What is the Jubilee Year?
Caravaca's Jubilee Year is rooted in an important religious phenomenon dating back almost eight 800 years: the presence in this land of the Most Holy and True Cross, since the 13th century. According to religious tradition and the Christian faith, the cross contains a fragment of the Lignum Crucis; that is, the cross on which Jesus Christ died, preserved by the Knights Templar and, after their disappearance, the Order of Santiago.
This tradition has led to the flourishing of a cult, recognized and admitted by the Catholic Church. In fact, in the 18th century the Vatican assigned it the cult of latria, equivalent to that granted the Blessed Sacrament. This reality went on to transcend strict local and national geographical limits, with Caravaca de la Cruz developing into a religious nerve center and reference point, a trend peaking in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
The faith generated around the Holy Relic drew veritable throngs of pilgrims to its Sanctuary Castle (Castillo Santuario) from a broad range of areas across Europe, to the point that by the middle of the 16th century a hospital (Buen Suceso) was erected in the town. Attesting to the significance of the aforementioned pilgrimages is the fact that jubilees were decreed in different years in the 16th and 17th centuries on the occasion of the different festivities of the Cross; and the specific request lodged by the Confraternity of the True Cross with Pope Alexander VII in 1663, beseeching him so that confraternities could be admitted from anywhere in Spain, and making reference to pilgrims "who frequently flock, from all over Christendom, to worship this Holy Relic.
In the 20th century (1981) His Holiness John Paul II granted a new Jubilee Year to Caravaca de la Cruz, commemorating the 750th anniversary of the Cross¿s appearance in Caravaca, a prerogative that was again granted to the town and its True Cross in 1996. In 1998 the Vatican officially announced the granting of the "Holy Year In Perpetuum" to the Holy and True Cross of Caravaca, to be celebrated every seven years, the first being in 2003, a year of faith, reconciliation and solidarity whose light still shines in Caravaca de la Cruz, one of the five cities in the world granted the Jubilee Year in perpetuum distinction.