On December 31, 2009, the Holy Door was opened to begin the Holy Year of the Apostle St. James at the supposed site of his burial in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The Door is re-opened at the beginning of every year in which the feast day of St. James, July 25, falls on a Sunday. The last time this took place was in 2004, and the next time will be in 2021.
In a letter sent to the Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela for the inauguration of the Holy Year, Benedict XVI wrote that theme for the Year, “On a pilgrimage towards the light,” should serve “as a call to evangelization for the men and women of today, recalling the essentially pilgrim nature of the Church and of Christians of this world.”
The letter included a special call to clergy, “whose spirit of welcome and commitment to the faithful and to pilgrims has to be particularly generous” during this Holy Year. The Pope implored them to pay special attention to administering the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, because “the most sought-after, valuable and characteristic element of the Holy Year is forgiveness and the encounter with the living Christ.”
The Holy Father closed his letter with a word for the individual pilgrims who might have the opportunity to walk The Way this year, asking them not to forget to pray for those unable to accompany them. He also counseled them “to treasure the profound experiences of faith, charity and fraternity they encounter on their journey, and to seek especially to live the Way as an interior experience, responding to the call that the Lord makes to each one of them."
According to the website of the British Confraternity of St. James, plenary or full indulgences will be granted during the Holy Year, those who visit the Cathedral and the Apostle’s tomb, and additionally make a confession, attend Mass, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and undertake some charitable work, which can include a charitable donation, are granted a plenary indulgence.