Plenary Indulgence

Dear Guys,

I’m planning to visit a church with canonically approved Papal indulgence for pilgrim visitors. I wonder what are the things i need to do so that i could receive a plenary indulgence, what prayer, confessions or sort of things i need to do


Prayer for the Pope. Confession & Communion. Be free of all sin AND all attachment to sin. That last part is the hardest for most.

If i don’t have mortal sin, should I go for confession to gain indulgence?

Five things are REQUIRED for a plenary indulgence:

  1. Confession
  2. Communion
  3. Prayer for the Pope
  4. Free of all sin AND all attachment to sin
  5. The particular action / prayer associated with the indulgence.

… If ALL five are not present, the it becomes a partial indulgence.

Yes, if you want to receive a plenary indulgence. There is a window of time in which to do so. I believe it’s a week (give or take) on either end of completing the indulgence.

If you don’t do those things, then it’s a partial indulgence, not a plenary one. But still better than nothing. :slight_smile:

It’s this attachment to sin that I have trouble getting the concept of. I don’t intend, nor want to sin. I lead a fairly quiet (retired) life, don’t get out too much, as my husbands health doesn’t permit it. My vices are clean ones (books, hobbies). I just can’t help but feel that I could never gain a plenary indulgence no matter how “clean” my life is, with this “attachment” thing. What is it, can someone explain it to me, please?

I think Steve Kellmeyer does a pretty good job of explaining it all:

In particular, for this aspect he says:

Have no attachment to sin, even the most venial. People think this is the most difficult condition, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. We aren’t expected to be immune from concupiscence. After all, even baptism doesn’t wash away concupiscence, so it would be ridiculous to expect us to have no concupiscence in order to win a plenary. A movement of the flesh to desire something is not the same as attachment to sin. In order to have no attachment to sin, an act of the will is sufficient, e.g., praying, “Lord, I do not desire anything or anyone except Yourself” or “Lord, I reject all sin and all attachment to the things of this world; I cling to the things of heaven, most especially the Beauty and Glory of Yourself.”

I believe Kellmeyer is of the opinion (and I am inclined to agree with him on this point) that God and the Church are not out to set some impossibly high standard such that only the saintliest of saints could ever hope to achieve a plenary indulgence (and only on their best of days). Rather, as our God is a God of infinite mercy, he wants to give us these graces more than anything.

I’ve read, in more than one place, that many people may spend their entire lives gaining indulgences but may not obtain a single plenary one because of the non-attachment to sin requirement.

That’s what I’m afraid of…

Long as I’m asking, does this mean (see below) the feast day of the namesake of a particular church? So if I went to a church named St Anne’s on her feast day, that is the titular day?

Visit to the Parochial Church
(Visitatio ecclesiae paroecialis)

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit the parochial church:
on the titular feast; on the 2nd of August, when the indulgence of the “Portiuncula” occurs.

Thank you, Joe, for your well stated answer. I did look at Kellmeyer’s blogspot, and looked at the calendars, too. I hope he is right that it just might be easier than we think…I am getting pretty old…:frowning:

thanks all for your comments and replies, i agree that if we dint received a plenary indulgence, we are still lucky to receive a partial indulgence than zero. After all our God is merciful

Partial indulgences can add up quickly.

The confession must be within about 21 days before or after the indulgenced work. (Interesting that it is ~ a 40 day window.) This is according to the Holy See.

Note that we are up to the fourth revision of the norms (1967, 1968, 1986, 1999). You can gain a plenary indulgence through 1/2 hour of scripture study any day of the week, or 1/2 hour Eucharist adoration. Also the vocal Rosary (5 decades) without interruption and conjoined with meditation on the mysteries, in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or an association of the faithful, or with a few people gathered together for an honest purpose. (Look up the details as norm 7, 17, 30.)

N20. §1. To gain a plenary indulgence, in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin, it is necessary to perform the indulgenced work and fulfill the following three conditions:
sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.
§2. A single sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences; but Holy Communion must be received and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father must be recited for the gaining of each plenary indulgence.
§ 3. 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 Holy Father be said on the same day the work is performed.


N19. The work prescribed for acquiring a plenary indulgence connected with a church or oratory consists of a devout visit during which an Our Father and the Creed are recited, unless other directives have been laid down.

Yes, on her feast day, or on August 2nd.

One can also designate any one day of the year for a plenary indulgence.

See here for the 20 days before of after specification:

Vocal rosary, in a church - does this mean I can’t mentally pray the rosary to myself, in a church, for an indulgence? It seems no one prays the rosary while waiting for Mass to begin anymore; they’d probably get the butterfly net out if I started the five decades of the rosary outloud, never mind disturbing the other early birds who come in for a little quiet time with God before the hoards-who-visit-with-each-other-inside-the-Church arrive. :confused:

(Is that how you spell hoards)???

Our church has confession before the Saturday vigil Mass. Immediately after confession, the Rosary is publicly said ending with a prayer for the Pope.

This approach offers the people to earn a plenary indulgence every week if they go to confession, say the rosary and receive communion at mass – assuming, of course, that they are free from all attachment to sin.

Wow, what a wonderful opportunity! I can’t remember when the last praying of the rosary was in our parish. I could try another parish, I guess; there are three in our town, but the same priests rotate through all of them, so my guess is that the services available might be fairly standardized.

There is an exception for the deaf and mute to read, sign, or mentally recite. Also Grant 15 states that there is a partial indulgence for personal, devoute, mental prayer.

You can gain a partial indulgence for the mental form if you are not in the category above.

But for a Marian rosary plenary indulgence it must be recited; the public witness is significant.

Grant 17.1 is:

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who
1/ devoutly recite the Marian rosary in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or in an association of the faithful, and in general when several of the faithful gather for some honest purpose;

2/ devoutly join in the recitation of the rosary while it is being recited by the Supreme Pontiff and broadcast live by radio or television.
A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit