Cover image for Rome reshaped : jubilees 1300-2000
Rome reshaped : jubilees 1300-2000
O'Grady, Desmond, 1929-
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Publication Information:
New York : Continuum, 1999.
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216 pages : maps ; 24 cm
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Includes index.
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BX958.H64 O47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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During the Jubilee Year 2000, the Vatican and the city of Rome will seek to reaffirm their universal relevance to the Catholic Church, and to the world, as they have done for each Holy Year since 1300. The year 2000 is the first Jubilee to coincide with a millennium, and it is expected to inspire the world's largest-ever pilgrimage, bringing some 40 million visitors to Rome. This work studies Jubilees from 1300 to 2000. The first section of the book surveys pilgrimage, the main European focus of which, historically, has been Rome. The second section tells the story of previous Jubilees, and the third section analyzes the prospects of Jubilee 2000.

Author Notes

Desmond O'Grady is an author and journalist who has lived in Rome since the 1960s. He is the author of ten books and a correspondent for numerous magazines and newspapers in Ireland, Italy, Great Britain, Australia and the United States, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, Newsday and Commonweal. His most recent book, The Turned Card: Christianity before and after the Wall, has appeared in English, German, French, Spanish and Polish editions, and is soon to be published in Indonesian.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As the second millennium approaches, so does another jubilee year for the city of Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. Proclaimed by the pope approximately every 25 years, an official jubilee is commonly defined as a vigorous era of renewal, hope, and pilgrimage. Since 1300, 26 jubilees involving millions of pilgrims--ranging from the sincerely reverent to the cleverly opportunistic--have been celebrated in the Holy City. Asserting that "jubilees have strongly influenced the development of Rome," O'Grady surveys past holy years, chronicling the state of the city, the state of the church, and the reactions of the pilgrims during each unique jubilee period. In addition, the author offers an intriguing sneak preview of what to expect during jubilee 2000. Chock-full of amusing anecdotes, juicy tidbits, and historically significant data, this fascinating overview is a must-read for veteran church watchers and armchair pilgrims. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Is it possible to be an authentic Christian pilgrim today? Veteran Vatican reporter O'Grady (Commonweal, New York Times) is intrigued by the idea of pilgrimage as a spiritual discipline. The Year 2000 Jubilee announced by Pope John Paul II (the 26th Jubilee in the last 700 years) offers O'Grady the opportunity to examine what Jubilee has meant to countless pilgrims. O'Grady lines up nearly a score of themes related to Jubilee years of the past, sketching the ecclesiastic, cultural, theological, social, scriptural and political issues related to the idea of a Jubilee year. Along the way, various saints and sinners take the stage, including Saint Ignatius Loyola, playwright Oscar Wilde, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon. O'Grady ties the players and themes together under the umbrella of spiritual pilgrimage. He also examines Jubilee's salient political underpinnings (he contends that Pope John Paul II, for example, may have orchestrated the 2000 Jubilee so the Church can apologize for past wrongs). Scholars will not be satisfied with the book's dearth of academic research, but most readers will find it an informative and insightful discussion of pilgrimage and the upcoming Jubilee year. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Roman Catholic Jubilees or Holy Years celebrate the gifts Christ has bestowed, and the year 2000 will be the first Jubilee to coincide with a millennium. O'Grady, a writer who has lived in Rome since the 1960s, chronicles the previous 25 Jubilees in a history of Rome and the papacy. This book won't help you travel to Rome to celebrate the millennium, but it does describe the significant role Rome plays in the Jubilee's historical resilience and Italians' openness to visitors. The first Jubilee occurred under Pope Boniface VIII, owing to a rumor concerning an extraordinary indulgence. Boniface then established that a Jubilee would occur every 100 years. Over the years, the intervals have been shortened to the current 25 years established by Paul II. O'Grady captures the pros and cons of Jubilee and explains what Rome can expect from the 40 million pilgrims anticipated. Popular in context; recommended for all libraries.