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Jubilee for prisoners

Jubilee pilgrimage for prisoners and their relatives, penitentiary employees, prison chaplains, and associations that offer assistance within and outside of prisons

06 November 2016 (Save to calendar)

St. Peter’s Basilica




Saturday, 5 November


            From 15:00 to 17:00


In the Jubilee Churches: S. Salvatore in Lauro, S. Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova), S. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini


                                   Eucharistic Adoration

                                   Sacrament of Reconciliation


From 16:00 to 18:00

                        Pilgrimage to the Holy Door


Sunday, 6 November


7:30                            Opening of Saint Peter’s Basilica


9:00                            Time of celebration with testimonies


9:30                            Rosary in preparation for Holy Mass


10:00                          Holy Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica


12:00                          Angelus Prayer by Pope Francis (in Saint Peter’s Square)





An exhibit of products made in prisons is planned in the area around Castel Sant’Angelo.  The exhibit is intended to be non-for-profit.





General Information


Those invited to the “Jubilee for Prisoners” are above all prisoners and their families, penitentiary employees, prison chaplains, and associations that assist inside and outside of the prison system


Those in the categories above who wish to participate should ask the Jubilee Secretariat, part of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, by October 7 for a ticket to attend the Mass with Pope Francis.  They should send their request by email to the address Within the email, indicate the name, surname, professional position, and cell phone number of the group leader.   Also include the number of tickets being requested, along with any pertinent information about the group and the number of priests who will be part of it.


  • Participants from Italy.

Within Italy the participation of those working in prison chaplaincies will be organized by the Inspector General of Chaplains, while the participation of the authorities and government employees of the penitentiary system will be organized by the Department of Penitentiary Administration.


  • Other participants not involved in work with prisons.

Everyone else interested in participating in the Mass should request tickets from the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household.


  • Concelebration.

Permission to concelebrate the Mass will be granted solely to prison chaplains, along with cardinals and bishops. 


  • Reception Celebrating Mercy.

Special tickets are NOT required to participate in the Reception Celebrating Mercy in Paul VI Hall.


  • Ticket Pick-Up

Tickets requested from the Jubilee Secretariat may be picked up beginning on 31 October at the Pilgrimage Information Center at Via della Conciliazione, 7, open every day from 7:30 to 18:30.  Prison chaplains who have requested to concelebrate the Mass should show their CELEBRET card and ask for a concelebration ticket.


The same tickets may be used to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, 5 November, between the hours of 16:00 and 18:00.


We remind you that the tickets, as always, are completely free.





Vatican Basilica
Sunday, 6 November 2016




The message that God’s word wants to bring us today is surely that of hope, the hope that does not disappoint.

One of the seven brothers condemned to death by King Antiochus Epiphanes speaks of “the hope God gives of being raised again by him” (2 Macc 7:14). These words demonstrate the faith of those martyrs who, despite suffering and torture, were steadfast in looking to the future. Theirs was a faith that, in acknowledging God as the source of their hope, reflected the desire to attain a new life.

In the Gospel, we have heard how Jesus, with a simple yet complete answer, demolishes the banal casuistry that the Sadducees had set before him. His response – “He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk 20:38) – reveals the true face of God, who desires only life for all his children. The hope of being born to a new life, then, is what we must make our own, if we are to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus.

Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it. It is placed deep within each human heart in order to shed light on this life, so often troubled and clouded by so many situations that bring sadness and pain. We need to nourish the roots of our hope so that they can bear fruit; primarily, the certainty of God’s closeness and compassion, despite whatever evil we have done. There is no corner of our heart that cannot be touched by God’s love. Whenever someone makes a mistake, the Father’s mercy is all the more present, awakening repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

Today we celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy for you and with you, our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned. Mercy, as the expression of God’s love, is something we need to think about more deeply. Certainly, breaking the law involves paying the price, and losing one’s freedom is the worst part of serving time, because it affects us so deeply. All the same, hope must not falter. Paying for the wrong we have done is one thing, but another thing entirely is the “breath” of hope, which cannot be stifled by anyone or anything. Our heart always yearns for goodness. We are in debt to the mercy that God constantly shows us, for he never abandons us (cf. Augustine, Sermo 254:1).

In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of God as “the God of hope” (15:13). It is as if Paul wants to say also to us: “God hopes”. While this may seem paradoxical, it is true: God hopes! His mercy gives him no rest. He is like that Father in the parable, who keeps hoping for the return of his son who has fallen by the wayside (Lk 15:11-32). God does not rest until he finds the sheep that was lost (Lk 15:5). So if God hopes, then no one should lose hope. For hope is the strength to keep moving forward. It is the power to press on towards the future and a changed life. It is the incentive to look to tomorrow, so that the love we have known, for all our failings, can show us a new path. In a word, hope is the proof, lying deep in our hearts, of the power of God’s mercy. That mercy invites us to keep looking ahead and to overcome our attachment to evil and sin through faith and abandonment in him.

Dear friends, today is your Jubilee! Today, in God’s sight, may your hope be kindled anew. A Jubilee, by its very nature, always brings with it a proclamation of freedom (Lev 25:39-46). It does not depend on me to grant this, but the Church’s duty, one she cannot renounce, is to awaken within you the desire for true freedom. Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer. I want to tell you, every time I visit a prison I ask myself: “Why them and not me?”. We can all make mistakes: all of us. And in one way or another we have made mistakes. Hypocrisy leads us to overlook the possibility that people can change their lives; we put little trust in rehabilitation, rehabilitation into society. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners. At times we are locked up within our own prejudices or enslaved to the idols of a false sense of wellbeing. At times we get stuck in our own ideologies or absolutize the laws of the market even as they crush other people. At such times, we imprison ourselves behind the walls of individualism and self-sufficiency, deprived of the truth that sets us free. Pointing the finger against someone who has made mistakes cannot become an alibi for concealing our own contradictions.

We know that in God’s eyes no one can consider himself just (cf. Rom 2:1-11). But no one can live without the certainty of finding forgiveness! The repentant thief, crucified at Jesus’ side, accompanied him into paradise (cf. Lk 23:43). So may none of you allow yourselves to be held captive by the past! True enough, even if we wanted to, we can never rewrite the past. But the history that starts today, and looks to the future, has yet to be written, by the grace of God and your personal responsibility. By learning from past mistakes, you can open a new chapter of your lives. Let us never yield to the temptation of thinking that we cannot be forgiven. Whatever our hearts may accuse us of, small or great, “God is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn 3:20). We need but entrust ourselves to his mercy.

Faith, even when it is as tiny as a grain of mustard seed, can move mountains (cf. Mt 17:20). How many times has the power of faith enabled us to utter the word pardon in humanly impossible situations. People who have suffered violence and abuse, either themselves, or in the person of their loved ones, or their property… there are some wounds that only God’s power, his mercy, can heal. But when violence is met with forgiveness, even the hearts of those who have done wrong can be conquered by the love that triumphs over every form of evil. In this way, among the victims and among those who wronged them, God raises up true witnesses and workers of mercy.

Today we venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary in this statue, which represents her as a Mother who holds Jesus in her arms, together with a broken chain; it is the chain of slavery and imprisonment. May Our Lady look upon each of you with a Mother’s love. May she intercede for you, so that your hearts can experience the power of hope for a new life, one worthy of being lived in complete freedom and in service to your neighbour.




St. Peter’s Basilica

Basilica di San Pietro, Città del Vaticano, Vatican City State