Boston, Mass., Jul 28, 2023 / 15:07 pm (CNA).
In anticipation of the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year, the city of Rome presented a major infrastructure project Friday that will create a pedestrian pathway from St. Peter’s Square to Castel Sant’Angelo.
The city’s mayor is calling the project an “embrace” between Italy and the Vatican.
The infrastructure developments are in preparation for an estimated 35 million pilgrims headed to the eternal city for the yearlong “Jubilee of Hope.”
When the Vatican announces a Jubilee Year, the faithful are invited to take part in the spiritual benefits offered by the Church, including passing through the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome — which only the pope himself opens — in order to receive an indulgence.
The proposed infrastructure developments will focus on the Piazza Pia, just down the road from Vatican City.
The project will include the “redevelopment and pedestrianization” of the piazza, which will connect the Castel Sant’Angelo to the famous road leading to the Vatican, the via della Conciliazione, costing approximately 70 million euros, according to a press release from the Vatican’s Jubilee webpage. That translates to about $77 million.
Castel Sant’Angelo is a historic structure with a marble statue of St. Michael the Archangel atop it and is located on the edge of the piazza. It was formerly a mausoleum commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and later became a papal fortress connected to St. Peter’s.
The city has plans to undertake almost 90 other projects, costing approximately $2 billion, according to Andreas Thonhauser, EWTN Vatican Bureau chief.
Alfredo Mantovano, Italy’s undersecretary to the presidency of the council of ministers, said in the press release that the city plans to complete the infrastructure improvements by Christmas Eve of 2024.
Construction will begin in August.
Rome’s Mayor Roberto Gualtieri said in the release that “the project we are presenting today is perhaps the most important from a symbolic point of view, because it aims to bring back together two fundamental sites in the city, which have always been a vital axis: St. Peter’s and Castel Sant’Angelo.”
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who is leading the Jubilee Year, was also at the press conference and said: “We are deeply grateful for the constant and indeed daily collaboration, which has been in place for a long time for the Jubilee.”
Fisichella said that every time a Jubilee Year occurs, Rome is beautified, violence is down, and life is “improved,” adding that “we are trying to achieve that again this time.”
“The works will give people a perspective of beauty that can only assist their sense of contemplation. The Jubilee is first and foremost a spiritual event that we want everyone to experience, and the passage through the Holy Door, taking place in a context of surrounding beauty that assists contemplation, can only be something very positive,” he added.
Eugenio Patané, the city’s assessor for public mobility of Rome City Council, said that the new “pedestrian precinct” will ensure safety from traffic while allowing vehicles to be unimpeded.
A papal bull proclaiming the Jubilee Year and containing celebration guidelines, which is given the theme “Pilgrims of Hope,” is expected to be published on March 25, 2024.
In Pope Francis’ 2022 letter on the upcoming Jubilee Year, he wrote: “We must fan the flame of hope that has been given us and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart, and far-sighted vision.”
“The forthcoming Jubilee can contribute greatly to restoring a climate of hope and trust as a prelude to the renewal and rebirth that we so urgently desire; that is why I have chosen as the motto of the Jubilee ‘Pilgrims of Hope,’” he said.