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Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
Dec. 8, 2015 - Nov. 20, 2016

Pope Francis has declared Dec. 8, 2015 through Nov. 20, 2016 the Holy Year of Mercy to highlight the Catholic Church’s mission to be a witness of mercy to the world. The practice of a jubilee, or holy year, has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition. Jubilee was celebrated every fifty years as an occasion for forgiveness. The dedication of a jubilee year provided the community with a time to come back into right relationship with one another and with God. As the practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, the themes of mercy, forgiveness and solidarity continued. 

Popes traditionally proclaim a holy year every 25 years. The holy year features celebrations and pilgrimages as well as special opportunities to experience God’s grace through the sacraments. The Holy Year of Mercy that Pope Francis has called is an extraordinary jubilee; these jubilees are less frequent but offer the similar opportunities for spiritual growth.


The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was chosen to be one of the sites selected in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to have a to have a Door of Mercy.

In his homily announcing the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis says, “It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.” In the document officially proclaiming the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis writes that mercy is what makes God perfect and all-powerful. “If God limited himself to only justice, he would cease being God and would instead be like human beings, who ask merely that the law be respected.”

During this Holy Year, Pope Francis has asked every bishop around the world to designate a Holy Door to demonstrate that God’s mercy is available to all. Since each diocese has at least one Door of Mercy, many people will have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to their local Holy Door. To pass through the Holy Door is a way to rediscover the infinite mercy of God, who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each person.

Introduction written by S. Louise Lears; quotes cited in Origins, Vol. 44, the issue dated April 9, 2015.

What are the Spiritual Works of Mercy?

What are the Corporal Works of Mercy?

Additional Resources

Year of Mercy Prayer

Quotes of Mercy

Mercy in Motion

Year of Mercy Prayer Cards available for purchase! For more information, click here.