The Jubilee of the Mercy is an “extraordinary” occasion and, as such, it has some very special attributes. Pope Francis, in the bull of indiction Misericordiae vultus, established that it will be possible to receive plenary indulgence in all dioceses. Perhaps the Pope wanted to grant this possibility to believers also in consideration of the unexpected speed with which the jubilee year was called. What’s for sure is that, in his own words, “The Jubilee will be celebrated in Rome as it is in the “Special Churches” as a visible sign of communion of the entire Church”.
In addition to the cathedrals in each diocese, bishops will be able to point out the sanctuaries of special relevance as ‘jubilee churches’, places in which all spiritual benefits can be enjoyed, benefits that are usually only available in Rome’s basilicas during holy years. So, let’s find out more about all these Tuscan churches listed as ‘special’ in the 18 dioceses that make up the former Grand Duchy.
We begin in Florence, in addition to Santa Maria del Fiore where you can also (metaphorically) pass through the ‘holy door’ in the basilicas of Santissima Annunziata and also in Impruneta. In the Archdioceses of Arezzo, Cortona and Sansepolcro the divine pardon will be spread as intangible blessed rain as there are eight jubilee churches in this area: the vast choice begins with the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donato and Saint Francis's Cathedral in Arezzo, before moving on to Camaldoli Monastery, La Verna Sanctuary, Montecasale Hermitage in San Sepolcro, reaching Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie di Calcinaio (in Cortona), Collegiata di San Giuliano a Castiglion Fiorentino, and ending at the Sanctuary of Madonna del Patrocinio a Castelnuovo Berardenga. In Pistoia there are two holy doors: the first is San Zeno Cathedral and the second is Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine di Valdibrana.
Other dioceses have made more traditional choices, preferring to focus on the cathedral alone. Pisa stands out in particular (whose holy door is open in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta). The same applies to Prato (and for the Santo Stefano Cathedral). In the same way just one ‘special church’ has also been selected in San Miniato (in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio) and in Volterra (again the Cathedral). Lucca has made an interesting choice, where the Jubilee will be opened at both the Duomo as well as with the small church of San Giusto.
Things are different in the small diocese of Fiesole, with two jubilee churches: the first is the Cathedral of San Romolo and the second is the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Giovanni Valdarno. Two ‘holy doors’ also for the diocese of Massa Carrara and Pontremoli, with the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Francis in Massa and the Co-Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Pontremoli. Continuing our holy tour, we visit the three ‘special churches in and around Siena, beginning with Siena Cathedral (where you’ll be able to receive indulgence in some of the most beautiful churches in the world: is it permissible to say that?), followed by the Sanctuary of Santa Maria in Pancole (just 5 kilometres from San Gimignano) and finishing at the Church of the Madonna del Soccorso in Montalcino. Check out the variety in the Valdinievole, where there are four jubilee places of worship: Pescia Cathedral, the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Fontenuova in Monsummano Terme, the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta in Montecatini Terme and the Chiesa di San Iacopo in Altopascio.
A different policy is in place in Tuscany’s coastal dioceses. December in Grosseto will see the opening of just the right door of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the small Church of San Martino a Batignano, but – in the summer – the right has been reserved to throw open more holy doors along the coast. Livorno doubles its holiness thanks to Saint Francis Cathedral and Montenero Sanctuary – home to the treasured icon of the Virgin Mary, patron saint of the region. In the dioceses of Massa Marittima and Piombino, in addition to the beautiful Cathedral of San Cerbone in Massa Marittima and the Co-Cathedral of Sant’Antimo in Piombino, there’s also the only island holy door in the whole of Tuscany: Portoferraio Cathedral.
Going back inland, we explore the two special churches in the dioceses of Montepulciano, Chiusi and Pienza: the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Montepulciano and (in the summer only) the Abbadia San Salvatore Monastery. Heading south, we discover the pardons available in the dioceses of Pitigliano, Sovana and Orbetello through three churches appointed to take part in the jubilee by the bishop: the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul in Pitigliano, the Sanctuary of the Presentation on Monte Argentario and the Sanctuary of the Addolorata in Cerreto di Sorano. Tuscany’s jubilee comes to an end with the beautiful monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.