by Apostoli_Viae


Gaining Indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

"It is not to be doubted that we can aid the souls of the departed by the prayers of the Church, by the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and by the alms which we offer for them."

--St Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church


Our beloved Church, in its wisdom, has given us, the Church Militant, the ability to help ourselves and members of the Church Suffering--the Holy Souls in Purgatory--more quickly join the Church Triumphant--those in Heaven. The method to do this is indulgences.

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF INDULGENCES: PLENARY AND PARTIAL. A Partial Indulgence remits part of the temporal punishment due; a Plenary Indulgence remits all of it

We can obtain indulgences every day of the year, which is a huge blessing to us all. (To find out more about indulgences, check out our Indulgence Primer (you must be a member to access the Library Group).)

November, however, brings a special gift.

During the month of November, the skies darken, the leaves fall off the trees, and our thoughts turn to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, to whom the entire month is dedicated. During this month, the Church grants us special opportunities to help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

Every year, from November 1-8, members of the faithful can obtain a plenary indulgence every day that can only be applied to the Holy Souls. We do this by performing one of these actions:

  1. Visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed. Our prayers can be verbal (out loud) or mental (in our heads). We can pray anything, although generally, an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be will suffice. Or you can pray the Requiem aeternam (Eternal rest)Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.” Other prayer options: devoutly recite lauds or vespers from the Office of the Dead (English or Latin) For more info, check out this article in the NC Register: How to Pray the Ancient and Powerful Office of the Dead.
  2. On All Souls’ Day visiting a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Apostles Creed.

During the rest of the year, these actions can obtain plenary indulgences. *Check out Here’s How You Can Help the Holy Souls in Purgatory from the NC Register.

NOTE: The usual conditions to obtain an indulgence are also required. 


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

  • DESIRE. In order to obtain an Indulgence, you have to want to and intend to obtain an indulgence. It doesn't happen by accident. I usually just say before I begin whatever act I do to obtain the indulgence: "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. You can obtain ONE plenary indulgence per Holy Communion.
  • 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. 


Due to the ongoing pandemic, these opportunities--normally restricted to 8 days--have again been extended to the entire month of November!!

According to the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful, 28.10.2021:

THE Apostolic PENITENTIARY, having listened to the various pleas recently received from various Sacred Pastors of the Church, due to the continuing state of the pandemic, confirms and extends for the entire month of November 2021 all the spiritual benefits already granted on 22 October 2020, through the Decree Protocol No. 791/20/I with which, due to the “Covid-19” pandemic, the Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful were extended for the entire month of November 2020.

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

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.)


  • 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 the Indulgence Primer, linked below, 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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