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Norms and Grants


An Indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to be suffered for sins that have already been forgiven.

An Indulgence is either plenary or partial, that is, it frees a person either from all or from some of the temporal punishment due to sins.

Both plenary and partial Indulgences can always be applied to the dead as suffrages.

To be capable of gaining an indulgence for oneself, it is required that one be; baptized, not excommunicated, in the state of grace at least at the completion of the prescribed works, and 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 domicile elsewhere.

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: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.

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 plenary indulgence.

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 spoken.

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.

[from the Enchiridion of Indulgences
issued on June 29, 1968]