In 2012, after a five-year break, the Holy Jubilee commemoration has come back. It is one of the major collective, religious and popular local festival, having deep roots in history.
According to the tradition, at the end of June 1775, Pope Alexander III was travelling to Venice to organise the fight against Frederick Barbarossa, who was preparing to invade Italy, when suddenly his boat was caught in a storm and forced ashore. The Pope’s ship landed and found refuge in the ancient port of Grottammare, which no longer exists. When the Camaldolensian monks (under the holy order of St. Benedict) at St. Martin’s church invited the Pope to stay on until July 1st, in order to attend the festivities of the local population, thousands of people and pilgrims arrived and he was so marvelled and touched by the immense religious participation of the inhabitants that he took off his camauro (the Pope’s hat), filled it with sand and proclaimed: “As many indulgences will be granted to each pilgrim as there are grains of sand herein”.
Maybe it’s only a legend, but since then thousands of travellers have reached our town due to the occasion, as a plenary indulgence can be gained inside the church by pilgrims whenever July 1st is Sunday, seven days before and after that day. In fact, even if we do not have any original papal bull from Alessandro III, the indulgence was re-confirmed by Pope Pius VII in 1803 and then in 1973 by Pope Paolo VI, so that Grottammare perpetuates a great privilege. The occasion occurs in cycles of six, five, six and eleven years. The last jubilees were in 1973, 1979, 1984, 1990, then 2007 and we celebrated last year (2012) the 122nd Sacra. The next jubilees will happen only in 2018 and 2029 during the next twenty years.
The Holy Jubilee re-enacts today this historical moment of joy and is celebrated in July in St. Martin’s church and around the streets by the citizen, dressed in traditional clothes to recreate the memory.
Translated by Raissa Baroni