1. These three general types of indulgenced grants have for their purpose to encourage the Christian faithful to structure into the texture of their everyday activities a Christian spirit 1  and to gear their lives toward the perfection of charity. 2 

  2. The first and second types of grant are more or less the same as many characteristic ones of the past. But the third type of grant is much more in harmony with our own times. For there is more advantage today to encourage the faithful to carry out penitential practices on their own initiative in addition to the actual law of abstinence from meat and the law of fasting—both of which are today rather mitigated. 3 

  3. These three types of grant are really rather broad, and each one of them concerns many works of the same generic type. Nevertheless, not all such works are endowed with indulgences but only those which are carried out in a special manner and spirit.

    For the sake of example, let us consider the first type of grant which is described as follows: “A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, while performing their duties and enduring the difficulties of life, raise their minds in humble trust to God and make, at least mentally, some pious invocation.”

    In this first type of grant an indulgence is attached only to those acts in which the Christian faithful raise up their minds to God as described above while they perform their duties and put up with the difficulties of life.

    Owing to human weakness, however, such special acts are not very frequent. But when a person is so conscientious and devout that he/she performs acts of this type several times during the day, then in addition to a fuller increase of grace he/she rightly obtains a fuller remission of punishment and can in charity render abundant assistance to the souls in purgatory.

    These same comments can be made in substance concerning the other two general types of grants.

  4. It is obvious that the three types of grant are in special harmony with the gospels and with the teaching of the Church as amply set forth in the Second Vatican Council. For this reason and for the benefit of the faithful citations taken from the scriptures and from the documents of this Council are given below for each of these general types.


A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, while performing their duties and enduring the difficulties of life, raise their minds in humble trust to God and make, at least mentally, some pious invocation.

This type of grant intends to assist the Christian faithful in fulfilling the command of Christ: “You need to pray always and not stop.” 4  It also admonishes them to carry out their duties in such a way that they maintain and increase their union with Christ.

Mt 7:7-8: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mt 26:41: Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.

Lk 21:34-36: Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.

Acts 2:42: They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.

Rom 12:12: Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.

1 Cor 10:31: So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

Eph 6:18: With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.

Col 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Col 4:2: Persevere in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

1 Thes 5:17-18: Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 41: Accordingly all Christians, in the conditions, duties and circumstances of their life and through all these, will sanctify themselves more and more if they receive all things with faith from the hand of the heavenly Father and cooperate with the divine will, thus showing forth in that temporal service the love with which God has loved the world.

Vatican Council II, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People Apostolicam Actuositatem, no. 4: This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful.... Lay people should make such a use of these helps that, while meeting their human obligations in the ordinary conditions of life, they do not separate their union with Christ from their ordinary life; but through the very performance of their tasks, which are God’s will for them, actually promote the growth of their union with him.... Family cares should not be foreign to their spirituality, nor any other temporal interest; in the words of the apostle: “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 5 

Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, no. 43: One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives.... Let there, then, be no such pernicious opposition between professional and social activity on the one hand and religious life on the other.... Let Christians follow the example of Christ who worked as a craftsman; let them be proud of the opportunity to carry out their earthly activity in such a way as to integrate human, domestic, professional, scientific and technical enterprises with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are ordered to the glory of God.


A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, prompted by a spirit of faith, devote themselves or their goods in compassionate service to their brothers and sisters in need.

This second type of grant intends to induce the Christian faithful to follow the example and the command of Christ Jesus 6  by frequently performing works of charity and mercy.

But this indulgence is not attached to all works of charity. It is attached only to those works done “in compassionate service to their brothers and sisters in need,” e.g., persons who are in need of food or clothing for the body or in need of instruction or comfort for their spirits.

Mt 25:35-36, 40: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.... Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me. 7 

Jn 13:34-35: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Rom 12:8, 10-11, 13: If one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.... Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.... Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.

1 Cor 13:3: If I give away everything I own,... but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Gal 6:10: While we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.

Eph 5:2: Live in love, as Christ loved us.

1 Thes 4:9: You yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.

Heb 13:1: Let mutual love continue.

Jas 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. 8 

1 Pt 1:22: Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a pure heart.

1 Pt 3:8-9: Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.

2 Pt 1:5, 7: Make every effort to supplement your... devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.

1 Jn 3:17-18: If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

Vatican Council II, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People Apostolicam Actuositatem, no. 8: Wherever people are to be found who are in want of food and drink, of clothing, housing, medicine, work, education, the means necessary for leading a truly human life, wherever there are people racked by misfortune or illness, people suffering exile or imprisonment, Christian charity should go in search of them and find them out, comfort them with devoted care and give them the helps that will relieve their needs.... If this exercise of charity is to be above all criticism, and seen to be so, one should see in one’s s neighbors the image of God to which they have been created, and Christ the Lord to whom is really offered all that is given to the needy.

Ibid., no. 31 c: Works of charity and mercy bear a most striking testimony to Christian life; therefore, an apostolic training which has as its object the performance of these works should enable the faithful to learn from very childhood how to sympathize with their brothers and sisters, and help them generously when in need.

Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, conclusion, no. 93:

Mindful of the words of the Lord: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” 9  Christians can yearn for nothing more ardently than to serve the people of this age with an ever growing generosity and success.... It is the Father’s will that we should recognize Christ our brother in the persons of all people and love them with an effective love, in word and in deed.


A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a spirit of penitence, voluntarily abstain from something which is licit for and pleasing to them.

This third type of grant intends to urge the Christian faithful to hold their appetites in check and thus learn to obtain mastery over their bodies and conform themselves to the poor and suffering Christ.’ 10 

The excellence of self-control indeed stands out more when it is combined with charity, as St. Leo the Great writes: “We should spend on virtue what we take away from our pleasures. Thus through the abstinence of the fasting person relief may come to the poor.” 11 

Lk 9:23: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 12 

Lk 13:5: If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did (cf. ibid. v. 3).

