ROME – On Monday the Vatican issued norms for how to obtain the traditional plenary indulgence during the upcoming Jubilee of Hope, placing a special emphasis on individual and group pilgrimages to holy sites.

Holding the theme, “Pilgrims of Hope,” the jubilee is set to open Dec. 24, and will formally close on Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, in 2026.

In the official Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Hope, titled, Spes non confundit, or “Hope does not disappoint,” which was presented in St. Peter’s Basilica last week, the pope said the plenary indulgence has “an even more important meaning” in the context of a world facing brutality and violence.

The full remission of the temporal consequences of a person’s sins after they have been absolved, indulgences are a special feature of jubilee years, and are a way, according to the Vatican, of “discovering the unlimited nature of God’s mercy.”

In a set of norms issued May 13 signed by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, former vicar of Rome and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican outlined the usual conditions under which a person can receive an indulgence, saying they must be “are truly repentant and free from any affection for sin” and “moved by a spirit of charity.”

Faithful wanting an indulgence must thus go to Confession, receive the Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the pope.

It was also specified that indulgence, as usual, can be applied to the individuals who obtain it, or it can be offered to souls in purgatory.

To this end, the Vatican outlined three main ways to obtain an indulgence during the jubilee year: by making pilgrimages to any sacred jubilee site, making a “pious visit” to any other sacred place in the world, and by conducting works of mercy and penance.

In terms of pilgrimages to jubilee sites, the Vatican said faithful can receive the indulgence by participating in Mass, or by participating in a special Mass for the conferral of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, or the Anointing of the Sick.

It can also be obtained by participating in various prayers at these holy sites, such as the Liturgy of the Hours, the Via Crucis, the rosary, the Akathist hymn, a celebration of the Word of God, or a penitential celebrating ending with individual confessions.

The indulgence can be obtained in Rome by making a pilgrimage to at least one of the four papal basilicas: St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, and St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Pilgrims can also obtain the jubilee indulgence by visiting one of the three basilicas in the Holy Land: The Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, or the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

The Vatican said pilgrims unable to visit these places can also receive the indulgence by visiting a cathedral or other sacred place designated by the local bishop.
Faithful can also receive an indulgence if, either individually or in a group, they visit a jubilee site and participate “for a suitable period of time” in Eucharistic adoration and meditation, concluding by praying the Our Father, making a profession of faith, and reciting a Marian prayer.

Other than specific jubilee sites, pilgrims can also obtain an indulgence by visiting a slew of other holy sites throughout the world.

In Rome, other destinations where pilgrims can obtain an indulgence include the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem; the Basilica of St Lawrence at the Verano; the Basilica of St Sebastian; the Sanctuary of Divine Love; the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia; and the Church of St Paul at the Tre Fontane, where St. Paul was killed.

Pilgrims can also receive the indulgence by visiting the catacombs in Rome, as well as the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva; the church of St Brigid at Campo de’ Fiori, the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Trinità dei Monti, the Basilica of Saint Cecilia in Trastevere, and the Basilica of Sant’Augustine in Campo Marzio.

Those who make the traditional “seven churches” pilgrimage in Rome can also obtain the indulgence.

Outside of Rome, other pilgrimage destinations where an indulgence can be obtained include the papal basilicas of St Francis and Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi; and the pontifical Basilicas of Our Lady of Loreto, Our Lady of Pompeii, and St. Anthony in Padua.

It can also be obtained by visiting any minor basilica, cathedral, co-cathedral, or Marian shrine designated by the local bishop or eparch, as well as national or international sanctuaries indicated by local bishops’ conferences.

For those unable to make a pilgrimage due to reasons of age, health, caregiving, or being confined to a cloister or a prison, the Vatican said they can obtain an indulgence, under the usual conditions, by reciting the Our Father, making a profession of faith, and offering other prayers “in conformity with the objectives of the Holy Year” from their homes, hospitals, nursing homes, or prisons, while offering up their own suffering.

Faithful, the Vatican said, can also obtain a jubilee indulgence if they participate in mission trips, spiritual exercises or formation activities based on the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and which are held in a church or another similar place.

Though traditionally only one indulgence can be obtained per day during the jubilee, the Vatican said faithful who complete an act of charity on behalf of the souls in purgatory and receive the Eucharist for a second time that day, can obtain a second indulgence that is only applicable to the deceased.

Indulgences, the Vatican said, can also be obtained by carrying out corporal and spiritual works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead, or giving counsel to the doubtful, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, and bearing wrongs patiently, among other things.

In this spirit, the Vatican said faithful can obtain an indulgence if they visit “for an appropriate amount of time,” those who are in need or who are facing difficulty, such as the elderly, disabled, and prisoners.

Visiting these people implies making “a pilgrimage to Christ present in them” according to the usual conditions for the reception of an indulgence, the Vatican said, saying faithful can make these visits daily and acquire an indulgence each time.

An indulgence can also be obtained, the Vatican, said, by carrying out acts of penance “in a concrete and generous way,” such as observing the penitential nature of Fridays, including by abstaining “from futile distractions” such as social media.

This spirit of abstinence also implies refraining from “superfluous consumption”; donating “a proportionate sum” of money to the poor; supporting religious or social works, especially those in defense of life; and supporting the quality of life of abandoned children, youth in difficulty, the poor, elderly and migrants.

An indulgence can also be obtained by dedicating “a reasonable portion of one’s free time” to volunteer work in service of the community, or other similar forms of personal commitment, the Vatican said.

Bishops and eparchs were also encouraged to hold, at some point during the jubilee year, a Mass offering faithful a papal blessing with the attached indulgence.

Pastors were also urged to designate specific cathedrals and churches for the jubilee year, and to increase availability for faithful to go to confession, including during Mass.

Those assigned to hearing confessions a cathedrals and churches specifically designated as destination points for the jubilee year were also granted special permission to offer subjective forgiveness of sins typically restricted to the hierarchy or the Vatican.

In this spirit, the Vatican also granted all priests who lead or accompany pilgrimages outside of their dioceses the faculties to celebrate the sacraments wherever they are for that pilgrimage.

Bishops were invited to explain the norms to their faithful clearly, taking into account the specific circumstances, cultures and traditions in each local context.

They were also urged to hold “a catechesis appropriate to the socio-cultural characteristics of each people,” saying this would “propose the Gospel and the entirety of the Christian message effectively, rooting more deeply in people’s hearts the desire for this unique gift, obtained through the mediation of the Church.”

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