A Jacobean Year or Ano Xacobeo is a Jubilee or Holy Year. A year is considered Jacobean or Holy Year when Saint James Day, 25th July, falls on a Sunday. The number of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago increase significantly during Holy Years, particularly in July, as many pilgrims aim to arrive in Santiago de Compostela in time for Saint James Day celebrations.
Two facts make a Jacobean Year special for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago:
-The Holy Door in Santiago’s Cathedral, the Porta Santa, located in the Praza da Quintana only opens for Jacobean Years and remains open the whole year. The Holy Door is officially opened on 31st December, the last day of the previous year.
-A full plenary indulgence can be obtained, forgiving all the sins. To qualify, pilgrims must visit the cathedral, pray and attend Mass. They should have also gone to Confession within the 15 days before the trip or after the visit to the Cathedral.
-Those pilgrims who can’t physically continue all the way to Santiago de Compostela due to illness, can get plenary indulgence in Villafranca del Bierzo, where the Puerta del Perdón (the door of forgiveness) is also open only during Holy Years.
Because of leap years, Holy Years follow a pattern of 6-5-6-11 years. 2010 was the most recent Jacobean Year. 2021 will be the next, followed by 2027 and 2032, after that.