Since his election to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has inspired millions around the world with his messages of hope, charity, and peace. While the Vatican City Tours, are considered as one of the world’s most popular tours among the tourist destinations in Italy, it takes on special significance in 2016 as the Vatican City celebrates Pope Francis Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Announced by the Pope almost one year ago on March 13, 2015, the Jubilee Year of Mercy is a special period recognized by the Catholic Church to allow for the remission of sins. It is designed to emphasize openness in the Catholic Church and encourage engagement amongst followers of Catholicism. While it is a Catholic holiday, visitors of all faiths and backgrounds will find themselves inspired by the festive atmosphere and enthusiasm surrounding this special year.
Jubilee Year Major Events
The Jubilee of Mercy began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015, and extends until the Feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. The year-long jubilee includes almost two dozen special events. We’ve highlighted three that will draw special enthusiasm to St. Peter’s Square.
Palm Sunday – March 20, 2016
Signifying the start of Holy Week, this Mass is one of the most significant of the Catholic church year. Expect to see thousands of attendees holding palms which represent the palm branches laid in front of Jesus as he entered the holy city of Jerusalem.
Jubilee for Young People – July 26-31, 2016
This special weeklong event will coincide with World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, and is expected to draw crowds of young people to Rome as well.
Closing of holy doors outside St. Peter’s Basilica – November 13, 2016
The closing of the holy doors will signify the beginning of the end for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Expect to see large crowds eager to not miss their chance at enjoying the special event for the Catholic Church.
Vatican Attractions During Jubilee
The Vatican is home to some of Rome’s most popular tourist destinations even in non-celebratory years. Given the Catholic Church’s powerful influence throughout history, it is unsurprising that the Vatican is home to incredible expressions of art and architecture in addition to a menagerie of relics presented by foreign leaders and visitors. Your visit to the Vatican during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy should undoubtedly include these landmarks.
St. Peter’s Square
Visitors to the Vatican marvel at the collected works in the museums and the power of the Sistine Chapel, but the most awe-inspiring sight might be St. Peter’s Square itself. This incredible plaza was constructed over multiple centuries with its towering Egyptian obelisk erected in 1586. Its most striking feature is the surrounding colonnades which provide a feeling of seclusion from the outer Roman atmosphere. The other memorable aspect of St. Peter’s Square is the stunning fountain constructed in 1675.
The famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, featuring frescoes that include the incredible The Creation of Adam, was painted by Michelangelo over six years. It stands today as one of the greatest tributes to the Catholic faith and remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. With such an impressive history and such significance to the Catholic religion, the Sistine Chapel must be admired in silence.
As mentioned above, the Vatican has played host to legions of foreign dignitaries for centuries, each bringing their own cultural offerings or gifts for the Pope. These items are now housed in the Vatican Museums, a collection of 54 galleries that add up to one of the largest museums in the world. Sculpture lovers will want to spend hours in galleries housing busts and statues from ancient centuries and eras.
VIP Jubilee Vatican Experience
Special Access Vatican Tour
The Vatican City is regularly inundated with large crowds, and the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy will only increase the number of visitors to this holy site. To avoid the crowds and gain an inside look at the most popular attractions at the Vatican, consider our Special Access Vatican Tour.
This early-morning experience takes you inside the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica under the watchful eye of one of our expert tour guides. You’ll be taken through secret corridors and rarely visited areas of the Vatican Museums, offering an experience that stands out from other Vatican City Tours.
If you’re planning on visiting Rome during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, be sure to book a Special Access experience with Explore Italy Tours. You’ll see the Vatican with a level of detail rarely offered to visitors, and we’re confident that you’ll be satisfied with your investment in our guidance.