On June 28, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI announced the coming of the Pauline Year to begin June 28, 2008. This Jubilee Year, intended to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul – which is believed to have occurred between 7 and 10 AD – is intended to increase awareness of St. Paul and his mission.
Citing St. Paul as an example of what Christians should strive to be – he was willing to give his life for his faith in Christ, ecumenically committed to sharing Christ's word to everyone, and willing to sacrifice everything for harmony between all Christians – the Pope hopes that dedicating a year to the life and mission of St. Paul will encourage others to follow his example. One of the main focuses of the Pauline Year is unity for all Christians, for which St. Paul worked tirelessly after his conversion. Catholics are encouraged during the year to read St. Paul's letters, learn what he taught the Gentiles, pray for the unity of Christians all over the world, and, if possible, make pilgrimages to his tomb and places where he visited and taught.
There are many pilgrimage opportunities available to those who are able, including to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls where pilgrims can pass through the Pauline Door, go to confession, and participate in a liturgy. There is much to see and visit at the basilica, including St. Paul's tomb. There are also pilgrimages to various places inside Rome that are connected to the life of St. Paul, such as the Church of St. Paul of the Three Fountains where he was beheaded, or to places around the world where St. Paul visited. People are also encouraged to journey to local churches dedicated to St. Paul.
The Pope announced that a plenary indulgence is available to those Catholics who make pilgrimages to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome during the Pauline year. An indulgence is also available to those who attend any special liturgical ceremony honoring St. Paul either on the opening or closing day of the Pauline year. It can be applied also to those liturgical ceremonies held for the same purpose on another day. Those who cannot leave their homes because of a disability or need but who spiritually unite themselves to a celebration in honor of St. Paul are able to attain the indulgence as well. Read more about the indulgence at the official announcement here.
For those who are unable to make a pilgrimage, or anyone who wants to learn more about this thirteenth apostle, there are many resources available to do so – books of his letters, books about his life, prayer and Bible study guides, DVDs, and much more. Visit the Pauline Year specialty store at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods by clicking here, where there are also links to articles and other websites with information about the Pauline Year and St. Paul.
The hope of those involved in this Jubilee Year of St. Paul is that Christians all around the world will take up St. Paul's mission and work towards the unity of the entire Christian church, and that more will become like St. Paul in his willingness to give up his entire life for the faith in which he so strongly believed.
For more information about the Pauline Year, visit the official Pauline Year website.