Absolving Sin & Liberating Souls from Purgatory - The Jubilee Bull of 1525

Clement VII, Pope [Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici] (1478-1534)

Bolla di papa Clemente VII nella quale se denota a tutti li fideli Christiani come il di de la vigilia della Natività di N.S. Iesu Christo sua Santità anderà alla Basilica di San Pietro, & aprira con le proprie mani la porta che suole esserre aperta l'anno del Iubileo…

Rome: [Francesco Minzio Calvo], 1524


Quarto: 20 x 13.5 cm. [8] pp.


Bound in modern stiff vellum. A fine copy with a few minor stains and discreet strengthening in the gutter.

An extremely rare vernacular printing of the papal bull "Inter sollecitudines et coram nobis" proclaiming the Jubilee of 1525. I have located only one other copy, at the Vatican (CNCE 52022). The Latin edition is also quite rare.

Proclaimed by the Medici Pope Clement VII (reg. 1523-1534), the Jubilee of 1525 took place at a pivotal time for Europe and the Papacy. It was the first to be celebrated after the outbreak of the German Reformation and the last to be celebrated before Henry VIII's break with Rome. Taking place only two years before the devastating Sack of Rome (during which churches and shrines were pillaged and desecrated, relics destroyed and defiled, and whole city blocks burned to the ground), the 1525 jubilee was the last to showcase the many splendors of the Church in all their unadulterated glory. Clement's jubilee was also the first to dazzle pilgrims and visiting nobles with the achievements of the Roman Renaissance. Between the jubilee of 1500 and that of 1525, Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Bramante had built the Tempietto, the Villa Farnesina was completed, and New Saint Peter's (the cornerstone of which was laid in 1506) had begun to rise.

The title page announces that Pope Clement will himself open the doors of Saint Peter's Basilica and command that the doors of the other major basilicas (the Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, and San Paolo fuori le mura) be opened as well.

The bull sets forth the means by which courtiers and pilgrims may earn an indulgence for the remission of their sins, stipulating that anyone who dies while on pilgrimage will also be granted the same indulgence. Those wishing to free a soul from Purgatory are to offer alms and make confession at one of the seven jubilee churches, where special penitentiaries were appointed to process the anticipated crush of pilgrims.

In order to earn a plenary indulgence, a visitor to the Eternal City must make the rounds of the four major basilicas once a day for 15 days. Citizens of Rome are required to do so for 30 days (these specific requirements were set at the time of the first jubilee, in 1300.) Penitents were also to visit the three minor basilicas: San Sebastiano ad Catacumbas, Santa Croce, and San Lorenzo fuori le mura. However, when plague threatened the city, Clement had the gates closed and substituted three churches inside the city (Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria del Popolo, and San Lorenzo in Lucina) for those outside the walls.

In order to encourage pilgrimage to Rome, Clement suspended all plenary indulgences issued outside of Rome for the year, even those that approximated the terms of the jubilee indulgence. Yet the jubilee was not a great success. Plague struck Rome and wars in Europe (including Italy) and the Peasants' Revolt in Germany made pilgrimage hazardous.

Edit 16 CNCE 52022 (only one copy). The title of the Latin edition reads: "Bulla Clementis VII. Qui nunciat omnibus Christifidelibus, se in primis Vesperis Vigiliae Nat. D. J. C. accessurum ad Basilicam Beati Petri, aperturumque propriis minibus portam Anno Jubilei aperire solitam".