“A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just” – Pope Francis.
With roots dating back to ancient times, the Jubilee became a regular practice of the Roman Catholic Church with Pope Boniface VIII, in order to meet a need for purification and achieve salvation, for both the living and the dead, through prayers and offerings. The history of Jubilees is intimately connected to the history of Rome: over the centuries, monarchs and wayfarers alike have been greeted by a city in constant transformation, evolving from medieval decadence to Baroque splendour. Jubilee history is also intertwined with European affairs, reflecting many of the major events – the Western Schism, the Lutheran Reformation, the “grand tour”, Italian unification – accompanying the advent of modernism. Jubilee celebrations have always managed to engage both believers and non-believers in novel ways, entailing the remission of sins as well as the transformation of the material into the spiritual through the practice of indulgences.
Lucetta Scaraffia formerly taught Contemporary History at the “Sapienza” University in Rome.