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 or partial, 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 living person.

Partial Indulgences 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:

Sacramental Confession.
 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-----1969 [Enchiridion] 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 the 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
§ 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 title.
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 legitimate formula.
 § 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 relics.
Just click on either of theses 2 links:


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