REGULATIONS ON INDULGENCES
Issued by the Holy See June 29, 1968
To purchase the Enchirdion on Indulgences
, or obtain a Free Green Scapular and Miraculous Medal, click HERE
Definition of an Indulgence
An Indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment
due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, a remission which
one of the faithful, properly disposed and under certain definite
conditions, can acquire through the Church which as minister of the
redemption authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasure of the
satisfactions of Christ and the Saints.
To be capable of gaining an indulgence it is required
that one be Baptized, not excommunicated, in the state of grace at
least at the completion of the prescribed works, and a subject of the
one granting the indulgence.
An Indulgence is plenary
depending upon whether it frees one from the whole [plenary]
or from a part [partial]
of the temporal punishment due to sin. They make be gained for oneself
or the Holy Souls in Purgatory, but not for any other
are no longer designated by days or
years but simply as a "partial indulgence." They can be gained as often
in a day as one performs the pious work, sacrifice or prayer, UNLESS
SPECIFICALLY STATED OTHERWISE.
A Plenary Indulgence
can only be gained ONCE per day except for those at the point of death who have already gained one that day.
They have the following prerequisites attached to them, in addition to
the limitation of number and the performance of the work or prayer:
Eucharistic Communion [Not a Spiritual Communion].
Prayer for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff.
All attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.
The conditions of Confession, Communion, and prayer for the
Pope's intention may be fulfilled several days before or after the
performance of the prescribed work. But it is fitting that the prayers
for the Pope and Communion be on the same day the work is performed.
And though one Confession is permitted for gaining several plenary
indulgences on different days (for gaining daily plenary indulgences you need to go
to Confession at least once every two weeks), Communions must be
received and prayers for the Pope's intentions recited for the gaining of each
plenary indulgence. The condition of praying for the Pope's intentions
is fully met by saying one Our Father and one Hail Mary, though
one is free to say any other prayer. However, when a visit to a church is
prescribed, such as on All Souls' Day, the prayers prescribed are one Our
Father and the Apostles' Creed.
THE RACCOLTA used to be the official grant of indulgences prior to
1968. The grants of partial indulgences, which specified remission of
punishment in terms of days or years, and do not run counter to the
grants of the 1968 code are still granted, but there is no time of
remission specified, just "partial" as defined above. Many pious
aspirations, for instance, given there, are still granted today. A
number of the plenary indulgences have been removed by the Holy See,
however. The new code does not specify with certainty because in
keeping with the modernist tendency of being vague or saying two
mutually exclusive things at the same time as if they were inclusive is
found even in the 1968 code. In another location of the book they say
that a number of those former grants of partial indulgences are no
longer grants, but they do not specify, so, practically speaking, no one of the faithful really is sure,
and one would have to consult an ecclesiastical authority in the matter
even if one purchased the Enchiridion
or Handbook on Indulgences. There are two different publications or
translations, one by Fr. William Barry, C.SS.R. and the other by Fr.
Winfrid Herbst, S.D.S. While both are confusing, the former work is
preferable. It has a hard cover and is more detailed, the latter is a
paperback with half as much text. The Barry edition is sometimes titled
"Handbook . . ." and at other times, "Enchiridion
. . .". They are the same. It depends on the year of the edition-----
] or post 1969 [Handbook]. The Herbst book is always called "Handbook" etc.
Rule of Thumb:
Pious aspirations and works are always efficacious, whether there is a
partial indulgence attached or not. One can always make the intention of
receiving any attached indulgence and leave it to God.
Those who are very devout in gaining indulgences, especially for
others, may want to perform only the works or prayers specifically
granted in the 1968 Code, which we are providing here. Please note that
the Holy See has the authority from Christ to change to the norms for
indulgences, as it has done for centuries, whether we may be
inconvenienced or not. Not until this last generation have people lived
such long lives since the establishment of the Pontificate, and thus
most people were not affected by Church regulations that changed, for
by the time they came into existence that generation was already dead.
