The Holy Doors
One of the main Jubilee traditions involves the opening of the Papal Basilicas Holy Doors. Each of the major basilicas in Rome: San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Paolo fuori le mura, and of course San Pietro has a holy door that will be opened to kick off the year of mercy on December 8th. The doors of San Giovanni and San Paolo fuori le Mura will open on December 13th, and the door to Santa Maria Maggiore will open on January 1st. Although these beautiful basilicas are always worth visiting, the chance to walk through these “doorways of mercy” is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many, especially for those looking to receive the “Jubilee Indulgence.” To walk through the Holy Door at San Pietro, or St. Peter’s, you must register online beforehand and choose a specific date and time.
For those looking to get the full experience by making a Jubilee pilgrimage, there are designated routes for “penitential” walks that begin at each Papal Basilica and end at St. Peter’s. There are four main itineraries, Via Papale (which has two variations), Via del Pellegrino and Cammino Mariano, all of which end at Castel Sant’Angelo, where a protected pathway leads pilgrims to St. Peter’s.
The Via Papale begins at San Giovanni in Laterano, passes the Colosseum and Mamertine Prison, and splits in two at Piazza Navona, where one can either go to Santa Maria in Vallicella, (a.k.a.Chiesa Nuova) or San Salvatore in Lauro.
The Via del Pellegrino route begins at San Giovanni as well, although from there it stops at San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini before winding all the way to Castel Sant’Angelo.
The Cammino Mariano begins at Santa Maria Maggiore then passes several churches dedicated to Our Lady and joins Via Papale at Piazza Navona. Churches are selected as stopping points for their historical and sacred importance as places where Pilgrims can go to confess and pray.
There is also the ancient “Seven Church Walk” which dates by to 1552 and can take one or two days depending on how fast you cover the 20km distance. The pilgrimage ritual includes visiting the four major basilicas and three other historical Jubilee churches: San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and San Sebastiano fuori le mura. The walk, which has traditionally been done overnight after the 7pm mass at Santa Maria Vallicella, starts at St. Peter’s and ends at Santa Maria Maggiore.
For those looking to maximize their Jubilee in Rome experience, the Omnia Card is an affordable and efficient option. The card includes a “Fast Track” line pass for St. Peter’s, the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, as well as guided tour of San Giovanni in Laterano (one of the four major Papal Basilicas.) In addition, the card provides you with access to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and the ability to travel around Rome by hopping on and off the Roma Cristiano Open Bus tour. To learn more about the benefits of the Omnia card, check out www.omniavaticanrome.org.