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Plenary Indulgence, July 25th?

To my fellow Catholics out there (and others who might know), rumor has it pilgrims arriving at Santiago on July 25 (+ Mass and Confession) receive a plenary indulgence. Is this true?

I could really use a plenary indulgence. :) The partial ones would never be able to cover for all my previous misdeeds...

pax et bonum




Crikey!! Couldn't we all! My understanding (limited) is that gaining the Compostela indulges one third of sins, gaining the Compostela in feast year indulges all (all!) - specific dates, etc, - no idea - apologies.
The Compostela also traditionally gave trading rights (selling merchandise) on the Caminos - believe that it may still do.

We tend not to be quite as awful as we think we are - to be human is to be normal!
one third, you say? WHICH third, would be the next logical question...hopefully the "really bad" third :)

to be human is to be normal, but who wants to be normal??!
we must strive to be perfect (blah blah) :)


hhmm - 'which third?' was my first thought too.

Sorry Rosu, wrote back to front - I didn't mean 'to be human is to be normal', I meant it is normal to be human .. no, errmm, thing is, we are human, which is normal - so we are set up to think and act in certain ways.

Strive to be perfect, well, ok, of course - but do be aware that you can't achieve it ... you are a Catholic, obviously educated, fast brain, thinker, fed up with slow thought elsewhere? .. then guilty about that ... but you are in this body, you are soul and body entwined - you just can't be perfect. So someone calls Jesus good - and he says ".. why do you call ME good? Only my Father is good." St. Francis spent his life thinking that he was awful and unworthy ..Luther the same - Augustine ended up smug and lost it (I think so). Problem is, surely, that the moment you start to use a yardstick to measure yourself with you will always fall short of the top marker - and the 'better' you become the higher you will make the measure so you just cannot achieve it. It's the spiritual equivalent of the pole vaulter ... just raise the bar a little more each time ...But you know this - so ... perhaps something else is going on? Perhaps it isn't a one time, here I am God, certificate of perfection that you obtain, perhaps it is a life unfolding, lessons learned, failed, retaken, relearned. Perhaps being human is just 'untidy'. Perhaps we are here with our stunning ability for pleasure and pain to experience deeply life itself and through that to become what God would have us be? Perhaps. Perhaps were we to look back at anything in our lives that seems to have been repeated that that repetition has been the lesson for us to learn. No one knows why we are here - perhaps God wants to spend millenia growing friends he can share with? Who knows?

Hang on, I'm getting pedantic and not interesting here.... where is everyone else?

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
you're confusing two separate things. The compostela is a piece of paper handed out to those who have expended some effort getting to Santiago (walked/cycled a minimum distance), and have a spiritual motive (pietatis causa). It makes a nice souvenir, but has no religious significance. The jubilee grace is the indulgence granted during holy years to those fulfilling the requirements; it is granted to everyone fulfilling the requirements and has nothing to do with the compostela or walking/cycling. See http://www.archicompostela.org/Peregrinos/Inglés/ajubilar.htm and http://www.archicompostela.org/Peregrinos/Inglés/La%20Compostela%20.htm


This is what I was going off of, and simply wondered if anyone could confirm:

"The plenary indulgence - never, as far as we know, a printed document - is still granted to those who visit the Cathedral and the tomb of the Apostle at any time during a Holy Year, make their confession, attend Mass, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, and undertake some charitable work (this can include a charitable donation). It is not also necessary to fulfil the conditions for the granting of the Compostela. The indulgence may be gained on behalf of the dead.

