CAY Mailbag: Indulgences and The Rosary

by | Jan 25, 2023 | Blog, Liturgical Living, october, You Ask, Kendra Answers | 0 comments

(question edited for clarity)


Thank you for the work you put into your webpage . . . .
I scrolled through the Manual of Indulgences to clarify a question I had about praying the rosary in church. But found that it just states: praying the Rosary IN CHURCH as cause for an indulgence, but doesn’t answer what is meant by “in church.” 

One goes “to church,” meaning, one goes to a service, that’s the typical time one is in church. Do they mean they expect the faithful to be praying the Rosary with others around the time of the service, or can one be praying the Rosary alone in the building? 

Under your listing for “partial indulgences,” it does say, “Recite a Rosary alone,” so that makes me think they did mean with others.

What happens when you are praying the rosary with a group and someone sometimes skips a “Hail Mary,” for example, or I don’t get to say, “May the grace of the Baptism of Our Lord come down upon me.” at the end of each decade? It’s up to the tradition of each parish, right?  . . .  I just feel I can go “deeper” when alone, I’m better able to imagine the mysteries and their meanings because of less distraction.  However, that may not be what Our Lord wants.  So – I know the solution:  pray it twice.

In any case, do you have any comments for me?    

1.) To receive an indulgence one has to devoutly recite the Creed and the Our Father during the “visit”. Would that be outside of saying them within the Rosary? 

2.) What does “make a voluntary Christian witness to others” mean?

3.) One must be aware of his attachment to venial sin.  Right?  I so much wonder how to go about that.

4) How does one “use” a scapular?  It’s not just wearing it around one’s neck?

5.) So, just listening to the preaching of the Word of God gives a partial indulgence? Do you know whether that would apply to the baptized who are unable to partake of the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confession? 

6.) Does one “plenary indulgence” wipe out ALL temporal punishment for ALL sins of someone’s life, provided all the prerequisites are met, including attachment to venial sin?

I apologize that this email is so scrupulous.



Hi Anne,

Thank you so much for your question and for your patience in our response!

The Handbook for Indulgences states: A plenary indulgence is granted when the rosary is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.

Based on this you can gain a plenary indulgence by praying the rosary either by yourself or with a group inside a church or oratory building. You must also complete the other prayers and sacraments necessary for all plenary indulgences which are: Receiving Holy Communion,  Receiving the sacrament of Confession, praying for the Holy Fathers’ intentions, and be completely detached from all sin.

If you were to pray the rosary alone at home you would gain a partial indulgence.

When you are praying with others and someone misses a Hail Mary, adds an additional prayer that you don’t usually pray, or leaves out an extra prayer that you typically pray when you are praying by yourself, you can feel free to add that prayer in your heart and then trust in God’s mercy that the missed Hail Mary is not something that will keep you from receiving an indulgence. There shouldn’t be a need to pray it twice in this case.

1. As is the usual practice in the US and recommended by the USCCB the rosary is typically begun with a Creed (more information here) but that isn’t specifically required according to the instructions per the Vatican (more information here) it seems reasonable that it could “count” for both the rosary and the indulgence. Kendra says that in her family “We specifically dedicate the first Our Father of the rosary for the Holy Father, which is also part of the indulgence.”

2. To make a voluntary Christian witness means that you are living your life as a Christian fully, that you don’t hide your faith from others, and that your everyday actions reflect what Jesus asks of us in the Gospels.

3. A great way to become aware of your attachment to sin is to do a daily examination of conscience.

4. Kendra has a really excellent blog post and video all about scapulars and other sacramentals that I’ll link HERE. But the basics is that once you are invested in the scapular (and Kendra talks specifically about the Brown Scapular) that you “share in the spirituality of the Carmelite order.” Which carries with it certain responsibilities and privileges.

5. Indulgences are only available to the baptized.

6.) Yes, you are correct that a plenary indulgence takes care of all temporal punishment as long as all of the prerequisites are met.

And one last note from Kendra: “Scrupulosity is a challenge for many faithful Catholics. I’d really encourage you to remember that none of this is a magic spell. It’s about love and intention. Prayer is a conversation with God. The rosary is a conversation with God through Mary. Someone who loves you isn’t looking to disqualify you from your conversations!”

God bless you,

The CAY Team

Looking for more information from CAY on Rosary and Indulgences? Here are a bunch of helpful posts from the archives!
Catholic Indulgences: What they are, why they are, and why you should care.

The Family Rosary: Why is it SO Hard?

Why I Bother With the Rosary

How to Pray a Family Rosary

And we couldn’t leave out the lovely rosary products from the CAY Marketplace!

Rosary Wrap Bracelets

Rosary Poppers

Our Lady of Lourdes Rosary Pouch


Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

➡️ Get my liturgical living checklist for free when you join my weekly newsletter. Sign up here.

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.