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What is the “Bull of Indiction” for the Jubilee of 2025?

Opening of Pilgrims Center - Info Point for Jubilee 2025

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA


I.Media - published on 05/07/24

Pope Francis will proclaim the starting and ending date and the forms of celebrating the jubilee, an event held every 25 years in the Catholic Church.

On May 9, the Feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis will solemnly announce the Great Jubilee of 2025. The Jubilee is expected to attract millions of faithful to the Italian capital. According to tradition, the Jubilee will be proclaimed by a “papal bull of indiction.” Here’s a look at the history and significance of this document. 

What is a jubilee?

The Jubilee—or “Holy Year”—is an event celebrated by the Catholic Church every 25 years. For a whole year, pilgrims flock to Rome to pass through the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica to obtain “indulgences”—that is, according to the Catholic faith, remission of the penalties for their sins.

11th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis
Pope Francis opens the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica to mark the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on December 8, 2015, in the Vatican.

The first ordinary Jubilee was instituted by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. His “bull of indiction,” which launched the celebrations, is carefully preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library.

The term “bull” (from the Latin bulla, round object) originally indicated the metal capsule used to protect the wax seal affixed to a papal document of particular importance, to attest its authenticity and therefore authority. Over the centuries, the term was used to indicate first the seal, then the document itself.

A document from the Vatican Archives, bearing multiple wax seals, the origin of the name “bull”

Today, a bull is a letter from the head of the Catholic Church, written in solemn form—often in Latin. As is often the case with papal texts, the bull takes its name from the first words of the letter. It’s stamped with the seal of the reigning pontiff.

The Jubilee of 2025

This coming Thursday, at a solemn celebration in St. Peter’s, Pope Francis will read extracts from the bull of 2025, which will specify the dates of the Jubilee Year and the ways in which it will be implemented in Rome and around the world. The Holy Year is slated to open on December 24, 2024, and the official program foresees 35 pilgrimages of various kinds (prisoners, politicians, families, athletes, migrants, entrepreneurs, musicians …). 

The 2025 Jubilee will be the second of Pope Francis’ pontificate. On April 11, 2015, in front of the holy door of St. Peter’s Basilica, he issued the bull Misericordiae vultus (“The Face of Mercy”) proclaiming an Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. In 1998, Pope John Paul II issued the bull Incarnationis mysterium on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

Jubilee 2025Pope FrancisRomeVatican
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