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Number of early Jubilee pilgrims falling short of expectations in Rome

January 04, 2016

The number of pilgrims converging on Rome during the early days of the Jubilee Year of Mercy have fallen well short of the hordes that some Romans anticipated.

Italian political leaders had predicted massive traffic problems, along with substantial increases in tourism revenues, during the Jubilee. The last previous Jubilee Year, 2000, had drawn over 30 million people to Rome. But in fact tourist-oriented businesses in Rome reported that sales were normal in December this year, after the Jubilee opened on December 8. Hotel occupancy rates were about 70% for the month, actually below last year’s figure of 90%.

Two reasons seem likely to explain the unexpectedly low number of pilgrims. First, fears of terrorist attacks have discouraged visits to Rome. Second, Pope Francis has deliberately sought to arrange a decentralized observance of the Jubilee, allowing for Holy Doors to be designated in every diocese around the world.

During the 2000 Jubilee, an estimated 150 pilgrims passed through the Holy Door at St. Peter’s basilica every minute. Thus far this year, organizers report that the numbers are much lower.

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