ÄLeo Kriz, West Des Moines P.L., IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One TO BE A PILGRIM What you are, I was, What I am, you will be. Pray for me. Do penance. Inscription on the tomb of a pilgrim in the church of St Prassede in Rome Do those carrying plastic bottles of mineral water and wearing sneakers rather than donning sackcloth still count as pilgrims? It is more difficult to identify pilgrims nowadays than when they carried a staff, but earlier pilgrims often had multiple motives while contemporary travellers, despite a casual exterior, can have serious intentions. One of the earliest pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Spaniard Egeria, in 398, admitted that she was curious about exotic countries as well as religiously motivated. Pilgrimage has often been partly tourism.     Travel itself disposes towards transformative experience: the departure from the daily routine, difficulties overcome, attainment of the goal and the return home prepare people to recast the old self, whether the trip is to Lenin's tomb, Woodstock, a Vermeer exhibition or Victoria Falls. To do it in company, to share the experience, often augments the impact. But if travelers believe they have established contact with the divine and are purged of the weight of the past, the impact can change lives.     Pilgrimage is practiced in many religions. Some scholars claim that pilgrimages to both Jerusalem and Mecca have their roots in the pagan past, but Judaism, Christianity and Islam all look back to Abraham who heeded the voice of God calling him to set out on a pilgrimage of faith. The journey is the basic metaphor of the Bible because it presents humankind's experience of God as a creative dislocation. Jubilee 2000 will be a further chapter in the history of pilgrimage.     Pilgrimage to Jerusalem was one of the unifying factors in Israel after King David established his capital in this neutral site around the year 1000 BCE. With Mary and Joseph, Jesus went on pilgrimage to the capital. The tradition of Jewish pilgrimage has hot been broken. In the seventeenth century a Jewish writer, Jemsel, gave memorable expression to the passion for pilgrimage: `I was seized by a violent and insatiable desire to visit the places of God ... this desire to set out which had formed itself in my mind was so violent that it was impossible for me to remain in my own home, or to go about my accustomed business.'     The fifth of the five Pillars, or obligations, of Islam is a pilgrimage or Hajj to Mecca once in a lifetime. Hundreds of planes land daily at Jiddah airport during the pilgrimage season which follows Ramadan, the Islamic holy time of fast; each year over two million pilgrims participate, about a third of them Women.     There is an Islamic legend that Adam and Eve were the first pilgrims to Mecca. Until earlier this century, many pilgrims still traveled to Mecca by caravans from cities such as Baghdad, Damascus or Cairo. In the fourteenth century, a Cairo caravan was composed of an advance guard, notables, treasury held in strongboxes, women, merchants, ordinary pilgrims, then the rearguard. Some caravans seemed endless: in Damascus in 1432, the 3000 camels of one returning caravan took two days and two nights to enter the city. Often the caravans traveled by night to avoid the heat.     Bedouins tried to extract money from pilgrims en route and even near Mecca itself. In 1049, 2000 Moroccans were killed outside the city gates for refusing to pay protection money. When trains were introduced, Bedouins raided them also. As Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim testifies, there were pilgrim ships; Thomas Cook obtained a monopoly of the Indian Ocean pilgrim transport. Some port authorities and merchants, as well as the Bedouins, treated pilgrims as sheep to be fleeced. At the Red Sea port of Aydhal, for a certain period, authorities hung by their testicles those pilgrims who did not want to pay a toll.     