurs every 6,5,6 and 11 years, when the 25th of July falls on a Sunday. The last Holy Year was in 2021, extending until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking a milestone that has only happened twice in history.

    Following the sequence, the next Compostelan Year will take place in 2027. Given that they only occur 14 times every century, we recommend you to experience the Camino during the Xacobean Year, a unique and unforgettable opportunity that you cannot miss.

    Reasons to do the Way of St. James in the Xacobean Year

    The Camino de Santiago is a journey of self-discovery, reflection and connection; but doing it during the Año Xacobeo takes its meaning to a higher level. From the pilgrim company along the Way to the celebration of numerous activities, we tell you the reasons why walking the Camino de Santiago during the Año Xacobeo adds an even more special touch to your experience.

    You will be able to see the Puerta Santa

    Located at the back of the Cathedral, in the Plaza de la Quintana, is the Puerta Santa, a symbol of faith, forgiveness and spiritual rebirth.

    It is only open during the Xacobean Year and is an important meeting point for thousands of the faithful. At its opening, the archbishop performs an ancient ritual that consists of striking three times with a silver and wooden hammer on a wall that walls the door. Once opened, a procession is formed towards the High Altar where the celebration of the Eucharist and the launching of the Botafumeiro begins. It is a moment of devotion that marks the beginning of a new Xacobean Year and welcomes the pilgrims who have arrived in Santiago de Compostela.

    One of its peculiarities is that through it, pilgrims can access the Apostolic Crypt, where the tomb of the Apostle Santiago is located and have the opportunity to embrace the figure of the Apostle, marking a unique moment in their pilgrimage.

    Holy Door Xacobean Year

    See the restored Cathedral of Santiago

    One of the most inspiring reasons to set out on the Camino in Año Xacobeo, is that you will be able to see the Cathedral completely restored after several years in the process of rehabilitation. From the High Altar to the organ, every detail has been meticulously cared for allowing pilgrims to contemplate the magnificent architecture and sacred art that adorns every corner.

    You can obtain the plenary indulgence

    During the Xacobean Year, pilgrims have the opportunity to gain the plenary indulgence, an act that symbolises the forgiveness of their sins, by crossing the Holy Door of the Cathedral. This experience makes the Camino de Santiago an emotionally and spiritually transformative journey.

    To obtain the plenary indulgence, it is essential to fulfil a series of requirements:

    • Visit the tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral once you arrive in Santiago de Compostela.
    • Pray for the Pope’s intentions (a Creed or an Our Father).
    • Go to Confession (15 days before or 15 days after the visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela) and receive the sacrament of Eucharistic Communion (one for each indulgence).
    • Attend Holy Mass once you arrive in Santiago de Compostela.

    It is a special pilgrimage to do in community

    The Xacobean Year attracts pilgrims from all over the world, so you can share the Camino with people from different cultures and countries, enriching your journey with stories and friendships that you will carry with you long after you arrive in Santiago de Compostela.

    Enjoy the festive atmosphere in Santiago de Compostela and the villages along the Camino

    It’s not all about walking! The Xacobeo year is a very special time for Santiago de Compostela. During this period, the city comes alive with an extensive programme of cultural, sporting and musical activities for you to enjoy at the end of the Camino. It is a unique occasion to celebrate and connect with the essence of the Camino de Santiago.

    In short, undertaking the Camino de Santiago at any time of the year is an enriching experience, but in Xacobean Year, it becomes an even more special journey in which you will enjoy a unique atmosphere and a deeper connection with the history and spirituality of the Camino.

    Cathedral of Santiago fireworks in Year Xacobeo
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