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Holy Souls in Purgatory undergo purification, and the members of The Church Militant can aid them with prayer and good works.
How to Gain a Plenary Indulgence for Souls in Purgatory: Every November, the Church offers the faithful an opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory. This means we can release souls from their temporal punishment in Purgatory so they can immediately go to Heaven! This indulgence applies to one soul of your choice each time you perform the steps below.

Opportunity Extended

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican issued a special decree extending the plenary indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory throughout the month of November. This specific plenary indulgence is normally only recognized from November 1 - 8.

The October 22 Apostolic Penitentiary decree states that Catholics may obtain a plenary indulgence for the faithful departed throughout the month of November 2020. "This year, in the current circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful will be extended throughout the entire month of November, with adaptation of works and conditions to guarantee the safety of the faithful," the decree reads.

The decree adds that for the November 2 All Souls’ indulgence, 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... (See below for indulgence conditions.)

Steps to Obtain a Plenary Indulgence 

Here are the steps to obtain a plenary indulgence for Souls in Purgatory this November:

(1) Pray at a Cemetery.

The recent decree asks the faithful to visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased, even if only mentally. Some suggested prayers include the Prayer of Saint Gertrude or the Eternal Rest prayer.

(2) Go to Confession & Receive Holy Communion.

In order for one to obtain a plenary indulgence, whether it be for the Poor Souls or for oneself, the person must detach oneself from all sin. If the soul is not detached, a partial indulgence will be applied. However, for the sick, elderly, homebound, or those who cannot go out due to coronavirus restrictions, they can unite themselves spiritually to other members of the faithful.

The decree encourages prayer before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, reciting 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.

The individual must also have the intention of complying as soon as possible to the three conditions of: sacramental Confession, Holy Communion, and praying for the Holy Father.

(3) Pray for the Pope.

The Church suggests that the faithful pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary for the Holy Father. This is the Eternal Rest prayer: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. Amen. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Some references from Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and 2 Maccabees 12:41-46. 


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Image: The Torments of Purgatory, Joseph Anton Koch / Public Domain.

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