There were also real sheep, and goats, to be slaughtered. For Christians, Christ superseded animal sacrifices, but Muslims, like Abraham, still slaughter sheep and goats which have to be on hand in Mecca. Obviously a Hajj is a major feat of organization, not least because pilgrims, some of them infirm, have to complete a circuit of approximately 25 miles. In the eighth century the pilgrimage was already well organized, with forts and water supplies along the routes.     In the nineteenth century the British and French became worried that the Hajj was strengthening pan-Islamic, anti-colonialist sentiments. Other foreign powers were concerned by outbreaks of cholera during the Hajj. There was an epidemic in 1831; in 1865 cholera killed 15,000 pilgrims, another 60,000 died in Egypt and the disease spread to Europe. In less than thirty years there were eight epidemics before, in 1893, 33,000 of 200,000 pilgrims died at Jiddah, Mecca and Medina. This was a major factor in the eventual establishment of the International Health Convention which, in 1948, became the World Health Organization.     In 1916 the flag of Arab revolt flew in Mecca. With British and French help, Ottoman rule was thrown off but after eight years the Saudi regime took power and imposed the severe style of the Wahhabi current of Islam. Since then the kingdom has become oil rich, which some Muslims consider has had nefarious consequences for the sacred sites. Deaths during the Hajj have been frequent in recent years: in 1994, 1426 died because of a crush in a tunnel; in 1997, 343 died when a fire destroyed pilgrim tents; in 1998, 118 died on a bridge where there had been other victims a few years earlier.     The mosque at Mecca, a town of 450,000 inhabitants in a valley some forty miles east of the Red Sea, is the world's largest open-air temple, consisting of a forum surrounded by tiered arcades. Its white marble floor is 560 feet by 350. Pilgrims wheel seven times around the central Ka'ba, a huge cube of granite covered with an embroidered black cloth. It is the first of a series of rites which include a request to Allah for pardon for wrongs done. The Hajj rites have impressed many as a celebration of brotherhood--an experience aided by pilgrims donning a white garment of two seamless sheets which abolishes all distinctions. In 1807 Ali Bey wrote, `The native of Circassia presents his hand in a friendly manner to the Ethiopian, or the Negro or Guinean; the Indian and the Persian embrace the inhabitants of Barbary and Morocco; all look upon each other as brothers or individuals of the same family united by the bonds of religion, and the great part speaking, or understanding, more or less the same language, Arabic. No, there is not any religion that presents a spectacle more simple, affecting and majestic.'     Malcolm X said something similar after participating in the Hajj of 1964. Before going to Mecca, the American Muslim leader had seen whites as devils but there he realized they were part of a universal brotherhood. Since then, increasing numbers of American Muslims have undertaken the pilgrimage.     For Christians, unlike Muslims, pilgrimage is not obligatory, but they have been pilgrims at least since the second century. One example is provided by Hegesippus, a convert Jew, who came to Rome about 180 and wrote an account of his journey. At the Council of Nicea in 325, the bishop of Jerusalem told Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, that nothing was being done to identify, preserve or commemorate the sites of Christ's passion and death. Two hundred years earlier, to punish rebellious Jews, Emperor Hadrian had covered over Christ's sepulchre to build a temple to Aphrodite. This had preserved the tomb. Helena set out with a team to excavate and explore. She round the sites of Calvary, the Holy Sepulchre and, in Bethlehem, that of Christ's birth. Within seven years a pilgrim from Bordeaux travelled through Toulouse, Padua, Belgrade, Sofia and Constantinople, then, by military road, crossed through Syria to Jerusalem to visit these same sites and left a record of his trip. After Jerome, the monk who rendered the Bible into good Latin, transferred from Rome to Bethlehem late in the fourth century and established a monastery there, pilgrimages increased. Religious orders were established later to provide hospital and other services for pilgrims. In time some of their members took arms to ensure Christian access to Jerusalem despite the Muslim presence, but towards the end of the thirteenth century Christians could no longer reach Jerusalem and pilgrims sought other venues in Europe.     