Churches and itineraries for pilgrims in Rome
The Jubilee is a special time that the Church offers for the conversion of the People of God, and precisely for this reason it is characterized in a special way by the possibility of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence. A person usually obtains this indulgence by making a pilgrimage to a Jubilee Church, a journey that culminates with entering the Holy Door (or Door of Mercy). The pilgrimage is intended to initiate a path of conversion, in which one moves toward the love of God the Father and being filled by it, in order to take this love back into one's everyday life.
Within the city of Rome various walking itineraries have been planned for pilgrims, leading to the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica or to the other Holy Doors and Jubilee Churches of the city.
The Itinerary to the Vatican Basilica
The principle itinerary, proposed above all for those who come from far away to participate in the Jubilee at Rome, is naturally the one leading to Saint Peter's Basilica. A protected pathway will be set up between Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican Basilica, inside of which pilgrims will travel up Via della Conciliazione to Saint Peter's Square; this will permit them to maintain an attitude of prayer and spiritual recollection as they prepare to cross the Holy Door. Before setting out on this final step of their pilgrimage, however, pilgrims are invited to stop in one of the three churches that will be the true points of departure for the final pathway: San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, San Salvatore in Lauro and Santa Maria in Vallicella (known as Chiesa Nuova). Located just on the other side of the Tiber, these three churches will welcome pilgrims and offer them spiritual assistance every day during the Holy Year. They will have priests available for confessions (in various languages) and continuous Eucharistic adoration. Designated sometimes as "Jubilee" churches, they are in fact the privileged points of departure for the pilgrimage to the Holy Door of Saint Peter's, because they permit pilgrims to arrive there with the right dispositions of heart and spirit, that is, after having celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation and having paused a little in contemplation of the merciful face of God.
The other itineraries in Rome
For everyone, but above all for Romans themselves and pilgrims who can reach Rome more easily, there are also other suggested itineraries that permit one not only to make the Jubilee pilgrimage, but also to (re)discover other churches linked to the ancient tradition of pilgrimages in the city. This tradition had an important awaking with Saint Philip Neri (in the 1500's), but it dates back much further to the times when the first Christians in Rome would visit the sites of the martyrdoms of the apostles Peter and Paul, as well as the catacombs.
There are four such itineraries in Rome, which wind through the very center of the city. They converge near Castel Sant'Angelo, where the protected pathway to Saint Peter's Basilica begins. The first, the Via Papale (o Via Maior) leaves from the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, and passes by the Colosseum and the Mamertine Prison (traditionally held to be the place where the apostles Peter and Paul were imprisoned). From there, it arrives at Piazza Navona, where it splits into two alternative routes, which both conclude at Castel Sant’Angelo. The first alternative stops at Santa Maria in Vallicella (known as Chiesa Nuova) for confession and adoration. The second, instead, stops at San Salvatore in Lauro. The third itinerary, called the Via del Pellegrino, also begins from the Lateran Basilica, but it winds its way along a route leading to San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini for spiritual preparation, before finishing, like the others, at Castel Sant’Angelo. The fourth itinerary, called the Cammino Mariano, departs from Santa Maria Maggiore (the Liberian Basilica) and, after having passed other churches dedicated to Our Lady, stops at Piazza Navona. There, it joins the Via Papale just before this first itinerary splits into its two alternative routes.