In his letter, the pope explained that a Jubilee Year is “an event of great spiritual, ecclesial, and social significance in the life of the Church.”
“Ever since 1300, when Boniface VIII instituted the first Holy Year — initially celebrated every 100 years, then, following its biblical precedent, every 50 years, and finally every 25 years — God’s holy and faithful people has experienced this celebration as a special gift of grace, characterized by the forgiveness of sins and in particular by the indulgence, which is a full expression of the mercy of God,” he wrote.
There are two kinds of Jubilees: “ordinary,” when they fall after a set period such as 25 years, and “extraordinary,” when they mark notable events.
The celebration in 2025 — the year that marks the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea — will be the Catholic Church’s first ordinary jubilee since Pope John Paul II presided over the Great Jubilee of the year 2000. The Jubilee of Mercy overseen by Pope Francis in 2015 was an extraordinary jubilee.
“The Great Jubilee of the year 2000 ushered the Church into the third millennium of her history. St. John Paul II had long awaited and greatly looked forward to that event, in the hope that all Christians, putting behind their historical divisions, could celebrate together the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of humanity,” Pope Francis wrote.
“Now, as the first 25 years of the new century draw to a close, we are called to enter into a season of preparation that can enable the Christian people to experience the Holy Year in all its pastoral richness.”