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Holy Year 2022: a new opportunity and a new Xacobeo

Holy Year 2022: a new opportunity and a new Xacobeo

When 25 July - St. James' Day - falls on a Sunday, that year is a Compostela Holy Year. The formula is easy. This year, 2022, it will once again be a Holy Year. And on what day does 25 July fall this year? On a Monday.

A few days ago we inaugurated the Holy Year 2022, and, with it, a new opportunity for those people who could not live the Xacobeo 2021 and who want to experience a Camino de Santiago in Holy Year without having to wait until 2027.

It will be a special year, because 25 July will not be a Sunday, and because holy years are usually greeted with the impatience of having had to wait several years since the previous one. But it will undoubtedly also be a fantastic time to experience one of the most important cultural and spiritual routes in the world.

Why a Holy Year 2022?

As we talk about the recently launched Holy Year 2022, it seems a good time to clear up some confusion and explain what a Holy Year is, what it consists of and where it comes from.

For Santiago de Compostela, holy years or jubilee years are those in which the 25th of July, which is the Christian feast of St. James the Greater, falls on a Sunday. The rule was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179, and this has been the case for almost 850 years.

Due to the alterations caused by leap years in the calendar, this coincidence of "Sunday 25 July" occurs only 14 times every century, following a pattern of 6, 5, 6 and 11 years. In the 21st century we have already experienced those of 2004, 2010 and 2021, which we have just closed. And because of this pattern there should not be another holy year until 2027, when 25 July will again fall on a Sunday.

However, by decision of Pope Francis, there will be a Holy Year 2022. Or, rather, the Holy Year 2021 is considered to be extended until 31 December 2022. The reason is to ensure that people who have not been able to do the Camino de Santiago in 2021 due to movement restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic will have more time and a new opportunity to come to Compostela during the Jubilee year. On the other hand, by making two years available, the aim is also to reduce the crowds - which in Santiago tend to be significant, especially in the Jubilee years - and the risk they entail.

Holy Year 2022: a new opportunity and a new Xacobeo

What are the advantages of doing the Camino in the Holy Year?

Many people ask us what are the advantages of doing the Camino de Santiago during a Holy Year. And about this there is enormous confusion. We have even come across "guides" who claim that the religious effect of the pilgrimage can only be obtained by making the pilgrimage in a Holy Year. And this is false.

The religious value of the pilgrimage to Santiago is the same regardless of the time of the Camino. The confusion stems from the idea that to gain the Jubilee you have to enter the cathedral through the Holy Door, which is only open during the Holy Years.

About the Holy Door We have already written in this Pilgrim Blog, and it is true that it only opens during Holy Years. But to gain the Jubilee it is not necessary to enter the cathedral through this door. It is undoubtedly a fantastic moment, full of meaning and emotion (although the queues to enter can be long and can dampen the spirits), but it is not a requirement.

+ info: Requirements for obtaining the Compostela and other documents of the Way of St. James

Even so, doing the Camino in this Holy Year 2022 has its advantages, beyond the Holy Door. But it is, above all, cultural advantages. In fact, the Galician government, through the Xacobeo, deploys a large number of activities and cultural programs related to the Holy Year, from concerts and festivals such as O Son do Camiño to exhibitions, publication of books about the Camino, gastronomic meetings, courses, sporting events, etc. And the public administrations of other places through which the Camino passes usually do the same or similar.

Although this Holy Year 2022 will have a more modest programme than on other occasions, in order to avoid large crowds, the proposal is still attractive and much larger than in conventional years (here you have all the updated programme of Xacobeo 2022.).

Moreover, after many years, the restoration works of the cathedral of Santiago are almost finished and it is already possible to reach the Obradoiro and contemplate its magnificent baroque façade without the scaffolding that hid it for a decade. So, yes, 2022 is a perfect year to embark on the Camino.

What do I need to do the Camino de Santiago this Holy Year 2022?

If you are thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago taking advantage of this new Compostela Holy Year, you should bear in mind the following: as the Camino runs largely through rural areas, accommodation and hostel places are limited. In addition, as it is a Holy Year, there will be more demand, so it is easy to run out of room if you do not book well in advance.

In 2021, even with the pandemic, many accommodations (especially on the French Way) hung the "full" sign and we have seen dozens of pilgrims having to spend the night outdoors in places like Palas de Rei or Portomarín.

We always say that, to do the Camino de Santiago, you have to prepare yourself. Not only physically. Planning is an essential part, and in that we can help you because that is what we do. In other words, if you want to do the Camino this Holy Year 2022, start preparing as soon as possible.

Here is the Walkers' Handbook: a perfect guide to start your preparation.

Guide to the Way of Saint James for beginners
More than 80 pages of information designed for walkers and pilgrims starting out on the Way of St. James.
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