After the downfall of the Roman empire, the figure of St Peter, the Gatekeeper, was crucial for the conversion of the new peoples of Western Europe such as the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons and they expressed their gratitude by pilgrimages to his tomb in Rome. Some wanted to live and die there, to be near the one who would control the heavenly gates at the resurrection. Compounds were established for various foreign communities. Part of the one for Germans is still found by St Peter's in the German cemetery; the one for Anglo-Saxons was on a site on the Tiber bank where the Santo Spirito hospital now stands. Here various Saxon kings lived, beginning with Ines of Wessex in 726. Often the pilgrimages were not only to Peter's tomb but were also cultural because Rome was a school for chant, liturgy and church decoration.     As order and prosperity increased in Europe in the eleventh century, pilgrimages became more frequent, bringing so many formerly separate peoples into contact that it has been said that Europe was created by the interchange. Sometimes pilgrimage reinforced prejudice rather than fostered understanding, to judge by a twelfth century French pilgrim guidebook for Santiago di Compostella which claimed the Basques were so obnoxious they could only have descended from the Scots.     Pilgrimages to the Holy Land had been literal attempts to put one's feet in the footprints of Christ and this was the metaphorical sense of all Christian pilgrimage. In the seventh century, Irish monks, who were influential in continental Europe, introduced the practice of using pilgrimage as penance. It could also be undertaken in fulfilment of a vow, to seek a cure or give thanks for one, or even on behalf of another person: pilgrimage by proxy.     Following a decree of the Second Nicene Council in 787, that no church could be consecrated without relics, there was intense interest in them. Pilgrim sites competed to have a saint's remains. Many of them were robbed. In 1087 merchants from Bari, on Italy's Adriatic coast, took the remains of St Nicholas, on whom the legend of Santa Claus is based, from the island of Myra. Bari is still considered one of the major holy cities of Orthodoxy because it possesses St Nicholas' remains.     Some pilgrim sites lose their appeal, some have fluctuating fortunes, some are hardy perennials. Canterbury had a great vogue after Thomas Becket was murdered and buried there in the late twelfth century. Cologne too was an important goal because it held a relic of the Three Wise Men, but Santiago di Compostella, supposedly the burial place of St James the Apostle, has outlasted them. It emerged early in the twelfth century as a major center and it remains so today: the number of pilgrims has increased 25-fold in the past decade and many walk there along the historic pilgrim routes from France.     Sites in Padua, Assisi and Cascia are steady drawcards. The appeal of St Francis in Assisi is universal but perhaps an even greater drawcard is one of his early followers, the Portuguese St Anthony, renowned for helping people find lost objects. A Lisbon-born theologian and preacher, he is identified with Padua; in 1995 seven million went to his shrine there. Cascia in Umbria draws constant pilgrimages because of Rita, a mother and widow who became a nun and achieved sainthood. Padre Pio, the Capuchin clairvoyant and miracle worker who died in the 1960s, has since drawn millions to Foggia, south Italy. Likewise Medjugorje in Bosnia draws as many as the traditional Marian sites such as Loreto, Fatima and Lourdes, even though it has not yet received Vatican approval. Pilgrims do not necessarily wait for this: pilgrimage cannot be controlled, it is the travelling church--which is one reason why it can unsettle some churchmen.     As early as the eighth century some were suspicious of pilgrimages. In 735 an English missionary in Germany wrote to Cuthbert, Archbishop of Durham, about the need to check `the practice of pilgrimage, for many, both men and women, go abroad for the purpose of living licentiously, without the restraint they would find at home, or are tempted by the vices of the cities of France and Lombardy to fall from the path of virtue.' An interlocutor in Thomas More's Dialogue on the Adoration of Images claimed the majority of pilgrims to Canterbury `cometh for no devotion at all, but only for good company to babble thitherward, and drinke dranke there, and then dance and reel homewards.'     Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales confirms that pilgrimage could be an occasion for having a good time. The Lollards, an English reform movement, criticized pilgrimage both as an excuse for licentiousness and for profiteering by clerical organizers. In 1407 a Lollard priest and Oxford scholar, William Thorpe, was tried for heresy by Archbishop Thomas Arundel of Canterbury. One of the charges was that Thorpe had preached against pilgrimage as unlawful, but in response he claimed to have distinguished between good pilgrimages and those in which, out of twenty participants, it was not possible to find `three men or women that know surely a commandment of God, nor can say their Paternoster and Ave Maria nor their Creed readily, in any manner of language. And, as I have learned and also known some what by experience of these same pilgrims, telling the cause why that many men and woman go hither and thither now on pilgrimages--it is more for the health of their bodies than of their souls, more to have riches and prosperity of the world than for to be enriched with virtues in their souls, more to have here worldly and fleshly friendship than for to have friendship of God and of his saints in heaven!'     Thorpe further complained that pilgrims arranged `to have both men and women that can well sing wanton songs, and some other pilgrims will have with them bagpipes--so that every town that they come through, what with the noise of their singing, and with the sound of their piping, and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of dogs after them--they make more noise than if the king came there--with all his clarions and many other minstrels.' The archbishop stood up for `good, delectable' songs but Thorpe said that Christ's followers `joy greatly to withdraw their ears and all their wits and members from all worldly delight and from all earthly solace.' Others criticized the luxury in which certain aristocratic pilgrims travelled, saying that a holy life rather than holy places were essential for salvation.     Before departure, pilgrims with means made a will which also specified how their goods were to be administered in their absence. During this time the goods could not be taken even by court order and feudal obligations were suspended. From early in the twelfth century, the typical pilgrim dressed like a friar in a sackcloth habit which sometimes had a cowl. Often the habit was grey with an embossed cross. A soft leather purse, containing a food tin and money, was attached to the belt. Pilgrims carried a metal-tipped staff, wore a large-brimmed hat and sometimes had a cape or scarf. On return from the more famous pilgrim sites, some carried on their hat a symbol or badge: from the Holy Land a palm leaf of Jerico; from Santiago di Compostella, which was near the Iberian inlets, a scallop shell, and from Rome keys. Pilgrims received a church blessing and from the eleventh century the staff was given in a ceremony which resembled those for knights bound for the Crusades. The pilgrim robe and accessories were attributed symbolic significance, as if the pilgrims had entered an order of the church. Indeed the German monastic reformer Wilhelm of Hirnau distinguished five groups in the church: bishops and priests; monks; laity; virgins; pilgrims and hermits. Some considered that, if it was impossible to become a monk, the next best thing was to be a pilgrim.     There were risks, however, in the calling. A saying warned that one should never advise anyone to marry, to go to a war or on a pilgrimage because they could turn out badly. Brigands lived from robbing pilgrims. There was an international Mafia at work: at the end of the Middle Ages, Germans marauders were active in north Italy and English thieves robbed the pilgrims to Santiago di Compostella. On major pilgrim routes prostitutes offered a short cut to Paradise.     If not slaughtered by brigands, pilgrims could be fleeced by innkeepers and merchants. Monks had an obligation to offer hospitality, pure water and fresh bread to pilgrims. As pilgrim numbers grew they were forced to build hospices for them. One of the most famous was that of St Bernard (of Aosta), in the highest and windiest Alpine pass, which was functioning by 1080 and was used by most English, Irish, French and Flemish pilgrims. Its famous rescue dogs are now bred there for sale as pets. Inns provided for those who did not stay at hospices, but the perils involved are suggested by a fourteenth century French phrase book for English travellers: `There are fleas in the dust under the straw mattress ... I've scratched my shoulder until the blood runs' is one sample, and another mentioned mice.     