Walking the Camino de Santiago during Holy Year

Pilgrims walking on the Camino in Spain | @timcharody
Pilgrims walking on the Camino in Spain | @timcharody

Definitive Guide to the Camino During Jacobean Holy Year 2027

Walk the Camino de Santiago during the Jacobean Holy Year 2027


Welcome to our Definitive Guide to the Jacobean Holy Year in 2027. Here we will answer all of your questions about the Jacobean Holy Year, plus explain how you can walk your own Jacobean pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in 2027.

We recommend reading from start to finish to get a full perspective of what the Jacobean Holy Year means for the Camino de Santiago. However, if you'd like to jump ahead you can choose one of the questions below.


Striking a pose along the Camino de Santiago |  <i>Rachel Goodman</i>

Short History of the Camino de Santiago

For centuries, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims (if not millions) have walked the historic Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims would travel from far and wide across Europe, and many walking routes were developed so they could reach the holy destination of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest region of Galicia in Spain.

Traditionally, people have walked the Camino for religious purposes. It is believed the Santiago Cathedral houses the tomb of St James, and people walk this path to pay their respects to St James.

In the modern era, people have all sorts of reasons for walking the Camino de Santiago. For adventure, for exercise, for clarity of mind, and for the sense of achievement are among them. In fact, according to the Pilgrims Office in Santiago de Compostela, just 10% of pilgrims who collect their Compostela certificate walk the Camino for reasons of religion.

However, religion is still an integral part of walking the Camino de Santiago and even more so in 2027, which is the Jacobean Holy Year.

Hikers on the Camino in Spain |  <i>@timcharody</i>

Who is Saint James and what does he have to do with the Camino de Santiago?

St James was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. He is the patron saint of Spain and it is his remains that are buried in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, according to tradition. Most people who have some knowledge of the Camino will already know this.

Here’s where it gets interesting, and it’s all got to do with translations. In Spanish, Saint James translates to Santiago, Sant Iago, hence the city’s name.

Camino in Spanish means road, path, or way. So Camino de Santiago simply translates to Way of St James.

Perhaps the biggest translation quirk (that is equally enlightening) is that the name Iago is originally Hebrew for Ya’aqov. In Greek this is Iakobos, in Slavic it’s Yakov, Germanic it’s Jacobus and in English Iago translates to Jacob. If you haven’t connected the dots already: James = Iago = Jacob.

Church archway sculptures in Melide |  <i>@timcharody</i>

What is Saint James Day?

In Christianity, every canonised saint has a date allocated to them for celebration, which is known as the saint’s feast day. Saint James Day is commemorated on the 25th of July each year. Because St James is the patron saint of Spain and pilgrims, it is naturally an important date on the calendar.

In the ten days leading up to St James Day there are many festivities happening in Santiago to celebrate. There are light shows, street theatre, traditional dancing and outdoor concerts. Each year the city finds different ways to showcase the life of St James.

Ending your Camino pilgrimage during St James Day festivities is an extra special time to be there and there is a high increase in the number of pilgrims completing their journey during this period.


Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

What is the Jacobean Holy Year?

A Jacobean Year is very meaningful to Camino pilgrims. A year is considered a Holy Year or Jubilee when St James Day, the 25th of July, occurs on a Sunday. This makes the Sunday mass at Santiago Cathedral even more special than normal and extra functions take place.

What does Xacobeo 2027 mean?

In Galician, Xacobeo translates to Jacobean. To put it simply, Jacobean Holy Year 2021 and Xacobeo 2027 mean the same thing.

What happens during the Jacobean Holy Year on the Camino de Santiago?

1. The Holy Door is opened. The Puerta Santa is a door located at the back of the Santiago Cathedral, and it stays open only during the Jacobean Holy Year.

Visitors to the Cathedral enter through the Holy Door and take part in a pilgrimage ritual. You descend to the tomb of St James before climbing a stairwell to exit to the outdoors. The symbolism is that the descent represents the pilgrimage, and the exit into the sunshine represents redemption and access to a new life.

2. Plenary Indulgence can be received. To gain this, pilgrims needs to pray, attend Mass and attend a Confession. For Christians, plenary indulgence is a way to be forgiven of all sins.

What is Plenary Indulgence and how do Pilgrims gain Plenary Indulgence during the Jacobean Holy Year?

For the Catholic Church, plenary indulgence is ‘a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins’. In a way, it’s like an amnesty from punishment in the afterlife.

A plenary indulgence is granted to those who visit the tomb of St James during a Jacobean Holy Year.

Why is 2027 a Holy Year?

2027 is a Jacobean Holy Year because Saint James Day, the 25th July, falls on a Sunday.

For Jacobean Year 2027, pilgrims are especially enthusiastic to commemorate St James Day because it has been 6 years since the last Holy Year.

When was the Last Jacobean Year (ano Jacobeo)?

The last Jacobean Holy Year was in 2021 and 2022. It was shared by both years as th Pope declared 2022 would be a Jacobean Holy Year due to the pandemic. Before then, the last Jacobean Holy Year was in 2010. Ano Jacobeo translates to Jacobean Year.

When is the next Jacobean Holy Year?

The next Jacobean Holy Year takes place in 2027. After that it will be in 2032, 2038, and so on.

How often do Jacobean Holy Years occur?

A Jacobean Holy Year happens when St James Day falls on a Sunday, and this follows a pattern in year groups of 6, 5, 6, 11. There are approximately 14 Jacobean Holy Years every century.

Santiago cathedral and parador |  <i>Dana Garofani</i>

How do you pronounce Xacobeo?

According to the editor, pronouncing Xacobeo sounds like: Shak-o-bay-o. Hear genuine pronunciations by Galicians here.

How do you pronounce Jacobean?

According to Google, Jacobean is pronounced like this: ja-kuh-bee-uhn. Hear audio of their pronunciation of Jacobean here.

Arriving in the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela after completing the Camino Trail |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>

Lastly, don’t confuse the Jacobean Holy Year with these 4 things:

1. Jacobite/Jacobitism. This is a 17th century movement in Great Britain that sought to restore King James to the British throne.

2. Jacobean Era. This refers to the period in English and Scottish history when James VI of Scotland inherited the crown of England in 1603.

3. Jacobean flowers. These are embroidered floral patterns that rose to fame during the Elizabethan era. They look pretty but you won’t see them while walking the Camino de Santiago. View some examples of Jacobean flowers here.

4. What does the Jacobean Holy Year have to do with the Alchemist? This is an interesting coincidence of facts, dates, history and the arts. In the 17th century, The Alchemist was a comedic play written by the English playwright Ben Jonson. He depicted life in Jacobean London.

Purely coincidentally, The Alchemist is a modern day novel written by famed Brazilian author Paulo Coelho in 1988. Coelho has also written an acclaimed book on the Camino, titled The Pilgrimage, which is part adventure story, part guide to self discovery. Read our take on his inspiring book here.

As you can see, seven degrees of separation between Ben Jonson and the Camino de Santiago!



Do you have any more questions about walking your Camino de Santiago pilgrimage during the Jacobean Holy Year? If so, please don't hesitate to contact our friendly team of Camino experts. 

Pilgrims walking the Camino in Spain |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

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