Interestingly, a notice in the pilgrim office in June 2006 said that the plenary indulgence is given not only in Holy Years, but also in ordinary years on Easter Sunday; 21st April (the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral); and on St James's three feast days (23 May - the Apparition; 25 July - his martyrdom; and 30 December - the translation of the relics)."

from the CSJ website

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
ha! the Spanish version of the pilgrim office site page http://www.archicompostela.org/Peregrin ... ubilar.htm states:

"Desde tiempo inmemorial se concedía anualmente Indulgencia plenaria en el Día de Santiago (25 de julio), Día de la Traslación (30 de diciembre) y Día de la Consagración de la Iglesia (21 de abril). En todo tiempo se otorgaba a los peregrinos indulgencia parcial, y si fallecía en el Camino indulgencia plenaria."

so, yes, it does seem you can get a plenary indulgence on those 3 dates, a partial one on other dates, and a plenary one if you die en route.

Perhaps it only applies to Spanish-speakers??
A plenary indulgence is for the temporal expiation of the effects of sin already forgiven - assuming that an act of reconciliation has already taken place.

Indulgences can be plenary which ‘remit all of the existing temporal punishment due for the individual’s sins’: or partial which ‘remit only a part of the existing punishment.’

As you will know from your soteriology what we are talking about here is time spent in purgatory. This time is allotted to those who although having been forgiven for the sins committed by an act of penance and receiving absolution have not been freed from the effects of those sins. What an indulgence does is to allow the individual to make amends here in this world for future time that would be spent in purgatory.

In addition to an act of penance for ones own existing sins, an individual may also carry out acts ‘with the intention of gaining the indulgence for a specific individual in Purgatory. In doing so, the individual both gains the indulgence for the soul in Purgatory, and performs a spiritual act of mercy.’

Ref http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm


per aspera ad astra
yes Michael, that is exactly what I'm going for :) Purgatory is not on my top ten list of places to visit...

And now that I know a plenary indulgence is given if you succumb to the ills and perils on the Camino, I shall be much less afraid of deadly vipers and rabid dogs :)

pax et bonum


Active Member

Plenary indulgences, purgatory, deadly vipers and rabid(?) dogs, deodorants, nail clippers .....

Pilgrims are not what they used to be would say my grand father !

Belgae bravissimi sunt.
Rabies isnt endemic to a particular region, I would not think, and wonder therefore, how an entire country can be safely said to have no rabies. ??
All the better if it is true, since abdominal shots are very painful!

:) smiley face continued from end of previous message...

there really ARE vipers around the Camino, I have documented myself. As for Purgatory, I wont take any chances. :shock:


sorry for the misinformation - seems that I was wrongly informed .. though this suggests that there is no virtue in undertaking pilgrimage, nor giving the answer 'for spiritual reasons' , nor indeed for the question to be asked .....

Poor Luther was worried too - but is it works or grace?


and more --- from a website www.mathomtrove.org/santiago/ritualandmiracle.htm

The Christians at the time believed, and so continued until very recently , that upon death one went to Purgatory and remained in this "Limbo" until sufficient time had passed to expiate one's sins. Indulgences reduced the length of this Limbo sentence.

From a 13th century document:

* For making the Pilgrimage to Compostela:p remission of one third of one's sins; if you die on the Road, total remission.
* For taking part in each religious procession in the city of Compostela: 40 days indulgence; if the procession is led by a mitered bishop, 200 days more.
* If the procession is that of July 24: 600 days.
* Hearing mass at which an archbishop, dean or cardinal officiates: 200 day.
* Hearing mss at the Monte de Gozo: 100 days.

So that's where I got that from ...

and important up-to-date info from the csj website - I have highlighted section 3 at the bottom which refers specifically to Pilgrims.

The following letter, on the subject of the Compostela and the Jubilee Indulgence, was sent to the Confraternity by Don Jaime García Rodríguez, the Canon of Santiago Cathedral who is in charge of the Pilgrim Office. He asked that it be circulated as widely as possible. Punctuation and bold lettering are as in the original.

Laurie Dennett, Chairman, Confraternity of St James


Santiago, 6 July 1999

To: Diocesan Officials, Priests of the Camino, Refugio Wardens and Friends of the Camino:

Dear Friends,

At this point in Holy Year we wish to clarify certain matters so that you in turn can inform pilgrims:

1 The Compostela

In order for the Compostela to be granted it is necessary that in principle, pilgrimage be made from home to the tomb of the Apostle St James. Since this may imply great differences in distance, the requirement has been set at a minimum of 100 km on foot or horseback and 200 km by bicycle: this means at least the last 100 or 200 km.