Nevertheless pilgrims never stopped coming to Rome, Europe's most popular pilgrimage destination, although there was a decline towards the end of the first millennium and again in the mid-1280s. Major pilgrim routes, which were sometimes maintained by volunteers as a work of charity, ran through Lyons, then Siena or Bologna. The coastal road through Genoa was less frequented because of the danger of malaria. Hospices were situated at not more than thirty miles from one another as this was the maximum distance which could be covered on foot in a day. Only a minority came on horseback.     A pilgrimage such as that undertaken to the Jubilee of 1500 from Europe's northernmost diocese, Trondheim in Norway, was an education. Trondheim had an imposing cathedral, part Norman-Romanesque and part Gothic. The Jubilee pilgrims, in small boats, followed the route of fishermen taking their dried cod to market, navigating between islands and the coast to Bergen, a trading city dominated by German merchants. There they took an ocean-going ship for the 500 nautical miles to Hamburg. Then waterways led ,to the largest German city, Cologne, which was also one of Europe s main pilgrimage sites. The cathedral, still incomplete in 1500, was begun in 1248 to house the relics of the Three Wise Men which had been robbed from Milan at the rime of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Cologne had sobering memories of another pilgrimage: it was here that, on their return from Rome, St Ursula and her virgin-companions had been slaughtered because Ursula refused to marry the Hun leader. The martyrs' remains were in the city's churches.     Shortly beyond Cologne the group from Trondheim saw the first vineyards on the river slopes. There was also a succession of castles atop the hills and another stood on an island where the Moselle joined the Rhine at Koblenz. Next came Mainz, where Boniface, the Anglo-Saxon monk who had evangelized in this region in the eighth century, had been archbishop, and where, some thirty years earlier, the inventor of printing, Gutenburg, had died. In the distance could be seen the 142-meter high tower of the Gothic cathedral of Strasbourg which had been standing for sixty years.     The final port was Basel where fifty years earlier a council had elected the last rival pope (antipope) Felix V, who was the pious Amadeus VIII of Savoy. Close to the city was the Pilatus peak, so named because it was said that the spirit of Pontius Pilate wandered there in despair. Nearby, a war between Swiss forces and the Habsburgs, in which 22,000 lost their lives, was nearing its end, and beyond the Gothard Pass into Italy the French were fighting the Milanese.     The party from Trondheim avoided these dangers and arrived in Tuscany where olive trees showed that at last they had reached the Mediterranean. Florence was in turmoil. On 23 June the previous year Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar who was a fierce critic of Pope Alexander VI and of local politicians, had been hanged then burned before the Town Hall. The Medici had been expelled, there was a fragile republic. The painter Sandro Botticelli was revered but was old and tormented by Savonarola's dire prophecies.     The trip from fjords surrounded by snowy peaks to sun-drenched Italy had been a cultural and historical education but the climax was still to come. Excitement must have grown steadily during the last 120 miles to Rome. Finally, from a slight rise in the road, they saw the brown walls and many domes of the capital of Christendom. The cry went up: Ecce Roma!

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Ecce Roma!
To Be a Pilgrimp. 5
A Religious Theme Park?p. 14
Reading Romep. 19
Reshaping Romep. 36
Jubilees 1300-2000
Crusades and Indulgencesp. 45
The City of Pardonp. 59
A Flood of Dirty Barbariansp. 66
A Petrarchan Popep. 75
Orbis in Urbep. 79
Jubilee or Council?p. 84
Scrimmage at the Holy Doorp. 88
Incense and Burning Fleshp. 94
No Ordinary Popep. 99
Innocent but for Olimpiap. 103
Special Effectsp. 107
A Golden Autumnp. 111
Higgledy-Piggledy to the Grand Paw-Wawp. 121
Miserere, Misererep. 131
Building on Ruinsp. 140
Visiting the Prisonerp. 145
The Big Picturep. 154
A Roman Triumphp. 162
Converting the Jubileep. 169
Jubilee 2000
A Wider Doorp. 177
A Year-Long Sabbathp. 189
Martyrs for a Good Causep. 193
One Trip Too Many?p. 200
Reigning Popes during Jubilees: 1300-1975p. 207
Major Pilgrim Routes to Romep. 208
The Seven Pilgrim Churches of Romep. 209
Index of namesp. 210