Xacobeo Holy Year on the Camino de Santiago

A Xacobeo Holy Year, also known as Ano Xacobeo or Jacobean Year, is a very special event for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. It takes place when 25th July, the Feast of Saint James, is a Sunday; and only every few years (every 11, 6, 5 and 6). 2021 is a Xacobeo Holy Year (the last one was in 2010) however due to the effects of the pandemic Pope Francis and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral authorities have extended it for another year until the end of 2022.

This extension of the Xacobeo Holy Year will allow pilgrims to make this sacred journey of pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James in a safe environment.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Camino de Santiago pilgrimage Xacobeo Holy Year Joe Walsh Tours travel

What can pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago expect during a Xacobeo Holy Year?


Each Xacobeo Holy Year, the Porta Santa or Holy Door to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela which is located on the Quintana Square, opens to welcome pilgrims for the year. This door gives access to the back of the Main Altar and the crypt where pilgrims can visit the tomb of Saint James the Apostle, as well as climbing up the steps to embrace the figure of Saint James.

In the village of Villafranca del Bierzo, on the Camino Frances, the Church of Saint James also opens its ‘Puerta del Perdon’ (Door of Forgiveness) to pilgrims unable to continue their pilgrimage to Santiago for health reasons.


Visitors to Santiago on a Holy Year can gain the ‘Plenary Indulgence’ and the ‘Jubilee’. These are the requirements:


-To visit the tomb of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and say a prayer

-Go to confession, either at the Cathedral or a different location 15 days before or after their visit to Santiago

-Receive the communion


Pilgrims to Santiago on a Xacobeo Holy Year can receive a ‘Plenary Indulgence’, complete forgiveness for their sins. This has been the case since the 13th century when Pope Calixtus II granted this privilege to all pilgrims travelling to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela on a Holy Year.

These are the requirements for pilgrims to receive their plenary indulgence on a Holy Year:

-Visit the Cathedral and say a prayer

-Confess and take holy communion 15 days before or after their visit to Santiago

It is important to know that pilgrims to Santiago can request the Jubilee and Plenary Indulgence even if they don’t walk to Santiago and/or receive the Compostela pilgrim certificate.

Porta Santa Holy Door Catedral Santiago de Compostela Camino de Santiago Xacobeo Holy Year Joe Walsh Tours travel


It is worth noting the number of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago and visitors to Santiago de Compostela tend to increase dramatically during Holy Years. For this reason, accommodation can be limited, particularly during special religious festivals such as Easter Holy Week Semana Santa or Saint James Day in July.

If you are considering a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela during Xacobeo Holy Year 2021or 2022 we would recommend making arrangements well in advance, travelling off season and opting for Camino de Santiago routes that are less popular.

At Joe Walsh Tours Pilgrimages we have a schedule of Camino de Santiago guided tours and can also organise a private Camino tour for your group. Some of the tours from our Shrines of Europe programme also include a visit to Santiago de Compostela.

Contact our travel experts for advice and we will help you plan your trip.

It is worth checking the official website of the Catedral de Santiago and Pilgrims Office for special events and the latest updates in relation to masses at the Cathedral, pilgrim events to celebrate the Holy Year and other special pilgrim services.

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