|| The Jubilees Lighter Side
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Jubilee year 2000, though filled with drama and controversy, had
its lighter side. Here is a rundown of some of the Holy Years more
- Dec. 1999: Vatican officials had previously specified that a
Jubilee indulgence, or forgiveness of sin, could be earned by walking through
the Holy Doors of the four major basilicas in Rome and others around the world.
The pope, however, announced that lesser indulgences could also be gained by
visiting the chapel at the Rome airport (perhaps for pilgrims on their way home
who realize theyve skipped a basilica), or even by giving up smoking for
a day. Local wags immediately began to speculate on which of their notorious
habits Italians would prefer to break: smoking or avoiding churches. To most,
it seemed a toss-up.
- Jan. 20: John Paul II celebrated the Jubilee of Traffic Cops in
St. Peters Square, the first of several events for men and women who work
in municipal capacities in Italy and around the world. Perhaps the good will
explains why, in early July, during the Jubilee of Prisons, the popes
Mercedes went unticketed as it cruised the wrong way down the Via della Lungara
toward Regina Coeli prison. On that street, among the narrowest in Rome, a
violation of the traffic laws is sometimes an invitation to a brawl in addition
to a citation. The pope, however, was simply waved through.
- June 15: John Paul lunched with a group of 200 homeless Romans,
along with a few high-ranking Vatican potentates, in a gesture of solidarity
with the poor. Just as the ravioli arrived, a 40-member choir from the
Legionaries of Christ began belting out selections ranging from O Sole
Mio to La Bamba. At the end, John Paul gave each guest money,
a rosary and, somewhat inexplicably for a group of homeless persons, a keychain
with the Jubilee logo.
- July 2: John Paul welcomed approximately 2,000 bikers to St.
Peters Square for the Jubilee of Motorcycle Riders. During the papal
remarks, the bikers roared their engines, honked their horns and brandished
their helmets to show approval. The pope then offered a blessing for the riders
and their motorcycles, prompting wry headlines such as Holy
- July 7: John Paul welcomed tens of thousands of his countrymen
for the Jubilee of Polish Catholics. The event was surrounded by controversy
because it occurred during the height of the worldwide Gay Pride festival,
which drew some 700,000 homosexuals to Rome. Despite fears that the Poles would
be accosted on the streets, the event went off without a hitch. John Paul
showed his special favor by appearing twice in the same day. For the better
part of two days, Polish military bands filled the Roman air with the sound of
- Oct. 25: Among the more popular of Holy Year events was the
Jubilee of Pizza Chefs, when several thousand cooks converged on St.
Peters Square for a papal blessing and then distributed 50,000 free
slices of pizza. The chefs prepared a special pizza for John Paul, which they
called a papizza (papa being the Italian word for
pope). It featured mozzarella, zucchini and yellow peppers to represent
the papal colors of gold and white.
- Oct. 29: For the Jubilee of Athletics, the pope went to
Romes Olympic Stadium for a specially arranged soccer match between the
Italian national squad and a collection of foreign all-stars who play for
Italian teams. It was said to be the first match the pope, once a passionate
fan, had watched since 1982, when he saw Poland play Italy on TV.
Unfortunately, the uninspired play (the match ended in a 0-0 draw) hardly
justified an 18-year wait. Fans made their displeasure known. At one end of the
stadium, fierce devotees of Romes squad have a sign that reads
devi morire, meaning you must die, which they
wave at opposing players. During the second half of the Jubilee match, somebody
changed the second word to dormire, so the sign then read you must
- Dec. 16: The pope welcomed some 2,000 style setters and their
families to St. Peters Square for a Jubilee of Fashion Designers, where
the pope lauded the industry for trying to transmit to others the love
for beauty. Unfortunately for the pope, the beautiful people
were overshadowed by a riot exploding down the street to protest his reception
of far-right Austrian politician Jörg Haider.
National Catholic Reporter, January 12,