People who do specific stretches of the Camino, for lack of time or for other circumstances, are not entitled to the Compostela every time they walk 100 km; the point is to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle. We ask you to explain this to pilgrims, as lack of information sometimes creates difficulties for us here.

The Compostela used to indicate that a pilgrim had carried out some form of penance nowadays it certifies that he or she has made the traditional pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

2 It is necessary to point out as well that the Jubilee indulgence is not linked to the Compostela. The Jubilee can be gained through any means of travel - it does not have to be on foot - and one can legitimately receive the Compostela without gaining the Jubilee; as you know, to gain the Jubilee it is necessary to

a) visit the tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral and pray (attending Mass fulfils this condition);

b) receive the sacrament of Confession (in the Cathedral or in another church, within fifteen days before or after one's visit to the Apostle's tomb, with the same intention;

c) receive Communion, preferably in the sanctuary. The Jubilee, in addition, can be applied to our personal sins or to those of the dead. According to Canon Law those who are sick or disabled can receive the Jubilee in their own churches without visiting the Cathedral by completing the other conditions (see 'Disposiciones para obtener la Indulgencia Jubilar', Compostela no 17, pp. 9-10).

3 The Jubilee Indulgence can be obtained by pilgrims by:

a) attending a religious service in the Cathedral privately

b) attending as part of a group (and if we are advised ahead of time we usually mention the group during the Eucharist;

c) reading a prayer to the Apostle on behalf of the group; the prayer consists of the reading, after the Gospel, of a text submitted previously and which is no more than a page in length, to which the celebrant of the Eucharist replies.

Thanking you for your assistance in Holy Year, I send you an affectionate greeting,

Jaime García Rodríguez, Delegado de Peregrinaciones

Though, all this jumping through hoops apart, God should know our hearts don't you think? So intention, surely, is the true and certain 'hoop'?
hmmm...I am not sure of the value of insisting upon this long-debated question. Why must we chose one over the other? What will we gain by doing so?

It seems to me that without God's grace we cannot even exist, we cannot breathe, think,...we cannot do good works, and we certainly cannot be saved.

On the other hand, it is just as obvious to me that if you are in a state of saving grace, you cannot BUT do good works...they are a result of that overwhelming Love you receive from God. I have never heard of any saintly person that did not do good things, that did not emanate God's Goodness and Love...

So good works come from grace...as a natural consequence of its presence, not as a forced series of tasks directed towards the goal of attaining salvation (that would be disgustingly mercantile; we cannot fool God).

Ain't I sooooo original?! :)
Ah, I did see that letter before, but I think it is applicable only to the Jubilee Year, and this year is not one of them.

As for intentions...

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It is is very tricky thing to prefer your own interpretation to that of church tradition. Too much of a need to "free thought" and independence can lead to pride in oneself, and that is lethal. I'd rather patiently and quietly jump through possibly meaningless hoops, if only to learn obedience and humility. I have only to gain and nothing to lose, whereas if I rely on myself, my chances of going astray are much, much higher (been there sooo many times).


No Rabies in Spain Peter? (I like your website by the way) hhmm .. doesn't feel like that when you meet the anti-pilgrim dog though does it...

All true and to the point - excellent stuff - though I did think I might have opened a can of worms with the diet of worms (yes, I know, not original)

... and, yes, I think feast year as well. And the thing is ... well, the thing is, if we thought it would work in that way we'd do it on our knees wouldn't we - and I include those who call themselves atheists in that. So, intentions. True. Think of the Jesuits, later works of Augustine - apart from utterly abandoning his partner and children, never to mention them or see them again, also the first man to logically prove why it was a good idea to burn a heretic. The vegetarian Austrian house-painter with the one testicle and the mad moustache who thought he was protecting Germany and Western Europe and civilisation itself ... oh dear ...born in the same year and week as Charlie Chaplin too ...
I meant by intentions exactly what you just wrote Rosu, ones acts done with humility ... but then, I agree .. we have to be so careful we don't end up being proud about how humble we are .....

