Pope decrees the extension of the Holy Year on the Camino

By Karen Shepherd, Wandering the World

A Holy Year happens 14 times a century and is incredibly significant to Camino Pilgrims. The current circumstances caused by COVID-19, will prevent many pilgrims from making their long-awaited journey in the Holy Year of 2021. In response, the Archbishop of the Santiago Cathedral made a special request to the Vatican for an extension. It was granted and the Pope has decreed the unprecedented extension of the Holy Year for the duration of 2022. This will enable many more people to fulfill their Camino dream of making a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in a Holy Year.

In Holy Years, pilgrims usually flock to Santiago de Compostela, where believers have the opportunity to obtain “plenary indulgence” leaving them completely absolved of all their sins. These Holy years are a big motivation behind the Camino pilgrimage undertaken throughout history, leading walkers from all over the world to the tomb of St James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela.

The last Holy years were celebrated in 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004 and 2010 and only occur in the years where St James day, the 25th of July, falls on a Sunday. Along with plenary indulgence, a visit to the Santiago Cathedral in a Holy Year is quite unique, giving visitors the opportunity to view the opening of The Holy Door, or Porta Santa. This special entrance at the rear of the Cathedral, which is otherwise closed and covered, is opened by ceremony on the 31st of December, the eve of the Holy Year and remains open for the 12 months. For the first time in history, the Porta Santa will stay open for an additional 12 months.

The many benefits of the Holy Year will last for two years instead of one, a decision much welcomed and celebrated by all those wishing to walk the Camino during that time.

At Wandering the World, we are really looking forward to celebrating the extended Holy Year on our beloved Camino. We have published our guided and self-guided 2022 dates on our website, and we can tailor your own itinerary and timing as well.

If you too would like to take advantage of the unique opportunity to walk into Santiago de Compostela in a Holy Year, please get in touch with us to discuss your plans and hear about ours.