Diana von Glahn (AV2-M)

by Diana von Glahn (AV2-M)


Gaining Indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory


Every year, from November 1-8, the Church grants a plenary indulgence that can be applied only to the souls in purgatory. Normally, we can receive one indulgence each of the eight days for anyone in purgatory (many people give them to Mary to hand out as she sees fit).

Traditionally, during these days, members of the faithful can obtain plenary indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by:

  1. Visiting a cemetery and praying, if only mentally, for the departed. Pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be if you can't think of anything else. Those are the best prayers around!! Or say: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”
  2. On All Souls’ Day (this Saturday) visiting a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Apostles Creed.

If that was not possible:

  1. partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who, 
    • devoutly visit a cemetery and at least mentally pray for the dead;
    • devoutly recite lauds or vespers from the Office of the Dead or the prayer Requiem aeternam (Eternal rest).

*For more, see Here’s How You Can Help the Holy Souls in Purgatory from the NC Register.


This year, however, due to the COVID restrictions, these opportunities--normally restricted to 8 days--have been extended to the entire month of November!!

According to the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful in the current pandemic, released on October 23, 2020:

This Apostolic Penitentiary has received many petitions from holy Pastors who have asked that this year, due to the "Covid-19" epidemic, pious works be commuted in order to obtain the Plenary Indulgences applicable to souls in Purgatory, in accordance with the Manual of Indulgences (conc. 29, § 1). For this reason, the Apostolic Penitentiary, on the special mandate of His Holiness Pope Francis, willingly establishes and decides that this year, in order to avoid gatherings where they are forbidden:

a.- the Plenary Indulgence for those who visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased, even if only mentally, normally established only on the individual days from 1 to 8 November, may be transferred to other days of the same month, until its end. These days, freely chosen by the individual believers, may also be separate from each other;

b- the Plenary Indulgence of 2 November, established on the occasion of the Commemoration of all the deceased faithful for those who piously visit a church or oratory and recite the “Our Father” and the “Creed” there, may be transferred not only to the Sunday before or after or on the day of the Solemnity of All Saints, but also to another day of the month of November, freely chosen by the individual faithful. 

The elderly, the sick and all those who for serious reasons cannot leave their homes, for example because of restrictions imposed by the competent authority in this time of the pandemic, in order to prevent numerous faithful from crowding into the holy places, will be able to obtain the Plenary Indulgence as long as they join spiritually with all the other faithful, completely detached from sin and with the intention of complying as soon as possible with the three usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, recite pious prayers for the deceased, for example, Lauds and Vespers of the Office of the Dead, the Marian Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, other prayers for the deceased dearest to the faithful, or occupy themselves in considered reading of one of the Gospel passages proposed by the liturgy of the deceased, or perform a work of mercy by offering to God the sorrows and hardships of their own lives.

(Read the whole thing here.)



A Partial Indulgence remits part of the temporal punishment due; a Plenary Indulgence remits all of it


In order to obtain an Indulgence, we MUST do the following things:

  • DESIRE to obtain the Indulgence: I usually just say before I begin, "Jesus, I'm doing this to obtain a Plenary Indulgence." You can also pray this morning prayer and it should cover you for the day:

O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (kiss your scapular), I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the altars throughout the world, joining with it the offering of my every thought, word, and action of this day. O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, that she may best apply them in the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart. Precious Blood of Jesus, save us! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Amen.

  • CONFESS. You have to go to confession "several" days before or after you perform the indulgenced act. Traditionally, this was 8-10 days, although in the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, the amount of days was increased to 20, and that decision remains intact. Note: You must be in a state of grace to obtain a plenary indulgence. This means, at the time you perform the indulgenced act, you must be free from all attachment to sin. You can't be mad at people, hold grudges, hate anyone, etc. Confess it all and let it go!
  • COMMUNION. Receive Holy Communion. During Mass is preferable, although otherwise is allowed. The day of the indulgenced act is also preferred, but not required.
  • PAPAL INTENTIONS. You must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. This is not praying for the Pope, himself, but for his intentions, which he releases each month. You don't need to know what they are--God knows. An Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be suffice. 


  • We can only obtain one plenary indulgence a day. EXCEPT on the day we die, when we can get two.
  • We can only offer indulgences for our own sins or for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. (See THIS POST about the Heroic Act of Charity.)
  • If you strive to gain a Plenary Indulgence, but fail to fulfill all the requirements, the indulgence will be only partial.
  • For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except detachment from even venial sin).

For more information on indulgences, check out this Indulgence Primer in the Library Group*

*you have to join the group to access the link

IMAGE: Pixabay


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