It is is very tricky thing to prefer your own interpretation to that of church tradition. Too much of a need to "free thought" and independence can lead to pride in oneself, and that is lethal. I'd rather patiently and quietly jump through possibly meaningless hoops, if only to learn obedience and humility. I have only to gain and nothing to lose, whereas if I rely on myself, my chances of going astray are much, much higher (been there sooo many times).

Well absolutely. and protestants and calvinists and all others could get in the ring here - what we have I think is that we are all basically on the same side, so, as a friend of mine says "lets keep it fluffy". ...So. But Christianity didn't just appear fully fledged and nor is it unchangeable now. Thousands of people have had strong views, theological arguments abound/ed. Many schools of thought ... out of that came the Catholic church as we know it so, all accepted thoughts, theological positions, and beliefs once started as the dangerous heresies of small and initially rather nervous voices. Societies change from the fringes inwards.

So, if you are driven to see something in a certain way that seems at variance with the commonly held view what should you do? Wycliffe was burnt because he believed that the Bible should be in languages readable by all, yet now it is ... If you have spent years seriously examining documents, interpretations - and you love Christianity and the Church and God and the miracle of Being Here and you are an academic and God has given you the intellect to question .. then what do you do? What do you do?
What you do is to wrestle for years. What you do is to test yourself constantly to try and see if this is ego or direction ...I'm not talking here of shallow thought, blase ideas, fashions, but deep yearning anguish, deep longing for certainty. But, look, after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 74 Jewish Christianity disappeared, gone. This left a few scattered churches desperately expecting the imminent coming of the new world order and a small handful of preachers. Out of that has come this - now how astounding is that? If you were a betting person in the first or second century where would you put your money? On a handful of 'obsessional cultists' or the Emperor worshipping religion of the most powerful military empire the world had ever seen? Crikey!

So how do we know which theological idea is a ball we should run with because it will be needed in, say, 200 years, or is a heretical nonsense that we should banish from our minds?

This is not easy. This has never been easy.
For me, a Unitarian Christian, (God singular and Jesus as Paul names him at the beginnings of Romans - "a man chosen by God") and an ordained minister too - this has been a lifelong problem. I 'know' things from academic research that seem to be at variance with the given story ... but Amaris, I think, is mainly right here for if you read the words put into the mouth of Jesus what you find is a personality emerging. This is not a fake, not a ruse written by a team of clever people - it doesn't read that way, it isn't glib, correct, in order - no conmen in the world would write the Gospels the way they are written ... what comes over if you really let go is that, although it is all written from memory, 2nd, 3rd - even 4th hand - the person comes through, this is no fraud - this is deepest reality revealed within a person - which is stunning. Then, if this is so (and I cannot see it any other way) should I do what Amaris suggests and use the whole Catholic given as a vehicle of surrender into true humility and love - for there is nothing to lose, nothing ..... which would mean, for me, accepting certain things that I just do not believe are true or do I go for the compromise?
One of the main problems of course, is that the documents come from another time. We read them now and can't help saying "is this true, can I believe this?" whereas 1900 years ago they said "what does this mean, what can I learn from this?".

HHmm... if push comes to shove, regardless of my 'fine' thoughts, I'm in the foxhole with Amaris.

Just a note here - I have no wish to try and convert anyone to my point of view - believers or non-believers, I am only sharing my viewpoints, in friendship, in peace - anyway, I shall see most of you on the Camino this summer!
Think we will have to agree to differ on this.
Two final comments - from me – apropos The Imitation. When ever anyone mentions this I always smile as the only part I ever remember is and I paraphrase ‘remember that at judgement you will not be examined on what books you read.’
Not quite the final word from Augustine - Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis.

In case others think this too discursive re the original question. It was Luther who objected to the idea that salvation could be obtained through the buying of indulgences and proposed faith alone while it was James (the Lesser) who is attributed with authorship of The Epistle of James and especially James 2:17 to 26 which is the point.

Keep up the good works.

Carpe Cerevisi


Too true - though he didn't mention how long that would take!!

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald.

quite a handful there, Br David! :) This calls for tea, a few hours, and a couple of rocks to sit on, on the Camino.

Anyway, its difficult to explain one's bond with one's Faith. To me it is true love...it IS a love relationship...I love the Church like I love my mother...and therefore I accept her despite her failings and shortcomings, and I continue to trust her and give myself to her...because of this love. I do not look for perfection, nor do I look for faults. It is a way that is True, though I do not find I need to bother about whether or not other ways are true as well. I know it because I have the existence of all the saints to confirm for me that this is certainly a way to reach God's fullness. That is enough for me, and so I am content and not plagued by the monkey-like machinations of my intellect. Years of too much thinking and analyzing have led me to conclude that my "mind" will never be satisfied with the arguments for/against anything. That is the nature of the mind...it is a tool for some amount of discernment, but certainly not for the grasping of Divine Mystries or the Nature of God. So I do not look to the contentment of my mind when I chose a Path to God, but for the contentment of my heart, the peace in my soul.

If I were, like you said, tormented by doubts and questions, what would I do? I would seek the counsel of my confessor and of old and wise thologians :)

Here! Here! Let it be known that John Wycliffe was not burned by the church! He died of apoplexy, a stroke. Though they did exhume his remains years later and burn them, along with his books. This was not because he translated the Bible into English. Wycliffe spent his entire life attacking the Church, the Pope, the clergy, and being ostentatiously involved in all manner of politics. He seems to me to have been a very obnoxious person and I might have well been tempted to burn him myself :D or at least his silly book, the summa theologiae.

Much good it does us that every john , joe and mary have their own interpretation of the Bible these days.... :roll:

"In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro" Thomas a Kempis
Re: works,acts, deoderant et al.

I have watched this thread develop over several days resisting the urge to weigh in. This is precisely the irresistable temptation that has distracted Christianity from the beginning. Yet, we are invited to celebrate the mystery, not to explain it. Breaking bread with total strangers in the refugio is a lived experience that is authentically Christian. Walking alone in meditation is the real deal. The camino shows how to live. Welcome to the banquet! Ultreya, John PS I have a great urge to return to the camino and I wonder if that means that I am not living it fully in my daily life.?


Well said Papajohn -

- Amaris - you make me laugh out loud - wonderful stuff.. agree with it all.

still laughing now ... fantastic! and the two rocks and the tea is on (might have a recipe for crumpets somewhere).

Yes, the Mystery is all - I surrender.

Here's a point made by C H Dodd about 30 years ago (director of the New English Bible) .. to keep for when people go on about not being able to prove that Jesus even existed, etc, etc ...

There is a letter from Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons - died about 200) to an old pal, Florinus, where he mentions their student days when they were taught by Polycarp and how Polycarp (Bishop of Smyrna - died about 155 at 86 years old or so) would reminisce about conversations he used to have in his younger days with an good friend, an older man called John who was one of the Disciples of the Lord
- well now, a living man who spent those years with Jesus, watched him die and then saw him again and went on to tell people about it ......

So when it comes down to it, enough! - I trust the mystery.


Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Peter Robins said:
so, yes, it does seem you can get a plenary indulgence on those 3 dates, a partial one on other dates, and a plenary one if you die en route.

Perhaps it only applies to Spanish-speakers??
I wrote this facetiously, but now I'm wondering whether in fact outside holy years the cathedral has clergy who can hear confessions in languages other than Spanish/Galician? I know they draft in outsiders for holy years, but in normal years? Anyone any experience?

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