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How to gain Plenary Indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Publish Date: October 31, 2016


The devotion to the memory of the dead is one of the most beautiful expressions of the Catholic spirit.

– Pope Saint John XXIII

The Feast of All Saints and All Soul’s Day give liturgical expression to our belief that we, as members of the Church, are also members of the Communion of Saints.   We express the belief in this Holy Communion each Sunday as we recite the Creed. In our celebration of the Holy Eucharist we are renewed in our communion with those who have gone before us in faith.

From the time of the ancient Church we have honored, respected and prayed for the dead.  In the Book of Maccabees the dead are prayed for “because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.”  We cannot be received into intimacy with God without having been purified from the consequences of personal sin.  Purgatory is the name for this process of purification.  In this process, the temporal punishment remaining from sins committed during life is satisfied.  As we follow Christ’s footsteps, we, the living, can assist the dead in the process of purification by our prayer, spiritual works and penitential expiation.  Our communion in grace and good works is of mutual benefit to the living and the faithful departed.

The Church provides a great opportunity to help the departed by performing acts of devotion, repentance and charity.  These acts provide remission from temporal punishment and are called indulgences.  During the Octave of All Saints, (November 1-8) the Church gives us a special opportunity to gain indulgences for the departed.

Grant #29.1.1

For the Souls in Purgatory – Plenary Indulgence

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted each and every day from November 1st to Nov 8th, who devoutly visit a cemetery and there pray, if only mentally, for the departed. The indulgence is plenary each day from the 1st to the 8th of November; on other days of the year it is partial.


Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let perperpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

Grant #29.1.2

All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) – Plenary Indulgence

A plenary indulgence is granted the faithful who, on All Souls’ Day (or according to the judgment of the bishop, on the Sunday preceding or following it, or on the solemnity of All Saints), devoutly visits a church or an oratory and recites an Our Father and the Creed.


Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.



In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from hence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.


Requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence:

・Do the work while in a state of grace,

・Receive Sacramental confession within 20 days of the work (several plenary indulgences may be earned per reception),

・Receive Eucharistic communion (one plenary indulgence may be earned per reception),

・Pray for the pope’s intentions (Our Father and Hail Mary, or other appropriate prayer, is sufficient),

・Have no attachment to sin (even venial) – i.e., it is sufficient that the Christian makes an act of the will to love God and despise sin.


Requirements for a partial indulgence:

・The work must be done while in a state of grace and with the general intention of earning an indulgence.




・Only baptized persons in a state of grace who generally intend to do so may earn indulgences.

・Indulgences cannot be applied to the living, but only to the one doing the work or to the dead.

・Only one plenary indulgence per day can be earned (except for prayer at the hour of one’s own death).

・Several partial indulgences can be earned during the same day.

・If only part of a work with plenary indulgence attached is completed, a partial indulgence still obtains.

・If the penance assigned in confession has indulgences attached, the one work can satisfy both penance and indulgence.

・Confessors may commute the work or the conditions if the penitent cannot perform them due to legitimate obstacles.

・In groups, indulgenced prayer must be recited by at least one member while the others at least mentally follow the prayer.

・If speech/hearing impairments make recitation impossible, mental expression or reading of the prayer is sufficient.

・For an indulgence attached to a particular day requiring a church visit, the day begins at noon the day before and ends at midnight.



Source: Excerpted from column by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, The Michigan Catholic


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