Rom 8:13: If by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Rom 8:17: If only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

1 Cor 9:25-27: Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No. I drive my body and train it.

2 Cor 4:10: Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

2 Tm 2:11-12: This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.

Ti 2:12: [Rejecting] worldly desires [we should] live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.

1 Pt 4:13: But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.

Vatican Council II, Decree on the Training of Priests Optatam totius, no. 9: With special care they should be so trained in priestly obedience, poverty and a spirit of self-denial, that they may accustom themselves to living in conformity with the crucified Christ and to giving up willingly even those things which are lawful.

Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 10: The faithful indeed, by virtue of their royal priesthood, participate in the offering of the Eucharist. They exercise that priesthood, too, by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, abnegation and active charity.

Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, no. 41: The forms and tasks of life are many but holiness is one—that sanctity which is cultivated by all who act under God’s Spirit and, obeying the Father's s voice and adoring God the Father in spirit and truth, follow Christ, poor, humble and cross-bearing, that they may deserve to be partakers of his glory.

Apostolic Constitution on Christian Penance Paenitemini, III, c: The Church nevertheless appeals to all the faithful together that they obey the Lord’s command to repent not only through the hardships and setbacks bound up with the nature of daily life, but also by acts of bodily mortification....

The Church is intent especially upon expressing the three principal ways, longstanding in its practice, which make it possible to fulfill the divine command to repent. These are prayer, fasting, and works of charity—even though fast and abstinence have had a privileged place. These ways of penance have been shared by all the centuries; yet in our own time there are particular reasons advanced in favor of one way of penance above the others, depending on circumstances. For example, in the richer nations stress is placed on the witness of self-denial so that Christians will not become worldly; another emphasis is the witness of charity toward others, even those in foreign lands, who are suffering poverty and hunger. 13 



  1. A few more types of indulgenced grants are here added to the three general types listed above in I-III. These other types exhibit a distinctive character of their own since they take into consideration the traditions of the past as well as the concerns of our own times.

    All these other types of grant complement one another. In offering the gift of an indulgence they intend to lead the Christian faithful to perform works of devotion, charity, and penitence and to lead them by means of charity to closer union with the body of the Church and with Christ, its head. 14 

  2. Certain prayers are listed in this section. These prayers merit great respect owing to their divine inspiration or their antiquity and upon their more or less universal usage, e.g., the Creed (no. 16); the De Pro fundis (no. 19); the Magnificat (no. 30); the Ancient Prayer to Mary (no. 57); the Hail, Holy Queen (no. 51); the Prayer for All Occasions (no. 1); and the Prayer of Thanksgiving (no. 7).

    Upon close inspection it becomes obvious that these prayers are already included in the first general type of grant. For these prayers are recited in the course of their everyday lives by the Christian faithful with hearts raised in humble trust to God.

    As examples of such overlapping with the first general type we can mention the Prayer for All Occasions and the Prayer of Thanksgiving, since they are recited during the course of “carrying out one’s duties.”

    But it seemed helpful to list these prayers separately as being endowed with indulgences in order to eliminate any doubt and to indicate their prominence.

  3. In this section are also found individual works to which an indulgence is attached. The grant of a partial indulgence is sometimes expressly stated and explained; but often it is indicated only by the rubric: partial indulgence.

    When some work is endowed with a  plenary  indulgence owing to special circumstances, the  plenary  grant and the special circumstances that define the work in detail are expressly noted for each and every such grant. For the sake of brevity, the other types of works endowed with indulgences are not so noted; and it is to be understood that the indulgence attached to these works is a partial one.

    As stated in norm 23, the requirements for obtaining a  plenary  indulgence are the execution of the work, the fulfillment of the three conditions, and that full disposition of spirit that excludes all attachment to sin.

  4. When the work to which a  plenary  indulgence is attached can easily be divided into parts (e.g., the division of the Marian Rosary into decades), a person who owing to some reasonable cause cannot complete the entire work can obtain a partial indulgence for that part which was completed.

  5. Worth special mention are those grants which list works by which the Christian faithful, by performing any one of them, can obtain a  plenary  indulgence every day of the year:

    • adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one half hour (no. 3);

    • devout reading of the Sacred Scriptures for at least one half hour (no. 50);

    • the devout performance of the Stations of the Cross (no. 63);

    • the recitation of the Marian Rosary in a church or oratory, with members of the family, in a religious Community, or in a pious association (no. 48).

    But even in these instances what is stated in norm 21, paragraph 1, retains its force, namely, a  plenary  indulgence can be obtained but once a day.



     1  Cf. 1 Cor 10:31 and Col 3:17; Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam actuositatem, nos. 2, 3, 4, and 13.

     2  Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, no. 39 and nos. 40-42.

     3  Cf. Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini, 17 February 1966, III c (AAS, 58 [1966]: 182-183).

     4  Lk 18:1.

     5  Col 3:17.

     6  Jn 13:15 and Acts 10:38.

     7  Cf. Jn 13:15 and Acts 10:38. Cf. also Tb 4:7-8 and Is 58:7.

     8  Cf. Jas 2:15-16.

     9  Jn 13:35.

     10  Cf. Mt 8:20 and 16:24.

     11  Sermon 13 (sometimes referred to as Sermon 12), De ieiunio decimi mensis, 2: PL 54:172.

     12  Cf. Lk 14:27.

     13  AAS, 58 [1966]: 182-183 [DOL 358, nos. 3019-3020]

     14  Cf. Apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, no. 11.