ABOUTPRAYERSPUBLICATIONSLIBRARY MULTIMEDIA CONTACTS ARCHIVE
Norms on Indulgences
[from the Enchiridion of Indulgences issued on 29 June 1968.]
- An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due
for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned. This remission
the faithful with the proper dispositions and under certain determined
conditions acquire through the intervention of the Church which, as minister
of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the
satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints.
- An indulgence is partial or plenary, according as it removes either part
or all of the temporal punishment due for sin.
- No one, acquiring indulgences, can apply them to other living persons.
- Partial as well as plenary indulgences can always be applied to the
departed by way of suffrage.
- The grant of a partial indulgence is designated only with the words
"partial indulgence," without any determination of days or years.
- The faithful, who at least with contrite heart perform an action to which
a partial indulgence is attached, obtain, in addition to the remission of
temporal punishment acquired by the action itself, an equal remission of
punishment through the intervention of the Church.
- The division of indulgences into "personal," "real" and "local" is
abolished, so as to make it clearer that indulgences are attached to the
actions of the faithful, even though at times they may be linked with some
object or place.
- Besides the Roman Pontiff, to whom the dispensation of the whole spiritual
treasury of the Church has been entrusted by Christ our Lord, they only can
grant indulgences by ordinary power, to whom this is expressly conceded by
- In the Roman Curia, whatever pertains to the granting and use of
indulgences is committed to the Sacred Penitentiary exclusively, saving the
right of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine whatever
pertains to dogmatic teaching concerning indulgences.
- No one below the Roman Pontiff can:
- Give to others the faculty of granting indulgences, unless he has this
right by express indult from the Apostolic See;
- Add another indulgence to a work already indulgenced by the Apostolic
See or by someone else, unless new conditions to be fulfilled are
- Diocesan Bishops, and others equated to them in law, have the right from
entrance upon their pastoral office:
- To grant a partial indulgence to persons or in places under their
- To impart in their respective dioceses, according to the prescribed
formula, the Papal Blessing with a plenary indulgence three times a year on
solemn feasts of their own choice, even if they only assist at the solemn
- Metropolitans can grant a partial indulgence in their suffragan Sees, as
in their proper diocese.
- Patriarchs can grant a partial indulgence in each place, even if exempt,
of their respective patriarchates, in churches of their rite outside the
territory of their patriarchates, and to the faithful of their rite
everywhere. Major Archbishops have the same faculty.
- Cardinals have the faculty of granting a partial indulgence in places or
to institutes or persons under their jurisdiction or protection; in other
places also, but only to persons present and for that time only.
- 1. All books of indulgences, as well as pamphlets, leaflets and the
like, whose contents include grants of indulgences, may not be published
without the permission of the Ordinary or Hierarch of the place.
- 2. The express permission of the Apostolic See is required to print and
publish in any language the authentic collection of prayers and pious works,
to which the Apostolic See has attached indulgences.
- Those who have asked and obtained from the Sovereign Pontiff grants of
indulgences for all the faithful are obliged, under penalty of nullity of the
favor thus obtained, to submit to the Sacred Penitentiary authentic copies of
these same grants.
- If a feast or its external solemnity is legitimately transferred, it is
understood that an indulgence, attached to the feast, is transferred to the
- 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.
- 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 legitimate formula.
- 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.
- An indulgence attached to the use of an article of devotion only ceases,
when the article is completely destroyed or is sold.
- Holy Mother Church, extremely solicitous for the faithful departed, has
decided to apply suffrages to them as abundantly as possible in every
Sacrifice of the Mass, abolishing every particular privilege in this regard.
- To be capable of gaining an indulgence for oneself, it
is required that one be
- not excommunicated,
- in the state of grace at least at the completion of the prescribed
- a subject of the one granting the indulgence.
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 tenor of the grant perform the enjoined
works at the time and in the manner prescribed.
- Unless the tenor of the grant clearly indicates otherwise, indulgences
granted by a Bishop can be gained by his subjects even outside his territory
and by others within his territory who are exempt or who have or do not have a
- A plenary indulgence can be acquired once only in the course of a day.
- But one can obtain the plenary indulgence for the moment of death, even
if another plenary indulgence had already been acquired on the same day.
- A partial indulgence can be acquired more than once a day, unless
otherwise expressly indicated.
- The work prescribed for acquiring a plenary indulgence
connected with a church or oratory consists in a devout visit and the
recitation during the visit of one Our Father and the Creed.
- To acquire a plenary indulgence it is
necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill
the following three conditions:
- Eucharistic Communion, and
- prayer for
the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.
It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be
If the latter disposition is in any way less than perfect or if the
prescribed three conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will be partial
only, saving the provisions given below in Norm 34 and in Norm 35 concerning
those who are "impeded."
- The three conditions may be fulfilled several days
before or after the performance of the prescribed work; it is, however,
fitting that Communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the
Sovereign Pontiff be said on the same day the work is performed.
- A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining
several plenary indulgences; but Communion must be received and prayer for the
intention of the Sovereign Pontiff must be recited for the gaining of each
- The condition of praying for the intention of the
Sovereign Pontiff is fully satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail
Mary; nevertheless, each one is free to recite any other prayer according to
his piety and devotion.
- The norms regarding plenary indulgences, particularly the one stated above
in Norm 24, 1, apply also to what up to now have been customarily called
"toties quoties" ["as often as"] plenary indulgences.
- 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 indulgence.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 dumb can gain indulgences attached to public prayers, if they
devoutly raise their mind and affections to God, while others of the faithful
are reciting the prayers in the same place; for private prayers it suffices,
if they recite them mentally or with signs, or if they merely read them with