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What is a Jubilee Year or a Holy Year?

What is a Jubilee Year or a Holy Year?  

With the inauguration of the Pauline Year by Pope Benedict XVI, many are asking the question - what is a Jubilee year or a Holy year?  

The celebration of a Jubilee as a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon has its origins in the Biblical book of Leviticus, in chapter 25, verses 8-55. A Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest. The year of Jubilee in both the Jewish and Christian traditions is a time of joy - a year of remission or universal pardon. In Mosaic law, each fiftieth year was to be celebrated as a jubilee year, and that at this season every household should recover its absent members, the land return to its former owners, the Hebrew slaves be set free, and debts be remitted. The same conception, spiritualized, forms the basis of the Christian Jubilee. Christian Jubilees, particularly in the Catholic tradition, generally involve pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome. At various times in Church history, they have been celebrated every 50 or 25 years.

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