Now that we have the very real probability of life extended into our
eighties and nineties, we are affected by dramatic changes more than we
may prefer. A good example: I am in my sixties and I have seen
changes in the law of fasting before Holy Communion three times
in those years. My great grandparents knew only one such fast law. Now
since one always has the option of fasting more than presscribed these
changes were not exactly shattering, although the changes surrounding
the faithful because of the laxity are perceptible, such as a
remarkable decrease of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. I hear
people say, "Well so I was off by five minutes, what difference does it
make, it is just an hour fast anyway! Don't be so scrupulous!" Unlike
the abuse of authority in re
Mass and the Sacraments, the changes in the norms and grants for
indulgences are not really that encompassing nor are they burdensome;
but rather it is the manner
in which the new norms and grants are presented in relation to those of the former RACCOLTA.
Both books jump here and there and back again and it is difficult to
follow. I am using both for our web presentation, the actual grants
only, not the commentary, which is copyrighted, [the prayers are public
domain] and I have reordered everything so that all partial indulgences
are together, then all plenary indulgences likewise. This means I had
to keep editing both pages as I went along when I found another
"straggling" indulgence. I hope and pray I am not remiss. This way you
have all of like kind in one segment. A number of the prayers or
devotions we have online here at Catholic Tradition and the link to
those will be given. But we will publish them again on the page where
it applies, either partial or plenary, so those of you who may want to
print out particular pages can do so easily. The
only exception are the various Little Offices, of which we have no
copies and special Feasts before Christmas, Pentecost and the
Immacu;ate Conception: these are online in graphic format only as they
are two lengthy and the Holy Rosary, Ibid. Also we do not provide the prayers for the Stations of the Cross, due to length. We have three versions on line, links on the plenary page.
Special Regulatory Notes
- If a feast or its external solemnity is legitimately transferred,
it is understood that an indulgence, attached to the feast, is
transferred to the same day.
- A visit to a church or oratory, if required to gain an
indulgence attached to a certain day, can be made from noon of the
preceding day to midnight at the close of the day itself.
§ Indulgences attached to a visit to a church do not cease if the
church is totally destroyed, provided the church is rebuilt within
fifty years in the same or almost the same place and under the same
- The faithful, who devoutly use an article of devotion (crucifix
or cross, rosary, scapular or medal) properly blessed by any priest,
obtain a partial indulgence.
But if the article of devotion has been blessed by the Sovereign
Pontiff or by any Bishop, the faithful, using it devoutly, can also
gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Holy Apostles, Peter and
Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith according to any
§ An indulgence attached to the use of an article of
devotion only ceases, when the article is completely destroyed or is
sold. If it has been blessed, it may not
be sold, which would constitute a sacrilege. This is why one may not purchase
- Holy Mother Church now grants suffrages to Holy Souls as abundantly as
possible in every Sacrifice of the Mass, abolishing every particular
privilege in this regard.
- In order that one who is capable may actually gain indulgences,
one must have at least a general intention to gain them and must in
accordance with the grant perform the enjoined works at
the time and in the manner prescribed.
- An indulgence cannot be gained by a work, to which one is obliged
by law or precept, unless the contrary is expressly stated in the
grant; one, however, who performs a work which has been imposed as a
sacramental penance and which happens to be one enriched with an
indulgence, can at the same time both satisfy the penance and gain the
- An indulgence attached to a prayer can be acquired by reciting
the prayer in any language, provided the fidelity of the translation is
vouched for by a declaration either of the Sacred Penitentiary or of
any Ordinary or Hierarch of those places, where the language of the
translation is the one commonly spoken.
- To gain an indulgence attached to a prayer, it is sufficient to
recite the prayer alternately with a companion or to follow it mentally
while it is being recited by another. One, of course, may also recite
the prayer vocally or mentally by oneself.
- Confessors can commute either the prescribed work or conditions,
in favor of those who, because of a legitimate impediment, cannot
perform the work or fulfill the conditions.
- Local Ordinaries or Hierarchs, moreover, can grant to the
faithful, over whom they exercise legitimate authority and who live in
places where it is impossible or at least very difficult to go to
Confession or Communion, permission to gain a plenary indulgence
without Confession and Communion, provided they have true contrition
for their sins and have the intention of receiving these Sacraments as
soon as possible.
- The deaf and the mute can gain indulgences attached to public
prayers, if they devoutly raise their minds and hearts to God, while
others of the faithful are reciting the prayers in the same place.
Just click on either of theses 2 links:
<----------- E-Mail ------------>